Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 7 Days To Go

Week          25 February ~ 3 March

Runs           3

Distance     42km

Things improved a bit this week. Even though my HRV continued to decline, I did start to exercise again with 2 Bikram Yoga classes and 3 runs. What’s more, is that I got to watch the Tokyo Marathon go by at the 5km point. It is really fantastic to see the lead runners go through in 15 minutes, but it is also awe-inspiring to see the people who go by 1 hour later, some of who are walking and eating even though the race has just started. Everybody has their own story to tell. Everybody is focused on finishing, whatever it takes. I can learn something from all of them. If you would like to see my photos, please click here.

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HRV in decline – The Blue Line

Monday 25th February 2019

RHR               60

HRV               77

A slight improvement in my HRV but I decided to start the week at Bikram Yoga rather than running. I think that I made the right decision as I had not been for over 2 weeks and I was woeful. I still enjoyed it immensely. Daughter #2 was also travelling from Hamburg to Cork via Dublin by herself so I was a little worried about it. Especially as she had only left herself 1 hour to get off the flight, collect her bag and get the bus to Cork. I found myself awake from 2:30 to 3:30 texting her to make sure that everything was going OK and she had not been kidnapped or arrested. Fortunately, it all worked out.

Tuesday 26th February 2019

RHR               60

HRV               77

Run                12.4km

Avg Pace        4:44/km

Avg HR           164

Avg Cadence  184

I went out for a few beers on Tuesday right after work but we finished early and I was home before 8pm. I still had lots of time so quickly changed and headed out for my first run since the Ome 30km race. I was fairly relaxed and managed to up the pace fairly quickly and somehow managed to run the 12.4km in 58 minutes. I was really pleased although I was very sore at the end.

Wednesday 27th February 2019

RHR               67

HRV               72

Wednesday I was sore in the morning after Tuesday’s effort and my HRV was down. I was not going to run in the morning and I had a conference call in the evening so I was not going to run then as well. I made peace with the fact that I am no longer running every day and got on with my business.

Thursday 28th February 2019

RHR               58

HRV               77

Thursday and my HRV had started to return to normal again. I can’t remember why I did not run on Thursday night but I think that I had more calls until 7pm and I was fairly tired by the time that I got home.

Friday 1st March 2019

RHR               56

HRV               84

Another modest improvement in my HRV as I continue on the road to recovery. Again, I choose Bikram Yoga over running as I felt that I needed more practice. It was a better session that Monday and afterwards Bob, Naoko and myself headed to Devil Craft in Hamamatsucho for a few beers and a veggie pizza to celebrate the start of March.

Saturday 2nd March 2019

RHR               59

HRV               85

Run                20km

Avg Pace        4:48/km

Avg HR           163

Avg Cadence  183

Somehow my HRV stayed in a good place on Saturday morning despite the beers and the pizza. We had some beds arriving for daughters #1 and #2 so I could not run first thing in the morning. However, everything was in place by 11am and I hit the road just before noon. My plan for Koga is to run under 3:30 which means run at a 5 min / km pace. I thought that I would go out and try that pace out over a 20km course, up and down the Tamagawa River. It was warm and sunny and I was able to go out in just a T-Shirt. I quickly found myself running at 5 min pace and then faster. I initially tried to slow myself down, but after a while I gave into it and just ran to my heart’s content. After a while I was running at 4:45 / km  and it did not feel too bad. The challenge will be to not run at that pace next week as I know that I will crash and burn like I did in Ome and crawl home for the last 12km.

Sunday 3rd March 2019

RHR               70

HRV               68

Run                10.3km

Avg Pace        5:11/km

Avg HR           148

Avg Cadence  170

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Sunday morning and my HRV had dived 17 points. I am not sure if it was the hard 20km that I had run the day before, or the bottle of wine that I had drank with dinner. OK, it was probably the wine. Sunday was the day of the Tokyo Marathon and many members of my club, Nambam Rengo, were running and I was going out to support them. So, after resetting my alarm twice, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 and headed off to Iidabashi to cheer them on as they came through the 5km point. I have run the Tokyo Marathon before and always appreciated the support so I wanted to shout encouragement at my friends in return. It was a wet and cold day but I really enjoyed standing on the side of the road cheering people that I knew and those that I did not. Tokyo Marathon is a fantastic event and one in which everybody the city can get involved.

I left Iidabashi after an hour to meet Mrs. M in Shibuya to look for her dress for the Emerald Ball which will be held on 16th March, conveniently 6 days after my marathon. We went to half a dozen shops and had some success before heading home. As soon as I got home I downloaded the photos from the marathon and headed out the door to complete my week’s running. It was still raining and cold but I dressed well and qucikly dispatched a 10km run in 53 minutes. I don’t know how I will get on next Sunday, but I am in a good place as regards my running and hope to go out and enjoy it, like all those folks in the rain today.

