Tokyo Marathon 2017 – Race Report

Net Time: 3:34:10

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Gaining entry to the Tokyo Marathon is like winning the lottery. Actually, it is winning the lottery. Around 330,000 people apply for 27,000 places and then there are an additional 3,000 places which can be purchased with 100,000 yen donation to charity. This year I was in 2 lotteries. My company, Colt, had agreed to sponsor 4 runners in the marathon and I joined the mass lottery as well. As luck would have it, I failed to get selected in the Colt Lottery which had a ratio of 2:1 but I did get selected in the mass lottery with a ratio of 12:1. What are the odds?  Well 12 to 1. I learned of my good fortune while lounging in bed with jet lag and a hangover in the Tallbot Hotel in Stillorgan last September. I was back in the old country to help Daughter #1 get set up in college when the news came through. I had been out the previous night meeting up with my brother, my oldest friend Niall and a certain Arthur Guinness in the hotel bar. My brother, who had also applied and not been selected, could not understand how fate could be so cruel.

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At the time I was training with Harrisson for the Ohtawara Marathon in November and everything was going well. Even though I had to travel a bit, I completed all of my quality workouts and finished Ohtawara in 3:24:48, my third best marathon. However, somewhere along the way I felt a strain at the top of hamstring, or the bottom of my glut (I am never quite sure), but instead of taking a few weeks off after Ohtawara, I kept training and started going out to the track again, with my club Namban Rengo. I also managed to complete 320km in Jan by running everyday over the year end holidays. However, on the 18th January I finally accepted that something was wrong when I did the Namban track workout in Yoyogi Park.  Initially, everything was was going great. I was running fast and kept all 4 of my 1000ms at 3:50 or less, something I had not been able to do for a long time. However, during the final 2 x 500m I felt a lot of pain in my left hamstring and struggled to complete them.

The following Sunday, 22nd January, I had the Chiba Marine Half Marathon with a great bunch of Nambanners. I could only manage 1:35:37 in near perfect conditions and not the 1:32:00 I was aiming for. My leg was sore the whole time and I could not push the pace even though my breathing was fine. It was time for drastic measures. When I arrived in work on the 1st February I saw a message from my friend Steve Flynn in Manchester. He had just finished January without a drink for charity, and was asking people to join him for February. I signed up hoping that it would help me lose weight, but also help my leg recover. I had been getting sports massages and while they provided relief, were not really fixing the problem as I continued to train. 3 Weeks on from the Chiba Marine, on the 12th February and after 6 days of rest, I ran the Inzai Half Marathon in 1:36:17. I had been hoping to improve and but it was not to be. I pushed my pace early on but died greatly in the second half.

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My colleagues from work were all training well and we headed to the Expo together on the Thursday before the race. Three of us had done marathons before, and three of us were doing one for the first time. I had arranged the Colt running shirts through my friend Tim Williams in Namban Rengo and even if I say so myself, they looked pretty good.

The day of the race itself was gorgeous. Sunny, moderate temperature and virtually no wind. I opted to run in just the running singlet with no T-shirt underneath. I also bought a cheap hat and pair of gloves that I planned to dispose of a long the way. However, it was so warm standing in Block B that I need not have bothered. Based on my two half marathon results, I knew that 4:30 pace was well out of the question but thought that I might have a chance at 4:40 pace and slip in under 3:20 for only the second time.  As we headed out on the new course from Shinjuku, the atmosphere was great. Thousands of people lined the streets as always and the runners were all in good form. I was feeling good myself as I took my first drink at the 5km mark. Normally I do not drink so early in a race but as the temperature was set to rise to 13 degrees and the sun was out, I knew that I would need it later. At Idabashi, I heard the first shouts from the Namban horde. Throughout the course, they were popping up everywhere, behind bus shelters, on bridges but always roaring out encouragement.

At 10km the race changed from its original course. For the past 10 years it would turn right and run down to Shinagawa but this year the new course turned left and headed up to Asakusa. Shortly after that I saw Derek running in the opposite direction. He is easy to spot in his green tinted sunglasses. We yelled at each other and kept going. My pace had now settled around the 4:50 mark but I felt I was in control and did not need to worry. Near Asakusa I was awakened from my trans-like state by a shout of “Gambare Mako-gan”. Matsushita san from Colt had come out to support us and was holding a teal Colt T-Shirt. On and on and the craic was good as Van Morrison might say and we turned around at Asakusa Temple and headed back towards Ginza, but before we got there we took a sharp left at the 16km point and headed to Monzen-Nakacho and back, an area I know well. Right after I turned the corner I saw Michael Hegarty  from Namban flying down the road. I wanted to shout at him, but I failed to recall his first name in time and all that came out was “Go Go”. Later at the post marathon party, he told me he knew who it was. Then as I passed the 17km point I saw Harrisson and he was just passing the 24km point. I yelled “Go Harrisson” but he totally ignored me. I guess he was in the zone. All the way up to Mozen and back I kept looking out for other Nambanners and maybe a Colt runner, but I missed them all.

