Ohtawara Maraton – 12 days to go!

Week           5 ~ 11 November 2018

Runs:           7

Distance:    30km

This week was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, I caught a cold and did not get a lot of running. However, on the other hand, I did get to spend a lot of time with my family. The downer was that I was not able to participate in the 55km Charity Run for Mirai no Mori. I thought about changing from the 55km run to 21km one but decided against it when I came home wrecked from work on Friday night. A friend then pointed out that you are better not going to a children’s home with a cold and I felt slightly better about my decision. I will do the run at a later date, I just need to decide which one. On the plus side, I did manage to keep my running streak going to 43 days by deploying micro-runs. They all count.

Monday 5th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    87

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:58/km

Avg HR:                               134  bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

I was still sore on Monday after the Namban Half I had run on the previous day. I was not too worried as I am usually sore after a hard effort so I just plodded around for half an hour and took myself off to work. My boss was arriving from Europe that day so I was not able to make it out to Bikram Yoga. In retrospect, that was probably a good thing, for me and for the other students.

Tuesday 6th November

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:55/km

Avg HR:                               152  bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

On Tuesday morning I had to be out in Inzai in Chiba for 8:30, which is a good 2 hours from my house so I was up and running at 5:30. I was a bit worried about making my train so I ran fairly fast for that time in the morning and when I had finished, I was covered in sweat. A lot more than I had expected.

Wednesday 7th November

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:27/km

Avg HR:                               142 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

Wednesday morning, I was not feeling great. I had a long day on Tuesday and I needed more sleep so I turned off the alarm for an extra hour in the scratcher. My nose was running a lot at work but I was still intent on doing the charity run on Saturday, so I got home and shipped my bag off to the pickup spot in Saitama and then headed out for a slow 5km run. It was a terrible affair and I was glad when it was over.

Thursday 8th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    90

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:41/km

Avg HR:                               135 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

I was back out at 6am on Thursday morning for 5km around the block. Nothing to report other than I got the run done and continued my streak.

Friday 9th November

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             6:03/km

Avg HR:                               125 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     170

I was sluggish in the morning and did not get up on time. I almost did not run, but around 6:15am I realized that I still had a window of opportunity and dragged myself out for a lap of the neigbourhood. It was horrible and the day only got worse. Around 5pm I called it quits on the charity run that I was due to do on Saturday and went home to bed.

Saturday 10th November

Resting Heart Rate:          63

Heart Rate Variability:    89

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             5:34/km

Avg HR:                               138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

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I took it easy on Saturday morning. My Resting Heart Rate and HRV were going to a bad place and I was not feeling good. I and the missus headed out around noon to Bills in Futakotamagawa. Bills is always a great experience. Great food and wonderful service. It never fails to disappoint. Afterward, we went shopping in Takashimaya, which is not my strong point. Still, I made it home around 5pm and made it out for a run around the neigbourhood to keep my streak going.

Sunday 11th November

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    96

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             4:58/km

Avg HR:                               143 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     184

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Sunday we had a big plan ahead. Nikko to see the changing of the colours and then back in time to see Bohemian Rhapsody. We got up a 5am and while everybody was getting ready I snook out for a fast 2.8km around the neighbourhood and we were on the road by 6am.

Nikko was beautiful. Even though some of the leaves had fallen further up the valley, it was really lovely down around Nikko village and the Emporer’s summer residence.

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We left around 1pm to go home and get out to see the movie. Unfortunately, we got caught in 2 traffic jams and got no rest before the movie. However, it was worth it. Bohemian Rhapsody was amazing. All of us really enjoyed it and now we are singing We Will Rock You all day.

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Ohtawara Marathon – 19 days to go!

Week           29 October ~ 4 November 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    97km

October:      400km

I had another good week running. I ran 8 times and had 3 quality sessions. I also managed to make 400km for October by going out twice on Halloween. The highlight of the week was definitely the Namban Rengo race and BBQ on Sunday. For the last 8 years or so, Namban Rengo has held their own race on the first weekend in November. It started because it was so hard to enter races in Tokyo unless you did applied 6 months in advance. The event has grown and grown and become a highlight of our racing calendar. This was the 3rd time that I entered the half marathon and my time has gradually gotten slower: 2015 – 1:32:00, 2017 – 1:37:19, 2018 – 1:40:33. I am not too concerned with the drop in speed. Obviously, my advanced years has something to do with it, but also, I was at the end of a hard week and tough runs on Friday and Saturday. I am sure that if I had rested more before the race I may have done better but my goal is in 3 weeks time. I also managed to increase my running streak to 36 days thanks to my friends at Namban Rengo and I finally got to meet and talk to Maki san who is doing great running each day.

Monday 29th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    101

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:34/km

Avg HR:                                127 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     166

Monday morning and I was wrecked. The 42km that I had run on Sunday had really taken a lot out of me. I was happy that my resting heart rate and HRV were both in a good place but I really was too sore to run. This pain was reflected in my low heart rate and cadence as I plodded around Mizonokuchi for 5km. If I had not been trying to keep my streak going, I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep.

I had recovered enough by Monday night to make it to the Bikram Yoga class. I don’t know if I am getting any better but it is a good way to spend Monday night. I don’t lose any weight or get better at running, but there is a chance that I am improving my strength and balance. Only time will tell.

Tuesday 30th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       8.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:44/km

Avg HR:                                137 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

On Tuesday morning I knew that I was close to the 400km for October that I was after but that if I kept running my usual 5km per day, I would fall short. I upped it a little and ran down the Tamagawa River to Miyauchi and back. I was disappointed not to have my camera with me as it was a glorious day and I finished the run just 18km shy of my target.

