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 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

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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 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Week 8 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

This week did not go so well. I was rather tired at the start of the week but recovered in time to do my hard intervals on Wednesday. I then got a cold on Saturday which meant  I was not able to do my long run on Sunday. Still, as I type this on Sunday evening, I am feeling much better and looking forward to my trip to Ireland on Thursday and all the running I will do there.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 4
  • Distance: 37.3km
  • Time: 3 hours 47 mins

Monday 5th September

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83kg

Monday, as usual, was a rest day so I did a lot of walking and little else.

Tuesday 6th September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 81
  • Weight: 83kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 52 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 132
  • Average Cadence: 167

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Tuesday I got up early again and did my 8km easy run. I still had no pain in my right hamstring so I was feeling confident to Wednesday’s hard intervals.

Wednesday 7th September

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.8kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time: 1 hour 2 mins

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I have been finding it difficult to do the hard intervals in the morning so I decided to do this one after work at GaienMae. Each lap of the Gaien Oval is 1,325m and the plan was as follows:

Lap1: 3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, jog to the start and walks for 2min

Lap 2, 3: 5:30 per lap (~4:09 pace) -> if you feel you cannot hold the pace after the first lap, jog 200m very easy and finish the rest at 4:10 pace or faster

Lap 4: recovery jog

Lap 5: 5:30 total time
Lap 6: Sudden death: hold 4:10 pace as far as you can, check every 100m. Each 100m
has to be run under 25s, at the first 100m under 25s, game over, and you jog back to the
start and do your WD

 

Harrisson came along just as I was warming up and gave me lots of encouragement throughout the workout. It was not a very hot night but it was very humid and I was soon sweating profusely. I managed to do the 400ms in time and then started on the laps. I completed the first in 5:23 and the second in 5:27 but after that things started to get hard. Lap 5 was 5:32, just outside the 5:30 target, and when I started the sudden death I could only hold the 4:10 place for 400m. Harrisson said that we would call this a benchmark and try to improve on it going forward.

Thursday 8th September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 82
  • Weight: 82.6kg
  • Run Easy: 8.3km
  • Time: 49 mins
  • Average Cadence: 168

I managed to drag myself up early again on Thursday morning and do my easy 8km before work. Again it was a beautiful morning and it was good to get along the Tamagawa.

Friday 9th September

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 82.8kg

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Friday I had to leave early for a business trip to Hamanako and I could not get any runs in.

Saturday 10th September

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 72
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 10.3
  • Time: 1 hour 2 mins

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On Saturday, I got up early and met my colleagues for a 6am run around Hamanako. It was a gorgeous morning and we had a great run. That day a massive concert called One Rock was taking place around Hamanako and we ran into thousands of kids queuing up at 6am to gain access for a concert that was staring at 3pm. Now that is dedication. Unfortunately I caught a cold either out on the run or in the air con at night and for the rest of the day I was either sneezing or blowing my nose. At 7pm, I realised that I would not be able to make the long run on Sunday and told the people that I was to meet that I would have to take a rain check.

Sunday 11th September

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 80
  • Weight: 84.1kg

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On Sunday I spent most of the day in bed trying to get rid of my cold. Around 5pm I started to feel better but did not get up and run as I decided that I needed to get back to full strength before I started to do anything.

 

Week 7 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 7 was an easy week where I recovered from the previous hard 6 weeks and also took care of my sore hamstring. I did one hard workout and 4 easy ones and saw my weight drop another kilo as I continued to avoid the snack vending machine at work.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 61.2km
  • Time: 6 hours 4 mins

Monday 29th August

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 83.3

Monday was a rest day and I took it easy and continued to apply Tiger Balm to my leg.

Tuesday 30th August

  • RHR: 41
  • HRV: 81
  • Weight: 83.1
  • Run: Easy w/ 6×15 sec strides
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 50 minutes

On Tuesday Harrisson asked me to just do an easy run with some strides to judge if my hamstring had healed sufficiently to do a hard workout on Wednesday. That morning I had seen the best RHR and HRV in a while and I felt very rested. The run itself went well so we decided to give the hard intervals a proper go the next day.

