Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 49 Days To Go

Week          14 ~ 20 January

Runs           9 

Distance     82km

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

Monday 14th January 2019

RHR                  56

HRV                   90

Run                    11km

Avg Pace            5:28/km

Avg HR               141

Avg Cadence      172

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

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

Tuesday 15th January 2019

RHR                53

HRV                90

Run                  13km

Avg Pace           4:52/km

Avg HR              158

Avg Cadence    188

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

Wednesday 16th January 2019

RHR                58

HRV                 84

Run #1             6.2km

Avg Pace          4:31/km

Avg HR             157

Avg Cadence   190

Run #2              12km

Avg Pace          4:58/km

Avg HR             157

Avg Cadence    184

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

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

Thursday 17th January 2019

RHR                47

HRV                 96

Run                   10.4km

Avg Pace           5:44/km

Avg HR              147

Avg Cadence     176

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

Friday 18th January 2019

RHR                 58

HRV                  91

Run #1              8km

Avg Pace          6:09/km

Avg HR             137

Avg Cadence    174

Run #2              12.1km

Avg Pace          5:21/km

Avg HR              159

Avg Cadence    181

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

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

Saturday 19th January 2019

Run                  2.2km

Avg Pace          5:15/km

Avg HR             140

Avg Cadence    174

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

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

Sunday 20th January 2019

Run 7.1km

Avg Pace 5:52/km

Avg HR 134

Avg Cadence 171

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

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Koga Hanamomo Marathon – 91 days to go

Week           3 ~ 9 December 2018

Runs:           7

Distance:    80km

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

Monday 3rd December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       4.2km

Avg Pace:                             6:13/km

Avg HR:                                130bpm

Avg Cadence:                     172

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

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Tuesday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          68

Heart Rate Variability:    67

Run:                                       20.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:50/km

Avg HR:                                158bpm

Avg Cadence:                     173

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

Wednesday 5th December

Resting Heart Rate:          84

Heart Rate Variability:    53

Run:                                       5.5km

Avg Pace:                             5:44/km

Avg HR:                                150bpm

Avg Cadence:                     169

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

Thursday 4th December

Resting Heart Rate:          64

Heart Rate Variability:    78

Run:                                       10km

Avg Pace:                             5:41/km

Avg HR:                                152bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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

Friday 7th December

Resting Heart Rate:          XX

Heart Rate Variability:    XX

Run:                                       12.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:46/km

Avg HR:                                140bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

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

Saturday 8th December

Resting Heart Rate:          61

Heart Rate Variability:    79

Run:                                       17.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:18/km

Avg HR:                                147bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

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

Sunday 9th December

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    88

Run:                                       10.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:35/km

Avg HR:                                142bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

 

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

 

 

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.

Ohtawara Marathon 2018 – 40 days to go!

Week           8 ~ 14 October 2018

Runs:           8

Distance:    91km

It’s been a hot summer. Here in Tokyo and everywhere else in the world. It really impacted my motivation to run for the past few months. While I was able to get out the door, it was very hard to do any quality runs and I found it tough. On top of the heat, Tokyo and Japan were hit by several storms and typhoons which made running seem unbearable. By the end of September, I felt I had had enough. The only problem was that I was due to run the Matsumoto marathon on 30th September. I had run it last year and enjoyed it so I signed up again for the 2018 event. But my heart was not in it. I traveled up to Matsumoto on the Saturday with fellow Nambanner, Andrew. He had been training well with a new coach despite a hectic schedule and was clearly excited at the prospect of earning a new PB.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle.

With Andrew at Matsumoto Castle. He is clearly excited. I am carefully hiding the fact that I am not.

That evening we met up with the rest of the Namban crew who had planned to run the marathon. We knew that there was a typhoon approaching Japan but it looked like it would pass through on Sunday night and that there would be no rain or strong winds on Sunday morning so we expected the race to go ahead. Therefore, it was a bit of shock at around 7:30 pm when Banno san told us that the race had been canceled. I felt that a life sentence had just been lifted. I knew that I was in no condition to run a marathon and the prospect of Andrew getting a PB and beating me in the process was very real. We did the only thing that we could do and ordered another round of drinks.

It was already too late to get a train back to Tokyo, and as we had paid for our hotels and checked in, we decided to make the most of it and go for a run in the morning before heading back. As it turns out, Sunday was a lovely day for running and we had a nice trot around Matsumoto while trying to find the best route on our iPhones and hardly ever getting lost. I felt sluggish and slow and it reaffirmed my feeling that this was not to be my day.

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Matsumoto Morning Run instead of running a marathon.