Wednesday 31st October

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run #1:                                  10.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:30/km

Avg HR:                                140 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     181

Run #2:                                  8.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:33/km

Avg HR:                                139 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

I had wanted to go to the Namban Rengo 5km Time Trial on Wednesday night, but a real-life event had gotten in the way and I had to make other plans. The first of which was to get out early and run 10km down to Todoroki Stadium and back. This completed my 31st day of running in October and an achievement which I was very proud of. Before that, my longest streak was 15 days and to reach 31 days of one month was great.

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Every day in October

As it was Halloween, I legged it into the office and put up some decorations. There was an open day that evening for children of employees, and although it has been many a year since my kids have participated in such an event, I always want to make some effort for the kids that do show up.

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Happy Halloween (really?)

However, I was still 8km short of my goal for the month so once I got home at 8:30pm, I changed and was out the door again in 5 minutes to complete the missing km. This was only the second time that I managed 400km in a calendar month. The last was in 2013 when I got anemia. Oh, hang on!!! I am not sure if it will make any difference in Ohtawara in 3 weeks time, but it is nice to have that box ticked.

Thursday 1st November

Resting Heart Rate:          60

Heart Rate Variability:    88

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:04/km

Avg HR:                                130 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     170

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Waiting for Paul with Akiko and Michal

Thursday night we were going to see Paul McCartney so there would be no time to run in the evening. I got up and dragged myself around Mizonokuchi for a slow 5km with low heart rate and cadence. Again, if I was not trying to keep my streak going, I would not have bothered. Somehow, I managed to complete it and got to run another day.

The Paul McCartney concert was absolutely amazing. I don’t think I should comment on his age because a man in his 20s would have trouble performing a show that lasted 3-hours with such variety and energy. I think that it helps to have one of the best music catalogs in history. Paul played 37 songs from all over his career including my favorites – Hey Jude and Let It Be.  He could have played forever, but finishing with Golden Slumbers was outstanding.

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Paul on stage – sort of.

Friday 2nd November

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       12.1km (1.325m – 5:46, 5:44, 5:44, 7:50, 5:42, 6:01, 5:50) 

Avg Pace:                             4:53/km

Avg HR:                                159 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     183

After work on Friday, I met Sarah to run her training session around the Gaien Loop in Tokyo. The loop is 1,325 meters long and the plan was to run 3 laps hard, 1 lap easy and then 3 laps hard. It is rather difficult to say what hard is but we were running about 4:20/km for the first 3 laps. I was glad when they were over and I had a chance to catch my breath. It was very pleasing that the times for the 3 laps were all very consistent. We then started up the second set at about the same pace. Unfortunately, I got a call from the Real World and had to stop and take it at 500m in. It turned out to be an automated voice message. I started up again but Sarah was gone and I was not to see her again until the end. The lap finished well but I slowed down again on the second to last. My left leg was sore and I could not maintain the pace. On the final lap, another automated voice message decided to call me and I had to stop again. It was annoying but you have to accept this if you choose to run with your phone (note to self – leave the phone in locker). It was a good hard session and I am glad that I completed it on a Friday night.

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Gaein Loop

Saturday 3rd November

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    84

Run #1:                                  16:00

Avg Pace:                             5:05/km

Avg HR:                                147 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

                                                8 x 200m hills

Saturday morning I was due to do another double session. However, ithletePro was telling me that my HRV was suppressed and that I should reduce training intensity. I decided that I would try to push on and do my best and see how it went. I was less than 3 weeks out from my race and this was to be my hardest week.

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First off I met Nick in Aoyama Itchome. We had no real plan except to run around 90 mins at 5:00 ~ 5:10 pace. It was a beautiful morning but I was sore after Friday night’s tempo run as we headed off. Fortunately, Nick had been at a Halloween Party the night before and was not in great shape, to begin with. That soon changed. We left Aoyama and headed for the Imperial Palace. I was really feeling it and pleaded with Nick to leave me if he wanted to run faster. But he wouldn’t. He stayed beside me, dragging me along and finally we round up back in Starbucks in Aoyama after 16km and 81 mins where we had been 2 weeks previous.

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Running with NIck

It was a grand run and would have been enough on any other day except that we had the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats ahead of us. I love the Hill Repeats because it brings lots of people together, and there is always a stop at Starbucks afterward. This week was very tough with all the extra km in my legs and I finished well down the rankings on each hill. I just hope that it is doing me some long-term good.

As we had a BBQ and run on Sunday, that really meant one thing and one thing only. Shopping on Saturday afternoon. I met up with Rui, Takeo #2 and Yuki in Kawasaki and headed off to Costco where we filled 2 trolleys before we headed off to OK Store to get the stuff that Costco did not have i.e. azuki beans and mochi (Seriously, who eats this stuff? Well, my children do, but who else?). Rui had done a great job preparing a list of the items and we were in and out in no time.

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Sunday 4th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    87

Run:                                      Namban Half Marathon

Avg Pace:                             4:46/km

Avg HR:                                163 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

I started off the day by dropping off our shopping to the BBQ area at the Tamagawa river and then heading back home to return the car. I did not want to miss out on the fine craft beer that Glenn had promised us after the run. Namban Rengo organizes a 10km race and half marathon and I chose the half as I had in previous years. Unfortunately, both start together and I always get my pacing messed up from the start. Today was no different. Even though I had hoped to complete the half in just under 1:40, about 4:44/km pace, I ran the first 1km in 4:21. There was a great feeling of fun and camaraderie as we headed down the river and I think that it is fair to say that I got a little carried away. The course is basically a 5km out and back done twice with a little bit extra in the middle. As always on the Tamagawa, there was a wind blowing. I did not notice it for the first 5km as it was at my back, but once we turned around at the first switchback it was straight in my face. I did not lose too much time for the first 10km but I had expended quite a bit of energy.  I was dropped by Hang and Paul just before the 5km point and as we reached 8km, some of the 10km runners started to overtake me, including Bob Poulson who really should know better. I was holding on for dear life when Terri came storming past in the 10th km. I completed the 10km in 46:02 which is a 4:35 pace.

