Nagano Marathon 2018

Net Time 3:52:26

Preparing for a marathon is always tricky. But basically, you want to have your best month in the last 6 weeks before the race. This was not the case for me and my first Nagano Marathon. However, before I get into the details, I should point out that I was delighted to actually be able to toe the line at all. This was the 4th Nagano marathon for which I had applied and the first that I actually made the start. In 2o11 we had the horrific North East Japan earthquake and tsunami on the 11th March which caused the cancelation of the marathon in April. In 2012 I was fortunate to be invited to the wedding of a good friend in Ireland. And in 2014, I had to work. I cannot complain about any of these, but I was really happy to make the start on the 4th attempt.

So I turned 50 in March. I know, hard to believe. How could someone born in 1968 ever turn 50?  Well apparently it happens, so you have to get used to it. I had such a wonderful 50th birthday! It lasted several weeks and really filled me with gratitude for all that I have in this world.

The first event was when my running club, Namban Rengo, sprung a surprise birthday party for me in Tullamore Irish Pub in Yoyogi Koen 2 days before the day itself. It was the first time that I had the honor of a surprise party and I was thrilled that all my friends from Namban Rengo were there. My Irish friend Paddy had suggested that we go for a couple of pints with a couple of people after the Wednesday night workout and when I showed up, they had taken over the whole bar and filled with all my friends. It is a very special occasion when a lot of people show up for your birthday and I truly appreciated it. I just wished I could have expressed myself better, and remembered to take off my coat for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

My actual birthday took place on Friday the 9th March and when I got home from work my wife had put on a great vegetarian spread and decorated the house. 

The next day the two of us dumped the remaining kids on the in-laws and Akiko took me off to the Maldives for 1 week. Going to the Maldives from Japan is not easy. First, you have to fly to Singapore and then hang around a bit. Then, you fly to Male and hand around a bit more. Finally, you get a fixed-wing plane down south to the islands where you hang around for the last time before taking a speedboat to the island where you will spend the next 5 nights. However, once you get there it is amazing. The island has a circumference of 1.6km and there are no shops. Well, there is one shop, but it does not sell much. All you can do is eat, relax, drink, swim, snorkel and maybe run 6km in the morning before it gets too hot. It was a wonderful vacation for both of us and a great start to the next 50 years.

The good life

Drinks by the pool

Snorkeling

Sunset

Nightime

Happy Birthday to me

Snorkeling

My morning run

Sunset


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the celebrations did not stop there. A week after we arrived back from the Maldives, my brother and my 2 nephews arrived from Ireland. We had a full schedule planned in Kamakura, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. It was a wonderful trip. It is always great showing Japan to your family and we did a lot together. Perhaps the highlight was feeding the deer in Nara. Such a simple thing, but it brought such great joy to everyone. It was also great to get my kids together with the cousins who do they do not see a lot as they live 10,000 miles apart.

Harry Porter at Univeral Studios Japan

Kyomizudera in Kyoto

Kinkakuji in Kyoto

Running with Antoin and Kevin

Antoin feeds the deers while Sean looks on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there I was on the 1st April, 2 weeks out from the Nagano Marathon, and only 173km to show for March. I had run double that in February but I was not worried. I just had one of my best months and my best birthday. I knew that it was going to be a slog, but I was prepared for it and knew that I could just do my best.

 

Marcus and myself on the Shinkansen to Nagano

Getting ready to leave the comfort of my hotel.

With Goto san and Kiran at the start!

Nagano Marathon is one of those early start marathons. And by early, I mean 8:30am. That means you cannot get to the city the day of the race and you need to come up the day before and hang out. I went up on the shinkansen with Marcus and we met Kiran in Nagano station shortly after arriving. The three of us then headed off to the Expo which was rather disappointing. And by disappointing, I mean that there was not a lot to eat. I really enjoy stuffing my face the day before a race, but this time there just was not a lot of options. The only good thing was that we ran into Brad as we were leaving the Expo and realized that we were all staying at the JAL City Hotel. It is always hard knowing where to eat the day before a race but Marcus and I found a nice Italian restaurant not too far from Nagano station and Kiran came and joined us. Kiran was a little surprised when he arrived and saw us drinking wine, but we assured him that it was too late us to affect the outcome of the race so we might as well enjoy it.

