Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 91 days to go

Week           3 ~ 9 December 2018

Runs:           7

Distance:    80km

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

Monday 3rd December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       4.2km

Avg Pace:                             6:13/km

Avg HR:                                130bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

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

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Tuesday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          68

Heart Rate Variability:    67

Run:                                       20.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:50/km

Avg HR:                                158bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

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

Wednesday 5th December

Resting Heart Rate:          84

Heart Rate Variability:    53

Run:                                       5.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:44/km

Avg HR:                                150bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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

Thursday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    78

Run:                                       10km

Avg Pace:                             5:41/km

Avg HR:                                152bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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

Friday 7th December

Resting Heart Rate:          XX

Heart Rate Variability:    XX

Run:                                       12.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:46/km

Avg HR:                                140bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

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

Saturday 8th December

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    79

Run:                                       17.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:18/km

Avg HR:                                147bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

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

Sunday 9th December

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    88

Run:                                       10.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:35/km

Avg HR:                                142bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

 

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

 

 

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Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 105 days to go

Week           24 ~ 25 November 2018

Runs:           2

Distance:    18.6km

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

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

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

Saturday 24th November

Resting Heart Rate:          75

Heart Rate Variability:    60

Run:                                       10.3 km

Avg Pace:                             6:19/km

Avg HR:                                 127bpm

Avg Cadence:                     168

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

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Sunday 25th November

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       8.3 km

Avg Pace:                             6:26/km

Avg HR:                                 125bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – Race Report

Net Time 3:41:42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ohtawara Marathon – 5 days to go!

Week           12 ~ 18 November 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    86km

It is fair to say that this week went much better than last week. I got over my cold, I ran 2 quality workouts and I continued my running streak to 50 days. I am now 5 days out from the 31st Ohtawara Matharon. I do not think that I will run it as fast as I did in 2012, 2015 or 2016, but I am a lot more confident than I was 2 months ago when the Matsumoto Marathon got cancelled. I am really just looking forward to getting out there and running my best race. Thank you all for reading. Next week’s blog will contain the race report, assuming a typhoon does not rip through Japan and wreck everything.

Monday 12th November

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run:                                       10 km

Avg Pace:                             4:35/km

Avg HR:                                 168bpm

Avg Cadence:                     190

After being sick for the previous week and only 11 days out from the Ohtawara Marathon, I wanted to go out and do my best to hold a fast pace for 10km. I was hoping that I could run 10km at 4:30/km pace and that that would give me some confidence. As it turns out, I couldn’t but I was not too far off.

I jogged down to the river and completed a 3km warm up and was ready to start. All along the Tamagawa River, there are markers spaced 200m apart. I calculated that if I kept the time between markers at 54 seconds, then I would be able to maintain a 4:30/km pace. Of course, the first one went by too fast but after that, I fell into a rhythm and managed to keep them all in range until the turn-around point at 5km. The second half was much harder. I pushed as hard as I could but my pace began to slip and by the end of the run, I was running at 4:40/km. I was not too disappointed as I was getting over a cold and my average pace was 4:35/km.

Tuesday 13th November

Resting Heart Rate:          65

Heart Rate Variability:    74

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             6:34/km

Avg HR:                                 126bpm

Avg Cadence:                       163

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Tuesday morning I was still sore after Monday evening’s effort and just got up to do one lap around the neighbourhood to keep my streak going. My Heart Rate Variability had dived down by 16 points from Monday and all the advice was to take it easy. My pace was slow and my heart rate was low and I did not feel too bad.

Tuesday evening I was back at Bikram Yoga for the first time in 15 days. It really is something that you have to keep doing and when you take a few weeks off, it is very hard to go back. All my friends had gone on Monday night so I was by myself. I managed to get through the class but during one of the rest periods I was forced to look in the mirror, literally. It was only then that I realized how much was being taken out of me by the class.

Wednesday 14th November

Resting Heart Rate:          66

Heart Rate Variability:    69

Run:                                       10.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:04/km

Avg HR:                                 136bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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Wednesday morning and my HRV was still crashing. Maybe the 10km Tempo on Monday was not the smartest thing to do returning from a cold. I decided to give Namban Rengo Track Intervals a miss and headed home after work for an easy 10km down the Tamagawa to Todoroki Stadium, home of Kawasaki Fontale. I felt fine during the run and managed to get to bed earlier than I had recently.

