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.

Week 16 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

I got back to 5 runs this week but it was not a particularly hard week. Even still, I could not hit all the paces on the Sunday run and had to miss one interval. I now have just over 2 weeks to my marathon. I think that I will be OK on the day,  but it is unfortunate that I missed several key workouts over the previous three weeks.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance: 77.9 km
  • Time:    7 hours 13 mins

Monday 31st October

  • RHR: 43
  • HRV: 82
  • Weight: 83.6kg

Monday, as always, is a rest day and I took it easy. I had planned to go for a swim after work but daughter #2 was down with a cold and I had to head straight home. The extra rest was very welcomed.

Tuesday 1st November

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 77
  • Weight: 83.3kg
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance: 10.8km
  • Time: 1 hour 3 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 171

I went to my osteopath, Mizugami sensei, after work and then hit the streets. My hamstring was gradually feeling better and I was able to manage the run with no issues.

Wednesday 2nd November

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 78
  • Weight: 82.6
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance: 10.3km
  • Time: 57 mins
  • Avg HR: 140
  • Avg Cadence: 171

The plan for Wednesday evening was

  • First 5k @ MAF, the rest @ 5:20 pace

It was the first time that I had run at this pace since I admitted to myself that there might be something wrong with my hamstring and went back to Mizunami sensei. Harrisson was clearly easing me back into it. The run went fine and I felt good after it.

Thursday 3rd November

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 82kg

3rd November is a holiday in Japan as it is Culture Day and we all need a bit of culture. Harrisson had written on my chart

  • A 30min swim would be very nice here

so I duly obliged and headed off to Esforta Sports Club in Shibuya for a 1.1km swim in the morning. The pool was empty and it was a lovely way to spend a Thursday morning.When I got home I made myself a delicious juice with lots of fruit and vegetables from my new juice book. I was beginning to feel like I was recovering.

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Friday 4th November

  • RHR: 42
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 82.3kg
  • Run: Progressive Run
  • Distance: 17km
  • Time: 1 hour 34 mins
  • Avg HR: 142
  • Avg Cadence: 172
Friday I was back at Mizugami sensei for the third time in a week and my hamstring was definitely improving. The scheduled run afterwards was as follows:
  • First 10k easy @ MAF, then 1k @ 5:10, 1k @ 4:50, 2k @:4:30, back to easy
 It was a fair bit harder than the other runs that I had done in the last week and the 2km at 4:30 pace really felt hard. However, I did manage to complete it and I was still feeling good afterwards with little soreness.

Saturday 5th November

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 82.4kg
  • Run: Easy Run with the boy
  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Time: 35 mins
  • Avg HR: 119
  • Avg Cadence: 169

+

  • Run: 8km MAF Run w/ 6 x 20 sec strides
  • Distance: 8.3km
  • Time: 48 mins
  • Avg HR: 137
  • Avg Cadence: 169

Saturday was planned to be a 12km MAF run with strides but I had a very rare opportunity to run with my son so I took it and split the run into 2. It was good running with the boy even though we started in the evening. He ran at a steady pace and my heart rate stayed nice and low. After that I went down to the Tamagawa for another 8km. It all went well, even the strides, and I felt not reoccurrence of the soreness in my hamstring.

Sunday 6th November

  • RHR: 53
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 83kg
  • Run: Long Run with intervals
  • Distance: 26.2km
  • Time: 2 hours 15 mins
  • Avg HR: 156
  • Avg Cadence: 177

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Sunday I woke to find that my heart rate was slightly elevated but my HRV was still in a good place. Actually, my HRV has been in the green for 9 consecutive days and was still trending upwards. It is clear that the reason was that I had recovered well since I had stopped the high intensity workouts for a week. That made me feel good knowing that I was not over trained and that I would be in good shape for my marathon after my taper. The only issue was that I had missed several key workouts and I could not squeeze them all into the remaining 2 weeks.