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At the end of the road we turned left and rejoined the course towards Ginza. My family said that they would be at the 29km point just outside Takashimaya department store. For that 5km I thought that it would be great seeing them and I imagined that one of them would have a steaming hot cup of coffee for me. It practically kept me going. Of course they had no such thing, so after exchanging some pleasantries I headed off again to see the Colt people who promised to be at the 34km point. Up until 24km I had managed to keep my pace under 5 min per km but I could not hold out any longer as the war of attrition set in. The stretch from 29km to 34km was very tough as we ran down from Hibiya to Tamachi. My pace slowed to 5:30 over this stretch but fortunately it did not reduce much more after that. At Tamachi station the Colt folks were out in force and had brought the cold spray that I had given them. I used it liberally and headed on to the final turn around in Shinagawa at around the 35.5km point.

As I passed through Tamachi the second time, I looked out for the Colt supporters but I missed them as they had crossed the road. It was around here that the local Autobacs store was handing out Coca Cola. I have rarely tasted anything as good in all my life.  It was well past noon now and the day was warm but it was not an oppressive heat. I took my last gel at around the 37km mark with my second Nurofen to ward off the pain and put my head down for home. I know the road from Tamachi up to Otemachi very well. It is wide and open but there was not much wind so I was able to keep an even pace. Just before Hibiya Park, there was a big crowd of Nambanners cheering and taking photos as we went by. It was very encouraging to hear them all in the final stages of the race.

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Finally, I made it to the paved streets of Otemachi and as I turned the second last corner I saw the sign that declared 1km to go. I was holding on to by 5:30 pace as best I could when I saw my family lining the road, holding out a cup of coffee for me. I was hardly going to take it with 500m to go but I appreciated the gesture, however late in the game. A middled aged American woman kept sprinting past me, stopping and walking, letting me pass her and then doing the same again. I thought that I had her beat but in the final run in, she found some extra strength and pipped me at the post right in front of Tokyo station.

I was very happy to finish and while I was a little disappointed that I could not maintain my early pace, I knew that my training had not been sufficient I was lucky to be able to complete this great new course on such a beautiful day with my family, friends and colleagues along the route.

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After the finish there is a 1km walk back to the bags where hundreds of volunteers line the route and cheer and clap and give High 5s. Had it not been such great weather, it would have been a bit tedious, but under the circumstances, it was also a lot of fun.  That evening, the Namban crew were back in FooTNiK in Osaki for the by now traditional post marathon party. There was a great turn out of runners and supporters. Here’s hoping that we get to do it all again next year.

Week 18 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

And so ends my 6 months of training for the Otawara Marathon. It starts in 2 and a half days and I would like to think that I am as ready as I ever will be. Of course that is not true. The amateur runner with a job and children and other commitments will never be as ready as he ever will be but he can be as ready as as he could hope to be. There have been many real life events that have interrupted my training over the last few months. Some I could not have avoided, some I chose not to avoid. At the end of he day, the overall choice was my mine and I will live with it. I have trained as hard as I wanted to and not as hard as I could have and I when I out my toe on the line on Wednesday I will know that this is my race.

Now all I need to do is to get three good nights sleep and eat well. There is no more running to be done until 10am on Wednesday.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 40.3km km
  • Time: 3 hour 35 min

It was good to complete five runs and 40km in the week before the marathon even if three of the runs were 5km. Last year I completed 3 runs and 28km but I don’t think that you can compare one single week. However, I have always been lax the week leading up to a race and I feel that this has been a problem. We will soon find out if the extra runs will have had any benefit.

Monday 14th November

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.6kg

Although Monday is generally a rest day, I had hoped to run as I was getting over a cold and had not run over the weekend. However, when I got back from work on Monday night it was raining. I generally don’t care if it is raining or not, but this time it was too close to my race and I was afraid that my cold would start up again. So I took some extra rest and hoped that I would get better.

Tuesday 15th November

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.4kg

Tuesday I had a real life event after work so I could not run. My cold continued to improve.

Wednesday 16th November

  • RHR: 53
  • HRV: 61
  • Weight: 83.7kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time: 29 minutes
  • Avg HR: 146
  • Avg Cadence: 175
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Autumn in Chiba

On Wednesday I woke up feeling terrible. Life had eventually caught up with me and I was miserable. Unfortunately after waking at 5:45 I could not go back to sleep so I went out and did an easy 5km. This was my first run in 7 days. Totally unplanned and unpexpected I made it out the door just after 6am and broke the spell.

Thursday 17th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 84kg
  • Run: Easy with 8km at goal HR
  • Distance: 14km
  • Time: 1 hour 13 minutes
  • Avg HR: 154
  • Avg Cadence: 173

On Thursday I was feeling a lot better so Harrison gave me this workout to see how I was fixed for the race.

  • 3km easy warm up with 3 x 15 sec strides
  • 8 km @ 165 ~ 175 heart rate which was the same as Ohtawara 2015
  • 3km easy cool down

 

This was my first hard run in over 10 days and it went well. I was able to run the 8km portion in 36:31 which is at a 4:34 pace and with an average HR of 169. The first half was  better than the second half as I was wearing too much clothes and I started to heat up when I was running into the wind on the way back. However, my right foot was sore right after I had finished the 8km part and I had to take my shoe and sock off to massage it. I then ran home very gently.

