Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 91 days to go

Week           3 ~ 9 December 2018

Runs:           7

Distance:    80km

This week turned out well for running although I was doing a fair bit of travelling. I headed to Hong Kong on Sunday and then moved on to Singapore on Tuesday. On Thursday evening I was on the way back to Tokyo again via Hong Kong. It was a terrible flight and I arrived in Tokyo feeling awful at 5am on Friday morning. Fortunately, I was able to take Friday off work and catch up on some sleep but I was still battling sleeplessness for the next 2 days and my HRV and RHR took a beating. It gradually started to return to a normal number on Sunday morning and I was able to feel better. I just need to get to bed early tonight to continue the process. I am 71 days into my running streak and I don’t want to mess things up.

Monday 3rd December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       4.2km

Avg Pace:                             6:13/km

Avg HR:                                130bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

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I woke early in HK and headed straight out to Victoria Park for a quick run. It was not as busy as the night before and I enjoyed a good run. Then it was off to work to meet the team and enjoy some good veggie food.

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Tuesday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          68

Heart Rate Variability:    67

Run:                                       20.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:50/km

Avg HR:                                158bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

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I left Hong Kong around lunchtime on Tuesday and headed to Singapore. My first stop was to meet James, a former colleague. We chatted for a while about old times and then it was good to catch up. I then took a taxi to the hotel and checked in and headed back out to do my run. I was enjoying running down the East Coast Park so much that I could not stop and I ended up doing 20km. I was actually feeling quite sore by the end. I put this down to the old shoes that I was wearing. I always bring old shoes on a business trip as I don’t mind throwing them away.

Wednesday 5th December

Resting Heart Rate:          84

Heart Rate Variability:    53

Run:                                       5.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:44/km

Avg HR:                                150bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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On Wednesday it was straight into work. We wrapped up about 8pm at night and I took a short rest before heading out again and getting my run done. It was only a short run but  as my HRV was getting worse by the day I did not want to do too much.

Thursday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    78

Run:                                       10km

Avg Pace:                             5:41/km

Avg HR:                                152bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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Thursday saw a good increase in my HRV and I was out on the street again at 6am for the final run of my trip. I discovered a new route that I had not run before. It is called Gardens by The Bay East. It looks newly made and there is lots of space for running and cycling and great views. After catching up on some work in the hotel, I then headed to the office for a couple of more meetings before heading to the airport for the flight from hell. Singapore to Hong Kong was fine, but the follow up flight to Tokyo was terrible. The space between the seats was too small and I could not get any sleep at all.

Friday 7th December

Resting Heart Rate:          XX

Heart Rate Variability:    XX

Run:                                       12.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:46/km

Avg HR:                                140bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

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I arrived in Tokyo at 5am and got home around 6:30am. I did not take my HRV but I know that it was really bad and headed straight to bed. I slept until about noon and then got up to do some work before heading out for a short run along my Tamagawa. It was a relief after running in Hong Kong and Singapore where my average heart rate was in the 150s. Now it was barely 140. I went to the team year-end party that evening and felt very sleepy throughout. It was a great event and I am glad that I got back to Tokyo in time to attend.

Saturday 8th December

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    79

Run:                                       17.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:18/km

Avg HR:                                147bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

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I had hoped to be up in time to go to the Hill Repeats on Saturday but I was just too tired and slept in until 9:30am. After breakfast, I headed off to a Bikram Yoga class. As I will be going to Ireland in a week, I will not have time to go much this month so I am trying to get in a few classes on the weekend. After the yoga, I headed up to the palace for 3 laps. It was a good run but the place was crowded and I had to slow down to walking speed some of the time. The run went well and I enjoyed the late afternoon sun before heading off for a falafel and a drink with Bob and Naoko.