I went through the second switchback and started calculating how far ahead I was of the others who were just behind me. Rie and Tony were at 400m, Yasuo and Will at 500m and Emma at 600m. Fortunately, the wind was at my back again and I was able to restore my pace to 4:45.  I struggled on and graciously took my third drink from Chika san. She had been out on the course all day giving water and encouragement to the runners. At the final switchback at 16.1km, Tony and Rie caught and quickly passed me. I thought that the writing was on the wall and I would soon be passed by all the other runners as I headed into the wind. However, Will, Yasuo, and Emma had not made much ground in the last 5km and I plowed on into the wind. I knew that if I could maintain a 5:00/km pace I would be able to squeeze in just under 1:40. However, it gradually started to slip away as my pace dropped to 5:10 and then 5:15. I can only guess that if I had started at an easier pace I might have been able to maintain a 4:45 pace for longer.

I was happy to finish in 1:40:33 and then headed to the BBQ and craft beers. The other highlight of the day was to meet up with the members of the Get The Run Done Crew. Not everyone is in Tokyo at the minute, and not everyone was at the BBQ, but it was nice to catch up and talk with Maki, Francesco, and Glenn about how we were managing to run each day. I was particularly interested in how Francesco was using HRV. While I only use it in the morning to judge how recovered I am, he uses it after runs to gauge his effort. He said that we will soon use it during runs as well. I hope that he writes something about his experience so that I can see how it goes for him.

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With the Get The Run Done crew.

 

 

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 26 days to go!

Week           22 ~ 28 October 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    102km

I had another good week of running as I continued my countdown to Ohtawara 2018. It is always great to get over 100km but I also managed 4 quality workouts including a 42km on Sunday. My running streak has now reached 29 days, and while I was a little blue when I could not run Matsumoto Marathon and realised that it probably was for the better, I now felt a bit more confident that I could give Ohtawara a good shot and do my best.

Monday 22nd October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:34/km

Avg HR:                                138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Despite my Long Run on Sunday, I still managed to get up early on Monday morning and run before work in order to keep my streak going. Nothing eventful happened as I ran around the neighbourhood a couple of times avoiding trains and people heading to work. I was a little sore and kept my pace low. Monday evening, I was back in Bikram Yoga for the 3rd time in October. I am not sure I have made much progress in the last 6 months but if I will stick it out for another while, hopefully, I will improve my balance and flexibility and learn the crazy script.

Tuesday 23rd October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:23/km

Avg HR:                                142 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Tuesday I was no longer sore and I was able to go out and complete my morning run well in time. I didn’t feel sore and was beginning to get in the groove by the time the run was finishing.

Wednesday 24th October

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:56/km

Avg HR:                                149 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

I had wanted to go to Namban Rengo for the Intervals at the track on Wednesday evening but I had a real-life event and only managed to get home at 11:30pm. I was pleased that I had gone out in the morning and that the run went well. I started slow but was running fast by the last km. I can never start fast at 6am.

Thursday 25th October

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       15km

Avg Pace:                             4:50/km

Avg HR:                                164 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

As I had missed my quality run on Wednesday, I knew that I needed to get something done on Thursday before the weekend kicked in. Sarah had advertised that she was planning on running 3 laps of the palace, the first easy, the second and third hard. She wasn’t joking. I managed to meet herself and Rika san at the “statue” just before they headed off for the workout. Everything was fine as we headed up the hill and around the palace for the first lap. Then Rika san went home as she had a race on Saturday and Sarah turned up the pace. Like Nick on Saturday, she kept the pace high and steady. I clung on for as long as I could and completed the second lap averaging 4:28/km pace. As we headed up the hill for the 3rd time, I was suffering. I fell further and further behind as Sarah maintained pace and form. I averaged 4:41/km for lap 3 and was fairly happy with myself.

Friday 26th October

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    83

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:08/km

Avg HR:                                128 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     170

My resting heart rate did not change at all on Friday morning but my HRV dropped by 11 points. This was not unexpected. I had been stressed by the hard workout on Thursday and needed to take it easy. Fortunately, I only had to run to keep my streak going and I ran my 5km before breakfast. Friday evening we were back at Bikram Yoga. It was another good session and I began to feel that if I could practice it more than once a week, I might get better.

Saturday 27th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run #1:                                 16.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:18/km

Avg HR:                                150 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

 8 x 200m hills

As we left yoga on Friday night Sarah said that she would be swimming in Hayama in the morning and not be able to make the run around Akasaka Palace before the Namban Rengo Hill repeats. I felt a great sense of relief as I headed for a curry with Andrew and Naoko. I would not need to get up early on Saturday but just in time for the hills. However, I made the mistake of checking my phone when I turned over at 5am. There was a message that the swim been canceled due to the weather and to meet at the lockers in Aoyama at 8am. I quickly said to myself “You never saw it” and rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 6am and this time I stayed awake so I was on 7:19 train to Aoyama.

The plan was 5 laps of the 3.2km circuit and we kept the pace fairly consistent and pushed the last one – 17:48, 17.22, 17:25, 17:27 and 16:03. I didn’t get dropped but I was covered in sweat. The only moment of note was that our drinks got stolen. We had left them near the exit to the subway but by the end of the 3rd lap, they were gone. I am guessing that a disgruntled walker who does not like runners pounding around their palace took them. Shoganai!