Thursday 15th November

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:10/km

Avg HR:                                 131bpm

Avg Cadence:                     171

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Thursday morning and my HRV had made a return of sorts. I headed out before work and continued my streak with another easy 5km around the neighbourhood. I was beginning to feel better.

Friday 16th November

Resting Heart Rate:          60

Heart Rate Variability:    87

Run:                                       8km

Avg Pace:                             5:07/km

Avg HR:                                 150bpm

Avg Cadence:                     184

Friday I woke early and managed to increase my regular run to 8km by doing 3 laps of the neighbourhood instead of 2. I was a little bit sore afterwards but happy that I had put that run behind me as I was hoping to go to Bikram Yoga that night.

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I finished all my calls at work by 6pm and got to the Bikram Yoga in time for the class. All my friends were already there and chilling out outside the room because it was too damn hot. Who would have thought? As it was my second class of the week, it went a little better than Tuesday and I did not look so decrepit in the mirror. Afterward, we headed to DevilCraft in Hamamatsucho for some choice craft beer and wonderful veggie pizza. You really cannot go wrong.

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Saturday 17th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run #1:                                   13.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:13/km

Avg HR:                                 149bpm

Avg Cadence:                      178

Run #2:                                Namban Hill Repeats            

                                              8 x 200m

 

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I had another good run on Saturday morning. First I met Nick at the lockers in Aoyama Itchome station and we ran 4 laps around the Akasaka palace, each one a little bit faster than the last – 17:23/ 17:16/ 17:05/ 16:57. It was a great jaunt topped off with a couple of coffees courtesy of Nick in Starbucks.

Afterwards, I headed back across the road and joined the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats from 10am. More than 22 people were out and we had a very enjoyable, although tough, set of hills around the same course. I managed some of them OK, but others were a complete disaster. Then it was back to Starbucks for more coffee and banter with these great people.

Sunday 18th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       23.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:48/km

Avg HR:                                 140bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

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My HRV was still looking reasonable on Sunday morning as I headed out for my last long run before the Ohtawara Marathon. I had planned to do 23km at a very easy pace in order to bring me up to 180km for the month on the 18th day. It may sound stupid, but I like to try and maintain 300km per month as much as possible and if I can keep a 10km per day average throughout the month, I know that I can do it.

Halfway through my run, I crossed the bridge from Tokyo to Kawasaki near Noborito. I was greeted by 100s of white and black birds (don’t ask me to name them) here trashing about in the middle of the Tamagawa River. I guess that it was feeding time but it looked like they were having great fun. You can see a sample of the activity here.

Ohtawara Marathon – 19 days to go!

Week           29 October ~ 4 November 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    97km

October:      400km

I had another good week running. I ran 8 times and had 3 quality sessions. I also managed to make 400km for October by going out twice on Halloween. The highlight of the week was definitely the Namban Rengo race and BBQ on Sunday. For the last 8 years or so, Namban Rengo has held their own race on the first weekend in November. It started because it was so hard to enter races in Tokyo unless you did applied 6 months in advance. The event has grown and grown and become a highlight of our racing calendar. This was the 3rd time that I entered the half marathon and my time has gradually gotten slower: 2015 – 1:32:00, 2017 – 1:37:19, 2018 – 1:40:33. I am not too concerned with the drop in speed. Obviously, my advanced years has something to do with it, but also, I was at the end of a hard week and tough runs on Friday and Saturday. I am sure that if I had rested more before the race I may have done better but my goal is in 3 weeks time. I also managed to increase my running streak to 36 days thanks to my friends at Namban Rengo and I finally got to meet and talk to Maki san who is doing great running each day.

Monday 29th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    101

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:34/km

Avg HR:                                127 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     166

Monday morning and I was wrecked. The 42km that I had run on Sunday had really taken a lot out of me. I was happy that my resting heart rate and HRV were both in a good place but I really was too sore to run. This pain was reflected in my low heart rate and cadence as I plodded around Mizonokuchi for 5km. If I had not been trying to keep my streak going, I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep.

I had recovered enough by Monday night to make it to the Bikram Yoga class. I don’t know if I am getting any better but it is a good way to spend Monday night. I don’t lose any weight or get better at running, but there is a chance that I am improving my strength and balance. Only time will tell.