Sunday 9th December

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    88

Run:                                       10.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:35/km

Avg HR:                                142bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

 

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I was still tired on Sunday morning but my HRV was headed back in the right direction. I slept in again and then headed back to Bikram Yoga for another class. I felt slightly better than Saturday. Sometimes the second class is good even though you are feeling sore. I then went home for a nice easy 10km along the Tamagawa river again to wrap up the 7 days of running this week and 80km.

 

 

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Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 105 days to go

Week           24 ~ 25 November 2018

Runs:           2

Distance:    18.6km

A great man once said, “When you finish a marathon, that is the time to start training for your next race”. I am talking about you, Barry Bergman. And so it was that I finished the Ohtawara Marathon on Friday and started to focus on the Koga Hamanmomo Marathon on the 10th of March from Saturday. I don’t intend to run hard, or long, for a few weeks but writing this blog is a key part of my training so we are all going to have to put up with it for a while. Deal with it.

I ran the Koga Hanamomo Marathon in 2015 (3:34) and 2016 (3:28) and really enjoyed it. It is flat and has lots of switchbacks, so you get to see your friends many times. Also, you get to train during the Japan winter which is the best time for running in Japan.

My key training race will be the Ome 30km race on the 17th February 2019. This is an iconic race in Japan but I have never run it. Terri has rallied the troops from Namban Rengo for next February so it should be a good day out.

Saturday 24th November

Resting Heart Rate:          75

Heart Rate Variability:    60

Run:                                       10.3 km

Avg Pace:                             6:19/km

Avg HR:                                 127bpm

Avg Cadence:                     168

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After running Ohtwara the day before, my RHR and HRV were all over the place this morning, as expected. I took things very easy today. I slept until 10am, had breakfast, ran a very slow recovery run, had lunch and then went back to bed for 3 hours in the afternoon. I do not feel too injured but from experience, I get DOMS so it will be on Sunday when I find out how much damage has really been done.

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Sunday 25th November

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       8.3 km

Avg Pace:                             6:26/km

Avg HR:                                 125bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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My HRV and RHR had recovered a lot on Sunday morning but I was still feeling quite sore, especially my right quad. Still, I was determined to keep my streak going and I headed down to the Tamagawa River again for an even slower run than Saturdayt. I had thought about running longer and being able to reach 300km for the month of November but gave up on that idea after the first few steps. It is good to finish the week with a run and my streak now stands at 57 days.

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – Race Report

Net Time 3:41:42

I like routine. For 7 years I have basically done the same race, stayed in the same hotel and ate my pre-race meal in the same restaurant. I have not always gotten the same results, but the routine takes a lot of the thought and anxiety from a race. A bit like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same clothes every day, just not as weird.

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And so it was that Rie san and myself found ourselves in Big Boy in Nishinasuno 14 hours before the start of the Ohtawara Marathon. Yuichi had become the latest causality due to injury so he could not join us. Fortunately, Big Boy did not disappoint and we loaded up on carbs and salad. As Johnson Ritter said in Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery san, “In many ways, Bob’s Big Boy never left, sir. He’s always offered the same high-quality meals at competitive prices.”

The hotel was fine but it is always hard to sleep before a race and I woke with a slightly depressed HRV. I was not too worried as it is normal for me to feel a bit anxious on the morning of a race.

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We left the hotel at 8:30am and drove over to the start point to met up with the rest of the Namban Rengo team who were running. One of the great things about this race is the proximity of the changing hall to the start line. You can literally leave the warm building at 9:55 and still be in time for the 10am start. Nick was looking great for a man who had half a night’s sleep. He has really excelled at running in the last 2 years and today was to be no different. We are the same age but he seems to be getting better and better with age while I am clearly holding back the years.

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I had gotten the good news the night before that Terri would be starting in B Block while I would be in C. This is good news because Terri always passes me and knowing that he is already ahead of me at the start means one more thing that I did not have to worry about. Nick was also in B Block after his great run last year, but he chose to start with Rie and myself in C as the 3:30 pacers were there.

