May 29, 2018

Half Marathon and Coaching

It's taken me a while to post this, but I ran the Karuizawa Half Marathon on Sunday, May 20th. Karuizawa is a famous resort area in Nagano prefecture, a 3-hour drive north of Tokyo.

 It was a nice course - mostly flat, and quite a bit of it on roads through woods, with many, many turns to keep it interesting. The weather was also good - 8°C at the start, but sunny so didn't feel too cold. 

I had a good, but not great, race. My dodgy hamstring held up ok, but I was worried about it, so didn't really "stride out" as I usually do, especially in the last 6km. 

I was hoping for mid 1:30s and ran 1:38:20, so not too bad. Won my age group by five and a half minutes. No awards ceremony, but they sent me a prize: a set of three jars of jam from the area (which is also known for craft beer - would have preferred that).

The altitude was 1,000m - I wonder if that affects your racing. They say that you can feel the effects when running at 1500 or even 1200m, but when you're racing a half marathon and have greater oxygen requirements, maybe 1000m can affect you. I didn't actually feel it, although I was on 1:35 pace for the first half and then slowed, and not looking for an excuse, just wondering. Anyone have an opinion about that?

I was 438th male out of 3,841.

On a different topic, this past track season I was an official coach at the American School in Japan, rather than just helping out. I coached the 800, 1600 and 3200m runners, boys and girls. Had about 25 runners.
The season recently concluded with the Far East Championships for international and US military schools (some of the military schools are very big, with lots of good athletes).
My runners did very well — a boy won the 800 and was 2nd in the 1600. Another boy won the 3200 - by about 150m). A girl won the 3200 and was 3rd in the 1600. 
And what I found out was that the feeling of satisfaction, the thrill, the emotional charge you get when runners that you coach win is much greater than from your own racing. Especially when my 3200m girl (a freshman,i.e. 9th grader) outkicked another girl to win by .5 second, I thought my heart might burst out of my chest.
Interesting - I never before realized that you can actually get more satisfaction from coaching than from running yourself. Although maybe this is truer when coaching high school students, because they're almost like your own sons and daughters, and you REALLY want them to do well.
So...I recommend coaching, if you ever get the opportunity.

April 9, 2018

Back with a 20K

Hi. Hope you've all been running well, with few aches and injuries.

I did a lot of long, slow distance for three months, finally getting up to 100km a week. In mid March I  dialed it down a bit, and did some tempo runs - 6-10k moderately hard.

My hamstring has been slightly sore, meaning I can feel something, but it doesn't prevent me from running. It's that annoying feeling like, if I try to run fast, this will really start to hurt.

Anyway, I decided I should give it a test, so entered a 20K on April 8th - yesterday. I planned to run it at a comfortable pace, and pick up the last 5k if I felt all right. Which is what happened - that is, the hamstring passed the test. It was a bit sore, but didn’t get worse. I was hoping to run about 4:40/km, and ran 4:44, for a 1:34:33. I ran about 24:00/5k for 15k, then 22:17 for the last 5k, so that was good.
I even passed an old rival (been racing him for 30+ years) with 2k to go, a nice way to end the race.

The race was Yokohama Road Race, not in the city of Yokohama, but a ways out in the suburbs. The flat course was along an asphalt path next to a river. It was a small, friendly race, 105 people in the 20K and 202 people in the 12K (men and women). I was 24th out of the 105, and there were a few 60s age groupers ahead of me, in fact, a 63-year-old ran 1:23:55.

It was warm when the sun was out, a bit cool when it wasn’t, and even cooler when you were running into the wind, which was moderately strong all day long.

I'll rest for 3 or 4 days, then start up again with light jogging. My next race, which is the one I'm really pointing to, is a half marathon on May 20th. Hope to run faster at that one.

January 7, 2018

Happy New Year (Happy meaning no injuries)

Haven't had much to report - more eating and drinking than running.
2017 did not end too well, running-wise, as I picked up some hamstring issues. Was looking forward to running a good 10K at the East Japan Masters Championships on Dec. 16, but was worried about the hamstring. It was ok - for 5k. At that exact point it began to tell me to slow down, so I did. Too bad, but I was at least able to finish.

So, have been resting and running easily, and seem to be pain and injury free. I'm planning to do nothing but long, slow runs for three months to build strength. Work up to two and three hours every day. I'll do the occasional interval workout, but not all-out.

I don't run races in the winter, so you may not hear from me again for a while. Hope to read some good results from you guys, however.