Friday 18th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.4kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 5.4km
  • Time:  30 minutes
  • Avg HR: 133
  • Avg Cadence: 171

Friday was another easy day with 5km around the neighborhood. I was finally winding down.

Saturday 19th November

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.3kg
  • Run: Easy with strides
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time:  29 minutes
  • Avg HR: 140
  • Avg Cadence: 172
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Juicing

Saturday was an easy 5km run with 30 seconds of strides at the end of each 1km. It went well and I was finished before lunch. I made myself a whooping big juice with beets, curly kale, apple, turmeric and wheatgrass to celebrate before heading out to see the art exhibition by my friend George and meet my other friend Alan who was over from London.

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George’s Art

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Alan in Japan

Sunday 20th November

  • RHR:
  • HRV:
  • Weight: 83.7kg
  • Run: Easy with pace work
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time:  53 minutes
  • Avg HR: 150
  • Avg Cadence: 177

On Sunday morning I got up at 5am to bring my son to the train station for his rugby game. I got up as soon as I woke up so I had no chance to take my heart rate or HRV. After dropping him off I went back to bed for 3 hours before heading out for my last training run just before lunch.  Harrison hag given me the following:

  • 3k easy, 500m @ 4:05, 1000m @ 4:15, 3k @ 4:25 ~ 4:30, WD

and it went  to plan. I ran it at

  • 500m in 2:00
  • 1km in 4:09
  • 3km in 13:01

with no serious impact. I then went home and spent the rest of the day getting my car tested. I finally succeeded sometime after 6pm.

 

Week 17 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

So Week 17 was not a very good one for me. It started off fine and I was expecting to do two hard runs to cap off my training but I felt sick on Wednesday, got worse on Friday and hopefully am making a recovery on Sunday. Anyway, this is how it went. 10 days to race day.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 2
  • Distance: 10.8 km
  • Time: 1 hour 12 mins

Monday 7th November

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.4kg

Again a rest day and I was feeling fine just chillin’ at home. Nothing to see here.

Tuesday 8th November

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83.4kg
  • Run: Easy run with Michael
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time: 37 mins
  • Avg HR: 115
  • Avg Cadence: 164

Harrisson had put Tuesday down as an extra rest day but as my boy was going for a run about the time I got home from work, I decided to go with him as it would be nice and easy. It was an easy run and I finished it feeling great although the boy refused to get into any photos with me.

Wednesday 9th November

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: Easy run as it happens
  • Distance: 5.5km
  • Time: 34 mins
  • Avg HR: 130
  • Avg Cadence: 162

I am not saying that it had anything to do with my run and condition, but all day Wednesday we spent every available minute checking in on the US Presidential results. It really captured everybody’s imagination in Japan. Even my wife was texting me as it became more clear that Trump would win. It was quite a shock.

I got home at a reasonable time and headed out the door to do my run. At the beginning I was feeling great as I bounded down the road and made the second corner in extra quick time. It was shortly after that that things started to go wrong. I started feeling dizzy and lightheaded. The plan was to run 5km at 4:15 ~ 4:20 pace but when I got to the river I knew that I was not up to  it and just turned back for home, stopping at a Convenience Store to get an energy bar. I don’t know what had gone wrong, but I really felt out of sorts.

Thursday 10th November

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 65
  • Weight: 82.7kg

On Thursday morning my HRV had dropped 10 points to 65 and turned yellow. I did not feel too bad and still had hopes of doing the hard run that evening when I headed out for work. Even as I was walking home from the station, I was trying to talk myself back into it. However, when I reached home I was admitted to myself that I was just too tired and needed to rest more.

Friday 11th November

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 82.9kg

My HRV had recovered a little my Friday morning but I was feeling cold with a runny nose and sneezing as I headed out the door. I felt OK during the morning but after lunch my sneezing and runny nose just got worse and worse and by 3:30pm I had to accept defeat and head home to bed. My wife collected me at the station and 10 minutes later I had drunk a Hot Lemon drink and was in bed shivering.

Saturday 12th November

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83kg

Saturday my HRV was back to normal but I was still feeling weak and I spent most of the day in bed.

Sunday 13th November

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 82.9kg

Sunday and you are probably glad that this blog post has to end. Hopefully I will be  fully recovered in the next couple of days able to get in a few more runs before my race on 23rd November.

Week 15 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

And before I knew it Week 15 was over and I was just 3 weeks out from my marathon. Although I started base training almost 6 months ago at the beginning of May, it all seems to have happened very fast and I don’t feel at all ready. That may be because I have had a rough couple of weeks and I feel battered and bruised. I can expect that things will get better after the taper but truth is, I have never really performed well during the final three weeks before a marathon. I run too little, I eat too much and I generally start to doubt what I can do. The confidence that I had running around Gaienmae in July seems all but a distance memory as I stumble from one niggle to another and another week of 2 or 3 runs instead of 5 or 6.