Tuesday 30th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       8.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:44/km

Avg HR:                                137 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

On Tuesday morning I knew that I was close to the 400km for October that I was after but that if I kept running my usual 5km per day, I would fall short. I upped it a little and ran down the Tamagawa River to Miyauchi and back. I was disappointed not to have my camera with me as it was a glorious day and I finished the run just 18km shy of my target.

Wednesday 31st October

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    91

Run #1:                                  10.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:30/km

Avg HR:                                140 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     181

Run #2:                                  8.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:33/km

Avg HR:                                139 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

I had wanted to go to the Namban Rengo 5km Time Trial on Wednesday night, but a real-life event had gotten in the way and I had to make other plans. The first of which was to get out early and run 10km down to Todoroki Stadium and back. This completed my 31st day of running in October and an achievement which I was very proud of. Before that, my longest streak was 15 days and to reach 31 days of one month was great.

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Every day in October

As it was Halloween, I legged it into the office and put up some decorations. There was an open day that evening for children of employees, and although it has been many a year since my kids have participated in such an event, I always want to make some effort for the kids that do show up.

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Happy Halloween (really?)

However, I was still 8km short of my goal for the month so once I got home at 8:30pm, I changed and was out the door again in 5 minutes to complete the missing km. This was only the second time that I managed 400km in a calendar month. The last was in 2013 when I got anemia. Oh, hang on!!! I am not sure if it will make any difference in Ohtawara in 3 weeks time, but it is nice to have that box ticked.

Thursday 1st November

Resting Heart Rate:          60

Heart Rate Variability:    88

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:04/km

Avg HR:                                130 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     170

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Waiting for Paul with Akiko and Michal

Thursday night we were going to see Paul McCartney so there would be no time to run in the evening. I got up and dragged myself around Mizonokuchi for a slow 5km with low heart rate and cadence. Again, if I was not trying to keep my streak going, I would not have bothered. Somehow, I managed to complete it and got to run another day.

The Paul McCartney concert was absolutely amazing. I don’t think I should comment on his age because a man in his 20s would have trouble performing a show that lasted 3-hours with such variety and energy. I think that it helps to have one of the best music catalogs in history. Paul played 37 songs from all over his career including my favorites – Hey Jude and Let It Be.  He could have played forever, but finishing with Golden Slumbers was outstanding.

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Paul on stage – sort of.

Friday 2nd November

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       12.1km (1.325m – 5:46, 5:44, 5:44, 7:50, 5:42, 6:01, 5:50) 

Avg Pace:                             4:53/km

Avg HR:                                159 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     183

After work on Friday, I met Sarah to run her training session around the Gaien Loop in Tokyo. The loop is 1,325 meters long and the plan was to run 3 laps hard, 1 lap easy and then 3 laps hard. It is rather difficult to say what hard is but we were running about 4:20/km for the first 3 laps. I was glad when they were over and I had a chance to catch my breath. It was very pleasing that the times for the 3 laps were all very consistent. We then started up the second set at about the same pace. Unfortunately, I got a call from the Real World and had to stop and take it at 500m in. It turned out to be an automated voice message. I started up again but Sarah was gone and I was not to see her again until the end. The lap finished well but I slowed down again on the second to last. My left leg was sore and I could not maintain the pace. On the final lap, another automated voice message decided to call me and I had to stop again. It was annoying but you have to accept this if you choose to run with your phone (note to self – leave the phone in locker). It was a good hard session and I am glad that I completed it on a Friday night.

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Gaein Loop

Saturday 3rd November

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    84

Run #1:                                  16:00

Avg Pace:                             5:05/km

Avg HR:                                147 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

                                                8 x 200m hills

Saturday morning I was due to do another double session. However, ithletePro was telling me that my HRV was suppressed and that I should reduce training intensity. I decided that I would try to push on and do my best and see how it went. I was less than 3 weeks out from my race and this was to be my hardest week.

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First off I met Nick in Aoyama Itchome. We had no real plan except to run around 90 mins at 5:00 ~ 5:10 pace. It was a beautiful morning but I was sore after Friday night’s tempo run as we headed off. Fortunately, Nick had been at a Halloween Party the night before and was not in great shape, to begin with. That soon changed. We left Aoyama and headed for the Imperial Palace. I was really feeling it and pleaded with Nick to leave me if he wanted to run faster. But he wouldn’t. He stayed beside me, dragging me along and finally we round up back in Starbucks in Aoyama after 16km and 81 mins where we had been 2 weeks previous.

