Week 11 ~ 17 February
This was a great week for running but a hard one. It started in Nagano and finished in Ome and I am truly wrecked. I have started to rethink this running everyday plan and will get more rest before my marathon on 10th March. The Ome 30km race on Sunday was very tough but I had had signals all week that I needed to rest and I did not take them. I have 3 weeks now to put things in order and I will continue to use HRV to monitor my progress.
Monday 11th February 2019
Avg Pace 5:37/km
Avg HR 144
Avg Cadence 177
Monday morning was a National Holiday in Japan and we were still in Nagano. I woke early and got out on the road before the others were awake. The plan was to run down to the Chikuma River which runs through Ueda, run along it for a few kilometres before hanging a right and start running uphill past the Shinshu International Music Village and the 3 ponds before cresting the hill and running back into Ueda and home.
It is a run that I discovered 2 years back when I was looking for somewhere other than the Shimin No Mori run which I did on Saturday. I love that run, but it is long and hard and sometimes I need something a little different. It was nice and cold when I left the house and there were not many people about. Just a few folks heading up to Sugadaira to go skiing. The run along the river was pleasant but it got really good once I turned off and started climbing. It was quiet and still and there were snow and ice on the road and the ponds. Going up was not as hard as I expected but the hill went on longer than I remembered and I was covered in sweat by the time I reach the top.
The downhill is great fun as it is far steeper than the uphill, reaching 10% in places. Every time I am running down it, hoping not to trip or slip on ices, I always tell myself that I should run up this way next time. The only problem is that it is a little difficult finding the point of entry and I am not sure that I can remember it. It was a wonderful final run in Nagano, rounding off the long weekend with 3 runs and a ski trip. You can hope for more than that.
Tuesday 12th February 2019
Avg Pace 5:11/km
Avg HR 141
Avg Cadence 176
I woke up early enough on Tuesday morning to get my run in before heading to work. I had not taken my HRV and RHR while I was in Nagano and I was happy to see that it was still in a good place. Unfortunately, it was not to stay there for long. I didn’t take the HRV and RHR in Nagano because it was too darn cold. As soon as I woke up, I got up and could not hang around the futon for one minute. When it is -6 degrees C you need to keep moving until the heater starts up.
Wednesday 13th February 2019
Avg Pace 5:31/km
Avg HR 150
Avg Cadence 175
Wednesday morning was the first sign that things were not going great. My HRV dropped 12 points for no apparent reason and I was feeling very sluggish. Fortunately, I did not have to run in the morning as Wednesday night is Namban night. I met Bob J at the sento before we headed off for 10km running in Yoyogi Park including some of Mike Trees’ bounding exercises. I was not feeling great and took it very easy. I then headed over to the track to meet Jeffrey from our Get The Run Done running streak group. We are all trying to run at least a mile each day and Jeffrey has been a member since last year but I never had the pleasure of meeting him until Wednesday. After we greeted each other, Jeffrey went on to do the Namban intervals and I headed back to Yoyogi Park for a few more easy laps.
Thursday 14th February 2019
Avg Pace 6:13/km
Avg HR 125
Avg Cadence 168
Thursday was, of course, St. Valentines Day and in time-honoured Japanese tradition, Mrs. Mac Colgain presented me with a box of delicious chocolates first thing in the morning. I didn’t have any before my run. If I had I might have blamed my poor performance on them, but of course not directly to Mrs. M. Although my HRV had improved a bit on the day before, I was still not feeling great.
Friday 15th February 2019
Avg Pace 5:59/km
Avg HR 131
Avg Cadence 171
I still was not feeling great as I plodded around my neighbourhood on Friday morning. I had no intention to do anything but the minimum with the race in 2 days.
Saturday 16th February 2019
Avg Pace 5:38/km
Avg HR 134
Avg Cadence 174
Saturday morning saw a slight improvement in my HRV but the overall trend was still going down. I went out for the minimum again and spent the rest of the day indoors before having a race meal of vegetables and potatoes.
Sunday 17th February 2019
Run 30km Race (5km splits: 25:09/ 23:30/ 24:33/ 24:12/ 26:11/ 26:15)
Avg Pace 4:59/km
Avg HR 166
Avg Cadence 184
I woke on Sunday morning to a further drop in my HRV and Simon telling me to take a break. Had it been any other day I would have stayed in bed and recovered. I was particularly disappointed because I had taken it so easy on Saturday. I just ran a slow 5km in the morning and hardly left the house for the rest of the day before going to bed before 10pm. This morning I had the Ome 30km Race so instead of staying in bed, I was on the platform of Musashi Mizonokuchi station waiting for the special train to Kabe that Hayakawa san had booked for me. Normally I have to change trains in Tachikawa, but there was a race express on this morning which went right to the start. Hayakawa san lives up the line from me and got on the train at Noborito.
On the special Kabe Express with Hayakawa san.
Kabe station is tiny and was packed so we headed straight to the Race Reception to collect our T-Shirts and bibs before heading over to the place the Terry from Namban had picked out for us to set up camp in a park across the road from the hospital. It was a great location and Terry had driven up in the dark hours to make sure that we got it.
Walking to the start line. Photo was taken by Seung Gi.
I was number 4408 in a crowd of 12,000 men and 3,000 women runners. The starting blocks were very strictly marshalled and I started in Block E. I could bearly see the sign above the start line from where I was and it took me almost 3 minutes of walking to get to it once the starter’s gun went. I assume that it was a gun as I could not hear a thing other than Sydney Olympics Marathon Gold Medalists, Naoko Takahashi, shouting “Gambare” to everyone.
The troubles did not end with getting to the start. The road was narrow and packed with runners. I spent the first 3km trying to find my stride and my pace. Eventually, things started to go OK and I tried to build up to my target pace of 4:40/km. I never really got there but I was around 4:50/km pace at the turn around point and I thought that I might have a chance to gain back some more seconds on the way back as it was downhill.
The course is one I know well as I have run many training runs out there with my Namban teammates and I enjoyed running down the middle of the street instead of upon the narrow footpath. It was a glorious day and the sun was out in all its splendour. I felt I was running well up to the turn around point at 14.5km and was sure I could start to make up time.
On the way out. Photo taken by Brett.
As you can see above, my pace held up OK to the 20km where I was still running at 4:50/km pace. At 21km there is a hill and here Naoko Takahashi appeared again giving high fives to everybody in the middle to the road. She appears in nearly every race I run these days. I put my head down and powered up the hill as best I could without losing too much time and telling myself that I only had 9km left. Unfortunately, my legs did not know it. Although we were running downhill, for the most part, my pace started dropping to an average of 5:15/km. With 7km to go, Hayakawa san came flying past me. A little later Mika san also passed me. Within the last 3km, Mark Feeley went by. All of them looking great.
I tried to react to each of them but I had nothing left. I kept wondering if I should stop and walk for a bit as my left leg was sore but I managed to convince myself to continue to the next KM marker each time. With 2km to go, I looked at my watched and saw 2:19:30 and realised that if I put my head down and pushed it, I could get in just under 2:30:00. I put everything I had in it and just managed to get across the line in time.
1km to go! Photo was taken by Bob P.
I could barely move. I walked gingerly round to collect my medal, a bottle of Sports Drink and an Ume Onigiri before heading back to the park for some pizza that Seung Gi had generously ordered for us. Hayakawa san and Mika san were walking ahead of me and I still could not keep up with them. I got a protein drink from a Savaas lady and some Amazake from a local lady who had set up a stall outside her house. All along the course, local people were handing out food and drinks. I think that it was one of the best-supported races that I ever entered and I look forward to coming back next year.