At least this time I know that I experiencing the blues because I am rather sad that my training is coming to an end. I  have enjoyed it immensely, especially the motivation and support from Harrisson. I will miss his late night mails with my weekly schedule and his WhatsApp early in the morning with inquires about my latest injury or a request for me to restart logging all the Cinnamon Rolls I eat on MyFitnessPal.com. It has been a good and enjoyable journey and like all journeys it must come to an end.

This week I only managed 3 runs and only 1 was a quality run. The soreness in my left leg has continued so Harrisson cut back my training and gave me extra rest days. The good news is that it started getting better towards the end of the week and my HRV has come back to where it should be.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 3
  • Distance: 54km
  • Time:    5 hours 3 mins

Monday 24th October

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.5kg

It was good to wake on Monday morning and see my HRV and RHR in the green. As the previous week had been so bad, I was afraid that I was on a downward spiral but reducing the beers and getting a bit more sleep seems to have had some effect. I could not complete all the requirements of Sunday’s workout but I had done enough to sleep well and wake up rested.

Tuesday 25th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.8kg

As we parted on Sunday after the Long Run, Harrisson had told me to take 2 days off to rest my legs and get back on track. I was happy to do this as I had a real life event after work on Tuesday and got back late.

Wednesday 26th October

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83.5kg
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The environment under change

On Wednesday I was due to restart training but I had another real life event in the evening and got home too late to run so I knocked it on the head. Still, I was happy to get an extra day’s rest. Wednesday was also the day that I noticed how far the construction around our office had advanced. All the old shops and restaurants are being demolished to make way for a mega-building. Tokyo is changing so fast these days, there are few places that I can recognize from the early days. I remember taking the Yamanote Line in 1991 from Meguro to Hamamatsucho to work on the Irish Network newsletter and seeing the old Minato Sports Center from the train window. I did not live in Minato Ku and I longed to be able to use that center. Now it has been knocked down and replaced by the construction site beside my office and I go to the new Sports Center 200m down the road.It’s a funny old rock ’n’ roll world.

Thursday 27th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Long Intervals 5 x 2,000m
  • Distance: 21km
  • Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
  • Avg HR: 149
  • Avg Cadence: 165

Thursday I got back to running after 3 days rest. Long Intervals are not as difficult as Hard Intervals as the intensity is less, but they are still hard enough. The plan for today was

 

3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, 2min rest (walking)

5 x 2000m @ 4:15 pace with 3min panda jog between them (continuous run)
I never did ask what a Panda Jog was but I managed the run fair enough with the following splits
8:25
8:23
8:24
8:24
8:20
I was happy enough with the time as all 2,000 intervals came in just under 4:15 pace but I still had a nagging feeling in my left hamstring.

Friday 28th October

  • RHR: 54
  • HRV: 63
  • Weight: 82.5kg
  • Swim: 1km
  • Time: 30 mins
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Halloween at the office

Friday was another scheduled rest day which was good as my HRV had taken another dive. It was also the day we celebrated Halloween at work. In previous years, my children had come in to see the office but this year they were all too old. However, it was nice to welcome in the children of my colleagues and give out candy. As I was heading out of the office I got a mail from Harrisson that his latest Q&A on his site had been updated. It was an answer to a question from my colleague as to the reason for cramping late in a marathon and how to avoid it as well as how to avoid hamstring issues. It was very well written and I quickly shared it with all my running colleagues.

That evening I finally kept my promise and made it to the pool. The Minato Ku pool was closed for inspection so I headed up to Shibuya where the pool was almost empty as usual. I was glad to still be able to swim 1km without stopping (too much). The good news was that my leg felt great afterwards.

Saturday 29th October

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: MAF Run with 6 x 20 second strides.
  • Distance: 11 km
  • Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 174

+

  • Swim: 1km
  • Time: 29 mins

On Saturday morning my HRV had returned to normal and I had an appointment with Mizogami Sensei, my local osteopathic council. I had set up an appointment the previous morning when I felt that my leg was not getting any better and I was beginning to run out of time. At this stage, I think that Mizogami Sensei is well used to me calling him urgently a few weeks before the Ohtawara marathon with some injury or other and I am always amazed at how he can find out the issue and help me out. This time he pushed my leg up and down and to the left and right before homing in on the weak spot and working on it.

After leaving the clinic I headed into Shibuya for my run and another swim. This time I ran in Yoyogi Park in the heart of Tokyo where the autumn leaves where just beginning to fall. It was very beautiful and hundreds of people where out enjoying the weather and looking for Pokemon. I found the MAF portion of the run no problem but I was still sore during the strides. I texted Harrisson afterwards and he told me to only do a 21km MAF run on Sunday with no speed work.

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Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

 

After the run I headed back to the gym for another 1km swim. After not swimming for months I was delighted to swim twice in 2 days.