We finished at 9:30 and had just enough time for a quick coffee in Starbucks before the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats started at 10am. Jay was “traveling” this week so it was up to Sharity to lead the group. Hill Repeats are always tough but when you have 16km in your legs they are very tough. It was great to see Keren up from Kyoto and have Chiba san take photos, but I was in trouble from the start. I had cooled down and could not get going again. The only time that I could sprint out of the blocks was when Chiba san positioned himself at a corner with his phone to capture the moment. It was very satisfying to get two hard efforts in on 2 consecutive Saturdays and I will need to try and do it again next week to make some progress.

 

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Hill #2 – Photo courtesy of Chiba san

Sunday 28th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    100

Run:                                       42km (6km@5:33/km, 6km@4:45/km, 6km@5:40/km,

                                                6km@4:59, 6km@5:31, 6km@5:23  

                                                + 4km sprints (sort of) and recovery)

Avg Pace:                              5:21/km

Avg HR:                                149bpm

Avg Cadence:                     181

fullsizeoutput_e93eI woke up early on Sunday morning with good looking HRV and RHR. A HRV of 100 is one of the highest I have seen and I knew I needed it. Again I was meeting up with the training crew of Sarah and Rika. Sarah had been assigned a 40km run with lots of crazy stuff – 3x (6km easy + 6km hard) and finishing off with 8 x (400m sprints + 100m recovery). I thought that I would give it a try and if it did not work out, I would just do my usual long slow distance. This would not be the case. I put in the best effort that I could from start to finish and was happy with the result.

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We started off just after 7am at a very easy pace along the Tamagawa River. It was still cool in the morning and it felt great. When we hit 6km Rika san turned back as she had run a race the day before and didn’t need to push it. Sarah upped the pace and I hung as best I could. At the 3km point the pace was increased again and I was dropped. However, I still managed to run at a respectable 4:45/km pace until the end. The next 6km easy went by well enough and I stopped for my first sports drink. We started the second hard 6km hard and I was dropped immediately. I knew that I just had to keep going as hard as I could and I kept my average pace at 4:59/km. I stopped again for 2 more bottles of sports drinks before heading off to run the 3rd and final 6km easy. I eventually ran into Sarah but once the last hard 6km started she was gone. My motor was shot. The best I could do was 5:29/km for the first 2km. I then stopped for even more sports drinks. After I restarted I was feeling a bit better and managed to get the 6km average up to 5:23/km before stopping for another drink. It is no wonder that I never lose any weight on a long run when I drink about 4 litres of fluids. We finished up with the 400m sprints, none of which were particularly fun, or fast.

As soon as we finished I legged it home as I had to be at my son’s school for his presentation. I finally got to reward myself with a Halloween Witch at Starbucks.

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Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 33 days to go!

Week           15 ~ 21 October 2018

Runs:           9

Distance:    100km

Another good week of training and now only 4 and a half weeks to my marathon. I managed 9 runs, 4 of which were quality for me. I met lots of friends, got in a Bikram Yoga class, helped my son with his school presentation, extended my runing streak to 22 days and covered 100km.  If I can keep going like this for the next 4 weeks I will be able to give my best in Ohtawara.

Monday 15th October

Resting Heart Rate:          52

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             6:14 min/km

Avg HR:                                131 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

I woke up tired on Monday morning after my weekend of running but I was happy to see that my RHR and HRV were in good places. As I had to travel to Chiba for a 9am appointment, I only managed a short run in order to keep my streak going. If I was not trying to run every day in October, I never would have bothered. Still, it was good that I was able to keep my heart rate down, even if my cadence was very sluggish.

After work, I went to my Bikram Yoga class in Ginza. I started the class last April and I have managed to go about once a week. It is very tough and I am brutal at it. I am particularly bad at anything that involves balance or squatting. Also, I am not so good at stretching. I do think that I am getting a little better at the Locust Pose. However, you will never know, unless you talk to one of the Nambanners who also go along with me. The hot room is difficult but not impossible. I try to get a mat near the door, which they open a few times in each class to let in cool air and give some respite. The main reason I am doing it is to avoid injury. For the past 2 years, I have suffered from pain in left hamstring and glute. It comes and goes, but when it is bad it really impacts me when I try to do anything above a slow jog. The jury is still out on whether the yoga is helping, but it does not seem to be hurting so I will continue to do it for now.

Tuesday 16th October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    98

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:24 min/km

Avg HR:                                143 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     182

Tuesday I had a bit more time and managed to get in my 5.3km run from 6am. I might have run further but I had to get back to get my son up by 6:30. I felt good on the run and managed to pick things up a little in the second half. I am pleased that I can now wake up at 5:30 every day. It is true what they say about habit. Once you do something for 3 days in a row, it becomes a habit and then it becomes easier to do each day.

My morning routine is becoming, well, a routine. As soon as I wake up I sit on the side of the bed and take my RHR and HRV with my ithlete app. It takes about 2 minutes. I have been using this app for 5 years now and I feel that it really helps to point out when I am beginning to tire and need to rest. I then switch on my Headspace app and do 10 minutes of meditation. It is now a very popular app and I have been doing it for about 3 years now. It certainly helps to start the day on the right foot.

I know it sounds that I spend my life monitoring myself on apps and I also use Sleepcycle, Myfitnesspal, Strava and Garminconnect, so maybe I am.