May we all stay injury-free in 2018!!!

November 23, 2017

Half Marathon: Not Bad but Not Great

I ran my annual fall half marathon on Sunday the 19th, finishing in 1:36:08. That's 4:33/km.
I was 8th in the 60s age group, they didn't have a 70s, so I was running against guys 10 years younger than me. Last year I was 6th. They gave out prizes to the top six.
I was also slower by two minutes than last year, the difference being the last 6k. Last year I sped up by one minute, this year I slowed down by one minute.
Still, it was not too bad, since as I said last time, I was not really in good shape for a half marathon.
Fortunately, my glue/hamstring benefitted from an easy week and three days rest prior to the race - it didn't bother me - it was just that my legs wouldn't move as well the last 4k.

Splits were: 4:15,37,32,27,38,35,29,26,26,27 (10K) 28,31,38,29,35,33,44,37,39,54,5:06.
The 20k split is wrong, they always have the mark in the wrong place. The last two were probably 5:44, 5:16.

The course is good, two slight hills on each of the two loops, so not really an issue. The weather was a good 14°C, mostly sunny, but it was fairly windy - it was in our faces about half the time,which I could have done without.

I had a good 10k from 3k to 13k, as I was running next to the No. 2 woman, and we were right behind another guy. Unfortunately, they picked up the pace from about 13k and I slowed down, so they pulled away from me.

All in all, a pretty good effort, but next year I'll probably run the 10K, where I would have been in the top six.

I'm resting all of this week.
Dec. 3rd is the Okutama ekiden, for which I organize our teams. I have 18 guys (3 teams of 6), so won't be running unless someone drops out.
I signed up for a 10K on Dec. 16th, the East Japan Masters Road Race, where I'll be in my own age group, so that should be fun.

Happy Thanksgiving! I stuffed myself with turkey - I guess maybe that's just an American thing.

November 13, 2017

Gearing Up for a Half

Actually, that should be "slightly gearing up" or "not gearing up enough".

Anyway, after the 10K race on Oct. 8th, I took 8 days off and then went out and did 400 x 4 and 800 x 2 with the X-country girls at a pretty good pace, and then intervals the next night - 1600, 1000 x 2, 800 x 2, which proved to be too much, too soon. Developed a slight pain in my upper hamstring or lower glute, somewhere in there, which gets better and worse and is rather annoying.

Took it easy for a week (better) than ran a 5k time trial in 20:19, which was a good run, but sent the glute back to "worse" territory.
Took it easy for another week and then did the interval workout, but not all out, then 3 more rest.easy days, followed by a half marathon done at a tempo pace at the club's annual run and barbecue on Nov. 5th. Ran it in 1:46:48, or 5:03/k pace, which was just what I wanted to do. The glute was getting sore the last 5k, but wasn't too bad. Anyway, I needed to see if I could run 21k at a decent pace.

Test was a success, so last week and this week has been just long, slow runs. Plan to jog wednesday night, not do the workout, then rest for three days before the race on Sunday.
Sooo, I'll be able to run but almost certainly not as fast as I would like to. Hopefully I'll be able to get under 1:35. The age group is 60 and above, so I won't win it and probably won't be in the top 6, which is where the prizes are. I was 6th last year with a 1:33. (1st 10 years ago with a 1:23.)
In any case, it's my favorite race so I'll try to enjoy it.

October 10, 2017

5K Time Trial, Ekiden, 10K Victory

Weeks of Sept. 25 ~ Oct. 8

These two weeks were marked by three running events. The rest of the time was regular training with a few extra rest days.

Monday easy, Tuesday rest, then Wednesday evening was a 5,000m time trial. My legs are never really fresh for these things, even with a rest on Tuesday, but they're basically training runs.
It was 25C and 65%, so not ideal conditions. Weight was 60kg, which is ok, but lower would be better.
In any case, the time was 20:22, with splits of 4:02/08/06/08/3:58.
I felt fairly good, and didn't go above 4:08/k, which was good. Was alone at 2k, but then friend Paddy went past, so stayed with him. Caught him and passed him with 800m to go, but he outkicked me.

Thursday was easy with the x-country kids in pouring rain, then a rest day on Friday.