The pacers were a man and a woman with an orange and pink balloon attached to their caps respectively. They were in great form and announced at the start that they would run 3:30 gross, not net, and that would mean averaging 4:59 per km. They also said that the first km would be rather slow as we made our way out of the stadium and that we would need to make that up in the first half before the race started to go uphill.

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Ohtawara Marathon is a V Course. You start, you run downhill, you run uphill and then you finish. Nick and myself started together, just behind the pacers, and Rie was a little to our right. I was not to see her again until 23.5km into the race. The pacers were right about the first 1km. We covered it in 5:44 and then spent the next 8km making back the time that we had lost.

The starting temperature was 8 degrees with a 5 m/sec wind. In previous years I would have just worn a singlet in such conditions as it was very sunny. This year I was much more wary of the wind in the second half of the race where you are running through a very exposed section and decided to wear an undershirt. I immediately regretted my decision. Not long after the start, I was sweating buckets as we ran downhill with the wind at our backs. I started rolling up my sleeves and contemplated Paddy’s advice to remove the undershirt at some point and tie it around my waist if it got too hot. I knew if I stopped now I would never catch up with the pacers again and just drank at every opportunity to compensate for the extra sweat.

Nick was flying. He was not even trying to stay behind the pacers. He was running up beside them to the right and in front of them from time to time. He was like a horse chomping at the bit with the jockey holding him back until the right moment. At one point I felt that I was becoming too far adrift and ran on the outside until I caught up with Nick and the pacers again. A few minutes later I was back where I started.

At around 13km we swung to the right and down a nice hill before going back up for a while. I remembered this place well because it was at the 15km point that the 3:30 pacers had passed me last year and I could not go with them. I had started too fast with Nick and Bob J at a 4:45 /km pace that I could not sustain and I was already fighting my War Of Attrition at 15km when the pacers and their group, including Rie, came past.

This year I had started more conservatively. Focusing on the orange and pink balloons, drinking at every chance I had and trying not to get dropped. Getting through the 15km point with the pacers was a big step up on last year for me and I continued to keep them in my sights for the next 8km. However, my left hamstring was starting to get sore. I first noticed it at 7km and by 15km there was no denying it. I tried to put it out of my mind and sponging it and covering it with water at every opportunity.

The key point in the race is at 23.8km. The road swings around to the left and you begin the ascent. You also start to run into the wind every year without fail. I guess that that is what they call a prevailing wind. Just before we reached that point, Rie came past me as cool as you like. I had not seen her for the whole race and it was like she had just changed gears and was moving in for the kill. It was then I caught sight of the pacers and Nick. They had just turned the corner and I could gauge how far ahead of me they were. That was the last I saw of them.

At first, the change in gradient is gradual but by the 24km mark, you know you are climbing. I put my head down and just counted off the kilometres. Just after the 26km point you are exposed. Running among paddy fields with no shelter. I was glad that I had my long sleeved shirt. Unlike 3 years ago, I had nobody to hide behind. I just kept going and passed as many people as I could. My pace was gradually dropping – 5:09, 5:18, 5:22, 5:32, 5:37, 5:41. The War Of Attrition had started in earnest. There were 2 crucial corners to turn to move away from the headwind. One at 30km and again at 32km. I made it through them and headed for the 35km point where the road drops for a bit and gives us some respite.

At the 36km point, I knew I was spent and needed a rest so I start my walk/run approach.  This involves running to kilometre marker, walking for 60 seconds and then running to the next marker. I did this 5 times keeping my pace around 6:00 /km as I crawled my way to the finish. Just before the 41km point, the Namben Rengo folks who had run the 10km were out in force cheering us on and Chiba san took this photo of me. It was great to see these friendly faces at this point in the race.

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I turned the corner and made the last effort for home. The final 400m around the track was tough but soon it was over and I was meeting my friends, drinking coffee and heading off to an onsen.

For some bizarre reason, I love this race and this corner of Japan and I have come back each year since 2012. There have been highs and there have been lows, but it has always been interesting and always been fun. I hope that I can come back for many years to come and that many more people from Namban Rengo will experience the Ohtawara Marathon.