On the train back to Tokyo, I was not in great form. I knew that I had dodged a bullet but also that I could not continue to do so forever unless I decided to give up entering races. I was lacking in motivation and willpower and needed something to jump start my engine – so to speak. My saving came in the form of an email from Richard. He described his own recent dissatisfaction with his running and how he planned to sort it out by going on a running streak. This would involve running at least 1 mile per day for the month of October, and then maybe longer. He invited anybody who was interested to join him.

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The motivational email

I thought to myself that that sounds like just what I need. Achievable. Goal Oriented. Group Related. Relative. Perhaps I have been on one too many Leadership Courses but I was sold on the idea. The next day, 1st Oct, I started and managed to complete the first week without too much stress by getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal and running the 2.8km loop around my house most days.

The other thing that has gotten me motivated it again was this blog. I had expected to be writing my Matsumoto Marathon Race Report around this time, but as luck would have it, I never got to run the race. In previous years, I had written each week about my training for the Ohtawara marathon, but recently my enthusiasm had fallen off. It was a chance encounter with an old Namban friend, Arnaud, in Starbucks that made me want to write again. He was over from Singapore and having coffee with Jay when I bumped into him one lunchtime. He told me how he enjoyed my blog and how he was interested in how I fitted everything in with life and kids and work and running. It really got me thinking about how much I enjoyed writing it myself and how it motivated me to run. I decided there and then that I would restart it, at least until after the Ohtawara Marathon this November.

So armed with my daily run and my weekly blog, I am going out to try and recapture all my motivation and run a good race in Ohtawara on 23rd November. At least, that is the plan.

Monday 8th October

Resting Heart Rate:          47

Heart Rate Variability:    107

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:45 min/km

Avg HR:                                137 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     180

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Monday was a National Holiday in Japan. Normally, I would try to take advantage of this and go out and do a long run. However, we had plans to go outlet shopping in Gotemba, so I sneaked out for a couple of laps of Mizonokuchi before we left. Had I not been on the running streak program, I would never have gone. I was happy with the run as I managed to keep my HR under 140 and get some points on the board at the start of the week. The outlet was not too packed and I got a nice pair of Nike Odyssey React for half price. These have turned out to be a great investment and I have worn them on almost every run since I bought them.

Tuesday 9th October

Resting Heart Rate:          50

Heart Rate Variability:    97

Run:                                      5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:00 min/km

Avg HR:                                153 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     187

I was pleased that my Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability were in the correct ranges. My average RHR is around 56 bpm so anything below that means that I am well rested. Likewise, any HRV above 90 is a good sign that I am not too stressed. I use the ithlete app first thing every morning to record these. I woke before 5:45 and was on the street by 6:03. I felt I could run a bit faster than Monday in my new Nike’s and my pace improved in the second half of the run. I was in good condition and enjoyed weaving through people on the pavement heading to work early.

Wednesday 10th October

Resting Heart Rate:          54

Heart Rate Variability:    92

Run #1:                                5.3km

Avg Pace:                             4:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                162 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     188

Run #2:                                11.2km

Avg Pace:                             5:38 min/km

Avg HR:                                148 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I managed a double on Wednesday. This time I was on the street at 5:55 to do my 2 laps of Mizonokuchi and I also managed to run in Yoyogi Park with Bob J on Wednesday night. I was very pleased with the morning run as I was able to push my pace a lot more again. It was no surprise that I was a little tired by the evening run and ran at much more relaxed pace. Bob had started early but stayed around to help me through my first 3 laps of Yoyogi Park.

Thursday 11th October

Resting Heart Rate:          63

Heart Rate Variability:    81

Run:                                       5.3km

Avg Pace:                             5:56 min/km

Avg HR:                                133 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     175

It was no surprise that I was tired again on Thursday morning since I got home late on Wednesday and did not get enough sleep. This was reflected in my RHR and HRV. I still managed to get up at 5:45 and plod around Mizonokuchi for 5km at an easy pace and low heart rate. I was just happy to get the run done.

Friday 12th October

Resting Heart Rate:          55

Heart Rate Variability:    93

Run:                                       2.8km

Avg Pace:                             5:43 min/km

Avg HR:                                134 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     178

I had a meeting at work from 7 pm on Friday, so I knew that it would be challenging to get in a run after I got home at 9 pm. The plan was to get up again at 5:45 and do my usual 2 laps before work. However, I totally slept in and missed my run. That meant I was out on the streets at 9:20 pm running around the neighborhood to ensure that I got the run done when I should have been sleeping and getting ready for the long run in West Tokyo early on Saturday morning. This is when the streak gets tough but the challenge is all part of the fun.

Saturday 13th October

Resting Heart Rate:          56

Heart Rate Variability:    89

Run:                                       30.6km

Avg Pace:                             5:44 min/km

Avg HR:                                145 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     176

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On the banks of the Akigawa River in West Tokyo.