Wednesday 31st August

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 83.4
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 16km
  • Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

I found the description of Wednesday’s workout a little hard to understand.

Lap1 to 3: do for each lap, 800m @ 3:52 pace or faster (3:05 total time), 525m @ 4:30 pace
(2:22 total time), 3min rest (the rest comes only after you’ve done 3 continuous laps).
Lap 4 and 5: same as lap1,2,3 but only 2 laps, 3min rest
Lap 6 and 7: same as lap 4 and 5
I e-mailed Harrisson several times to make sure that I understood what he was asking. It seemed that I did understand. He was asking me to do back to back intervals are different paces and with no rest. The key point was that the second interval was at my race pace of 4:30/km so he was training me to run at this pace on tired legs.
I had a real life event that evening so I got up at 5am on Wednesday and headed over to the Tamagawa river.I won’t lie, it was very tough and I never made the pace for the 800m interval. I did however make it for the seven 600m intervals which was of some comfort. My hamstring was sore from the start but it did not get any worse so I get going. Along, with the soreness, it was very hard to run all those intervals without a drink. I was running up and down the Tamagawa river and stopping to rest at different locations so there was nowhere to leave a bottle of water. By the time I was running the 6th and 7th lap by mouth was completely dry and vigorously rubbing my tongue off the insides of my cheeks to try and generate some saliva. It was not a really hot morning, but it was very humid and I was drenched in sweated when I finished. Normally I won’t buy a drink after a morning workout but this time I could not get to the vending machine fast enough and the Postonic Water never tasted so good.

Thursday 1st September

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.9kg
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Tokyo after the storm

As my hamstring had been a little sore on Wednesday, Harrisson told me to take Thursday off. I only had easy days left and he wanted to see my leg settle down before we started the next cycle the following week.

Friday 2nd September

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.1km
  • Time: 51 minutes

I continued to apply Tiger Balm to my leg and by Friday night it was feeling OK again. Even still, I just went out for an easy 8km MAF run with no strides. Everything went well and I reported back to Harrisson. I told him that I might not have time to do a long run on Sunday and that I wanted to do it on Saturday morning. The schedule was for 20 ~ 25km but he told me, in no uncertain terms, to keep it to 20km to make sure that there was no impact on my hamstring.

Saturday 3rd September

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.8kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 20.2km
  • Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
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Saturday Lunch – Humus and Avocado on Wholegrain Toast

It is now getting bearable to run in Tokyo in the mornings although the afternoons are still too hot, and when I headed out on the Noborito loop at 6:20am it was only 25 degrees. It felt like a good temperature to run in, but 4 months ago it would have killed me. I guess that this is what Philippe means by temperature adaptation over the summer. The only purpose of this run was to get through it without soreness and I managed to do that. So far I have only felt the pain in my hamstring when doing hard intervals and I am hoping that that is now going away. I got back from the run and reported to Harrisson that I was fine in  soreness department but my legs were feeling tired, although I had had a good night’s sleep the night before.

Sunday 4th September

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 82.7kg
  • Run: Easy Run with 6 Variable Strides
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 49 minutes

So what are Variable Strides, I hear you ask. And I had asked myself the same question. Apparently they are strides until it just starts to feel hard and your breathing starts shooting up. I am not sure that I did these correctly as I am no good at this subjective feeling stuff and I may have run them longer that I should have. I much prefer to be told to run a distance, or a time, or a pace and I concentrate on that.

Regardless I did all 6 strides and had not soreness. I got home and reported to Harrisson that everything was fine except that I was still feeling tired, despite getting 7 hours in the scratcher the night before. He said that he had been looking at my log on myfitnesspal.com and that he was wondering if I was getting enough protein. Normally I was recording 20g per day when it really should be 70g. Of course vegans and vegetarians always laugh at people who say “where do you get your protein” as we do not believe that there is any shortage of protein in the world today. However, you cannot argue with how you feel and if you are tired for no reason, you should try to do something about it. Except kill an animal who never did anything to you.