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Running with NIck

It was a grand run and would have been enough on any other day except that we had the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats ahead of us. I love the Hill Repeats because it brings lots of people together, and there is always a stop at Starbucks afterward. This week was very tough with all the extra km in my legs and I finished well down the rankings on each hill. I just hope that it is doing me some long-term good.

As we had a BBQ and run on Sunday, that really meant one thing and one thing only. Shopping on Saturday afternoon. I met up with Rui, Takeo #2 and Yuki in Kawasaki and headed off to Costco where we filled 2 trolleys before we headed off to OK Store to get the stuff that Costco did not have i.e. azuki beans and mochi (Seriously, who eats this stuff? Well, my children do, but who else?). Rui had done a great job preparing a list of the items and we were in and out in no time.

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Sunday 4th November

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    87

Run:                                      Namban Half Marathon

Avg Pace:                             4:46/km

Avg HR:                                163 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

I started off the day by dropping off our shopping to the BBQ area at the Tamagawa river and then heading back home to return the car. I did not want to miss out on the fine craft beer that Glenn had promised us after the run. Namban Rengo organizes a 10km race and half marathon and I chose the half as I had in previous years. Unfortunately, both start together and I always get my pacing messed up from the start. Today was no different. Even though I had hoped to complete the half in just under 1:40, about 4:44/km pace, I ran the first 1km in 4:21. There was a great feeling of fun and camaraderie as we headed down the river and I think that it is fair to say that I got a little carried away. The course is basically a 5km out and back done twice with a little bit extra in the middle. As always on the Tamagawa, there was a wind blowing. I did not notice it for the first 5km as it was at my back, but once we turned around at the first switchback it was straight in my face. I did not lose too much time for the first 10km but I had expended quite a bit of energy.  I was dropped by Hang and Paul just before the 5km point and as we reached 8km, some of the 10km runners started to overtake me, including Bob Poulson who really should know better. I was holding on for dear life when Terri came storming past in the 10th km. I completed the 10km in 46:02 which is a 4:35 pace.

I went through the second switchback and started calculating how far ahead I was of the others who were just behind me. Rie and Tony were at 400m, Yasuo and Will at 500m and Emma at 600m. Fortunately, the wind was at my back again and I was able to restore my pace to 4:45.  I struggled on and graciously took my third drink from Chika san. She had been out on the course all day giving water and encouragement to the runners. At the final switchback at 16.1km, Tony and Rie caught and quickly passed me. I thought that the writing was on the wall and I would soon be passed by all the other runners as I headed into the wind. However, Will, Yasuo, and Emma had not made much ground in the last 5km and I plowed on into the wind. I knew that if I could maintain a 5:00/km pace I would be able to squeeze in just under 1:40. However, it gradually started to slip away as my pace dropped to 5:10 and then 5:15. I can only guess that if I had started at an easier pace I might have been able to maintain a 4:45 pace for longer.

I was happy to finish in 1:40:33 and then headed to the BBQ and craft beers. The other highlight of the day was to meet up with the members of the Get The Run Done Crew. Not everyone is in Tokyo at the minute, and not everyone was at the BBQ, but it was nice to catch up and talk with Maki, Francesco, and Glenn about how we were managing to run each day. I was particularly interested in how Francesco was using HRV. While I only use it in the morning to judge how recovered I am, he uses it after runs to gauge his effort. He said that we will soon use it during runs as well. I hope that he writes something about his experience so that I can see how it goes for him.

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With the Get The Run Done crew.

 

 

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 26 days to go!

Week           22 ~ 28 October 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    102km

I had another good week of running as I continued my countdown to Ohtawara 2018. It is always great to get over 100km but I also managed 4 quality workouts including a 42km on Sunday. My running streak has now reached 29 days, and while I was a little blue when I could not run Matsumoto Marathon and realised that it probably was for the better, I now felt a bit more confident that I could give Ohtawara a good shot and do my best.

Monday 22nd October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:34/km

Avg HR:                                138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Despite my Long Run on Sunday, I still managed to get up early on Monday morning and run before work in order to keep my streak going. Nothing eventful happened as I ran around the neighbourhood a couple of times avoiding trains and people heading to work. I was a little sore and kept my pace low. Monday evening, I was back in Bikram Yoga for the 3rd time in October. I am not sure I have made much progress in the last 6 months but if I will stick it out for another while, hopefully, I will improve my balance and flexibility and learn the crazy script.