The plan for Saturday morning was to meet Namban running legend, Mark Feeley, at his home in Haijima and do a long hilly run around the Akigawa river. We both plan to do the 55km charity run with Knights In White Lycra (KIWL) in November in aid of Mirai no Mori and the Ohtawara Marathon is not exactly flat so we this run was the start of my preparations.

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Elevation

It was great. Mark dragged me up and down lots of hills as we ran around his neighborhood greeting his neighbors. It is very enjoyable to be out of the city and running past rice fields and beehives while herons stood still in the river waiting to pounce on unsuspecting fish. The run was long and hard as I requested and afterwards, we retired to the local Ishikawa Brewery for some delicious craft beer.

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Alan in Tokyo

Saturday evening an old college friend, Alan, was in town for one night and we met up for some more craft beer in the Taproom in Nakameguro. I knew that I had another long run on Sunday and that Alan would probably be back in Tokyo in a few months, but the call of the Teikoku IPA was just too strong.

Sunday 14th October

Resting Heart Rate:          58

Heart Rate Variability:    90

Run:                                       25.4km

Avg Pace:                             5:53 min/km

Avg HR:                                138 bpm

Avg Cadence:                     177

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Tamagawa Ohashi Bridge

Despite going drinking twice on Saturday, my RHR and HRV were still in a good range on Sunday morning. I was still tired from Saturday’s hilly long run so I decided that a nice easy run, trying to keep my heart rate well under 140, would be a good idea. I headed off to the Tamagawa, turned right and then down to Kawasaki. The temperature was cool and the run turned out well. My HR stayed under 140 until I was about 75% done. At around that point, I switched from the Rich Roll Podcast to Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks and my heart rate started to creep up as I made my way home.

All in all, a good week of running. I kept my streak going and I feel that I have gotten some of my motivation back.

40 days to the Ohtawara Marathon.

 

 

Tokyo Marathon 2017 – Race Report

Net Time: 3:34:10

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Gaining entry to the Tokyo Marathon is like winning the lottery. Actually, it is winning the lottery. Around 330,000 people apply for 27,000 places and then there are an additional 3,000 places which can be purchased with 100,000 yen donation to charity. This year I was in 2 lotteries. My company, Colt, had agreed to sponsor 4 runners in the marathon and I joined the mass lottery as well. As luck would have it, I failed to get selected in the Colt Lottery which had a ratio of 2:1 but I did get selected in the mass lottery with a ratio of 12:1. What are the odds?  Well 12 to 1. I learned of my good fortune while lounging in bed with jet lag and a hangover in the Tallbot Hotel in Stillorgan last September. I was back in the old country to help Daughter #1 get set up in college when the news came through. I had been out the previous night meeting up with my brother, my oldest friend Niall and a certain Arthur Guinness in the hotel bar. My brother, who had also applied and not been selected, could not understand how fate could be so cruel.

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At the time I was training with Harrisson for the Ohtawara Marathon in November and everything was going well. Even though I had to travel a bit, I completed all of my quality workouts and finished Ohtawara in 3:24:48, my third best marathon. However, somewhere along the way I felt a strain at the top of hamstring, or the bottom of my glut (I am never quite sure), but instead of taking a few weeks off after Ohtawara, I kept training and started going out to the track again, with my club Namban Rengo. I also managed to complete 320km in Jan by running everyday over the year end holidays. However, on the 18th January I finally accepted that something was wrong when I did the Namban track workout in Yoyogi Park.  Initially, everything was was going great. I was running fast and kept all 4 of my 1000ms at 3:50 or less, something I had not been able to do for a long time. However, during the final 2 x 500m I felt a lot of pain in my left hamstring and struggled to complete them.

The following Sunday, 22nd January, I had the Chiba Marine Half Marathon with a great bunch of Nambanners. I could only manage 1:35:37 in near perfect conditions and not the 1:32:00 I was aiming for. My leg was sore the whole time and I could not push the pace even though my breathing was fine. It was time for drastic measures. When I arrived in work on the 1st February I saw a message from my friend Steve Flynn in Manchester. He had just finished January without a drink for charity, and was asking people to join him for February. I signed up hoping that it would help me lose weight, but also help my leg recover. I had been getting sports massages and while they provided relief, were not really fixing the problem as I continued to train. 3 Weeks on from the Chiba Marine, on the 12th February and after 6 days of rest, I ran the Inzai Half Marathon in 1:36:17. I had been hoping to improve and but it was not to be. I pushed my pace early on but died greatly in the second half.

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My colleagues from work were all training well and we headed to the Expo together on the Thursday before the race. Three of us had done marathons before, and three of us were doing one for the first time. I had arranged the Colt running shirts through my friend Tim Williams in Namban Rengo and even if I say so myself, they looked pretty good.