Wednesday 17th October

Resting Heart Rate:          48

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run #1:                                  5.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:49 min/km

Avg HR:                                133 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

Run #2:                                  Namban Intervals 1000m x 4, 800m x 2, 400m x 1

Avg Pace:                              3:58 min/km

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Wednesday I woke to a great RHR and a great HRV. I felt that I had recovered well since the weekend and was for once looking forward to going back to the Namban Interval Workout. I made it to the Sento at Yoyogi Koen early enough to get a locker. As running has gotten more and more popular in Japan, it is hard to get a locket after 6:30pm. After a 5km warm up with my Namban friends, we headed over to Oda Field for the intervals. It was this first time that I had participated for several weeks. It was too hot for me to run intervals during the summer and I mainly ran in Yoyogi Park at an easy pace. I was a little interested in how I would get on.

As it turned out, it was not brilliant but it was not terrible either. I managed to complete them and although I started to lose touch with the group from the 3rd interval on, I was able to recover in time before the next one. It was good to be back at the track and pushing my heart rate over 180 again.

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Thursday 18th October

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    86

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              6:04 min/km

Avg HR:                                132 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

Thursday was a recovery run to keep my streak going. I was just glad to be able to get out of bed and run around the block a couple of times. I did feel sore after my efforts on Wednesday night but nothing that would stop me.

Friday 19th October

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    84

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              6:02 min/km

Avg HR:                                131 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

I had a company event on Friday night so I knew that I would have to get out in the morning or else risk running late at night. It is tough to sleep properly after a late night run so I forced myself up and back around the block for 2 more laps.

Saturday 20th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    86

Run #1:                                   14km

Avg Pace:                              4:42 min/km

Avg HR:                                166 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     187

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

 8 x 200m hills

Saturday was a big day. Nick had called me on Friday and summoned me to partake in a Tempo Run on Saturday morning. His plan was to run 14km at 4:35 ~ 4:45 pace. We initially thought about doing the run along the Tamagawa River, but I wanted to go to the Namban Weekly Hill Repeats afterward, so we ended up going to Gaien in the center of Tokyo. I knew that it was going to be tough. Nick is in good shape and has been crushing one marathon after another. The Gaein is a 1.325km loop and we planned to run 10 ~ 11 laps to make the 14km. We set up our drinks and expected to grab them around the 5 or 6 lap mark.

It was hard at the start. For me anyway. I was not sure of the pace and I needed to force myself. Nick was taking it all in his stride. I called out the 500m and 1000m timings and gradually realized that we were not losing any pace and that I might be able to hang on. Actually, our pace was increasing and we ran the laps in 6:11/ 6:19/ 6:12/ 6:08/ 6:10/ 6:07/ 6:08/ 6:04/ 6:10/ 6:10. We also did not need to stop to grab our drinks either and I was very please how the run went. Afterward, we headed to Starbucks for a quick coffee before the Hill Repeats started.

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With Nick at the start in Gaien.

Almost 30 people turned up for the Namban Hill Repeats. There were so many people we were in danger of blocking the path at the Aoyama Itchome Police Box. Actually, we did block it and got shouted at a few times. I knew that I would not be in any great shape as I had already run that morning but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do two quality workouts in the same morning. I did manage to complete all 8 hills and that was good enough for me. We then headed back to the same Starbucks.

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The Namban Rengo Hill Repeats crowd in front of the Akasaka Palace.

Sunday 21st October

Resting Heart Rate:          53

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                        40.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:53 min/km

Avg HR:                                143 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     174

Sunday is Long Run day. Recently, I have felt that I have not done enough long runs and I wanted to make up for it. I also wanted to push myself over 100km for the week and get close to 300km for the month. My plan was to run easy for 40km and not push it too much. I was able to run at 6 min pace for most of the time and only stopped for drinks at 10km, 20km, 28km, 35km, and 38km. I ran all the way up from Mizonokuchi to Fuchu and back listening to Podcasts: The Daily, The NPR Politics Podcast, The Rich Roll Podcast, Serial and The Stand. You can catch up with a lot of stuff on a 4-hour run. It was a beautiful day with great views of Mt. Fuji. It is what makes the Tamagawa Run so special.

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The turn around point.

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Seats have been set up near Chofu for next week’s Fireworks.

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10km left to go.

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 40 days to go!

Week           8 ~ 14 October 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    91km

It’s been a hot summer. Here in Tokyo and everywhere else in the world. It really impacted my motivation to run for the past few months. While I was able to get out the door, it was very hard to do any quality runs and I found it tough. On top of the heat, Tokyo and Japan were hit by several storms and typhoons which made running seem unbearable. By the end of September, I felt I had had enough. The only problem was that I was due to run the Matsumoto marathon on 30th September. I had run it last year and enjoyed it so I signed up again for the 2018 event. But my heart was not in it. I traveled up to Matsumoto on the Saturday with fellow Nambanner, Andrew. He had been training well with a new coach despite a hectic schedule and was clearly excited at the prospect of earning a new PB.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle. He is clearly excited. I am carefully hiding the fact that I am not.

That evening we met up with the rest of the Namban crew who had planned to run the marathon. We knew that there was a typhoon approaching Japan but it looked like it would pass through on Sunday night and that there would be no rain or strong winds on Sunday morning so we expected the race to go ahead. Therefore, it was a bit of shock at around 7:30 pm when Banno san told us that the race had been canceled. I felt that a life sentence had just been lifted. I knew that I was in no condition to run a marathon and the prospect of Andrew getting a PB and beating me in the process was very real. We did the only thing that we could do and ordered another round of drinks.

It was already too late to get a train back to Tokyo, and as we had paid for our hotels and checked in, we decided to make the most of it and go for a run in the morning before heading back. As it turns out, Sunday was a lovely day for running and we had a nice trot around Matsumoto while trying to find the best route on our iPhones and hardly ever getting lost. I felt sluggish and slow and it reaffirmed my feeling that this was not to be my day.

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Matsumoto Morning Run instead of running a marathon.

