Monday, 4 October 2010
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?
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Due to general laziness I didn't get up to run on Sunday morning, and due to a planned evening of karaoke with my daughters and their friends, I didn't like my chances of getting out for a run in the evening, especially after the few beers I would require in order to muster up the courage to sing.
So I did something I very, very rarely do, a mid-day run.
I have a personal rule that I don't let my hobbies of running and cycling get in the way of time with my family. Fathers have too little time with their children as it is, and I want to make the most of every moment I can get. As a result I run in the evenings after they've gone to bed and during marathon training I'll do my long runs early on Sunday mornings and be back before they're awake.
But Sunday afternoon while my eldest was doing her homework, and my youngest quietly playing by herself I decided I'd have time to get in one of my regular 7km routes.
The mid day heat and humidity helped to reduce my run from 7 to 5km. But I believe a bigger factor in cutting my run short was a feeling of guilt that I was selfishly indulging myself while my daughters were waiting for me back at home, so after 5km I headed home ASAP.
Indeed, when I returned I was greeted by the two smiling faces of my daughters who couldn't wait for me to shower so we could begin some new activities together.
Never again shall I break my rule. There is plenty of time for running in the evenings once my daughters have gone to bed.
Monday, 12 July 2010
I crossed the 1,000km barrier with a 13km run on Friday night. After work I cycled home in a terrible rain storm, took a shower, ate dinner and settled in for the night as the rain didn't look like stopping any time soon.
By 9:30, after the girls had gone to bed, I was ready for a night in front of the TV but noticed two things. One the rain had stopped, two, we didn't have any bread for the following days breakfast.
The supermarket is only 700m away, but I figured if I was going to the trouble of leaving the house, I might as well gear up and put in a run. I have a selection of runs, of varying distances, that begin at my building and finish up at the supermarket as doing a little shopping after a run has almost become part of the standard routine.
I chose a 7km route along the Zenpukuji River and got running. After the rain storm the water level in the river was the highest I've ever seen it, and vast portions of Wadabori Park were under water. A number of times I had to divert from my regular course as it was blocked by water.
On the upside, the rain had bought the temperature right down making this the most comfortable run in weeks, so comfortable in fact that somewhere along my run I decided to switch to my 10km route instead. The 10km route takes me along the Zenpukuji River to where it meets Kampachi Doori. Then I run South down Kampachi to Takaido where it meets the Kandagawa River, the follow the river for a few of kilometers before heading home.
By the time I reached the supermarket I had completed just over 13km. It felt good to have put in such a long run on the spur of the moment, as the recent heat and humidity have made even the shortest runs sheer torture. It gave me a terrific boost in confidence to know my recent under performance can be attributed to the ridiculous humidity rather than a lack of effort on my part.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
- Its an iconic Tokyo run.
- One day we may no longer live in Japan and it'd be cool race to have done.
- Its a Run for Vision run, so the money is for an eyesight charity, his favorite kind.
All very good arguments, but he finally won me over with:
- Apparently there's a free t-shirt, bananas, and drinks etc.
T-shirts, bananas and drinks, what other motivation does a runner need? I registered online that very evening.
Due to the incredible popularity of running in Japan over the past couple of years it has become necessary to secure your place in a race many months in advance. Entry to most races can be done via the RUNNET site, and some of the more popular races can fill up within hours of entries opening. As Japan's running boom is being led by young ladies it is often the women's events that sell out long before the men's.
So while the race season has yet to start in Japan, now would be a good time to plan out next seasons race calendar.
Friday, 2 July 2010
Recently even after runs of modest distance I return home looking as if I've just finished the swim leg of a triathlon. My fast drying running gear is unable to cope and clings to my body from neck to waist, front and back. I literally have to wring it out by hand before dropping it in the washing machine.
I remember training for the Tokyo Marathon over winter, in the snow, thinking "Who in their right mind organizes a marathon for February knowing full well runners must train through the coldest months of the year?" Oh, how I wish for a blizzard right now!
To make matters worse I trained for the marathon with a pair of CW-X three quarter length tights which provided excellent knee support, but recently have abandoned them due to the heat and as a result I've started feeling a little pain in my left knee. I think I'll run with them tonight as I can't imagine they'll make me substantially hotter than I have been the past few runs.
As an Australian, I've always been a beach goer, and summer lover, but since taking up running I can't wait for autumn and the start of the running season!
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
The Start - 4 degrees and raining
I arrived in Shinjuku around 7:30am and followed a couple of seasoned looking runners down the long underground passageway towards the start line in Nishi Shinjuku. The further I went the more congested it became as runners had pulled over to the sides of the passage to strip down to their running gear and place their baggage into the plastic bags provided. Not wanting to look like a first timer I did the same.
Once changed and with luggage safely stowed in a plastic bag I continued my pilgrimage into the runners area. Only invited guests and runners can get within two blocks of the start area as the logistics of 35,000 runners is enough to organize without their families and supporters as well. I showed the number pinned to my chest, the security guy patted down my runners pack with two delicate fingers totally ignoring my backpack and I was in.
My first mission once inside the runners area was to rid myself of my luggage. Everything was extremely well organized, with maps and directions posted everywhere. I found truck number 35 and left my luggage with the volunteers for transport to the finish line. With that out of the way all that remained was to visit the toilets and to make my way to the starting blocks.