With the early start to the race, it meant an even earlier breakfast. The hotel had advertised a 6am breakfast, but I had been fooled by that before and headed up to the dining area at 5:50am which was already in full swing. After eating well at the breakfast buffet, we checked out just before 7am and head back to Nagano station to get the train to the start. I had chosen not to bring any bag with me and to leave all my stuff at the hotel. At the start, I met Kiran and Goto san. Both were in good form and looking forward to the race. A light rain was falling and I wore a plastic raincoat that I was soon to discard. I knew that I had not trained enough but hoped that I could hang on to a 5 minute/km pace for the first half of the race and then dig deep later on.

 

 

 

 

 

The truth was something different. Once the race started, I knew that I was in trouble and that a 5 min/km pace would be too much for me. The Nagano Marathon, despite being set in the center of the Nagano Mountains, is not a hilly race. There are a few inclines at the start but they soon give way to a fairly flat course. However, I still was not able to maintain my desired pace. I struggled early on and was soon paced by the 3:30 pace makers and later on by the 3:45 pace makers. At 17km, Hayakawa san tapped me on the shoulder with a grin and then flew past me. I saw him later after a switch back and then he was gone and I never saw him again.

I knew then that I was fighting myself and fighting Kiran. Myself, because I had run 3:52 in my last marathon in Ohtawara in November and I wanted to do the same again. Kiran, because we work together and I did not want to lose bragging rights. He had been training well and looking good on Strava and had run 3:56 in Kyoto in February. I knew that if I slowed down more, or walked, he would easily catch me. So I pushed on. Down along the Chikumagawa River that I know so well from my time in Ueda and back up the other side. I stopped a couple of times to make use of the free Cold Spray which was readily available but did not walk or stop to eat.

It was a tough finish around the stadium but I kept going and kept ahead of Kiran … barely. He had a really good run and came in right behind me as did Marcus. Goto san ran the same time as he did last year and was very happy. As soon as I was done, I got my medal and towel and headed for the bus back to Nagano station and the Onsen and soba that awaited me.  It was a great weekend and a very enjoyable race. I am glad that I finally made it.

 

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Week 15 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

And before I knew it Week 15 was over and I was just 3 weeks out from my marathon. Although I started base training almost 6 months ago at the beginning of May, it all seems to have happened very fast and I don’t feel at all ready. That may be because I have had a rough couple of weeks and I feel battered and bruised. I can expect that things will get better after the taper but truth is, I have never really performed well during the final three weeks before a marathon. I run too little, I eat too much and I generally start to doubt what I can do. The confidence that I had running around Gaienmae in July seems all but a distance memory as I stumble from one niggle to another and another week of 2 or 3 runs instead of 5 or 6.

At least this time I know that I experiencing the blues because I am rather sad that my training is coming to an end. I  have enjoyed it immensely, especially the motivation and support from Harrisson. I will miss his late night mails with my weekly schedule and his WhatsApp early in the morning with inquires about my latest injury or a request for me to restart logging all the Cinnamon Rolls I eat on MyFitnessPal.com. It has been a good and enjoyable journey and like all journeys it must come to an end.

This week I only managed 3 runs and only 1 was a quality run. The soreness in my left leg has continued so Harrisson cut back my training and gave me extra rest days. The good news is that it started getting better towards the end of the week and my HRV has come back to where it should be.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 3
  • Distance: 54km
  • Time:    5 hours 3 mins

Monday 24th October

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.5kg

It was good to wake on Monday morning and see my HRV and RHR in the green. As the previous week had been so bad, I was afraid that I was on a downward spiral but reducing the beers and getting a bit more sleep seems to have had some effect. I could not complete all the requirements of Sunday’s workout but I had done enough to sleep well and wake up rested.

Tuesday 25th October

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 83.8kg

As we parted on Sunday after the Long Run, Harrisson had told me to take 2 days off to rest my legs and get back on track. I was happy to do this as I had a real life event after work on Tuesday and got back late.