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Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 28 Days To Go

Week          4 ~ 10 February

Runs           7

Distance     81km

Another good week running. Even though my total distance was less than the last 2 weeks, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and got in some tough runs and some skiing too. Also, it was the week when two of my children had their birthdays and my father would have turned 85 had he lived. Quite a lot to take in but it all worked out well.

Monday 4th February 2019

RHR                  58

HRV                  89

Run                    5.3km

Avg Pace            6:18/km

Avg HR               129

Avg Cadence      166

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Monday was the birthday of daughter #1. I got up and out the door early as we were going out to dinner that night and I ran my 5.3 route through Mizonokuchi. I was very sore after Sunday’s relay race but it was a good pain. The type where you know that you have done a hard day’s work.

Tuesday 5th February 2019

RHR                  53

HRV                  92

Run                    5.3km

Avg Pace            5:17/km

Avg HR               141

Avg Cadence      178

On Tuesday my Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability were back to normal and so was my pace as I ran through the neigbourhood again as soon as I got up.

Wednesday 6th February 2019

RHR                  53

HRV                  92

Run                   Namban Rengo Intervals 6 x 1km

Time                 3:55, 3:53, 3:53, 3:53, 3:53, 3:52

Wednesday I was back at the track with Namban Rengo running intervals at Oda Field track. It was over 2 months since I had done intervals and I was happy with the result getting each of the six 1kms under 4 minutes.

Thursday 7th February 2019

RHR                  56

HRV                  87

Run                    5.3km

Avg Pace            5:18/km

Avg HR               138

Avg Cadence      177

Thursday I was back running around the neighbourhood although I was a little sore from Wednesday night’s effort.

Friday 8th February 2019

RHR                  57

HRV                  83

Run                    8.4km

Avg Pace            6:06/km

Avg HR               129

Avg Cadence      169

Friday I got up early and ran a little more than usual for a Friday morning. We were headed that night to Nagano for the long weekend and I wanted to get the weekend off to the right start.

Saturday 9th February 2019

Run                    30km

Avg Pace            5:35/km

Avg HR               156

Avg Cadence      176

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Friday was my son’s birthday and we all woke up in Nagano. I woke before everyone and got out the door to do my long hilly run, 30km with a total elevation gain of 715m. I ran up to Shimin No Mori in Ueda and straight down again. It was a tough run where the downhills hurt as much as the uphills. I am hoping that it will have a positive effect on next week’s Ome 30km race.

Sunday 10th February 2019

Run                    8.3km

Avg Pace            5:56/km

Avg HR               141

Avg Cadence      170

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Sunday I was planning on going skiing so I needed to get up at 6am and get my run done before I headed out. I guess I could have done it when I came back but I did not know what condition I would be in. It was snowing and cold when I left at 6:30 but I had a nice run-up to the Joshinetsu motorway and back.

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I guess that I waited too long before leaving and by the time I got to Sugadaira all the parking spaces that I usually go to were taken and I had to head up to Davos. Yes, that is the name of the place in Nagano. Anyway, I soon got a place there and had a good 4 hours of skiing before heading down the mountain in daylight. I also met Tony from Namban Rengo in the restaurant having lunch proving that it really is a small world.

Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 49 Days To Go

Week          14 ~ 20 January

Runs           9 

Distance     82km

Although I was travelling this week, I did manage to get in a few good runs. The time difference of travelling East To West worked in my favour as I found myself wide awake at 4am waiting for the appropriate time to go running. Of course, there was no appropriate time as it was dark until after 8am but I like to fool myself. Stella from Colt had suggested some great running routes for me and I was glad I followed them. I also kept my running streak going throughout the trip, although this did require going out for a 2km run at 00:02 on Saturday morning as I had to get up at 3:30 for the flight back to Japan. But more about that later. I arrived at Barcelona Airport around 7pm on Sunday night. Being a Sunday night, the city was very quiet and the taxi made good time getting to the hotel. I did not run that night but ran each day over the next 5 days to ensure that I did not lose any fitness and that I saw a bit of the city as well.

Monday 14th January 2019

RHR                  56

HRV                   90

Run                    11km

Avg Pace            5:28/km

Avg HR               141

Avg Cadence      172

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I was awake from 2am on Monday morning. As always there is nothing that can be done about jetlag unless you are prepared to take drugs. I just lay there waiting for the sun to come up. Around 5:30am I realized that the sun was not coming up and I went out for my run anyway. This involved a 2km run down to the beach and running back and forth for a bit. It was a mild morning and I saw several other people out running. They were all covered up with hats and scarfs so I guessed that they were locals not enjoying the mild Barcelona winter.