Tuesday 23rd October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:23/km

Avg HR:                                142 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Tuesday I was no longer sore and I was able to go out and complete my morning run well in time. I didn’t feel sore and was beginning to get in the groove by the time the run was finishing.

Wednesday 24th October

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:56/km

Avg HR:                                149 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

I had wanted to go to Namban Rengo for the Intervals at the track on Wednesday evening but I had a real-life event and only managed to get home at 11:30pm. I was pleased that I had gone out in the morning and that the run went well. I started slow but was running fast by the last km. I can never start fast at 6am.

Thursday 25th October

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run:                                       15km

Avg Pace:                             4:50/km

Avg HR:                                164 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     185

As I had missed my quality run on Wednesday, I knew that I needed to get something done on Thursday before the weekend kicked in. Sarah had advertised that she was planning on running 3 laps of the palace, the first easy, the second and third hard. She wasn’t joking. I managed to meet herself and Rika san at the “statue” just before they headed off for the workout. Everything was fine as we headed up the hill and around the palace for the first lap. Then Rika san went home as she had a race on Saturday and Sarah turned up the pace. Like Nick on Saturday, she kept the pace high and steady. I clung on for as long as I could and completed the second lap averaging 4:28/km pace. As we headed up the hill for the 3rd time, I was suffering. I fell further and further behind as Sarah maintained pace and form. I averaged 4:41/km for lap 3 and was fairly happy with myself.

Friday 26th October

Resting Heart Rate:          57

Heart Rate Variability:    83

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             6:08/km

Avg HR:                                128 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     170

My resting heart rate did not change at all on Friday morning but my HRV dropped by 11 points. This was not unexpected. I had been stressed by the hard workout on Thursday and needed to take it easy. Fortunately, I only had to run to keep my streak going and I ran my 5km before breakfast. Friday evening we were back at Bikram Yoga. It was another good session and I began to feel that if I could practice it more than once a week, I might get better.

Saturday 27th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    94

Run #1:                                 16.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:18/km

Avg HR:                                150 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

 8 x 200m hills

As we left yoga on Friday night Sarah said that she would be swimming in Hayama in the morning and not be able to make the run around Akasaka Palace before the Namban Rengo Hill repeats. I felt a great sense of relief as I headed for a curry with Andrew and Naoko. I would not need to get up early on Saturday but just in time for the hills. However, I made the mistake of checking my phone when I turned over at 5am. There was a message that the swim been canceled due to the weather and to meet at the lockers in Aoyama at 8am. I quickly said to myself “You never saw it” and rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up again at 6am and this time I stayed awake so I was on 7:19 train to Aoyama.

The plan was 5 laps of the 3.2km circuit and we kept the pace fairly consistent and pushed the last one – 17:48, 17.22, 17:25, 17:27 and 16:03. I didn’t get dropped but I was covered in sweat. The only moment of note was that our drinks got stolen. We had left them near the exit to the subway but by the end of the 3rd lap, they were gone. I am guessing that a disgruntled walker who does not like runners pounding around their palace took them. Shoganai!

We finished at 9:30 and had just enough time for a quick coffee in Starbucks before the Namban Rengo Hill Repeats started at 10am. Jay was “traveling” this week so it was up to Sharity to lead the group. Hill Repeats are always tough but when you have 16km in your legs they are very tough. It was great to see Keren up from Kyoto and have Chiba san take photos, but I was in trouble from the start. I had cooled down and could not get going again. The only time that I could sprint out of the blocks was when Chiba san positioned himself at a corner with his phone to capture the moment. It was very satisfying to get two hard efforts in on 2 consecutive Saturdays and I will need to try and do it again next week to make some progress.

 

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Hill #2 – Photo courtesy of Chiba san

Sunday 28th October

Resting Heart Rate:          51

Heart Rate Variability:    100

Run:                                       42km (6km@5:33/km, 6km@4:45/km, 6km@5:40/km,

                                                6km@4:59, 6km@5:31, 6km@5:23  

                                                + 4km sprints (sort of) and recovery)

Avg Pace:                              5:21/km

Avg HR:                                149bpm

Avg Cadence:                     181

fullsizeoutput_e93eI woke up early on Sunday morning with good looking HRV and RHR. A HRV of 100 is one of the highest I have seen and I knew I needed it. Again I was meeting up with the training crew of Sarah and Rika. Sarah had been assigned a 40km run with lots of crazy stuff – 3x (6km easy + 6km hard) and finishing off with 8 x (400m sprints + 100m recovery). I thought that I would give it a try and if it did not work out, I would just do my usual long slow distance. This would not be the case. I put in the best effort that I could from start to finish and was happy with the result.