Sunday 30th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 78
  • Weight: 83.8kg
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance:  21.7km
  • Time:  2 hour 3 mins
  • Avg HR: 135
  • Avg Cadence: 175
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ithlete Pro 30th Oct 2016

My HRV was still in a good place on Sunday morning but because my leg was sore on Saturday, I still planned to just run 21km at MAF. The day was cloudy and a little cold and it was the first time that I wore a long sleeved shirt since spring. The run went well and I was able to run MAF at a 5:41 pace which is good for me. I hope that that means that my fitness level is good and that I can taper well.

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Marukobashi

Next week I should start my taper. I am not really sure what Harrisson has in store for me but I am looking forward to finally getting ready for my race in 3 weeks time.

Week 13 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 13 was rather tough as I had a sore foot at the end of week 12 and several real life events impacting on my training. I was only able to run 3 times, but 2 of these were key workouts and should be of benefit. At the end of the week the soreness in my foot seems to have gotten better and I hope to have 5 good runs next week.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 3
  • Distance: 53.3km
  • Time:  4 hours 40 mins

Monday 10th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 82.8kg

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Monday was a National Holiday in Japan called Sports Day, so we went and had a BBQ with some of my Irish friends. It was a beautiful day down by the Tamagawa and I enjoyed hanging out and resting my foot. I also had a beer or two …

Tuesday 11th October

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 89
  • Weight: 82.8kg

 

Tuesday I had a real life event after work so I missed my run but I was happy to wake up with a HRV of 89. I think that using the Sleep Cycle app helps me wake up easily with our a sudden start.

Wednesday 12th October

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 16.2
  • Time 1 hour 26 minutes

Wednesday was my first hard run since I hobbled home on Sunday with a sore foot. I was a little worried but also hopefully that it had healed after 2 days rest. These hard intervals was always going to be tough:

3k Warm Up
Warm Up Drills
3 x 400m 1:50/1:40/1:30 w/ 60 sec between & 2 min rest at end
Actual 1:41/1:40/1:29
5.2km
(400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,400m @ 4:05 5:43
3,400m @ 4:30 15:18)
Actual 1:31/5:27/14:34
4 min easy jog
5.6km
(400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30
400m @ 3:50 1:32
1,000m @ 4:30 4:30)
Actual 1:33/4:13/1:38/4:23/1:42/4:26/1:42/4:22
Warm Down
As you can see from the Actual Times that I ran, I did OK at the start but struggled on the 400m in the second half. Harrisson said that I ran the first part too fast and he had a point. For the 1,400m I ran 5:27 instead of 5:43 and for the 3,400m I ran 14:34 instead of 15:18. It is hard to tell how these differences impact latter intervals but I can only assume that there is some impact.
I ran all the intervals without any pain in my foot, but as soon as I stopped and started to warm down my left foot got sore again. I did my usual trick of taking off my shoe and sock and massaging my foot but it had no affect. I was left with no choice but to walk home slowly and hope that it would get better by my next run.

Thursday 13th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 81.9kg
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Bob Dylan – My all time hero. Seriously!

Thursday was my annual health check so I could not drink alcohol on Wednesday or eat after 9pm. This is always a good thing and I wish I could do it everyday. I don’t really. I enjoy drinking and eating everyday. However, I do enjoy waking with a clear head in the morning after not drinking. Not being able to eat breakfast, not so much. I will say that Starbucks at 9:45 after the health check, has the greatest food in the whole wide world. Mainly because I can reach it in 3 and a half minutes.

Obviously the results of the blood tests will take some time to come out but I am the same height, and more or less the same weight, as I was this time last year and my sight seems to have not deteriorated. So Yeah!

Thursday evening I had a real life event so I could not run. Even if I could run I needed to rest my foot. I was delighted to find out during the event that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel prize for literature from the BBC notification on my phone. I was really shocked as I did not even know he was in the running. Despite what many people have said, I believe that it was well deserved, although I am biased, and I enjoyed reading all the nostalgic articles online.

Friday 14th October

  • RHR: 55
  • HRV: 62
  • Weight: 83.9kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 7.2km
  • Time: 41 mins
  • Avg HR: 131
  • Avg Cadence: 167

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On Friday I went out to test my right foot for the first time since Wednesday. My boss from the UK was in town and he was keen on getting in a run while he was in Tokyo so we ran from Tamachi up to Hibiya and back. It was a very pleasant evening and I had no adverse impact on foot so I consider it a success.

Saturday 15th October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.6k

Saturday I was driving up to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture so there would be no running. Although the changing of the colors had not started in earnest we had a good day viewing the waterfalls, going for a walk in the woods, visiting Toshogu shrine and eating tofu for lunch. Although there was a bit of driving, it was a great day.

 

Sunday 16th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 82.4kg
  • Run: Long with intervals and goal paced segments
  • Distance 30km
  • Time: 2 hours 33 minutes
  • Avg HR: 161
  • Avg Cadence: 175

img_5767

Sunday was the big run of the week. After missing so many runs during the week, I needed to make Sunday count. Harrisson had put a very complicated workout on the schedule and I had no choice but to write it on my hand least I forgot it.