Saturday I participated in a charity ekiden at the Odaiba area on Tokyo Bay. A fun event for the Special Olympics, Teams of 2 to 10 people, who run 1.2k loops for 3 hours. We had one fast team of six guys and two male/female teams of nine runners. The A team guys ran 7 or 8 times and the other people ran 4 times. Everyone cheers like mad, so you have to run hard! Also, there is an electronic board showing the team standings in real time (updated each time a team's chip crosses the changeover mat), so that also adds incentive. Our A team won - they were all fast, but actually, it's not a high level ekiden. The second team was 14th and my team was 29th, out of 190 teams, so a good day. An interval workout, actually, although 40 minutes between the intervals.

Sunday was a 90-minute run at a good pace, legs surprisingly felt quite good.

Monday I ran 5.5k to and from school, with a hilly 4 x 800m at a decent pace with the JV girls.

Tuesday regular rest day.
Wednesday 1000m x 6 where I cruised the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th in about 4:15 and ran the 2nd in 3:52 and 6th in 3:49. Felt good on the two faster ones, not killing myself.

Thursday was a high school x-country meet where I ran 4k, about half up and down hills.
The kids ran 5k, on a tough course that included one hill of about 300m and another of 600m. Running uphill for 600m in the middle of a 5k race is not ideal. Our top five girls ran from 20:07 to 20:35, a dominating performance. And four of them are freshmen! (1st yr of 4-yr hs). Our top two boys were 17:07 and 17:21.

Friday and Saturday rest days.
Sunday was the first of my two fall races, a 10K that I run each year. Again, conditions were not ideal. The announced temp and humidity were 23C and 75%, but once on the course in the sun it was probably 26C (79F).
I won the 70s age group in 42:05, with three guys within a minute behind me (151 in AG). The kilo splits were off, but 5k splits, which I think were accurate, were 20:41 and 21:24. I felt good and ran smoothly the whole way. Was tired the last 3k, but maintained the pace and had a decent kick. Even though it's a big race, I was alone for much of it. Tried to stay with runners passing me, generally unsuccessfully.
2 minutes slower than last year, which is a bit shocking, but that seems to be where I am these days. Maybe cooler weather will cut down the times.
The other fall race is a Half on Nov. 19, which may be very tough.
By the way, the US Masters 5K championship was two weeks ago in upstate NY, so probably good weather. Winning time for my age group was 20:56. See my time above for the first 5K of the race....

September 25, 2017

100+ K Week

103.4, to be exact. Although it was 7 days of running, and did come after a 63k week, so the average was 83k. Still, 100k is 100k.

Week of Sept. 11 ~ 17
63km, 6:21 running time

Monday - 116', 19.5km, but with two long rests. To and from school (5.5km) plus 5 miles at easy tempo pace with JV girls.

Tuesday - Rest and gym workout.
Wednesday - Track workout 1200, 1000 x 2, 800 x 3, 400
4:49, 3:50, 3:52, 3:10, 3:03, 3:00, 84.
3 mins. rest after the first 3, 2:15 after the 800s.
Felt pretty good, ran hard trying to stay with various people.
27C but didn't feel too hot.

Thursday - 102' 16k. To/from school with some easy hills.
Friday - gym workout then 90' run.
Saturday - Legs tired, knees sore, will take two days rest.
Sunday - Rest
Weight was about 60.3kg all week.

Week of Sept. 18 ~ 24
103.4km, 10:43 running time.

Monday - To/from school plus an easy 8.5k.
Thought my legs would be fresh, but no, they were tired and kind of sore.

Tuesday - Biked to school and ran 4 tempo miles with No. 5 varsity girl at 7:07, 7:04, 7:13, 7:16.
(7:15 = 4:30/k). Loop includes two small hills. Top girls (British freshman twins) were running 6:40s and did 5.
Felt quite good and weighed 59.8kg.

Wednesday - Track workout 400, 1600, 1000 x 2, 800 x 2, 400.
The 1600 was a time trial for those who wanted to do that.
My time was 6:23 which seems pitiful, but is as fast as I can go. Then 3:53, 3:51, 3:10, 3:06, 88 easy.
Legs slightly heavy, but felt surprisingly good after yesterday. Was able to "lift" for the last 400 of each 1000. Wore light shoes.
24C, 65%, so rather humid.

Thursday - 111', 17k. To/from school, 6k up and down hills and stairs on a nice (and new to me) woodsy course not too far from school.
Friday - 78'. Planned 90, but left calf a bit sore, so cut it short.
Saturday - 90', legs felt tired but not sore.
Sunday - 120' 19k. Easy pace about 6:20 per k, legs ok, but getting sore at the end.
After being under 60kg for most of the week, ended at 60.4 due to pigging out somewhat on Saturday (with wine).