Wednesday 26th October

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 83.5kg
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The environment under change

On Wednesday I was due to restart training but I had another real life event in the evening and got home too late to run so I knocked it on the head. Still, I was happy to get an extra day’s rest. Wednesday was also the day that I noticed how far the construction around our office had advanced. All the old shops and restaurants are being demolished to make way for a mega-building. Tokyo is changing so fast these days, there are few places that I can recognize from the early days. I remember taking the Yamanote Line in 1991 from Meguro to Hamamatsucho to work on the Irish Network newsletter and seeing the old Minato Sports Center from the train window. I did not live in Minato Ku and I longed to be able to use that center. Now it has been knocked down and replaced by the construction site beside my office and I go to the new Sports Center 200m down the road.It’s a funny old rock ’n’ roll world.

Thursday 27th October

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 69
  • Weight: 83.2kg
  • Run: Long Intervals 5 x 2,000m
  • Distance: 21km
  • Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
  • Avg HR: 149
  • Avg Cadence: 165

Thursday I got back to running after 3 days rest. Long Intervals are not as difficult as Hard Intervals as the intensity is less, but they are still hard enough. The plan for today was

 

3 x 400m (1:50 / 1:40 / 1:30) with 60s rest between them, 2min rest (walking)

5 x 2000m @ 4:15 pace with 3min panda jog between them (continuous run)
I never did ask what a Panda Jog was but I managed the run fair enough with the following splits
8:25
8:23
8:24
8:24
8:20
I was happy enough with the time as all 2,000 intervals came in just under 4:15 pace but I still had a nagging feeling in my left hamstring.

Friday 28th October

  • RHR: 54
  • HRV: 63
  • Weight: 82.5kg
  • Swim: 1km
  • Time: 30 mins
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Halloween at the office

Friday was another scheduled rest day which was good as my HRV had taken another dive. It was also the day we celebrated Halloween at work. In previous years, my children had come in to see the office but this year they were all too old. However, it was nice to welcome in the children of my colleagues and give out candy. As I was heading out of the office I got a mail from Harrisson that his latest Q&A on his site had been updated. It was an answer to a question from my colleague as to the reason for cramping late in a marathon and how to avoid it as well as how to avoid hamstring issues. It was very well written and I quickly shared it with all my running colleagues.

That evening I finally kept my promise and made it to the pool. The Minato Ku pool was closed for inspection so I headed up to Shibuya where the pool was almost empty as usual. I was glad to still be able to swim 1km without stopping (too much). The good news was that my leg felt great afterwards.

Saturday 29th October

  • RHR: 51
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 82.9kg
  • Run: MAF Run with 6 x 20 second strides.
  • Distance: 11 km
  • Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Avg HR: 136
  • Avg Cadence: 174

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  • Swim: 1km
  • Time: 29 mins

On Saturday morning my HRV had returned to normal and I had an appointment with Mizogami Sensei, my local osteopathic council. I had set up an appointment the previous morning when I felt that my leg was not getting any better and I was beginning to run out of time. At this stage, I think that Mizogami Sensei is well used to me calling him urgently a few weeks before the Ohtawara marathon with some injury or other and I am always amazed at how he can find out the issue and help me out. This time he pushed my leg up and down and to the left and right before homing in on the weak spot and working on it.

After leaving the clinic I headed into Shibuya for my run and another swim. This time I ran in Yoyogi Park in the heart of Tokyo where the autumn leaves where just beginning to fall. It was very beautiful and hundreds of people where out enjoying the weather and looking for Pokemon. I found the MAF portion of the run no problem but I was still sore during the strides. I texted Harrisson afterwards and he told me to only do a 21km MAF run on Sunday with no speed work.

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Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

 

After the run I headed back to the gym for another 1km swim. After not swimming for months I was delighted to swim twice in 2 days.

Sunday 30th October

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 78
  • Weight: 83.8kg
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance:  21.7km
  • Time:  2 hour 3 mins
  • Avg HR: 135
  • Avg Cadence: 175
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ithlete Pro 30th Oct 2016

My HRV was still in a good place on Sunday morning but because my leg was sore on Saturday, I still planned to just run 21km at MAF. The day was cloudy and a little cold and it was the first time that I wore a long sleeved shirt since spring. The run went well and I was able to run MAF at a 5:41 pace which is good for me. I hope that that means that my fitness level is good and that I can taper well.

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Marukobashi

Next week I should start my taper. I am not really sure what Harrisson has in store for me but I am looking forward to finally getting ready for my race in 3 weeks time.