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66n7vostto2d5q+sn%k2kgAfter a couple of meetings in the morning, I slipped out in the afternoon to see Sagrada Familia. I had heard about it and seen some photos, but nothing prepared me for how great this cathedral is. If you ever get a chance to go, you must take it and also do the tour with the audio guide. The information you get is well worth the extra 12 bucks.

Tuesday 15th January 2019

RHR                53

HRV                90

Run                  13km

Avg Pace           4:52/km

Avg HR              158

Avg Cadence    188

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On Tuesday morning my RHR and HRV were still holding up. I had expected them to dive with the jetlag but were much better than last month when I went to Ireland. Maybe it was the lack of alcohol or maybe it was the fact that travelling without my family is much less stressful. Either way, I was up and out on the street at 5:30am and heading to the beach again. I had been awake for a couple of hours and I felt wide awake. That might have been why I was able to push the pace a bit and I was very pleased with my effort.

Wednesday 16th January 2019

RHR                58

HRV                 84

Run #1             6.2km

Avg Pace          4:31/km

Avg HR             157

Avg Cadence   190

Run #2              12km

Avg Pace          4:58/km

Avg HR             157

Avg Cadence    184

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On Tuesday night we had a company dinner and on the way back Romain, Matt and myself decided to meet at 6am the next morning to run together. The problem was that I was still waking up before 4am so at 5:20, I popped out and did a fast 6km run near the hotel before the appointed time. The boys were a little surprised when I showed up at 6 profusely sweating.

We then headed back for the beach and a fast run. Matt is a very fast runner but he kept the pace slow enough so that Romain and myself could keep up with him.

Thursday 17th January 2019

RHR                47

HRV                 96

Run                   10.4km

Avg Pace           5:44/km

Avg HR              147

Avg Cadence     176

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On Wednesday night we changed hotels and our new hotel was right beside Montjuic, one of Stella’s running recommendations. I was feeling rather tired in the morning and I was very surprised that my Resting Heart Rate dropped 10 beats down to 47. I knew that I had to proceed with caution as I headed up the hill for Montjuic. I had actually wanted to go to the top but I got a little lost and ran around by the Olympic Stadium for a bit before heading back. I saw no other runners until the end of the run. Although I did not make my intended route, I had gathered enough information to be able to complete it on Friday morning.

Friday 18th January 2019

RHR                 58

HRV                  91

Run #1              8km

Avg Pace          6:09/km

Avg HR             137

Avg Cadence    174

Run #2              12.1km

Avg Pace          5:21/km

Avg HR              159

Avg Cadence    181

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On Friday morning I met Romain again and we headed back up the hill. This time there was no losing my way and we made it all the way up to Montjuic Castle. It was still dark so we saw nothing but it was good to make it to the top.

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On Friday evening I had a free hour before the sun went down and I slipped out for a quick run before dinner. It was my first time running while it was light in Barcelona and I enjoyed it immensely. This time I ran up to the Olympic Stadium and completed 3 laps. There were a good few other people out running and lots of tourists. It was a great way to finish off the week.

Saturday 19th January 2019

Run                  2.2km

Avg Pace          5:15/km

Avg HR             140

Avg Cadence    174

On Friday afternoon we heard that Taxi Drivers in Barcelona had started an indefinite strike. This would not have caused me much concern except for the fact that my flight was leaving at 6:55am and I needed to be at the airport before the subway and Airport Coach started. I thought about getting an Uber but the man at Reception at the hotel advised against it. He said that there had been cases reported of Taxis attacking Ubers near the airport. That was the last thing that I needed and I chose to leave the hotel at 3:45 and look for a regular bus. In order to continue my streak, I got up at midnight and ran up and down close to the hotel until I clocked up 2km and then went back to the hotel and to bed, before getting up again at 3:30 and finally leaving.

Fortunately, I caught a bus at 3:55 am which dropped me off at Terminal 1 at 4:40 am, after driving all over Barcelona. But it only cost 2 euros so it was worth it.

Sunday 20th January 2019

Run 7.1km

Avg Pace 5:52/km

Avg HR 134

Avg Cadence 171

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I arrived back at Haneda Airport at 6:30 am on Sunday and I was home within 2 hours. I did not sleep much on the plane so I was wrecked and headed to bed until almost 3:00 pm. This was reverse jetlag. Once you fixed your jetlag after travelling west, you have to do it all again after travelling east. After waking up in the afternoon I went out for a slow run to the Tamagawa River to keep my streak going and to try and feel better. I was more successful in the former than in the latter.

Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 63 Days To Go

Week           31 December 2018 ~ 6 January 2019

Runs:           4

Distance:    57km

Well, I am back from my 2 weeks Christmas Holiday in Ireland. So much happened that I find it difficult to process everything, or unpack it as the Americans might say. We had such a great time and met so many people that it really did turn into a holiday of a lifetime. I am so grateful to my brother Antoin and his wife Cathy for all they did for us as I am to all my friends who invited us into their homes and made time for us. We had such an action-packed two weeks and although we never saw the sky for longer than a half hour due to the clouds, we did not want it to end.