I managed to get up early on Sunday and hit the road by 7:20am. That was very fortunate as it was one of those freak days in November when it was hot and sunny. Unfortunately it is not such a freak day anymore and they are becoming far too regular. My legs did not feel sore but they were heavy and my heart rate was quickly going well above MAF. I made it down to the river where the plan for the day was as follows:

  1. 1 km @ 5:25 3km @ 13:15
  2. 1 km @ 5:25 3km @ 13:15
  3. 1 km @ 5:25 3km @ 13:15
  4. 1 km @ 5:25 3km @ 13:15
  5. 1 km @ 5:25 3km @ 13:15

I found it very tough and only managed to complete 4 of the intervals and the last one was well off the pace

  1. 1 km @ 5:16 3km @ 13:15
  2. 1 km @ 5:11 3km @ 13:15
  3. 1 km @ 5:12 3km @ 13:15
  4. 1 km @ 5:17 3km @ 13:33

Although there was a big headwind for the 4th interval, it wasn’t the only reason that I slowed down and did not attempt the 5th one. My legs were tired and heavy and I felt that it would have taken too much out of me 2 weeks before my race and opted to run home at MAF.

Now I have only 2 weeks and 3 days to the race and only a handful of training runs left. I hope that I have done enough over the last 6 months to make it all worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 14 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

Week 14 was a hell of a week, and not in a good way. I saw my HRV tank the day after my long run, recover a little and then drop again. I couldn’t complete my midweek hard intervals as I was just too tired and had to turn around and head home. My long run was miserable but at least I completed the distance. The only good news is that my foot pain did not return and I am nearly finished. My race is in just over 4 weeks which means that I can start to taper soon and hopefully recover some badly needed energy.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 4
  • Distance: 58.2km
  • Time:   5 hours 17 mins

Monday 17th October

  • RHR: 58
  • HRV: 55
  • Weight: 82.6kg

I had a hard run on Sunday and woke Monday to see my HRV plummet to 55 and my resting Heart Rate shoot up to 58. It is very unusual for my RHR to be above my HRV and even if Monday was not a rest day I would have taken one.

Tuesday 18th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 73
  • Weight: 83.5kg
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance:  8.4km
  • Time: 48 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 171

On Tuesday morning my HRV and RHR had returned to normal territory and I congratulated myself on only needing one day to recover from such a hard run. I got up at 5:30 and headed for the Tamagawa River for an easy run. The run went to plan but my legs felt very tired for the rest of the day which is very unusual for me.

Wednesday 19th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.6kg
  • Run: Hard Intervals – FAIL
  • Distance:  7.2km
  • Time:  46 mins
  • Avg HR: 128
  • Avg Cadence: 153

I spent Wednesday walking around Data Centers which, while very interesting, is not the best preparation for Hard Intervals. I got home and took a 30 minute nap and then headed for the Tamagawa again. I knew from the beginning that I was not in good form. I was lumbering along and every step felt heavy. I got to the river and did my warm up drills and then 3 x 400m. By the end of them I knew I was done. Sometimes I feel bad after the 400ms but once I start the intervals I feel fine again and can continue. I knew immediately that this was not one of those days and I finished my isotonic drink and started my slow jog for home.

Thursday 20th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 83.2kg
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With my former colleagues talking about old times

Thursday I had a real life event and had not planned top run. As with Monday, even if I had nothing on I would not have been able to run. I still feeling tired and glad I could rest.

Friday 21st October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 66
  • Weight: 83.5

Friday was another real life event and no running. I was feeling a bit less tired and got the results of my health test from the previous week. All the results of my blood tests were virtually the same as last year which is very good news as I have not eaten any meat all year. Maybe this vegetarian life is not so bad after all.

Saturday 22nd October

  • RHR: 52
  • HRV: 61
  • Weight: 83.5
  • Run: MAF with 8 x 40 sec strides
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Time: 1 hour 7 mins
  • Avg HR: 139
  • Avg Cadence: 178
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Low HRV on my ithlete Pro and the overall trend (Blue Line) is continuing to drop

Saturday morning saw another drop in my HRV and a clear indication that the trend was heading south. I took an extra rest in the morning and headed out around noon for my MAF run with some strides thrown in for good measure. The run went fine and I enjoyed the strides and trying to complete 200m for each 40 seconds. I never did.