Week 3 Training Ohtawara Marathon 2016

The second week of our holiday was a little bit more easy paced and I was able to fit in a few more runs. Nothing too long, or over an hour, but it was still great to keep on track.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 5
  • Distance 48.5km
  • Time: 5 hours 5 mins

1-7 Aug

Monday 1st August

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 76
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8km
  • Time: 55 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 142
  • Average Cadence: 157

 

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On Monday morning I woke up in beautiful Danang. While the rest of the family were catching up on their sleep I slipped out and ran an easy 8km on China Beach. Well I say easy, but it is never easy running on a beach. It is however, extremely enjoyable. The rest of the day I spent doing some laps in the pool and some strength training on the beach. And drinking frozen daiquiris.

Tuesday 2nd August

  • RHR: 44
  • HRV: 80
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 8km
  • Time: 52 mins

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On Tuesday I got up a bit earlier and did the same run on China Beach but in the opposite. It was another glorious day in paradise.

Wednesday 3rd August

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV: 71
  • Run: Hard Intervals on the road
  • Distance: 11km
  • Time: 1 hour 6 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 153
  • Average Cadence: 151

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On Wednesday I got up at 6am, my earliest yet, as I had to do some hard intervals before it got too hot or before the streets got too crowded. I need not have worried. Although the streets were crowded at 6:30am there was nobody on the long footpaths except the landscapers. The plan that Harrisson had sent over on Sunday evening called for 3min @ 3:45, 45s rest, 90s @ 3:45, 3min active rest. Repeat 3 more times. This was going to be my hardest session yet. I managed to kept near pace for the first 2 intervals but after that it just got very hard and my pace slipped and slipped. I think that a combination of no breakfast, heat and all the curbs I had go down and up finally wore me out. Still I was happy to complete a hard run outside in the middle of my holiday. I spent the rest of the day in the pool and really enjoyed it.

Thursday 4th August

  • RHR: 47
  • HRV: 80
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Hanoi Cathedral

Thursday we got up at 5am to make our 9am flight to Hanoi. Everything went to plan and we were set up in our new hotel at 11am. We then had lunch in the hotel and spent the afternoon wandering around the old quarter of Hanoi and visited the Hanoi Hilton. It was quite special. No running.

Friday 5th August

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 75

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On Friday we had a 12 hour day trip to Ha Long Bay.  It was a wonderful trip but it meant that I could not run for the second day in a row.

Saturday 6th August

  • RHR: 54
  • HRV: 63
  • Run: Easy
  • Distance: 11.4km
  • Time: 1 hour 3 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 152
  • Average Cadence: 170

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Saturday was our last day in Vietnam and at 2pm we were flying back to Tokyo. I got up at 6am with the notion of doing the hard intervals around the lake near out hotel, Ho Hoan Kiem. Once I got out the door, I realised that that was not going to be possible. The place was full of people. There was a full scale market going on the side streets around our hotel and the lakeside was filled with people doing Tai Chi and walking. At a nearby square there was a group of 100 women dancing the maccerena. I decided that there was no point in crashing into people and settled for an easy and pleasant run for one hour.

Sunday 7th August

  • RHR: 48
  • HRV: 76
  • Weight: 84.9
  • Run: Hard Repetitions
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time: 1 hour 8 mins
  • Average Heart Rate: 143
  • Average Cadence: 141
IMG_5385

Homemade Umeshu

On Sunday I woke up in Tokyo for the first time in almost 2 weeks. I was glad to see that my weight had only increased by 1.5kg during the time that I was away. This was to quickly change over the next few days. I had a bunch of things to do in the morning and afternoon in order to get ready to go back to work on Monday and it was nearly 7pm when I got out to do my run. This was to be the third time for me to do the repetitions with the isometric shut and I finally did it correctly and boy did it hurt. The plan is to do 1min @ 3:30 pace or faster, 30s rest, 90s bodyweight isometric (static hold) squat, 1min @ 3:30 pace or faster, 3min rest. Repeat 3 more times.Trying to get up and run at a 3:30 pace after squatting for 90 seconds is nothing short of agony and it got harder and harder to get to pace. In the last rep I got there just before the 60 seconds were up.