Now I am back in Japan and just 9 weeks out from the Koga Hanamomo Marathon. I managed to keep running in Ireland, but not very consistently. I also managed to put on a couple of unwanted kilos but that is part and parcel of a good holiday so I cannot complain. Now I have to do something about it, and I know just want to do. Stop drinking alcohol, stop eating pastries and run every day. Easy! As you can see in the graph below, my HRV increased nicely up to the Ohtawara Marathon on the 23rd Nov and only really took a dive around the time I got sick on the 10th November. I did not take my HRV regularly over Christmas but I am back taking it every day now and hopefully, we will see it creep up again as my fitness increases and I prepare for my race.

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The only thing that concerns me is that I have another trip to Europe from next week and jet lag always plays havoc with my HRV. I should be able to get up and run in the morning as I normally wake at 4am when I go from Japan to Europe. Staying awake past 8pm will be the problem.

Monday 31st December 2018

Run:                                       11.1 km

Avg Pace:                             5:24/km

Avg HR:                                 153bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

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Cork Marina

On New Years Eve morning I got up early and headed down to the Cork Marina for my last run there. I love this part of the city. It is less than 4km from my brother’s house so it is easy to get down, do a run and get a coffee before getting back. More people were out running than the previous week and I enjoyed the sunless dawn looking out over the waterless harbour. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Cork getting ready for the evening. And of course, there were pints and vegan pizza as well.

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Pints and vegan pizza at the Rising Sons in Cork

Tuesday 1st January 2019

Resting Heart Rate:          62

Heart Rate Variability:    75

Run:                                       4.7 km

Avg Pace:                             6:00/km

Avg HR:                                 139bpm

Avg Cadence:                     171

New Years Day was our last day in Cork. After lunch, we headed up to Dublin for our flight back to Japan on Wednesday. My Heart Rate was elevated and my HRV was suppressed. This was a result of a good night celebrating the New Year with our families. Antoin and I did manage to get out for a quick run around his neighbourhood before he drove us to Dublin. It is always good to get in a run on the first day of the year, even if it is not as long as you might have liked. Normally I do this run in Nagano, but I was just as happy to do in Cork this year.

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On New Years Day

Saturday 5th January 2019

Resting Heart Rate:          63

Heart Rate Variability:    72

Run #1:                                 3.4 km

Avg Pace:                             5:13/km

Avg HR:                                148bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Run #2:                                 Namban Rengo Hill Repeats

We arrived back in Japan at 10am on Thursday morning and were home by 13:30. There was plenty of time to run but I was wrecked and could only go to bed. Friday was not much better. On Saturday I forced myself out of bed to join the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats. My RHR and HRV were still not in a good place but I knew that I needed to make a start. I did a lap of the palace with Chika san before the Hills started and while I did feel rather heavy, my pace was not too bad. The Hills went better than expected. I don’t have a set distance to run. I just time myself for one minute and see how far I can go. I feel that I was able to run further than I had been before Christmas. Maybe it was the rest. Maybe it was the shorter run that I did before the Hills. Anyway, I will take it.

It was also great catching up with all my old friends for the New Year. As well as meeting people I had known for almost 10 years, I met some new folks as well. Mark has been part of our Run Streak group since last October. Although he is a long-term Tokyo resident I had never had the pleasure of meeting him before. And I spotted Jun wearing a No Meat Athlete T-Shirt. This is a Podcast that I listen to and really enjoy. I just had to get a photo with him as well.

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With Mark

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With Jun

Sunday 6th January 2019

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    86

Run:                                      30 km

Avg Pace:                             5:04/km

Avg HR:                                167bpm

Avg Cadence:                     181

On Friday morning, Faith from Namban Rengo sent out a message that she would be running along the Tamagawa from 7am with her friend from Sydney on Sunday and was looking for people to join. I had to say yes. I knew that it would be a challenge with the jet lag, but I also knew that it would most likely get me out the door for a much needed long run. I had been awake for most of the night when my alarm sounded at 5:55am but my RHR and HRV were back where they should be.

A big group of 8 showed up at 7am and we headed off into the bitterly cold morning. Faith’s runs are always good as there is no messing about. After a short warm-up, she hits the target pace and then holds to it. I probably went out a bit too fast. I was happy with the first half as I able to push myself and run a bit faster than I had recently. My thinking was that my next race is the Ohme 30km on the 17th Feb and I need to be able to run at a hard pace for that full distance. Today’s effort shows that I still have a bit of work to do. I was also pleased that I could keep running without stopping for a drink until the 17th km but after that, the wheels came off and I struggled to get home. Still, it was a great day and I enjoyed the run.

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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.

 

 

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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