Anyway, I decided that I did not want to go the whey protein route as I am trying to eat mainly whole foods so Harrisson suggested that I eat more black beans and legumes. So  I headed off to Caldi and stocked up

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Beans and more beans

and the had a good old fashioned vegetarian lunch when I got back.

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So this is what 25g of protein looks like

Week 6 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

It is hard to believe that Week 6 of my training has come and gone. That means that I have completed the first 1/3 and there are 12 weeks remaining. Sometimes I feel that I have not gotten started and other times I feel that I have been doing this forever. Week 6 was a difficult week in that I got slightly injured and I was not able to complete all the planned workouts. We had to judge them on a day by day basis and reduce  the intensity for the second half of the week. I am now hoping that I have avoided a big injury and that I can get back to normal training soon. On the good news front, Harrisson has been helping me with my diet and I have seen my weight begin to drop again. Now if I can stay away from the vending machine in work, it might continue like this for a few more weeks.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 57km
  • Time: 5 hours 43 mins

Week 6

Monday 22nd August

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 84.6

Again Monday was a rest day but I did not have the energy to do anything when I got home from work so I just rested. It felt good.

Tuesday 23rd August

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 84.7
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 47:32
  • Average Heart Rate: 143
  • Average Cadence: 180

Tuesday was an easy run and as I had an appointment that evening, I got out early and did it before work. As the temperature has started to get cooler in Japan, there are a lot more people out early in the mornings exercising. Not as many as Hanoi at 6am on a Saturday, but still quite a few. I was pleased to keep my cadence high, even if my heart rate did drift above 140.

Wednesday 24th August

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 84.5
  • Run: Hard Intervals (400, 800, 1200, 1200, 800, 400, 400, 400, 400)
  • Distance: 13.3km
  • Time: 1:18:42

This was a very hard workout:

  • 400, 800,1200, 1200, 800, 400 x 4 (total 6000m of work)
    • 400m @ 3:45 pace, 45s rest (Actual 1:29 => 3:42)
    • 800m @ 3:45 pace, 3min rest (Actual 3:o3 => 3:48)
    • 1200m @ 3:50 ~ 3:55 pace, 3min rest (Actual 4:38 => 3:51)
    • 1200m @ 3:50 ~ 3:55 pace, 3min rest (Actual 4:45 => 3:57)
    • 800m @ 3:45 pace, 90s rest (Actual 3:06 => 3:52)
    • 400m @ 3:45 pace, 3min rest (Actual 1:31 => 3:47)
    • 3 x 400m @ 3:45 pace with 45s of rest between each rep (Actual 1:32/1:31/1:37 => 3:50/3:47/4:02)

I managed to keep the pace close to the desired value for the half of the workout but it started to drift again in the second half. I nearly got the pace back up for the first of the three 400ms but as I was ramping up my cadence at the end of the second 400m, I felt a little twinge in my right hamstring. I knew it was no good but I still managed to finish that interval a little faster than the first one. As I was gasping for air beside the track during my 45 second rest, I evaluated the situation. I knew that I would not be able to run that hard for the last interval and I considered stopping the workout there. In the end, I just ran it slower, finishing 6 seconds down on the second interval.

When I got home I texted Harrisson and we decided to take a complete rest on Thursday and see how things were on Friday.

Thursday 25th August

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 65
  • Weight: 83.9kg

I had planned to run the Rainbow Bridge with some friends, but as my leg was still sore I just rested.

Friday 26th August

  • RHR: 50
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 84.4
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 51:13
  • Average Heart Rate: 137
  • Average Cadence: 166

I went out before work on Friday morning and tested my leg with the same easy run I had done on Tuesday. There was still some pain there but not enough to make me stop. I went home and reported the situation to Harrisson. We decided not to do anything hard and test it again on Saturday.

Saturday 27th August

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.7
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Time: 1:15:43
  • Average Heart Rate: 138
  • Average Cadence: 170

IMG_5480

On Saturday I was bringing the boy to his first competitive rugby match so I got out early and gave the leg another test by increasing the distance to 12km. My leg was not perfect but it was clearly better than Friday and I took that as a good sign. Harrisson suggested to do 60~90 at MAF with some strides (if there is no soreness) on Sunday and I headed off to a day of standing around in the rain watching 12 year olds trying to get hold of a rugby ball.