This week, substantially more time spent at Goal pace, we’re getting into serious business.
3k WU @ MAF (include a 4 x 20s strides randomly @ HM pace during that)
2k @ 4:05 + 6k @ 4:30
9k @ 5:30 (you can take a water/gel break between the 2nd and 7th kilometer here)
1k @ 4:00 + 6k @ 4:30
WD as far as you want to end up in the 28~32km range

 

I think that you can see what I mean. There was no rain but I had sweated a little and by the end, the instructions were illegible. As you can see below, things were going fairly OK until I hit the last 6km which was supposed to be run at 4:30 pace. I couldn’t do it. I pushed the 1km at 4:00 pace as hard as I could and after that I needed to take a break before I got back to 4:30 pace. It took a lot longer than I expected and when I got there, I could not sustain it. I tried and tried but my pace kept slipping and by the end I was running at 4:50 pace. My legs were just too tired. Hopefully they will be better next week.

  • Target 8:10 Actual 8:02
  • Target 27:00 Actual 26:58
  • Target 49:30 Actual 49:09
  • Target 4:00 Actual 4:03
  • Target 27:00 Actual 28:26

The good news is that my foot did not hurt me and I was able to run home pain free. I want to get back to 5 runs next week and up to 80km.

Week 12 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

I had an up and down this week but at end of it I am fairly satisfied. I did not run as far as I did in week 11 but my Hard Intervals nearly hit all the paces and my Long Run, although not perfect, was not too bad. I also continued to track my  runs on ithlete Pro and I am very happy that I can easily correlate the intensity of my runs with my HRV and RHR. The big event for me this week was that I passed 27 years in Japan and as coincidence would have it, the man I came to Japan with, Mark, was in town and we managed to have a beer together …. or two …

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 76.8km
  • Time: 6 hours 54 mins

Monday 3rd October

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.0kg

Monday, as always, is a rest day. That means no running, Jon Holmes. I know you are reading. I was pleased that my Resting Heart Rate and Heart Variability had not dived down after the weekend and went about relaxing in the evening.

Tuesday 4th October

  • RHR: 40
  • HRV: 80
  • Weight: 83.4kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 16km
  • Time: 1 hour 28 mins

As I was meeting Mark on Wednesday night I headed out on Tuesday to do the Hard Intervals. Harrisson was a little worried that it was a bit close to the weekend and suggested that I do them on Thursday, but as I had another real life event that day, I really had no choice. Getting up early in the morning is still not an option at this stage. Harrisson’s programme called for:

3k WU
WU drills
3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, 2min rest (walking)
Tempo portion (without break)
4k -> (2k @ sub 4:05 , 2k @ 4:30), 4min very easy jog (6~7min pace)
4k -> ( 1k @ 4:05, 1k@ 4:30 pace, 1k @ 4:05, 1k @ 4:30)
WD
And for the first time in a while, I almost got it right:
3 x 400m – 1:48 1:35 1:29
4 x 1 km – 3:53 3:58 4:24 4:20
Rest 4:33
4 x 1km – 4:00 4:22 4:10 4:28
It was a hard workout and I was pleased to get most of the intervals at the correct pace.

 

Wednesday 5th October

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 86
  • Weight: 82.4kg

img_5717

Wednesday I had an appointment to meet Mark and headed into the TapRoom in Harajuku. It was a bit of a shame as my HRV had reached 86, which I think is a record for me.

Thursday 6th October

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 83
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.4km
  • Time: 49 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 170

Thursday I had a real life event and did not get home until 8:30. Still I changed quickly and headed out for the Tamagawa. It was a nice easy MAF run and I got home by 10pm and made it to bed early enough.

Friday 7th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.5kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Time: 1 hour 9 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 173

Friday I got home at reasonable hour and headed out to run 7km at MAF and the rest at 5:20 pace. I felt good and light and ran the last 5km a bit faster than I should have. My right foot was a bit sore as I ran the last 1km but as soon as I stopped I felt fine.

Saturday 8th October

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.1kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 9km Easy w/ 8 x 40 sec strides
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Avg HR: 139
  • Avg Cadence: 172

 

 

I had planned to go run in the morning but just as I was about to get ready, we realised that  today was the day to bring the rabbit to the doctors. The rabbit was fine and after that we went and got lunch and coffee at Bill’s in Futakotamagawa. When I got home I headed out for my run, a little worried about my foot although it was not sore at all. The run went fine and even though I ran 8 x 40 sec strides I felt not pain and thought that everything was fine.

Sunday 9th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 77
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: Long
  • Distance: 31km
  • Time: 2 hours 39 mins
  • Avg HR: 153
  • Avg Cadence: 174

img_5726

Sunday was always going to be hard. A 31km long run with the following thrown in for good measure.