I found a long row of toilets (toilets are going to be a repeating theme today) and surprisingly didn't have to wait to use one. I did what had to be done then followed the signs to my designated starting block, G Block. Without fuss I took up position towards the front of the block and settled in for a wait of almost 40 minutes. The the first 10 minutes or so of waiting in the rain weren't so bad, but the longer we all waited the colder we all got. At one stage about 10 minutes from the start I was shivering uncontrollably. Above me I noticed a lot of spectators had gathered in a 5th floor hotel restaurant to watch the start .. damn they looked warm.
Not only did all this waiting make me freezing cold, it also made me want to go to the bathroom again, but walking back to the toilets against a steady stream of runners trying to get to their starting blocks before the cut off time was just impossible. Nothing to do but grin and bear it.
After what seemed an eternity the gun went off at precisely 9:10am. It took us a minute or two to even start moving, then it was a brisk five minute walk before we even crossed the start line, during which time my freezing fingers fumbled with my iPod to get it to record my race progress. (I heard from a fellow in J Block that it took him a full 20 minutes to reach the start line after the gun had gone off)
Shinjuku to Hibiya - Where did it go?
Once over the line it felt good to be running, I could feel my body warming and the urge to go to the bathroom subsided. I thought to myself I'm not going to feel any pain in my feet today, as my feet were already seriously numb from the cold. Seconds later I ran through an ankle deep puddle.
During the first 10km I really enjoyed watching the costumed runners. There were just too many to name, but here are a few: Snow White was there, as were Spiderman, Pikachu, Winnie the Pooh, and a bloke in an Hawaiian skirt wearing a coconut bra. But it was a great moment at the 3km mark when I passed Jesus Christ himself. When you pass the messiah you know you're going well, although he did have a pretty large heavy looking cross strapped to his back which was obviously slowing him down.
Hibiya to Shinagawa and back - is this bit really necessary?
Ginza - A boost in energy
I did a lot of 20km runs during training, but at this point I was feeling a little tired. This changed the moment I spotted my wife, daughters, and the rest of the Support Team a huge grin spread across my face and felt a surge of energy from deep within my body. After launching a now unneeded pair of soaked woolen gloves at them I high fived as many hands as I could. Looking back I wish I had stopped for a quick chat, and photo opportunity as they had been waiting for me for a long time in the cold rain.. but after stopping I wasn't sure I would be able to start again. I was so happy to have seen them, they changed my race.
Less than a kilometer away I spotted, my neighbor, training partner and the man who talked me into entering the Marathon in the first place. (Unfortunately he didn't secure an entry, but was in training to run the Nagano Marathon in April) He was cheering on runners all morning and when we spotted each other it took a moment for us to recognize each other .. it was really odd, but after a pause he exploded with a loud cheer and shouts of encouragement. I grinned, shouted something, waved and took the energy he gave with me.
Ginza to Asakusa - Its a smorgasbord!
I was 25km into my run and STILL needed to visit a toilet. Finally I spotted one, ran almost 50 meters off the course to see 3 port-a-potties and a line of roughly 40 people. Damn! Back to the race, more valuable minutes lost. A kilometer later I HAD to stop, I HAD to go or I was at serious risk of my bladder exploding. (But as all the runners were soaked from head to toe nobody would have noticed!)
Asakusa to Ginza - Twice as long as Ginza to Asakusa? Thats unpossible!
The Asakusa to Ginza leg takes you past the 30km mark and for some reason feels almost twice as long as the Ginza to Asakusa leg. The rain had stopped, the sun was coming out and it was getting decidedly warm in he garbage bag I had been wearing since the start. I shed the bag, grabbed a banana and drink from a nearby drink station and settled in for the long grind back to Ginza. My iPod had dried out and was audible but I took it off in order to hear the crowds and enjoy the atmosphere.
Surprisingly though with the crowds, and volunteers all cheering you on its actually harder to walk than run. They're all pushing you forward, giving you energy and somehow you feel like you don't want to let them down. It was really strange but each time someone looked me in the eye an called out Gambatte! Go on! You can do it! I found the energy to break out in a run despite my tiredness. Without that crowd support I would have slacked off a lot more.
With 3km to go the sun was shining and I was feeling in really good shape. It was the warmest I had been all day and I was actually enjoying myself a lot more and couldn't help thinking what a different race it would have been if the weather was this nice from the start. I pulled out my phone and called my wife again to let her know I wasn't far away. Like many others I walked through the final drink station downing the entire content of two amino supplement drinks before shuffling up to what passed as running speed at this stage of the race for the final 2.195 kilometers.
With the sun shining brightly and the crowd all cheering loudly I turned into the final straight and broke out into what felt like a sprint, but was probably more like a slow jog, up to the finish line. There were stands of spectators on one side of the straight and entertainment on the other. I was really surprised the stands were so small as there must have been thousands of spectators who wanted to see their loved ones cross the finish but couldn't get a position, my Support Team included.
Each year over 300,000 people apply for just 35,000 places in the Tokyo Marathon and as a result runners are chosen by lottery. I learned via email that I was not picked to run after the October lottery. I was actually a little relieved as I had only been running since August and tackling a marathon in February was probably too soon.
Aspirations of running the Tokyo Marathon put aside I changed my training to focus on the more achievable goal of running my first 10Km race at the Toda Marathon in November.
What I was unaware of, however, is that a second lottery is held in November to fill those places not accepted by the first round winners. It was November 24, my birthday, I had just put my daughters to bed, and made a cup of coffee before opening my email to find an acceptance letter from the event organizers.
As the acceptance letter was in Japanese I had to re-read it a couple of times, and even ran it by my wife, before I finally let myself believe what it was saying. Tokyo Marathon, Holy Crap!