On the train back to Tokyo, I was not in great form. I knew that I had dodged a bullet but also that I could not continue to do so forever unless I decided to give up entering races. I was lacking in motivation and willpower and needed something to jump start my engine – so to speak. My saving came in the form of an email from Richard. He described his own recent dissatisfaction with his running and how he planned to sort it out by going on a running streak. This would involve running at least 1 mile per day for the month of October, and then maybe longer. He invited anybody who was interested to join him.

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The motivational email

I thought to myself that that sounds like just what I need. Achievable. Goal Oriented. Group Related. Relative. Perhaps I have been on one too many Leadership Courses but I was sold on the idea. The next day, 1st Oct, I started and managed to complete the first week without too much stress by getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal and running the 2.8km loop around my house most days.

The other thing that has gotten me motivated it again was this blog. I had expected to be writing my Matsumoto Marathon Race Report around this time, but as luck would have it, I never got to run the race. In previous years, I had written each week about my training for the Ohtawara marathon, but recently my enthusiasm had fallen off. It was a chance encounter with an old Namban friend, Arnaud, in Starbucks that made me want to write again. He was over from Singapore and having coffee with Jay when I bumped into him one lunchtime. He told me how he enjoyed my blog and how he was interested in how I fitted everything in with life and kids and work and running. It really got me thinking about how much I enjoyed writing it myself and how it motivated me to run. I decided there and then that I would restart it, at least until after the Ohtawara Marathon this November.

So armed with my daily run and my weekly blog, I am going out to try and recapture all my motivation and run a good race in Ohtawara on 23rd November. At least, that is the plan.

Monday 8th October

Resting Heart Rate:          47

Heart Rate Variability:    107

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:45 min/km

Avg HR:                                137 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

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Monday was a National Holiday in Japan. Normally, I would try to take advantage of this and go out and do a long run. However, we had plans to go outlet shopping in Gotemba, so I sneaked out for a couple of laps of Mizonokuchi before we left. Had I not been on the running streak program, I would never have gone. I was happy with the run as I managed to keep my HR under 140 and get some points on the board at the start of the week. The outlet was not too packed and I got a nice pair of Nike Odyssey React for half price. These have turned out to be a great investment and I have worn them on almost every run since I bought them.

Tuesday 9th October

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                      5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:00 min/km

Avg HR:                                153 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     187

I was pleased that my Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability were in the correct ranges. My average RHR is around 56 bpm so anything below that means that I am well rested. Likewise, any HRV above 90 is a good sign that I am not too stressed. I use the ithlete app first thing every morning to record these. I woke before 5:45 and was on the street by 6:03. I felt I could run a bit faster than Monday in my new Nike’s and my pace improved in the second half of the run. I was in good condition and enjoyed weaving through people on the pavement heading to work early.

Wednesday 10th October

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run #1:                                5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                162 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     188

Run #2:                                11.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:38 min/km

Avg HR:                                148 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I managed a double on Wednesday. This time I was on the street at 5:55 to do my 2 laps of Mizonokuchi and I also managed to run in Yoyogi Park with Bob J on Wednesday night. I was very pleased with the morning run as I was able to push my pace a lot more again. It was no surprise that I was a little tired by the evening run and ran at much more relaxed pace. Bob had started early but stayed around to help me through my first 3 laps of Yoyogi Park.

Thursday 11th October

Resting Heart Rate:          63

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:56 min/km

Avg HR:                                133 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

It was no surprise that I was tired again on Thursday morning since I got home late on Wednesday and did not get enough sleep. This was reflected in my RHR and HRV. I still managed to get up at 5:45 and plod around Mizonokuchi for 5km at an easy pace and low heart rate. I was just happy to get the run done.

Friday 12th October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             5:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                134 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I had a meeting at work from 7 pm on Friday, so I knew that it would be challenging to get in a run after I got home at 9 pm. The plan was to get up again at 5:45 and do my usual 2 laps before work. However, I totally slept in and missed my run. That meant I was out on the streets at 9:20 pm running around the neighborhood to ensure that I got the run done when I should have been sleeping and getting ready for the long run in West Tokyo early on Saturday morning. This is when the streak gets tough but the challenge is all part of the fun.

Saturday 13th October

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    89

Run:                                       30.6km

Avg Pace:                             5:44 min/km

Avg HR:                                145 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     176

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On the banks of the Akigawa River in West Tokyo.

The plan for Saturday morning was to meet Namban running legend, Mark Feeley, at his home in Haijima and do a long hilly run around the Akigawa river. We both plan to do the 55km charity run with Knights In White Lycra (KIWL) in November in aid of Mirai no Mori and the Ohtawara Marathon is not exactly flat so we this run was the start of my preparations.

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Elevation

It was great. Mark dragged me up and down lots of hills as we ran around his neighborhood greeting his neighbors. It is very enjoyable to be out of the city and running past rice fields and beehives while herons stood still in the river waiting to pounce on unsuspecting fish. The run was long and hard as I requested and afterwards, we retired to the local Ishikawa Brewery for some delicious craft beer.

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Alan in Tokyo

Saturday evening an old college friend, Alan, was in town for one night and we met up for some more craft beer in the Taproom in Nakameguro. I knew that I had another long run on Sunday and that Alan would probably be back in Tokyo in a few months, but the call of the Teikoku IPA was just too strong.

Sunday 14th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    90

Run:                                       25.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:53 min/km

Avg HR:                                138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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Tamagawa Ohashi Bridge

Despite going drinking twice on Saturday, my RHR and HRV were still in a good range on Sunday morning. I was still tired from Saturday’s hilly long run so I decided that a nice easy run, trying to keep my heart rate well under 140, would be a good idea. I headed off to the Tamagawa, turned right and then down to Kawasaki. The temperature was cool and the run turned out well. My HR stayed under 140 until I was about 75% done. At around that point, I switched from the Rich Roll Podcast to Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks and my heart rate started to creep up as I made my way home.