First 3k @ MAF
Then 5 x 5km (1k @ 4:05pace + 1k @ 4:30 pace + 3k @ 5:40 pace or faster) ->
continuous run, the only time allowed to take water/gel breaks are during the 4th kilometer of each 5k set)
Finish with 3km Warm Down

 

I got to bed early on Saturday night as I had to get up a 5:30am on Sunday to drop my son to the train station for his rugby game. When I headed out to the station the overnight rain had stopped and the sun was coming up. The plan was to come home, have breakfast and then head out for the run before 6:30am. Unfortunately my dear friend John in Malaysia sent me a link to the Making of Fr. Ted documentary and I started watching that as I ate. By the time that it had finished, it was bucketing down. I decided that I still had plenty of time, and as I was a little tired from the early rise, I headed back to bed for an hour to catch up on some sleep.

When I awoke for the second time, I looked out the window and it was teaming down even more than before. Absolutely lashing. I considered going back to bed again but then I decided that it was a mistake of my own making and I headed for the door. As I was walking down the stairs, the rain game down even harder and I stopped and looked at it. Would it be so bad to go back home, just for one more coffee? The rain might stop in the meantime. I looked at it again. This rain was not stopping. It would be going for the next 4 hours.

I headed outside, knowing that once I got wet there would be no going back. My Garmin synced with the satellites in seconds (this never happens on a regular day) and I had no more excuses to procrastinate. I started to run. It was murder. I started on my usual route for the Tamagawa and was soaked within seconds. I was quite anxious and my heart rate was up to 168 within 500m.

Before leaving I had joked with Harrisson that as there was a gale I would run all the fast 1km segments with the wind. He didn’t find it funny. Maybe it is a French thing. However, when I got to the river, I decided that I would run the first segment against the wind and the next three with the wind and the final one against it again.

The results were as follows:

4:11/4:26/5:06

4:00/4:19/5:31

4:13/4:24/5:34

4:01/4:21/5:26

4:22/4:31/5:32

The first 1km did not go to plan. Maybe I was not warmed up enough or maybe the wind had too much impact on me but I really struggled. The next one went much better and I was able to stay within the assigned pace. The third one I struggled again as I got near to Tamagawa-ohashi bridge. I had taken a gel 1km before it started but it seemed to make no difference. Half way across the bridge I switched into the 4:30 pace 1km and shortly after that I ran into Mika and Nick coming the other way. There were not many people out running except for an Eki-den being held at Furuichiba and I would have liked to have turned around and run with them but I had a pace to maintain. I kept running back up the Tokyo side of the river, past Gasubashi and eventually turned around at my 17.75km point.

I had planned the turn-around so that I could do as much of the fast 1km on a straight section with the wind and it worked out well as I was back on track and headed back downstream and across the bridge. I passed the drinks vending machine just after the bridge on the Kawasaki side but once the 4:30 pace 1km was done, I turned around headed back to have my first sports drink at 20km. After that I was on my way home and headed back up the Tamagawa.

The last fast 1km started between Gasubashi and Marubashi. I was tired and I struggled into the wind. I could not keep the pace during the 4:05 pace 1km but I managed it well enough during the 4:30 pace 1km. Once it was over at about 25.2km into my run, I felt a lot of pain in my right foot again. I thought that I could run it off but it was not getting any better and I considered stopping and walking back home. I did stop and take off my shoe and sock and massaged my foot for a few minutes. I then carefully put my shoe and sock back on and started to run again. I felt nothing. I was quite amazed and finished the run rather pleased with myself.

Once I got home I looked at FaceBook and saw that lots of people had left motivational messages and a video for me to go out and run despite the rain. I was very moved and very glad that I did. I then cleaned up and I started with the cold spray on my right foot. Hopefully it will have the required impact before my next run in 2 days time.

Week 11 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

I arrived back in Japan from Ireland at 7:30am on Friday morning, 23rd September. I stayed awake all day in an effort to beat jet lag. The plan failed. I have been having trouble sleeping all week. Going to bed at reasonable time but waking up again at 1:30am and not sleeping again until the morning. I definitely find that jet lag gets worse as I get older. I did however manage to get in a few good runs and finish the week well. Hopefully I will have turned the jet lag corner and I will be back to morning runs this week.

Week 11 was also good for some other reasons.  On Tuesday, ithlete announced that their subscription service, ithlete Pro, was now synchronised with Garmin Connect. I have been subscribing to ithlete Pro for the last 18 months and have been asking them for this function. Needless to say that I was delighted to get this announcement. What it means is that I get a Garmin Training Load score for each day I run and I can see clearly how certain runs will impact my HRV and my Resting Heart Rate. Now I just need ithlete to add alcohol consumption and I will have the whole package.

This is how ithlete Pro showed my Long Run on Saturday. I have a Garmin Training Load of 423.

ithlete-pro-1st-oct-2016

ithlete Pro Saturday 1st October – Long Run

And this is how ithlete Pro showed my Easy Run on Sunday. I have a Garmin Training Load of 164. It was also good to see that my HRV increased the day after my Long Run, although Harrisson has pointed out that sometimes there is a delay with the impact on the body.

ithlete-pro-2nd-oct-2016

I also managed to get in some shopping for my fall training and racing. A few weeks ago I had bought a pair of Adizero Takumi Sen online. I ordered the 29cm as I had been wearing 29cm Adizero Boston Boost. Unfortunately the Takumi Sen were too small and I could not return them. So I popped into the Adidas shop in Shibuya on Sunday evening and bought a new pair of Adizero Boston Boost. This time 29.5cm. I tried to buy Adizero Japan, which are lighter, but even the 29.5cm shoe was too tight for me. I was happy with purchase and the all black finish.