I was rather tired at the end of it so I made myself a large Beet juice with carrot, lemon, ginger, turmeric, celery and spinach. I then had a nice nap hoping to prepare myself for Sunday.

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Sunday 23rd October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 79
  • Weight: 83.1
  • Run: Long Run w/ goal paced segments
  • Distance: 30km
  • Time: 2 hours 36 mins
  • Avg HR: 160
  • Avg Cadence: 176

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I knew things were not going well his week. My HRV was on a steady decline, I had failed to complete the hard intervals on Wednesday and I missed runs . I had to put things back on track. So I decided not to drink my usual beer(s) on Saturday night and head to bed early, get up early and do the run early. Of course the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I did manage to not drink beer and to go to bed early, but I had not reckoned on not being able to sleep and as I checked the half-time scores of the English Premier League on my phone, I knew things were not going to be easy the next day.

I eventually dragged myself out of the scratcher sometime after 7am and after dropping the Missus off at the station, I started to get ready. Harrisson had told me that he would meet me somewhere along the Tamagawa so I did not want to hang about. This week’s run was even more complicated than last week and I wrote it on my hand again as there was no way that I would remember it.

3k WU @ MAF (include a 2 x 30s strides randomly @ HM pace during that)
2k @ 4:05
6k @ 4:30
8k @ 5:30 
4k @ 4:25
1k@ 5:30
4k @ 4:25
WD as far as you want to end up in the 30~33km range

 

I got down to the Tamagawa River without any hassle and started the first section. It was hard enough as I ran up to Futakobashi and then turned around to run all the way down to Tamagawa-Ohashi. I knew that things were not getting any better as I thought that I had been running into the wind only to turn around and think the very same thing. I kept going and managed to keep the pace within range.

It is always difficult switching from 4:05 pace to 4:30 pace as I instinctively want to take a rest. Today was no different and I was playing catch up until the end of the 6km and just managed it with one second to spare. Moving from 4:30 pace to 5:30 pace is a dream and I began to feel good again. I stopped at the rest station just before Tamagawa-Ohashi and had a gel and a sports drink. After a couple of minutes Harrisson came along and we continued along together over the Tamagawa and up past Gasubashi where we turned around again and retraced our steps back to Tamagawa Ohashi where the next hard section started.

This time I suffered miserably and could not keep up with Harrisson as he gracefully ran back up the Tamagawa. My pace kept dropping and during the 1km @5:30 I stopped for water and another gel. Harrisson told me to cut this one to 2km and I readily agreed. I could not keep 4:25 even for 2km and was very glad when it was over.

  • Target 8:10 Actual 8:02
  • Target 27:00 Actual 26:59
  • Target 44:00 Actual 44:20
  • Target 17:40 Actual 18:45
  • Target 8:50 Actual 9:36

All in all a very miserable day despite Harrisson’s good company and encouragement. However I can take some solace from the fact that I have now completed four 30km runs in October with some crazy ass goal pace segments thrown in. I always say that four 30km + runs the month before a marathon is a must and now I have completed that.

I said goodbye to Harrisson at Kita Mikata and began the slow jog home (again). He told me that the good news was that I was near the end of the hard stuff and I could start the taper in the next week or so. And I am not injured so it is not all bad. I won’t do any running for the next two days and I might try to reacquaint myself with the local swimming pool which I have been neglecting for several months.

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
bob-dylan

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 12 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

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

Week Total

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

Monday 3rd October

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

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

Tuesday 4th October

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

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

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

 

Wednesday 5th October

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

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

Thursday 6th October

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

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

Friday 7th October

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

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

Saturday 8th October

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

 

 

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

Sunday 9th October

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The results were as follows:

4:11/4:26/5:06

4:00/4:19/5:31

4:13/4:24/5:34

4:01/4:21/5:26

4:22/4:31/5:32

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

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

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

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

Week 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