All in all, a good week of running. I kept my streak going and I feel that I have gotten some of my motivation back.

40 days to the Ohtawara Marathon.

 

 

Nagano Marathon 2018

Net Time 3:52:26

Preparing for a marathon is always tricky. But basically, you want to have your best month in the last 6 weeks before the race. This was not the case for me and my first Nagano Marathon. However, before I get into the details, I should point out that I was delighted to actually be able to toe the line at all. This was the 4th Nagano marathon for which I had applied and the first that I actually made the start. In 2o11 we had the horrific North East Japan earthquake and tsunami on the 11th March which caused the cancelation of the marathon in April. In 2012 I was fortunate to be invited to the wedding of a good friend in Ireland. And in 2014, I had to work. I cannot complain about any of these, but I was really happy to make the start on the 4th attempt.

So I turned 50 in March. I know, hard to believe. How could someone born in 1968 ever turn 50?  Well apparently it happens, so you have to get used to it. I had such a wonderful 50th birthday! It lasted several weeks and really filled me with gratitude for all that I have in this world.

The first event was when my running club, Namban Rengo, sprung a surprise birthday party for me in Tullamore Irish Pub in Yoyogi Koen 2 days before the day itself. It was the first time that I had the honor of a surprise party and I was thrilled that all my friends from Namban Rengo were there. My Irish friend Paddy had suggested that we go for a couple of pints with a couple of people after the Wednesday night workout and when I showed up, they had taken over the whole bar and filled with all my friends. It is a very special occasion when a lot of people show up for your birthday and I truly appreciated it. I just wished I could have expressed myself better, and remembered to take off my coat for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

My actual birthday took place on Friday the 9th March and when I got home from work my wife had put on a great vegetarian spread and decorated the house. 

The next day the two of us dumped the remaining kids on the in-laws and Akiko took me off to the Maldives for 1 week. Going to the Maldives from Japan is not easy. First, you have to fly to Singapore and then hang around a bit. Then, you fly to Male and hand around a bit more. Finally, you get a fixed-wing plane down south to the islands where you hang around for the last time before taking a speedboat to the island where you will spend the next 5 nights. However, once you get there it is amazing. The island has a circumference of 1.6km and there are no shops. Well, there is one shop, but it does not sell much. All you can do is eat, relax, drink, swim, snorkel and maybe run 6km in the morning before it gets too hot. It was a wonderful vacation for both of us and a great start to the next 50 years.

The good life

Drinks by the pool

Snorkeling

Sunset

Nightime

Happy Birthday to me

Snorkeling

My morning run

Sunset


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the celebrations did not stop there. A week after we arrived back from the Maldives, my brother and my 2 nephews arrived from Ireland. We had a full schedule planned in Kamakura, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. It was a wonderful trip. It is always great showing Japan to your family and we did a lot together. Perhaps the highlight was feeding the deer in Nara. Such a simple thing, but it brought such great joy to everyone. It was also great to get my kids together with the cousins who do they do not see a lot as they live 10,000 miles apart.

Harry Porter at Univeral Studios Japan

Kyomizudera in Kyoto

Kinkakuji in Kyoto

Running with Antoin and Kevin

Antoin feeds the deers while Sean looks on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there I was on the 1st April, 2 weeks out from the Nagano Marathon, and only 173km to show for March. I had run double that in February but I was not worried. I just had one of my best months and my best birthday. I knew that it was going to be a slog, but I was prepared for it and knew that I could just do my best.

 

Marcus and myself on the Shinkansen to Nagano

Getting ready to leave the comfort of my hotel.

With Goto san and Kiran at the start!

Nagano Marathon is one of those early start marathons. And by early, I mean 8:30am. That means you cannot get to the city the day of the race and you need to come up the day before and hang out. I went up on the shinkansen with Marcus and we met Kiran in Nagano station shortly after arriving. The three of us then headed off to the Expo which was rather disappointing. And by disappointing, I mean that there was not a lot to eat. I really enjoy stuffing my face the day before a race, but this time there just was not a lot of options. The only good thing was that we ran into Brad as we were leaving the Expo and realized that we were all staying at the JAL City Hotel. It is always hard knowing where to eat the day before a race but Marcus and I found a nice Italian restaurant not too far from Nagano station and Kiran came and joined us. Kiran was a little surprised when he arrived and saw us drinking wine, but we assured him that it was too late us to affect the outcome of the race so we might as well enjoy it.

With the early start to the race, it meant an even earlier breakfast. The hotel had advertised a 6am breakfast, but I had been fooled by that before and headed up to the dining area at 5:50am which was already in full swing. After eating well at the breakfast buffet, we checked out just before 7am and head back to Nagano station to get the train to the start. I had chosen not to bring any bag with me and to leave all my stuff at the hotel. At the start, I met Kiran and Goto san. Both were in good form and looking forward to the race. A light rain was falling and I wore a plastic raincoat that I was soon to discard. I knew that I had not trained enough but hoped that I could hang on to a 5 minute/km pace for the first half of the race and then dig deep later on.

 

 

 

 

 

The truth was something different. Once the race started, I knew that I was in trouble and that a 5 min/km pace would be too much for me. The Nagano Marathon, despite being set in the center of the Nagano Mountains, is not a hilly race. There are a few inclines at the start but they soon give way to a fairly flat course. However, I still was not able to maintain my desired pace. I struggled early on and was soon paced by the 3:30 pace makers and later on by the 3:45 pace makers. At 17km, Hayakawa san tapped me on the shoulder with a grin and then flew past me. I saw him later after a switch back and then he was gone and I never saw him again.