This was my best marathon since Tokyo in February 2017 and I feel that I have started to turn a corner myself as well. I need to continue the focus that I have gained from the Get The Run Done group, which involves running every day and not lose sight of my final goal. At present, I am at 56 days and counting.

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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 – 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.

 

 

Ohtawara Marathon 2016 Race Report

Net Time 3:24:48

My fifth consecutive time to run the Ohtawara Marathon was really great. I had great support from my coach Harrisson for the 5 months leading up to it. There was a great gang of Nambanners up from Tokyo (and Saitama). Although it was very windy, it didn’t rain and the temperature stayed above freezing. And afterwards we went to a great onsen with our complimentary tickets on the complimentary bus to recover before heading back to Tokyo and the Aldgate Pub in Shibuya for a swift half. All in all a great day. I think you get the picture. Although the stated aim of this blog is to run a marathon in 3:10, and I have been training specifically for that, I think that we can let numbers get in the way of enjoying ourselves and the company of others. One of my Namban friends put it very well in a Facebook post last Sunday that resonated with a lot of runners.

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Gareth’s Wisdom

Unlike the previous 2 years, I had to work on the day before the Ohtawara marathon this year so I was late getting up to Nishi Nasuno. I had bought my Shinkansen reserved seat ticket on Monday morning with the intention of traveling up on the 18:36 train on Tuesday evening. However, when I got to the gate I discovered to my horror that I had actually bought the ticket to go up on Wednesday night, 8 hours after the start of the race. I raced to the JR counter to change it for the right day. Fortunately, this is Japan and it is very easy to do this, but there were no reserved seats available so I had to settle for a free seat. I was worried that the train would be crowded as Tuesday was the day before a National Holiday and I would have to stand all the way to Nasushiobara, so I joined the queue 40 minutes before the departure time to ensure I got a seat. I need not have worried. The train was far from full but I did have a nice conversation with the couple ahead of me in the queue.

Tokyo station was packed. There are lots of places to buy obento but not so many that are vegetarian. After struggling through the packed aisles for 15 minutes I spotted a onigiri specialist shop. Even if there are few vegetable only obento, you can always get lots of seaweed onigiri. Readers of this blog will know that each of the previous 4 years have seen me in Big Boy restaurant in Nishi Nasuno for a pasta and curry rice meal. This year with my vegetarian diet and arriving later in the evening I wanted to eat on the train so I was considering eating 5 ongiri as my pre-marathon meal. However, lady luck was shining on me and the woman in the onigiri shop pointed me next door where they did have vegetarian bentos. The train had not long left Tokyo when I tucked in.

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Vegetarian Bento

It was sad to see my ritual broken but at least I was staying at the same hotel, The Route Inn, and I feel that they recognized me as I checked in and got the  key for my room on the 10th floor. I eventually got to bed around 10:30pm and fell straight to sleep. However, 30 minutes later an earthquake hit Fukushima which woke me up rather abruptly as my 10th floor room started swaying back and forth. There had been a big earthquake followed by a small tsunami that morning in Fukushima that made everybody remember the terrible events of 2011 and this was an aftershock, albeit a weaker one. I texted my wife but she did not feel anything in Tokyo. After that I tried to go back to sleep but never quite managed it. I was nodding off for the next 4 hours and eventually got some decent sleep from 3am.

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In the hotel room, trying to decide what to wear

I woke up with the alarm at 6am and wished that I could sleep some more. In previous years there has always been a line to breakfast room 20 mins before it was due to open. I reckoned that it would be the same this year so I ended up waiting by myself in the lobby of the hotel at 6:15 although I had been told breakfast was from 6:45. Fortunately there was free coffee in the lobby and they actually opened the dining room 15 minutes early. Not eating meat was not a problem as they had lots of vegetables, bananas, bread, rice and okaiyu (a watery form of rice). I loaded up and stepped outside to check the weather.