Ohtawara Marathon 2016 Base Training Week 7

Week 7 saw me hit another 100km week and bring my monthly total over 300km. I also managed to get in three strength sessions, watch Ireland beat Italy 1-0 in the Euros 2016 at 5am, run 16km with Jeremy before breakfast on a Friday, saw 82kg on the scales for the first time in 4 months and run 21km at 5 min pace for the first time in months with Marie, Martin, Harrisson, and Niall. All in all an excellent week. Unfortunately, I am now rushing out to watch Ireland play France so I do not have time to wax lyrically about it.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 6
  • Distance:  101km
  • Time:  10 hours 2 minutes

Monday 20th June

  • RHR : 50
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 83.7 kg
  • Run: 100 min MAF Run w/ 8 x 15 sec strides
  • Distance: 16.2km
  • Time: 1 hr 40 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  138
  • Average Cadence: 172

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It is always good to start the week with a run and although I got home a little late, I pushed myself out the door and ran for 90 minutes. Harrisson has increased my strides from 5 to 8 and instead of timing them I have decided to count my steps. If I run at a cadence of 200, 50 steps should put me at about 15 seconds. I am really enjoying the strides and feel that they are making an improvement.

Tuesday 21st June

  • RHR : 50
  • HRV: 66
  • Weight: 83.9 kg

I was feeling fairly tired tonight and decided to take a rest day.

Wednesday 22nd June

  • RHR : 41
  • HRV: 81
  • Weight: 83.6 kg
  • Run: MAF Test + 8×15 sec Strides (9:33/9:41/9:48/9:53/9:56)
  • Distance: 17.7km
  • Time: 1 hr 50 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  138
  • Average Cadence: 168

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Wednesday morning I woke to see my RHR down to 41 and my HRV back over 80 so I knew that it would be a good day. As I headed down to the Tamagawa that evening I decided to do a MAF Test again. The results were about the same as the one that I did 2 weeks previous but because the weather was warmer and more humid, I felt satisfied.

Thursday 23rd June

  • RHR : ??
  • HRV: ??
  • Weight: 82.9 kg
  • Run: 90 Min MAF w/ 9 x 15 sec strides
  • Distance: 15.1km
  • Time: 1 hr 33 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  138
  • Average Cadence: 169

Thursday morning I got up at 5am to watch the second half of Ireland play Italy and enjoyed the goal 4 minutes from time. As I got up to watch the game I forgot to take my RHR and my HRV. I was tired for a lot of the day afterwards but went out and did my MAF run that night along with 9 strides as I seemingly miscounted.

Friday 24th June

  • RHR : 49
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 82.8 kg
  • Run: Aerobic
  • Distance: 16.2km
  • Time: 1 hr 39 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  141
  • Average Cadence: 169

On Friday evening I had a real world appointment so I accepted Jeremy’s invitation to do a repeat of our early morning run. I left my house at 5:20 am and met him on Marukobashi at 6am. We did the same loop up to Futakobashi and it was a great way to start the day.

Saturday 25th June

  • RHR : 46
  • HRV: 79
  • Weight: 83.3 kg
  • Run: 90 Min MAF w/ 8 x 15 sec strides
  • Distance: 15.1km
  • Time: 1 hr 33 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  140
  • Average Cadence: 170

On Saturday morning I had a real world activity and could not get out to go my run until after 4pm. It was muggy and warm and very hard to maintain MAF. Still I got around the course and managed my strides at the end.

Sunday 26th June

  • RHR : 50
  • HRV: 67
  • Weight: 83.6 kg
  • Run: Upper Aerobic
  • Distance: 21km
  • Time: 1 hr 45 mins
  • Average Heart Rate:  155
  • Average Cadence: 175IMG_4821

I answered a call on the Namban Rengo mailing list and went for a morning run with Marie, Martin, Harrisson and Niall along the Tamagawa. The planned pace was 5:00 ~ 5:10 and we fairly stayed to that all the way out. However, on the way back I started to feel good and pushed it a bit and ran the last 5km at 4:45. Hopefully that means I am starting to get some fitness back.

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After I got home I made myself a great smoothie with grapefruit, lemon, pineapple and turmeric. It seems that a lot of people are now interested in putting turmeric in stuff.

