March 2, 2017

Running Again

Hi - it's been awhile. I took two months off - one month during which my cracked kneecap was still painful, and one more month for the healing process to hopefully complete.

It seems as though it did, as I began running almost two weeks ago, and have been pain-free. Started with just 30 very slow minutes a day, then tried two runs of 50 minutes and last night did an interval workout (!). The pace was still quite easy - 5 mins. per km - but was quite a bit faster than I had been running.

No pain at all, so I'll continue building up gradually and hope to be in some kind of shape two months from now. I entered a 10K race on April 29, so that's my target for being able to run 10K without embarrassing myself.

January 15, 2017

Cracked Kneecap

Great way to start the year!
I was in Singapore, visiting my daughter and loving the warm weather. She lives 2km from the Botanic Gardens, so did two runs there, which were very enjoyable.

Was planning to do the Park Run on Saturday Dec. 24, but on Thursday, disaster struck.
My daughter has two cats, which love to escape from the apartment and go one flight up to the roof, where it's difficult to catch them. So we're careful about the front door. I had it open to get the newspaper, having checked that the cat was across the room. Well, the cat was faster than I thought. It zoomed across the room and out the door. I lunged after it and went down hard. Hit my left knee, left hand and left big toe. The knee was intensely painful, I was almost in shock from the pain.

After a while it lessened, but it was still difficult to walk. And it stayed that way for the next three weeks, so I couldn't take advantage of the beautiful greenery and weather to run in Singapore. Very frustrating.

I bought a knee support and managed to walk around with only slight pain and taking stairs slowly. Went to Gardens By the Sea, Marina Bay Sands, the zoo, Sentosa Island and Jurong Bird Park (which we liked a lot - great bird show). And of course, lots of shopping and eating out. I love Singapore - really want to live there!

I thought it was quite possible that I had a small fracture, but didn't bother going to a doctor down there, since whether it was or not, there's nothing to do but rest until it gets better.

After arriving back home, I went to a hospital for an X-ray (last Thursday), which showed a crack right in the center of the knee. Not a large one, but clearly visible. And the doctor said...all you can do is wait until it heals, two or three months. My ring and middle fingers also still hurt, but the x-rays were negative.

Too bad, since I had been getting into good shape, but, them's the breaks (ha ha).
I'll let you know when I start up again. At least when I do, my hamstrings and everything else will be well rested.

December 9, 2016

Okutama Ekiden 7.4K

After the Half Marathon on the 20th, I experienced some soreness in my right hamstring on wednesday night, despite going at a pretty easy pace. Rested for 3 days, but it got sore again when running on Sunday.
So I rested all week, as I had to run a 7.4k anchor leg in the Okutama Ekiden (road relay). Now in its 78th year, this is a very enjoyable race that the club has been doing for 28 years. This year we had five teams of six men, plus three teams of three women - the most we've ever had. I was originally a reserve, but after several people dropped out, I had to run the anchor leg for the A team, which was the only fast team - the others I arranged with both fast and slow runners so they could compete against each other. Unfortunately, with me on the anchor and another replacement on the first leg, the A team wasn't as fast as originally envisioned.
In the end, we came in 43rd out of 115 teams, with four guys who run in the 17s/18s for 5k. The other teams, which were not THAT bad, were 70, 71, 75 and 89, so you can see that this is a pretty high level ekiden.

Anyway, I was worried about the hamstring, so started slowly, especially as the first 400m was downhill. I kept it relatively easy for 3k, with 3 or 4 fast guys passing me. Then another guy passed me who was only going slightly faster, so I caught up to him and we picked up the pace further and ran side by side for almost 4k. The hamstring was ok, until...500m from the finish, when it started to hurt. I had planned to outkick the guy, but had to slow down a bit, and fortunately made it to the finish without a severe problem.
Time was 31:10, so about 4:12 per km. Not fast, but good enough to keep us in the top half of the finishing teams.
With sushi and beer afterwards, it was a great day out in the countryside.

Now I rest until I'm sure the hamstring is healed.
Off to Singapore for 3 weeks on December 18, right after the club yearend party on the 17th, so looking forward to doing a lot of running in the Botanical Gardens. My daughter now lives in Singapore, that's why we're going there. She's the Asia/Pacific marketing director for BandaiNamco, a big Japanese toy/computer game company, if I may be allowed to brag a bit.

November 20, 2016

Successful Half in 1:33:52, 6th Place

Week of Nov. 14 ~ 15

Not a training week, a tapering week for the Half on Sunday.

Monday & Tuesday — rest after the 17k of hills on Sunday. Quads sore!

Wednesday - 12k with 1000 x 5 and 500 x 2 easy - 5:00/k pace. Quads still sore.

Thursday — 40 minutes easy. Quads seem ok but legs still tired.

Friday & Saturday — rest

Toda Half Marathon in Saitama prefecture, just a little north of Tokyo.
My favorite race, nice course twice around a lake, flat except for two small hills (x2).
Weather was good, about 18C/64F, sunny. One of those days where it's warm in the sun and cool/chilly in the shade - perfect for running. There was a slight wind, against or behind depending on where you were on the course, but not much of a factor.
My plan (hope) was to run under 1:35. That required kilometers of 4:30, which would be 1:34:56. So I wanted to pick up the last 6k, if possible, to be sure of getting under it. In previous years I have done that on this course, so I was hoping that I would be mentally prepared and physically capable of doing it again.