Sunday 27th August

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83.6
  • Run: MAF w/ 6 x 15 seconds strides
  • Distance: 14.8km
  • Time: 1:30:25
  • Average Heart Rate: 133
  • Average Cadence: 173

I went out at 8am for the third test of the leg (And I apologise if you are bored hearing about this. I will try to write less about it next week. I really don’t have much else to write about this week.) and it passed. While I was running at MAF I had no pain but when I did the strides at the end I could feel it. Not enough to make me stop, but I knew that it was there. The good news is that I was able to run at MAF for the whole of the run, probably because the temperature has decreased in Tokyo, and I was able to maintain a fair cadence as well.

Hopefully next week things will continue to improve and I will have something else to write about.

Week 5 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

This week was a tough week of training. I had several real life events that required my time and several hard workouts to do. At the end of it I am a little tired and glad that tomorrow is a rest day. I am also pleased that I completed the main workouts even if I could not make all the assigned paces all the time. Tokyo got hot and humid again and it was hard to run and each time I came back soaked. Especially on Saturday morning when a light rain turned into an all out thunder and lightening storm. I have been off coffee now for over a week. I am finding that I get a lot of reflux during the hard workouts and I am trying to try something to help me over come it. So far I have not had much trouble and it seems to have had some affect. At the very least I am getting better sleep.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 71km
  • Time: 7 hours 26 mins
Week 5

Week 5

Monday 15th August

  • RHR: 54
  • HRV: 70
  • Weight: 84.1

Monday was a rest day so I just came home and did my strength exercises. I was feeling tired after the long run on Sunday evening and my RHR and HRV were affected.

Tuesday 16th August

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 80
  • Weight: 85.4
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 48 minutes
  • Average Heart Rate: 140
  • Average Cadence: 172

IMG_0512

The rest did me well and when I work on Tuesday morning my RHR and HRV were back in the game. That evening I had a real life event so I got out early in the morning and did my 8km easy run. The Tamagawa was absolutely beautiful in the morning and as it was the middle of Obon, it was not too crowded.

Wednesday 17th August

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 84.8

IMG_5427

On Wednesday I had another real life event. I thought about getting up early and doing my Hard Intervals at 5am but I was not confident I would be able to muster up the required energy at that time of the day. I decided to postpone the hard work until Thursday evening and went back to sleep.

Thursday 18th August

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 74
  • Weight: 84.3
  • Run: Hard Intervals
  • Distance: 13.2km
  • Time: 1 hour 22 minutes

Thursday was the day to get serious this week. I don’t like to get to Thursday with only one run in bag but sometimes that is just the way the cards fall. This week’s workout  was quite intense and a little complicated:

800m @ 3:52 pace or faster (3:05 total time), jog back 400m in 3:00, then do another 800m in 3:05, jog back to the start with a rest time of 3:00 as well. Then on do another 800m in 3:05, rest for 30s and run 400m in 1:30 to 1:33 (3:45 ~ 3:52 pace). Do this twice.
I programmed it all into my watch the night before as I knew that I could never remember all of that. As I had done the previous 2 weeks, I changed in the sports club in Shibuya and jogged over to Gaien to do the interval. It is 3.5km each way and I am beginning to wonder if I should find somewhere closer to change as the jog back after a hard workout is quite tough.
The workout itself was very hard. The night was very humid even though the temperature was only 26 degrees. We have become used to running in hot weather over the summer but you never get used to the humidity. By the time I got to the second set I was really hurting and my pace had dropped a good bit as you can see here:
3:05/ 3:06/  3:07/ 1:32/ 3:17/ 3:11/ 3:18/ 1:35

I was totally soaked jogging back to the sports club and I was surprised that they let me in I was dripping so much. I had brought my swimming gear with me but I was too wrecked to swim and I just wanted to soak in the bath and head home.