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We started off just after 7am at a very easy pace along the Tamagawa River. It was still cool in the morning and it felt great. When we hit 6km Rika san turned back as she had run a race the day before and didn’t need to push it. Sarah upped the pace and I hung as best I could. At the 3km point the pace was increased again and I was dropped. However, I still managed to run at a respectable 4:45/km pace until the end. The next 6km easy went by well enough and I stopped for my first sports drink. We started the second hard 6km hard and I was dropped immediately. I knew that I just had to keep going as hard as I could and I kept my average pace at 4:59/km. I stopped again for 2 more bottles of sports drinks before heading off to run the 3rd and final 6km easy. I eventually ran into Sarah but once the last hard 6km started she was gone. My motor was shot. The best I could do was 5:29/km for the first 2km. I then stopped for even more sports drinks. After I restarted I was feeling a bit better and managed to get the 6km average up to 5:23/km before stopping for another drink. It is no wonder that I never lose any weight on a long run when I drink about 4 litres of fluids. We finished up with the 400m sprints, none of which were particularly fun, or fast.

As soon as we finished I legged it home as I had to be at my son’s school for his presentation. I finally got to reward myself with a Halloween Witch at Starbucks.

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Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 33 days to go!

Week           15 ~ 21 October 2018

Runs:           9

Distance:    100km

Another good week of training and now only 4 and a half weeks to my marathon. I managed 9 runs, 4 of which were quality for me. I met lots of friends, got in a Bikram Yoga class, helped my son with his school presentation, extended my runing streak to 22 days and covered 100km.  If I can keep going like this for the next 4 weeks I will be able to give my best in Ohtawara.

Monday 15th October

Resting Heart Rate:          52

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             6:14 min/km

Avg HR:                                131 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

I woke up tired on Monday morning after my weekend of running but I was happy to see that my RHR and HRV were in good places. As I had to travel to Chiba for a 9am appointment, I only managed a short run in order to keep my streak going. If I was not trying to run every day in October, I never would have bothered. Still, it was good that I was able to keep my heart rate down, even if my cadence was very sluggish.

After work, I went to my Bikram Yoga class in Ginza. I started the class last April and I have managed to go about once a week. It is very tough and I am brutal at it. I am particularly bad at anything that involves balance or squatting. Also, I am not so good at stretching. I do think that I am getting a little better at the Locust Pose. However, you will never know, unless you talk to one of the Nambanners who also go along with me. The hot room is difficult but not impossible. I try to get a mat near the door, which they open a few times in each class to let in cool air and give some respite. The main reason I am doing it is to avoid injury. For the past 2 years, I have suffered from pain in left hamstring and glute. It comes and goes, but when it is bad it really impacts me when I try to do anything above a slow jog. The jury is still out on whether the yoga is helping, but it does not seem to be hurting so I will continue to do it for now.

Tuesday 16th October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    98

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:24 min/km

Avg HR:                                143 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     182

Tuesday I had a bit more time and managed to get in my 5.3km run from 6am. I might have run further but I had to get back to get my son up by 6:30. I felt good on the run and managed to pick things up a little in the second half. I am pleased that I can now wake up at 5:30 every day. It is true what they say about habit. Once you do something for 3 days in a row, it becomes a habit and then it becomes easier to do each day.

My morning routine is becoming, well, a routine. As soon as I wake up I sit on the side of the bed and take my RHR and HRV with my ithlete app. It takes about 2 minutes. I have been using this app for 5 years now and I feel that it really helps to point out when I am beginning to tire and need to rest. I then switch on my Headspace app and do 10 minutes of meditation. It is now a very popular app and I have been doing it for about 3 years now. It certainly helps to start the day on the right foot.

I know it sounds that I spend my life monitoring myself on apps and I also use Sleepcycle, Myfitnesspal, Strava and Garminconnect, so maybe I am.