All went according to plan, as my 5k splits were:
22:31 (4:25/29/36/28/32)
22:31 (4:31/26/25/32/38)
22:22 (4:23/30/34/24/29)
21:50 (4:20/20/17/20/32) (seemed like the 10k and 20k mats were a bit wrong)
Last km 4:15, last 0.1km 0:25

I had guys to run with most of the way, and when I didn't there were people ahead to chase (about 2,500 in the race - there was also a 10K with 1,500 and a 5K with 1,000).

By the way, another goal was to finish in the top 6 in the 60s age group - top 6 get prizes.
So an added incentive the last 6k was that I could see (there are several switchbacks that made this possible) two guys 50m and 100m ahead who looked like being in the 60s age group, so I wanted to pass them...which I did, between 16 and 17k.
Then with 2k to go, I noticed another guy ahead so pushed the aching legs to try to catch him. Halved the distance, but couldn't get him. Fortunately, he finished 5th and I was 6th.

So the last 2k was a bit tough, but all in all I felt good and ran a good race.
The prize was a towel...but a nice towel.
I'm pretty sure I can go faster with more training aimed at the Half distance, so I'll try to run another one next April (no winter races for me). I ran 1:28:27 just 3 years ago....
And by the way, I have the second fastest time at this race for the 60s age group - a 1:23:15 when I was 60.
Did I say 60? Wait, I just turned 40....

November 13, 2016

Another Good Week-Ending run

Week of Nov. 7 ~ 13

68.7km / 42.7 mi.    7:09 running time

Two days rest after the Half effort on Sunday.

Club workout - 2000m x 3. Total 12.2k
Started ok, but legs felt very tired, so slowed. 2nd and 3rd quads were sore, so took it very easy.

70 minutes very easy.

80 minutes, at a decent pace coming back.
Also a gym workout.
11C, slight rain

90 minutes very easy.

17.4k trail run (123 minutes) with 10 other people on my favorite Ome trail.
A bear has been sighted out there recently, so the hikers (of which there are not many) all had bells, but he/she didn't show.
This is the trail with constant up/down and a large number of very steep places, where you step up rocks and roots - very good for the leg muscles. We went out at a very easy pace, and picked up a bit coming back. About I guess 2.7k from the end is a spot where I always used to go hard, so muscle memory kicked in and I kicked in to the end. It's rolling up/downs, with a long downhill to the finish. I used to run that stretch (5 years and more ago) in around 11:00 on my fast days, and today did 12:19, which was pretty good on tired legs.
So a good workout, which together with last Sunday's tempo-paced Half, should hold me in good stead for the Half next Sunday. Serious tapering this week!

November 6, 2016

Nice Half Marathon Tempo Run

Week of Oct. 31 ~ Nov. 6

79.3km / 49.3 mi.  7:38 running time

109 mins. (17k), split up into three parts, middle part easy with HS girls team.

Rest day; gym workout

Club workout 1000m x 6 in Yoyogi Park.
Felt pretty good, had another guy to run with on each one.
Planned to kick the last 500m and did.
11C/52F, 75%, chilly

Same as Monday, with 10 mins. pickup in the middle 6k with the girls.

Gym workout and then 80mins easy run. Legs feeling tired.

Rest for Half tempo run tomorrow.

Namban Rengo 10K/Half and BBQ. We had almost 100 people (inc. kids) come out to the Tama riverside for some serious racing (?) and some serious eating and drinking (!).
I had planned on doing 10K, but realized that a Half at tempo pace would be good training, and a good test, two weeks before my Half race. Was thinking of doing about a 4:45/k pace, and clubmate Yuichi planned the same as a training run for his marathon in two weeks, so we stuck together for 15K at 4:50 pace, which we settled into naturally. The course was 5k out and back (extra 1.1k after 10k) and the wind was with us going out, which you don't notice, and against us coming back, which we did notice, as it was damn strong. Time was 1:43:17, with about 40 seconds water breaks. 5k splits were 24:00/24:18/24:03/24:26 (plus the 1.1k extra), so it was a good effort. Legs were getting a bit tired and tight the last few k, but had no problems.
Now to see if I can get under 1:35 for the Half on Nov. 20. I don't consider that a great time, but I also don't think I'm really in half marathon shape.

October 31, 2016

Still Showing Progress

"Progress" as compared to the last year, not, of course, compared to 3 or even 2 years ago (38:51 10K).
Anyway, I'm running better than I have in a while.

Week of Oct. 10 ~ 16
Very easy week after the 10K race, with 3 days off and 4 light days.

Week of Oct. 17 ~ 23
64.7km / 40.2 mi.   6:32
Rest on Monday, then a 5mile/8k tempo run on Tuesday with one of the x-country girls at a 4:36/k pace, so not a bad run.
After which took it very easy on wednesday, rest on thursday and easy on fri, sat, sun with legs still a bit tired.

Week of Oct. 24 ~ 30
75.9km / 47.2 mi.   7:33
Monday - 8k easy
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - 5,000m time trial on the track. 19:46, nice to be under 20:00 again.
Splits were 3:55/3:55/4:00/4:00/3:56.
Felt pretty good, followed two guys the first 2k, then was alone, but had people ahead to try to chase.
Temp was 22C/72F, but felt cool, however, the humidity was a very high 83%. Was drenched in sweat at the finish.
Weight: 58.7kg

Next four days were 100, 70, 70, 120 mins.
Friday was 12C and raining - it was really cold. That may sound silly, but I was wearing gloves and my hands were still really cold. A very unpleasant run, so I was proud of myself for getting out there, being I am not English or Irish.

Next two weeks will do some hard running, then taper for the Half on the 20th (for which I have no confidence of being able to run a decent time).