The days preceding any race, but especially any race that will last longer that 30 minutes, are filled with speculation about the weather. As I am Irish, I find warm weather very difficult to run in but I am also not thrilled about freezing weather either. And while a light drizzle does not bother me at all, a strong wind will have a big impact. The forecast was for a bright day with 5 m/s winds from the north west and as I stood outside the Route Inn looking up at the morning sky, I felt that they had got it right.

Obviously, the great thing about staying a 10 minute drive from the start of a race is how much time you save in the morning of a race. After breakfast I took my first 400mg Nurofen and then went back to bed for an hour before getting up and getting my taxi over to the gymnasium at 8:45. The other Nambanners were already there and had marked a good spot out in one of the corridors by the weight room. We chatted and discussed the route until  little by little people started to head off to the bathroom and the start of the course. I had discussed what to wear with Harrisson and as the temperature was going to be 7 ~ 9 degrees celsius he suggested that a singlet with no long sleeves should be just fine. Just fine for running that is but not for standing around in the wind at the start, so I was almost the final person to leave the gymnasium. And that is the great thing about the Ohtawara marathon. You can leave the warm gymnasium at 9:45 and be in your block at 9:50 for a 10am start.

As I arrived in block B, I saw Bernard and then Gildas and Derek and we chatted for a bit before Derek headed off to block A. Standing in the wind it was cold. I tried to crouch down but as I was on the outside of the block there was nowhere to hide as the wind ripped through the event flags that lined the course. I took one of the 4 gels that I had in my pocket, mainly to reduce the weight. It was a water based Hi 5 gel so I could take it without a drink. I normally don’t take gels at the start of a race but this time it felt like the right thing to do. The race started and we were off. I got to the start line in only 20 seconds and had no difficulty exiting the stadium ahead of the traffic jam that Ohtawara is famous for.

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Ohtawara Marathon Race Course

The Ohtawara Marathon course is one big loop. It starts off by going down hill for 23.7km and then goes back up to the finish. This year we had the wind with us for most of the first half of the race. Of course that means that we had it against us for the second half as we were running uphill. I found the first half of the race OK. Well, I was running downhill with the wind at my back. Harrisson had advised me not to let my heart rate get over 170 so I never really stuck to my goal of running at a 4:30 pace  but I was close enough. I knew that the race would be won and lost in the second half so there was no need to be pushing early on and not being able being able to close out the race.

The countryside around Ohtawara is really beautiful with wide open fields divided by the Houki river and lined by evergreens in places. The first 13km were uneventful as I concentrated on my form and pressing the lap button on my Garmin at each km marker. I have long since given up on the automatic 1km lapping of the GPS watch as it quickly goes out of sync with the actual race markings. I was worried that pressing the lap button every 1km would have a bad effect on me mentally, but it was not the case. I found that the km passed smoothly and later on it helped me concentrate on the remainder of the race.

At 14km there is a sharp downhill that you have to mange carefully or you will end up going too fast before the road rises again and turns off to the left. This is the point when you know that you are in a race. Although the course continues to go downhill for a further 8km, your heart rate has spiked and you have started to look out for the next drinks stand where before you were not bothered about taking a cup or not.

The only switchback in the race comes at about 17.7km. I always love these switch backs as I look out for my Namban friends and shout encouragement to them. I saw Derek about 700m from the turn around and he was looking strong but Gildas and Khalfan had already gone and I missed them. As I got to the turn-around cone, I saw Bernard just ahead of me. He was also looking strong and powerful with his arms swinging. 300m after the turn, as I reached the 18km point, I heard Chika call to me and shortly after that Terri. The two of them are always my rivals in races and have beaten me many times. There are both very good in the second half of a marathon when I start to fade and I was shocked to see them so close to me at this early stage. It made me refocus my efforts. During this stretch, I missed Nick, Gareth, Mika, Rui, Yasuo and Yukiko but I heard later that they were running in a group and really enjoying the race.