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Adizero Boston Boost

I then crossed the road to Under Armour and bought a tight training shirt. I like these shirts, not because the tight fit displays my great upper body, but because they don’t cut the nipples of me when I am trying to do Harrisson’s hard intervals. I expect that there will be a lot of hard intervals and tempo runs on Harrisson’s training plan for me over the next month as I count down the last 7 weeks to Ohtawara.

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Finally, the other good news that I have to share is that I got selected to run Tokyo Marathon on the 26th February 2017. It is quite amazing as there is a 13:1 ratio of people who applied to those who got selected. I did not get selected for the last few years so I am very much going to enjoy next year’s race and especially the new finish in front of Tokyo station.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 82.5km
  • Time: 7 hours 53 mins
  • September Total: 257km

Monday 26th September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 77
  • Weight: 831kg

Monday, as usual, was a rest day and I certainly needed one.

Tuesday 27th September

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.5kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time: 1 hour 3 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 135
  • Average Cadence: 170

Totally failed to get up in the morning as planned but did manage to get out to the Tamagawa on Tuesday night for an easy 10km run. Nothing too strenuous and I felt good after it.

Wednesday 28th September

  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 17km
  • Time: 1 hour 39 mins

Again I failed miserably to get up and run on Wednesday morning (I even forgot to measure my HRV and RHR) but I found myself again on the Tamagawa that evening doing my hard intervals. Harrisson’s plan called for

3k WU
WU drills
3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, 2min rest (walking)
Tempo portion (without break)
3k progressive (1k @ 4:15, 1k @ 4:10, 1k @ 4:05), 3min very easy jog (6~7min pace)
2 x ( 2k progressive -> 1k @ 4:15, 1k@ 4:00 pace + 2min very easy jog)
1k @ 4:05 pace,
WD
As I got to the Tamagawa I noticed that there was a slight wind down river so I decided to do the 3km down wind and hope for the best. The results were as follows:
3 x 400m – 1:39 against wind/ 1:37 with wind/ 1:31 against wind
3km with wind – 4:12/ 4:08/ 4:03
2km against wind – 4:20/ 4:18
2km 1.2km against wind .8km with wind – 4:19/ 4:25
1km with wind – 4:06 

 

The run was OK up until I had to turn around and run into the wind for the first 2km where I found it very tough indeed. The humidity was very high and I really struggled. It didn’t get much better for the second 2km either although some of it was with the wind. I really felt like a spent force. I managed to get back on form for the last 1km but it felt like too little too late.

Thursday 29th September

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 82.6kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.4km
  • Time: 50 mins

Thursday was am easy day and I ran 8km with 5km at MAF and the last 3km at 5:45 pace. It is quite interesting going from MAF ton 5:45 pace. Sometimes I can run MAF and still be at a 5:45 pace but at the end of a long summer of training I have to up the pace a bit and it felt good.

Friday 30th September

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 83.5kg

Friday I had a real life event and could not run. Well, I could have run if I was able to get my ass out of bed in the morning. But I was not, so I didn’t. Some days it is as simple as that.

Saturday 1st October

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.1kg
  • Run: Long Run with 5 x 1km at 4:05 pace
  • Distance: 32.8km
  • Time: 3 hours

The Long Run for this week was scheduled to be on Sunday and was to be as follows:

First 5k @ MAF, then 5 x (4k easy @ 5:30 ~ 6:00 pace + 1k @ 4:05 pace)
1k to 3k WD (very easy)
However, I took a look at the weather forecast on Friday afternoon and saw that it would be cool and cloudy on Saturday and hot and sunny on Sunday. I quickly switched the days. I had failed to complete this run last week as it was too hot and I was suffering with jet lag (I know, enough already with the jet lag) and I was hopping not to have the same experience.
The run itself went well. I took 2 gels with me but ended up only taking one before the 3rd 1km, which ended up being my fastest. I was very pleased to get all the 1kms under 4:05:
4:00/ 3:58/ 3:52/ 4:02/ 3:59

Sunday 2nd October

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 77
  • Weight: 82.6kg
  • Run: Easy Run
  • Distance: 14km
  • Time: 1 hour 20 mins

img_0640

As I missed the 14km run on Friday, I decided to do it on Sunday. The plan was as follows:

First 7k @ MAF, the rest @ 5:30 pace
I won’t lie, I had a few beers with my Irish friends on Saturday night and that may have impacted the time that I got up on Sunday morning. You can read in between the lines as much as you like but I came home by train. Anyway, it was close to noon when I got out the door and headed for the Tamagawa. Everything went well and I enjoyed the sunshine and all the people out exercising and looking for Pokemon. I really should have taken a photo of them.