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Ohtawara Marathon 2016 Base Training Week 2

Week 2 of Base Training was always going to be hard. I had a lot of real life activities planned and I knew that the chances of me running between Monday and Thursday depended on getting out of bed before 6am and as such the chances were very slim. I did however get back on track towards the end of the week and managed to complete the best part of 50km in three days and now hopefully I can build on this momentum going forward. There has been no change in my weight. If it does not change soon I may have to take some drastic actions.

Week Total

  • Number of runs: 3
  • Distance: 49.7km
  • Time:  5 hours 8 mins

Monday 16th May

  • RHR : 43
  • HRV: 75
  • Weight: 85.1kg

It was good to see my RHR and HRV head in the right direction but I was not able to do anything with them as I had a commitment after work.

Tuesday 17th May

  • RHR: 45
  • HRV: 63
  • Weight: 85.8kg

More real life events getting in the way but not unexpectedly.

Wednesday 18th May

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 71
  • Weight: 85.5kg

By Wednesday I was itching to run again but it was not to be.

Thursday 19th May

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 68
  • Weight: 84.8kg
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Cheers for 19 wonderful years

Thursday I had a good reason to miss my run, if you count not running in the morning before work a good reason. It was our 19th wedding anniversary and we went out to dinner in the Conrad Hotel in Odaiba. Yes, the very same hotel that we run by on our Rainbow Bridge run once a week.It was nice for once to be on the inside looking out. I had rang ahead to the hotel and they prepared a special vegan meal for me which was very good.

Friday 20th May

  • RHR: 46
  • HRV: 72
  • Weight: 85kg
  • Run: Aerobic
  • Distance: 10km
  • Time:  51 mins
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My selfies are not getting any better

On Friday night I finally made it back out again with my friends from work and Namban Rengo. We ran the Rainbow Bridge route for the 4th time this year. As before, we left our stuff at the Minato Ku Sports Centre and headed off. The rule is that it is OK for you to go out but you must return within an hour or you turn into a pumpkin. They give you a piece of paper with the time you must return by written on it. Last week we were late starting so we were late back and I got a dirty look from the woman at reception. Word must have gotten out because although there were different people at reception this time, they made a big point of telling us to be back by 8:20pm. I tried to encourage them to write down 8:30pm but they were having none of it.

The fuss at the start meant that I was a little worried that we would would get back in time and I pushed the pace from the off. Fortunately everybody was able to keep up and we ran the 10km in a nice 51 mins excluding stops for photos and we arrived back at 8:20pm on the dot. Nobody cared. The Rainbow Bridge starts high on the Shibaura side (you have to take an elevator up to the 7th floor to start running but apparently there are stairs as well) and then drops down to sea level in Odaiba. I ran fairly fast on the way down and according to Strava I did one km in 3:10 but I find that a little hard to believe. The way back was a different story running uphill but Bob took off and left me well behind.

Afterwards we went for our regular Craft Beer but in a new place called Swan Lake in Tamachi which is about a 10 minute walk from the Sports Centre, rather than Devil Craft in Hamamatucho which is a 25 minute walk. They both have great beer but Devil Craft have much better pizza and salsa. We may end up going back to Devil Craft as the closer proximity gives us too much drinking time and I nearly did not make it to the Hill Repeats on Saturday morning.

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Craft Beer after the run

 

Saturday 21st May

  • RHR: 59
  • HRV: 58
  • Weight: 85.3kg
  • Run: Aerobic and Hill Repeats
  • Distance: 16km
  • Time: 1 hour 46 mins
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Jay calling the troops to order, in his own way

The Namban Hill Repeats on Saturday mornings have been going strong since 2013. Started and aggressively promoted by Jay they are now attracting over 20 people each week, especially in the fine weather. I have not been there in a long time and my absence combined with the Bridge run and Craft Beer the night before meant that I was in a terrible shape. Still I am very glad that I went so I can see the true shape of my running and can do something about it.My plan for Saturdays is to get to my Sports Club in Shibuya around 9am and then jog the 3km over to the Akasaka Place where the Hill Repeats take place at 10am. Today I had a little extra time so I ran the course which is another 3km. Afters I jog back to Shibuya and plan to do some weight training and some swimming. I have never done weights before so my arms and upper body is totally under-developed. Fortunately, an instructed was available to show me how to use the use the free weights safely. I even managed my first bench press. 3 x 10 reps of 27kg may not sound impressive but it was a good start for me. In between reps the instructor asked me if I could do a push up and I said no problem. I couldn’t. She asked me to try doing them from my knees. I couldn’t do that either. I guess I have a long way to go. Also, I could only manage a 300m swim, but at least the training is heading in the right direction. Now let’s see if I can get in a long MAF run tomorrow.