Shortly after the 18km point there is a left turn and a 5km straight stretch down to the 23.7km point. I caught Bernard just after the turn and eased past him and headed down the road concentrating on my pace and heart rate. It was still downhill and I just needed to avoid overdoing it. I went through half way in 1:37:51 which is 2 minutes faster than I ran the Sendai Half Marathon in May this year and a minute slower than I ran the first half last year. I tried to drop out of this race at the 22km point 3 years ago after having had anemia so this has always been a key point for me. Since then I always tell myself that if I can get through here I will be fine. Mind games I know, but they work. It was around here that I remembered that I had a second 400mg of Nurofen in my pocket and I took it before the pain in my legs got too much.

At 23.7km the road takes a sharp turn to the left and if you did not know you were running a marathon up until then, you found out quickly. The road quickly starts to rise and this year we wear running into the wind. There is a very hard stretch from this corner to the next one at 30km. It is all uphill and  a lot of it is exposed to the wind. Last year I found a runner to run behind and I maintained my pace and this year I desperately searched around to do the same. I found a few people but nobody who could take me all the way and I found myself surging from group to group to get shelter.

I tried to take a gel at 24km, but as I ripped the top off with my teeth it fell out of my hand. I decided to leave it and grabbed another gel from my pocket. I had no more Hi 5 gels left and my other 2 gels needed water so I had to be a bit more clever where to take them. I was now taking sports drinks at each drinks station and pouring the water over my legs as my muscles started to burn. Harrisson had told me that the intensity training on a long run would pay off in the second half of the marathon as my legs would know what to expect. He was right. Although my pace slowed and I struggled against the wind, I never wanted to give up and I never wanted to walk.

The turn at 30km is a welcome relief. Not a lot changes in terms of terrain or weather but by breaking through the 30km barrier you feel that you are on the home straight. You are on major road and there are more shops and people cheering and you feel your spirits lift. I put the head down and counted off the kms. At 35km I took my last gel. I was feeling the pain in my legs but not in chest. My heart rate remained in the low 170s except when I was cresting the hills. The wind had not abated but there was no rain and it was getting warmer. Wearing a singlet was the right decision.

Just before the 40km mark I came up on Derek out of nowhere. Normally a sub-3 man he was clearly struggling that day. I yelled at him at the top of my voice and although I briefly passed him, he got back to me in 30 seconds. It was great running along with him as I don’t get the run with my friends in a race that often. At 41km we saw Taeko from Namban on the pavement. She had already run the 10km race that morning. She took the photo of Derek and myself at the top of post and it turned out really well. We kept going, getting closer and closer to the finish. With 1km to go I looked at my watch and saw my time at 3:19:51 and said to Derek that if we maintain this pace we would finish with 3:25:20. Derek told me to just concentrate on finishing throwing both arms forward over his head. I took his advice and upped my pace and ran as fast as could to the end. On the stadium track I kept going and passed a bunch of guys who looked my age to finish in 3:24:48. I was 334 in my age group and 686 overall.

It was a great race. Although it was not a PB, I did thoroughly enjoy it and the company of my running club mates.

Afterwards, my collage friend Peter in Nice went through the race link that I sent him and put this graph together. I think that it is a very good depiction of the race and the struggle in the second. It just needs to capture the joy and the fun of running through the countryside with your friends and having a great time. I think that Peter can work on that for next year.

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Peter’s Graphs

After I got back I looked up my old race records. Unfortunately, I could not find the one from 2012 but here are the last 4 races and how I did.

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Finally, I would like to close this blog post by saying a big thank you to Harrisson. He stuck with me for 5 months and gave me the best advice to stay healthy while getting fit and preparing for a marathon. I am sorry that I could not follow all his advice and shed the kgs needed but such is life in the modern world. I learned a lot from him and believe that the work he made me do really helped me get through the tough conditions and come out the other side.