Friday 19th August

  • RHR: 54
  • HRV: 66
  • Weight: 83.9
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8.4km
  • Time: 51 minutes
  • Average Heart Rate: 136
  • Average Cadence: 168

Friday was an easy day in advance of the hard hill repeats on Saturday morning so after work we just headed off to the Minato Ku Sports Centre and ran 8km over the Rainbow bridge. It was a nice gentle run on a summer’s evening and I felt fine after it.

Saturday 20th August

  • RHR: 57
  • HRV: 65
  • Weight: 84.4
  • Run: Hill & Flat Repetitions
  • Distance: 13.1km
  • Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

At 8:45 on Saturday morning I found myself back at the sports club in Shibuya and then running back over to the Akasaka Palace in a light drizzle for hill repeats with a twist:

Isometric squat for 90s, all out effort for 60s up the hill, rest for 30s, and run for 60s @ 3:30 pace, jog back down, take all the time you need, it’s a full recovery -> that is 1 of 4 sets
Then jog to the gaien loop and do 2 x 400 in 1:25 or faster (3:30 pace), take full recovery
between the two reps.

It was very tough again. I started the first squat and then turned and sprinted up the hill. As I got near the top I noticed that there was somebody standing in my way holding an umbrella. He was just where I would finish if I really pushed myself at the end. I cursed him for blocking the path but as I reached him I realised that it was Harrisson. Out for the second week in a row, this time in ever increasing rain, to help me get the exercise right. His first words to me were “which rep is this?” I guess it was too wet for small talk. When I had caught my breath, I told him that I had just started and rushed off to do the 60 seconds on the flat.

I don’t think that I ever made 60 seconds at 3:30 pace after I ran the hill but I got closer and closer to the end of the road each time. I still had trouble keeping the isometric squat for 90 seconds and Harrisson advised to do them for 5 seconds at a time until I was able to get them right. It still was not easy and it was difficult to maintain pace on the hill and flat repetitions.

I had a little more success with the 400m at the Gaien loop completing the first one in 1:31 and the second one in 1:25. While we were at the Gaien loop the rain really came bucketing down and there was thunder and lightning. I really appreciate Harrisson coming out in it for the whole time and pushing me on.

When I got home I realised that I would soon need to order my new running shoes for Ohtawara. I messaged my Personal Adidas Advisor Marie, and asked for a recommendation and if she knew where I could get a discount. She recommended several models and we settled on the Adizero Takumi Sen which was on sale on the Adidas website.  I ordered the final size 29cm and they should arrive Wednesday. The trick now will be to break them in enough, but not too much, before the race. Merci, Marie!

Adizero Takumi Sen

Adizero Takumi Sen

Sunday 21st August

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 84.5
  • Run: Long Run
  • Distance: 28.1km
  • Time: 2 hours 44 minutes
  • Average Heart Rate: 145
  • Average Cadence: 172

IMG_0515

Sunday turned out to be a bright and beautiful day after the torrential downpour of Saturday. It was already 29 degrees when I started running at 8am and it just got hotter and hotter. Well at least that is the way it felt to me. I was running between Fireworks display sites. On Saturday night there was the Tamagawa Fireworks battle between Tokyo’s Setagaya Ku and Kawasaki’s Takatsu ku. As I reached the river, I could see that the cleanup was in full progress and I spent 2km dodging workman and volunteers with plastic bags cleaning up the rubbish. I have to say that I admire these people immensely.

When I got up to Chofu I came across the other Fireworks display area. Chofu Fireworks were due to take place on Sunday night and part of my normal route was closed. I was diverted down a nice leafy green street with plenty of shade and I made a note to come this way again if the heat becomes too much. I managed to complete the run at an easy pace but I could not keep myself in MAF. It was just too hot so I gave up trying and just ran easy.

That afternoon I went out for a 90 min cycle to Gasubashi with the boy. As luck would have it, we ran into Paddy with his son, also out for a cycle. We stopped to discuss the latest IOC scandal that the Irish had given the world before heading on our separate ways. It was a great finish to a great weekend.

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