Sunday 22nd May

  • RHR: 49
  • HRV:68
  • Weight: 84.9kg
  • Run: MAF
  • Distance: 23.5km
  • Time:  2 hours  31 mins
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Setagaya Rugby School getting ready to practice along the Tamagawa River

Well, if this is going to be a base building period, I definitely needed to get out there and run some long slow distances. Hopefully I will be able to do 2 or 3 a week MAF runs a week but this week there was only going to be one MAF run and Sunday was the day for it. I dragged myself out of bed at 7am and out into the sun. I had hoped to be up at 6 and on the road at 6:30 but it was never going to happen. Still it was nice to get out along the river in the early summer sunshine. I had upgraded my Mio Link heart rate monitor on Saturday afternoon and it was no longer syncing with my Garmin Forerunner 220. I have since resolved the problem by re-adding the heart sensor but for this run I had rely on the different colour leds on the side and make sure that I was in the green zone. It worked out well and I ran at a slow but consistent pace for 2 and a half hours.

The Tamagawa Riverside was packed, mainly with cyclists. I guess the sun brings out everybody. It was a joy passing the Setagaya Rugby School and seeing more than a 100 people out practicing. My own son had been a member of that school up to 3 years ago and I have many fond memories of him playing with them.

I increased my long run distance a little bit on last week but not as much as I had hoped. I want to be getting above 30km runs in soon at my MAF pace to build up my aerobic engine and hopefully burn off some fat but it may take some time, particularly as the weather gets hotter.

 

 

 

 

Week 11

Week 11 saw me travel to Hong Kong and Bangalore so I was never going to be able to do must running. I accepted that beforehand and I am not too disappointed with the very light week. The highlight was running in india for the first time, followed closely by running 35km on Sunday.

Week 11

Week 11

Victoria Park Running Track Hong Kong

Victoria Park Running Track Hong Kong

I left Tokyo on Sunday morning and arrived in Hong Kong at 1:30pm. Although I got a little lost and wasted some time in Central Station, I made it to my room in Causeway Bay just after 3pm and I was out on the running track by 3:30pm. In the photo on the left you can just see the track sneak through the trees on the left of the park. The total length of the track is about 650m with many curves and bends. When I was in Hong Kong in July I tried to run that segment on Strava and totally missed it. I ended running outside the track and adding an extra 100m to the distance. This time I successfully found it but because it was so crowded and a little hot, I could not run too long or too fast. I did manage to climb from 38th to 16th on the Strava league but as Philippe is sitting at 6th, I do not have much to boast about. Hopefully I will get back again some time and make a serious challenge for the title.

On Sunday evening I met my friends from Namban Rengo Running Club, Mary, Gareth and Colin and Colin’s family and we took a ferry out to Llama Island to eat some seafood. Mary had booked a table at Andy’s seafood restaurant and we dined on shrimp, squid and lots more. It was a side to Hong Kong I did not know existed and it was a wonderful evening with the ferry journey to and from the island providing wonderful views of the sunset and the Hong Kong nighttime skyline.

Running in Bangalore

Running in Bangalore

I was flying to Bangalore on Monday night and I did not get to run. I arrived in Bangalore at around 1 am on Tuesday morning and made it to the hotel shortly after 2am. I was far too tired to run that day but on Wednesday morning I woke up at 5:30am for my first run in India. I had been to Bangalore before but the last time was in 2008 when I was not running regularly. This time I was determined to get out and at least do one run. My biggest concern was stray dogs. I have always been afraid of dogs and India has plenty of them running around. An Irish friend of mine who lived in India told me that he used to carry a stick with him and the sight of it was enough to keep the dogs away. I couldn’t find any in the hotel.