Wednesday 17th October

Resting Heart Rate:          48

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run #1:                                  5.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:49 min/km

Avg HR:                                133 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

Run #2:                                  Namban Intervals 1000m x 4, 800m x 2, 400m x 1

Avg Pace:                              3:58 min/km

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Wednesday I woke to a great RHR and a great HRV. I felt that I had recovered well since the weekend and was for once looking forward to going back to the Namban Interval Workout. I made it to the Sento at Yoyogi Koen early enough to get a locker. As running has gotten more and more popular in Japan, it is hard to get a locket after 6:30pm. After a 5km warm up with my Namban friends, we headed over to Oda Field for the intervals. It was this first time that I had participated for several weeks. It was too hot for me to run intervals during the summer and I mainly ran in Yoyogi Park at an easy pace. I was a little interested in how I would get on.

As it turned out, it was not brilliant but it was not terrible either. I managed to complete them and although I started to lose touch with the group from the 3rd interval on, I was able to recover in time before the next one. It was good to be back at the track and pushing my heart rate over 180 again.

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Thursday 18th October

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    86

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              6:04 min/km

Avg HR:                                132 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

Thursday was a recovery run to keep my streak going. I was just glad to be able to get out of bed and run around the block a couple of times. I did feel sore after my efforts on Wednesday night but nothing that would stop me.

Friday 19th October

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    84

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                              6:02 min/km

Avg HR:                                131 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

I had a company event on Friday night so I knew that I would have to get out in the morning or else risk running late at night. It is tough to sleep properly after a late night run so I forced myself up and back around the block for 2 more laps.

Saturday 20th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    86

Run #1:                                   14km

Avg Pace:                              4:42 min/km

Avg HR:                                166 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     187

Run #2:                                  Namban Hill Repeats

 8 x 200m hills

Saturday was a big day. Nick had called me on Friday and summoned me to partake in a Tempo Run on Saturday morning. His plan was to run 14km at 4:35 ~ 4:45 pace. We initially thought about doing the run along the Tamagawa River, but I wanted to go to the Namban Weekly Hill Repeats afterward, so we ended up going to Gaien in the center of Tokyo. I knew that it was going to be tough. Nick is in good shape and has been crushing one marathon after another. The Gaein is a 1.325km loop and we planned to run 10 ~ 11 laps to make the 14km. We set up our drinks and expected to grab them around the 5 or 6 lap mark.

It was hard at the start. For me anyway. I was not sure of the pace and I needed to force myself. Nick was taking it all in his stride. I called out the 500m and 1000m timings and gradually realized that we were not losing any pace and that I might be able to hang on. Actually, our pace was increasing and we ran the laps in 6:11/ 6:19/ 6:12/ 6:08/ 6:10/ 6:07/ 6:08/ 6:04/ 6:10/ 6:10. We also did not need to stop to grab our drinks either and I was very please how the run went. Afterward, we headed to Starbucks for a quick coffee before the Hill Repeats started.

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With Nick at the start in Gaien.

Almost 30 people turned up for the Namban Hill Repeats. There were so many people we were in danger of blocking the path at the Aoyama Itchome Police Box. Actually, we did block it and got shouted at a few times. I knew that I would not be in any great shape as I had already run that morning but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do two quality workouts in the same morning. I did manage to complete all 8 hills and that was good enough for me. We then headed back to the same Starbucks.

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The Namban Rengo Hill Repeats crowd in front of the Akasaka Palace.

Sunday 21st October

Resting Heart Rate:          53

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run:                                        40.3km

Avg Pace:                              5:53 min/km

Avg HR:                                143 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     174

Sunday is Long Run day. Recently, I have felt that I have not done enough long runs and I wanted to make up for it. I also wanted to push myself over 100km for the week and get close to 300km for the month. My plan was to run easy for 40km and not push it too much. I was able to run at 6 min pace for most of the time and only stopped for drinks at 10km, 20km, 28km, 35km, and 38km. I ran all the way up from Mizonokuchi to Fuchu and back listening to Podcasts: The Daily, The NPR Politics Podcast, The Rich Roll Podcast, Serial and The Stand. You can catch up with a lot of stuff on a 4-hour run. It was a beautiful day with great views of Mt. Fuji. It is what makes the Tamagawa Run so special.

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The turn around point.

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Seats have been set up near Chofu for next week’s Fireworks.

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10km left to go.