I knew then that I was fighting myself and fighting Kiran. Myself, because I had run 3:52 in my last marathon in Ohtawara in November and I wanted to do the same again. Kiran, because we work together and I did not want to lose bragging rights. He had been training well and looking good on Strava and had run 3:56 in Kyoto in February. I knew that if I slowed down more, or walked, he would easily catch me. So I pushed on. Down along the Chikumagawa River that I know so well from my time in Ueda and back up the other side. I stopped a couple of times to make use of the free Cold Spray which was readily available but did not walk or stop to eat.

It was a tough finish around the stadium but I kept going and kept ahead of Kiran … barely. He had a really good run and came in right behind me as did Marcus. Goto san ran the same time as he did last year and was very happy. As soon as I was done, I got my medal and towel and headed for the bus back to Nagano station and the Onsen and soba that awaited me.  It was a great weekend and a very enjoyable race. I am glad that I finally made it.

 

Namban Rengo 5 Questions

Every Friday Paddy from Namban Rengo asks a member of Namban Rengo the following 5 questions. This was my turn.

 

And … we’re back! Happy New Year folks! When Pádraig (pronounced “paw rig”) came to the track all those years ago, I immediately had him down as one of those Oda Field one-hit-wonders. But if I learned one thing about this Dubliner – from the wrong side of the river – he’s a stubborn and persistent auld dog. He’s now one of the clubs most committed and dedicated members. Not only that, he’s a sound man. This is the highest compliment you can pay to an Irishman. Just make sure you read his blog posts. To the end! No longer content with the mere full marathon distance he’s started to dabble in ultras. This probably isn’t going to end well … Let me know if you need the number of a good surgeon. Over to you, Pádraig …

Hometown: Dundrum, Dublin.

Currently live: Musashi Mizonokuchi

1. Namban years active?

I first came out to run with Namban on Wednesday, 10th June, 2009. It was quite a memorable beginning … at least for me. I had just ran my first marathon, Tokyo, the previous March and my Irish friend, John Guckian, told me about Namban. He said that it was originally linked to The Irish Tokyo City Harriers (ITCH) which our friends Olly and Monica had run with in the 80s. I really enjoyed my first night running and came back for more. I remember Bob holding up a copy of Born to Run and recommending everyone to read it and Paddy coming over to say “howya”. I still find it amazing that I found so many new friends as I headed into middle age.

2. Running high point(s)?

It might sound superficial to say that every run is a high point, but it is only when you are injured and cannot run that you realize that it true. Most of my high points have not been races but runs in different parts of the world. Although I have run along the Tamagawa river 500 times in the last 10 years it never fails to disappoint. Whether it is first thing in the morning, or late at night, it is always full of life and nature. Many times Paddy and myself have discussed what a great resource it is and how lucky we are to live near it, although Paddy might live a little too near on a rainy day. My most memorable runs along the Tamagawa were in the days and weeks after the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011. If you were not in Japan, it was a time of great uncertainty and we were very lucky to be able to meet at Tamagawa station and trash out a steady 30km, still hoping that the Nagano Marathon would not be cancelled. Deer Park in Dublin sits above the city with a great view right across to Howth and the Northside. Less that a kilometer from where I grew up, there is no finer sight that the Lansdowne Road Stadium shimmering in the morning sun while you pound out the one mile circuit amidst local mamas power walking in groups of 3 and students cycling to UCD. I never ran when I lived in Ireland and now I am hardly back 5 mins when I am out the door in my shorts and clutching my iPhone. Running on holidays is always a pleasure, but one that has to be enjoyed early in the morning before your family wake up and realize that you have escaped into your own private world. I have ran in every country I have been to in the last 8 years but the lap of Diamond Head in Oahu was definitely special. Coming round the top with the most magnificent view of Waikiki Beach ahead and passing the young lad in the bright yellow running shirt who passed me on the way up will live with me forever. I could go on. And on. The Marina in Cork. The Phoenix Park in Dublin. Shimin no Mori in Nagano. Hyde Park in London and the pouring rain and getting lost in Chelsea and nearly missing my meeting. The park with all the stray dogs in Bangalore that scared the crap out of me. The beaches in Surin, Kona, Da Nang and Kuta. East Coast Park in Singapore and Victoria Park in Hong Kong with 100s of ladies doing Tai Chi at 6am. Every place I have been is linked to a run and I am grateful for every one

3. Running low point(s)?

There are no low points. Why should there be? What the hell was Paddy thinking asking this question? Probably of Nagano Marathon 2012 when I gave him my number but that is another story.

4. Favorite sports movie, sports book and sports/motivating song?

Movie: Escape to Victory. I was 12 when I heard that this movie was being made and I could not imagine a better movie than one that had Pele. Unless of course it also had The Incredible Hulk.

Book: Born To Run. After Bob recommended it to us, John went out and bought it and I borrowed it from him. It is an amazing book that makes you want to get up out of bed and run, even though it is 1am. Another great book that John lent me was Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. I think we are seeing a trend here. Dean’s love of running is infectious and this book is highly recommended.

Song: Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. Obvious reasons.

5. Your next big goal, ambition?

At the start of 2017 I decided to run an Ultra Marathon and completed the Nikko 100km in July. In order to prepare for it I did a lot of long slow runs and stopped doing the intervals with Namban. Right after it I thought that this was great and I would like to run it again. However, now at the end of the end of the year as I reflect on all the running that I have done, I feel that I missed a lot by not joining in the weekly track workout. My next goal is to get back to running on the track on Wednesday nights and doing the 5km time trial at the end of the month.