I had asked my FaceBook friends to recommend a good running park in Bangalore and Padma came back with JP Park back which is just over 1km from the hotel. I was trying to go there and asked the porter at the hotel. He directed me to a closer park which although small, worked out well. I started running at 6:10. There was not a lot of people out walking but the roads had enough traffic to make me take care when I was crossing it. The park was the General Iyappa Park near the BEL circle. One loop is about 900m and I ran about 4 of them. I would have run more except that the dogs who were sleeping in the park were starting to wake up and wander around. Actually they all looked kind of lazy and didn’t bother be at all. One of them ran right by me and put the heart across me. I had been concentrating on the uneven ground so I did not see him coming towards me until he was about 10 meters away. I put on my best poker face and ran by without incident. Shortly after that I saw several more dogs cross the road and go into the park and I decided to head back. The following day on the way to the airport, the driver told me how dogs get into packs after 10pm and can attack people then. I was glad that I did not hear that on the first day drive from the airport.

Of course, if you go to India you have to try the food and it is just too good. On Wednesday my colleagues took me out to a buffet and I thoroughly enjoyed a great feast, although it might have had something to do with the fact that I did not get up to run on Thursday morning.

Dinner in Bangalore

Dinner in Bangalore

Desert in Bangalore

Desert in Bangalore

My flight back to Hong Kong was at 1:20 am on Friday. (Seriously, who makes these schedules?) I arrived at 9:30am but as my flight to Tokyo was at 16:30 I had 7 hours to myself. Fortunately, Hong Kong Airport has the best WiFi of any airport and I was able to get a bit of work done. However, I could not get any running done as I only got home at 11:30pm.

On Saturday we were back in Yokohama for soccer and trail running. The autumn colours were lovely and I set out to do my regular 14km run. However after 4.5km I found that the trail was closed due to a landslide so I headed down the side of the trail and took a new route past Segami Pond. The new route was very nice, but it was very steep going downhill and the steps had to be carefully negotiated. At this stage I was feeling rather tired and heavy (too much good food) so I decided to just do an hour and call it quits.

 

Sunday was going to be a busy day. I had 35km to run and no time to run it in one session so there was no choice but to break it up. I got up early and started the first session at 6:53. I planned to run 20km and then do 15km in the second session. However, I had not planned to run at goal pace but somehow it turned out that way. From the third km out I found myself running at 4:30 pace and I decided to go with it. I guess I was refreshed from not having run so much during the week and I finished the 20.3km in 1:32. I then had an hour to clean up, have breakfast before we headed down to Yokohama and part 2. As I was trying to run long I decided not to run the trail and headed out for the second session at 10:17. There was about 1hr 45 min between the sessions and although not ideal, was the best I could manage. The second session was, unsurprisingly, much harder than the first. My left hamstring was sore, but not injured, and my pace dropped down to 5:00 to 5:45. I ran along the roads for 7.5km and then turned around and ran back. The whole objective was just to get the mileage up to 35km for the morning and I managed that.  I ran a combined time of 2:50 for the 35km which is an average of 4:51/km, or a 3hr 25min marathon. Hopefully I can maintain the race pace on the day.

Weeks 9 -16

 

 

 

Anemic

It is not news that runners are subject to anemia. However, for the last 8 weeks I have been eating as much red meat as I could and taking iron suplements so I thought that I would be getting back on track by now. Despite all of this, I saw that my HRV continued to drop through the floor, even though I was taking time for recovery. The blue line in this photo indicates the overall HRV trend and the multi-coloured line is the daily reading.

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A couple weeks ago I read this article which now resonated with me.

SaaS: How Quantified Self data is disrupting Professional Sports Part 2

I could relate to the athlete who was training, trying to recover but becoming more and more fatigued. I particularly remembered this sentence and went back to the clinic to get another blood test.

“The athlete avoided a performance crash or possible injury from fatigue because iron supplementation was prescribed when the athlete was unable to recover at normal rates”

My suspicions were confirmed and my hematocrit had continue to fall from 40.1 in June to 37.9 at the start of September and now to 37.1 at the end of October. The doctor told me I was mildly anaemic and prescribed iron supplements and vitamin C to help absorb it. I am just hoping that it is better than the stuff that I bought in the local pharmacy.

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Actually, I was rather happy to hear the diagnosis as there is now something that I can do about it and tracking my HRV will help me see if it is working or not. And I still have 4 weeks to recover for my race.