Monday, 4 October 2010

Killer Bees, Holy Crap!

At the 24th Nagano Iizuna Marathon on October 3rd,  33 runners, staff and spectators were stung by what appeared to be killer hornets.  According to officials the injured people were all taken to hospital for treatment and none of the injures were serious.  Despite this organizers stopped the race to ensure the safety of all those taking part.

We've all had races canceled due to inclement weather, but killer bees?  What has been the strangest thing that has caused the cancellation of an event you've been involved in?

Comeback Time

So the Run For Vision is this coming Sunday exactly 3 weeks to the day that I fractured my rib, and I've decided to run.  My doctor told me I needed a month to heal, but in the deranged mind of a runner 3 weeks equals a month right?

Surprisingly, the time since my injury has based quite quickly.  As a bicycle commuter I was dreading taking the train to work every day for a month.  But to my good fortune we've been having a lot of rain in Tokyo over the past few weeks, so even if I wasn't injured I would have been forced to take the train and scale back my running anyway.

I haven't run for 3 weeks, I'm not sure how my ribs will feel, but I believe I can make it to the finish line.  My race plan is to soak up the sun and enjoy the atmosphere while running around the scenic Imperial Palace gardens in central Tokyo with a few thousand of my closest running friends.

Looking forward to getting out there again.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Fractured Rib, Holy Crap!

My family and I had a great time in the mountains of Tochigi Prefecture over the long weekend with a bunch of close friends.  On Sunday we made a long trek to Lake Inawashiro in Fukushima for a fun day of jet skiing.

To cut a long story short three of us took a tumble from a banana boat after which I felt a little winded, but was much more annoyed that the force of the fall had taken my watch from my wrist to the murky depths of the lake.

I had a run planned for Monday evening after we arrived home, to run off Saturday nights BBQ and beers, but breathing deeply caused me some mild discomfort so I postponed.

On Tuesday morning I considered it wise to visit my "major injures doctor".  My "major injuries doctor" is a different doctor than my "cold and flu doctor".  I visit him roughly once a year and he greets me with a big smile and a "what have you done to yourself this time" each time I walk in the door.  My major injuries doctor plays fast and loose with the x-rays which is exactly why I chose him.

The moment I mentioned the term "jet ski" he was already chuckling to himself and warming up the x-ray machine.  As expected the x-ray revealed a fractured rib, only a small fracture, but painful nonetheless.  He prescribed pain killers and wrapped me up in an elastic corset to restrict the bone from moving about too much.

So at this stage I think I'll be skipping the 10K Run For Vision on October 10th.  My doctor told me to expect roughly 4 weeks of discomfort and the Run For Vision is only 3 weeks away.

I have the Toda Half Marathon on November 21, so if I'm back up and running in 4 weeks I'll have exactly 1 month to prepare for that.  Not enough time to prepare for a stellar performance, but surely enough to prepare for simply reaching the finish line.

My dilemma at the moment is how to maintain whatever little fitness I had now that I can't run, cycle, swim, do weights, or anything at all?  My current plan is to walk roughly 5km each evening, its not going to salvage much fitness, but it will keep my motivation up as I'll feel like I'm at least doing something.

Any cross training tips for someone with a fractured rib would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Running the Zenpukuji River

You probably imagine that a city like Tokyo must stink when it comes to locations for running, and depending on where you live, you may actually be right.  Luckily for me I'm blessed with choice when it comes to running close to home.

My most often traveled route is along the banks of the Zenpukuji River.  Like most rivers in Tokyo, its better described as a concrete channel, but it is buffered from the residential areas it runs through by parks, playgrounds and sports fields on either side.  In spring almost the entire length of the river is in bloom with cherry blossoms, and drunk revelers make for interesting times during the hanami season.

In the mornings you'll find many other runners and walkers taking advantage of this great location but it never becomes too crowded.  In addition to this you'll find musicians practicing their instruments, groups of elderly performing calisthenics, and birdwatchers trying to take snaps of the local King Fisher population.

In the evenings, when I do most of my running, the paths that runs parallel to the river are well lit, and the parks always feel safe.  While there are other night time runners around, for the most part you'll be running alone.

If you continue far enough in a general westerly direction you'll intersect Kampachi Doori, after which the parks disappear and the scenery becomes a little more residential.  Don't let this discourage you as just a few kilometers ahead the path terminates at Zenpukuji Kouen.  Named after a temple which existed there in the past, almost half of the parkland is occupied by 2 large ponds populated by wild birds, ducks and King Fishers.

Aside from the main path running along the river there are enough side trails to provide a little variation to your route if you should find yourself running there almost daily.

Both vending machines, and toilet facilities are in plentiful supply along the river and you'll find a Mini Stop convenience store close to wear the path crosses Itsukaichi Doori.

Yokohama Marathon Sold Out, Holy Crap!

Entries in the Yokohama Marathon sold out in just 4 hours, holy crap! 

It was on my race calendar for 2010 but now I'll have to give it a miss.  I'm not too bummed as its just two weeks after I run the half marathon in Toda, but it is an event I'd like to participate in sometime in the future.

Friday, 10 September 2010

My Joan is Broken

Recently a the end of each run with my Nike+ iPod I get a congratulatory message from Joan Benoit Samuelson something along the lines of "Congratulations, you've just covered another 500km".

Even after the shortest of runs, "Congratulations, you've just covered another 500km".  Huh?!?

Somehow I don't think Joan has a firm grip on the metric system …

Thursday, 5 August 2010

2010 Toda Marathon in Saiko

I just got an entry in for the half marathon event at the 2010 Toda Marathon in Saiko on November 21st.  As I've mentioned before, getting signed up early is essential in Japan as places fill up quickly.

My first ever race was the 10km run at this event last year, since then I've run a full marathon, but find myself wanting to go back to Toda and run on the anniversary of my first race.  When I ran the 10km race last year I wasn't even sure if I would still be running one year into the future, let alone be running the half marathon, so competing there this year holds a special significance for me.

For a marathon sandwiched between the metropolis of Tokyo and Saitama, the Toda Marathon has a nice local feel.  Set in parkland on the banks of the Arakawa river, with the course meandering around a lake, it is an easy train ride from either Shibuya or Shinjuku and attracts enough runners to give it some atmosphere, but not so many that it detracts from the enjoyment of competing.

The course takes runners on one or two 10km loops around a lake on sealed roads and bicycle paths which are in exceptional condition.  A short hill roughly 2km into the race serves nicely to spread out the field and you find yourself running with others of similar ability early on.  Most supporters tend to stay close to the start finish line, so there is little crowd support on the course, but the volunteers at drink stations, conveniently located every 3km, do their best to cheer the runners on.

In addition to the 10km and half marathon events there are also shorter events for children to run by themselves, and others that even the smallest of runners can participate in with their parents.

The start/finish area has a lovely festival like atmosphere with roadside vendors selling food and beer! There is space for families to lay their picnic blankets where they can still see the finish line, and a small outdoor expo which despite its size produces some real bargains. There is also a stage which when not being used for medal presentations and boring speeches plays host to a number of presenters who speak on such topics as good running form and stretching technique.

So if you're looking for a family friendly race located conveniently close to Tokyo the Toda Marathon comes highly recommended.

The official homepage for the Toda Marathon in Saiko is here, and entries can be made via runnet.