The day of the race itself was gorgeous. Sunny, moderate temperature and virtually no wind. I opted to run in just the running singlet with no T-shirt underneath. I also bought a cheap hat and pair of gloves that I planned to dispose of a long the way. However, it was so warm standing in Block B that I need not have bothered. Based on my two half marathon results, I knew that 4:30 pace was well out of the question but thought that I might have a chance at 4:40 pace and slip in under 3:20 for only the second time.  As we headed out on the new course from Shinjuku, the atmosphere was great. Thousands of people lined the streets as always and the runners were all in good form. I was feeling good myself as I took my first drink at the 5km mark. Normally I do not drink so early in a race but as the temperature was set to rise to 13 degrees and the sun was out, I knew that I would need it later. At Idabashi, I heard the first shouts from the Namban horde. Throughout the course, they were popping up everywhere, behind bus shelters, on bridges but always roaring out encouragement.

At 10km the race changed from its original course. For the past 10 years it would turn right and run down to Shinagawa but this year the new course turned left and headed up to Asakusa. Shortly after that I saw Derek running in the opposite direction. He is easy to spot in his green tinted sunglasses. We yelled at each other and kept going. My pace had now settled around the 4:50 mark but I felt I was in control and did not need to worry. Near Asakusa I was awakened from my trans-like state by a shout of “Gambare Mako-gan”. Matsushita san from Colt had come out to support us and was holding a teal Colt T-Shirt. On and on and the craic was good as Van Morrison might say and we turned around at Asakusa Temple and headed back towards Ginza, but before we got there we took a sharp left at the 16km point and headed to Monzen-Nakacho and back, an area I know well. Right after I turned the corner I saw Michael Hegarty  from Namban flying down the road. I wanted to shout at him, but I failed to recall his first name in time and all that came out was “Go Go”. Later at the post marathon party, he told me he knew who it was. Then as I passed the 17km point I saw Harrisson and he was just passing the 24km point. I yelled “Go Harrisson” but he totally ignored me. I guess he was in the zone. All the way up to Mozen and back I kept looking out for other Nambanners and maybe a Colt runner, but I missed them all.

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At the end of the road we turned left and rejoined the course towards Ginza. My family said that they would be at the 29km point just outside Takashimaya department store. For that 5km I thought that it would be great seeing them and I imagined that one of them would have a steaming hot cup of coffee for me. It practically kept me going. Of course they had no such thing, so after exchanging some pleasantries I headed off again to see the Colt people who promised to be at the 34km point. Up until 24km I had managed to keep my pace under 5 min per km but I could not hold out any longer as the war of attrition set in. The stretch from 29km to 34km was very tough as we ran down from Hibiya to Tamachi. My pace slowed to 5:30 over this stretch but fortunately it did not reduce much more after that. At Tamachi station the Colt folks were out in force and had brought the cold spray that I had given them. I used it liberally and headed on to the final turn around in Shinagawa at around the 35.5km point.

As I passed through Tamachi the second time, I looked out for the Colt supporters but I missed them as they had crossed the road. It was around here that the local Autobacs store was handing out Coca Cola. I have rarely tasted anything as good in all my life.  It was well past noon now and the day was warm but it was not an oppressive heat. I took my last gel at around the 37km mark with my second Nurofen to ward off the pain and put my head down for home. I know the road from Tamachi up to Otemachi very well. It is wide and open but there was not much wind so I was able to keep an even pace. Just before Hibiya Park, there was a big crowd of Nambanners cheering and taking photos as we went by. It was very encouraging to hear them all in the final stages of the race.

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Finally, I made it to the paved streets of Otemachi and as I turned the second last corner I saw the sign that declared 1km to go. I was holding on to by 5:30 pace as best I could when I saw my family lining the road, holding out a cup of coffee for me. I was hardly going to take it with 500m to go but I appreciated the gesture, however late in the game. A middled aged American woman kept sprinting past me, stopping and walking, letting me pass her and then doing the same again. I thought that I had her beat but in the final run in, she found some extra strength and pipped me at the post right in front of Tokyo station.

I was very happy to finish and while I was a little disappointed that I could not maintain my early pace, I knew that my training had not been sufficient I was lucky to be able to complete this great new course on such a beautiful day with my family, friends and colleagues along the route.

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After the finish there is a 1km walk back to the bags where hundreds of volunteers line the route and cheer and clap and give High 5s. Had it not been such great weather, it would have been a bit tedious, but under the circumstances, it was also a lot of fun.  That evening, the Namban crew were back in FooTNiK in Osaki for the by now traditional post marathon party. There was a great turn out of runners and supporters. Here’s hoping that we get to do it all again next year.