June 28, 2009

2 Seconds Faster...I'll Take It.

Planned 60k for the week. Ran 63.5.
Ran a 5,000m time trial in 18:38, two seconds faster than last month, but it was warmer.

Mon: Rest
Tues: AM - X-trng (weights and abs). PM - 6.3k easy.

Wed: 8k.
1200m easy warmup, 600m striders. 5,000m in 18:38. (3:38/44/46/49/40 (last 400 in 83).
Hoped for 18:20, but it was a bit too warm. Or legs were still a bit tired from last Sunday's 10.7k race, although I felt pretty good.
Had no one to follow after 2.5k, but kept pushing. Felt nice and smooth.
Afterwards: 4 x 100m barefoot on grass, plus one lap of track barefoot (which felt ok).
7:30pm. Temp: abt 25° (77°F). Wt: 60.2kg. Shoes: 220g

Thurs: 10k in 50:29 (26:00, 24:29). Easy. Knees and right calf a bit stiff.

Fri: AM - X-trng (wts and abs)
12:00 - 14k. Splits: 2k - 11:02, 5k - 24:08, 5k - 22:33, 2k - 8:29. Total 4:42/km pace.
4 x 150m barefoot on grass.

Sat: 6k easy

Sun: 18.6. Ome hills. Out - 1:09:45. In - 51:14.
Coming back is more downhill, but even so, I was going faster. Last approx. 2.8k on trail was very fast (10:58).
Ran with two overseas visitors, Irish and German guys, in their 30s. Irish guy is a 2:47 marathoner. Ran away from them the last 2.8k, so I was feeling pretty good.
Cloudy, warm but not hot...about 23°.
Next week, 75k.

June 21, 2009

Beaten by Hosaka!

Yes, legend-in-his-own-time Hosaka-san showed up at the Saiko Road Race and needless to say, won the 60s division. Details below.

Week: Planned 50k, ran 47.6k
Mon: Rest

Tues: 9k. 2.3k warmup, 5k, 1.7k warmdown
Tried an interesting prerace workout recommended by Sean Wade (14:49 for 5k 43-year-old) on Younger Legs for Older Runners. You run 5k (or 3 miles) at 30 sec. fast, 30 sec. "float", 30 sec. fast, etc. I did it in 21:39. First k was 4:16, then I slowed a bit but held the pace pretty well. It's not easy! You have to keep checking your watch (hmmm, maybe there's a beep function), and the "floats" get harder, i.e. the temptation is to just jog. At 3k you're thinking, Good God, another 2k of this? Nice challenging workout. Wade says you should do it the Tuesday before a Sunday race. He says your legs will feel fine the next day. Well, mine were a bit stiff.

Wed: 8.6k. 1000 x 3, 800 x 3.
Planned to just cruise these and did, in 4:08/05/02 (400m, 3:26 intervals), 3:05/06/11 (2oom, 3:05).

Thurs: Planned 12k, but rested because left calf was slightly sore.
Fri: 6k easy jog at 7am as had to be out all day.
Sat: Drove to Saiko (one of the five Mt. Fuji lakes). Planned to run 5k upon arriving, but it was late and I decided just to rest.
Ran the Saiko Road Race today with Terry Minegishi from my club and his friend Yoshio Kawashima. We drove up on Saturday, went to registration, then drove around two other Fuji lakes, Motosuko (lots of windsurfers) and Shojiko (tiny lake). We stayed at the minshuku (small inn) that Terry always stays at, a nice, friendly place. It is in front of the start line, and by "in front," I mean you walk down the driveway onto the road and you are standing ON the start line. Very convenient, especially when it is raining, like it was today.

There are two main races, 10.7K and 20.5K. Distances are probably correct, although Terry thinks the 20.5 is a bit longer and I would like to think the 10.7 is a bit longer. In the 10.7 there were 1,804 men and 760 women. In the 20.5 there were 1,936 men and 388 women. The 10.7 started at 9:10, the 20.5 at 9:20. The 10.7 course is once around Saiko, plus a bit over 1k to the finish (of which about 700m is up a steady hill), and the 20.5 course is twice around plus the hill. The course is on a winding road that is right next to the lake for about 7k, slight ups and down, very pleasant to run on and nice with the tall, tree-covered hills all around you.

It was raining heavily early in the morning, stopped about 8:00, then started again at about 8:40. So at the start it was raining, but not hard, and it eventually lessened and stopped. At any rate, it did not bother me. Temperature was 20-22° I guess, and of course very humid.

I was planning to cruise the first 5k, which is about half flat and half gradual downhill, in about 19:30, then hang on as best I could. That is what happened, as the first 5k was 19:12. The first k was 3:34, which even being slightly downhill was not correct, I think, but the second was 3:57 which was also not correct (they were both about 3:45). Then 3:46, 58 and 56. I was consciously trying to relax, cruise, run light and smooth. At this point I was running behind two guys (probably in their 40s), passing some people and being passed by others, so I had good company. The two got away from me, but I kept them within 10-20 meters, and surprisingly caught them again at about 8k. I was feeling pretty good, and moving along well.

I ran the 6th, 7th and 8th k in 12:00, then 4:02, then 4:20 up the first part of the hill. I had envisioned charging up the hill, but that didn't happen. I got up it all right, though, and kicked in well the last flat 300m. The last 0.7 was 3:00 (4:20/k). So the time was 42:36, which was just about what I was expecting to run (4:00 per k).

As for placing, I thought I was in first in the 60s division, as I knew I was ahead of the guy who had won the previous year (in 42:22, program listed last year's top ten in each division). But we only wore numbers on the front, so it was impossible to know who was who, and of course, I didn't know who was ahead. I did know that legend-in-his-own-time Hosaka had won the 50s last year, but I didn't see his name in the program. Turned out, he was there! (I had actally been looking for his club name in the program, since those are easier to spot, but he changed his club name.) So needless to say, he won the division, in 39-something (his marathon pace). Another guy was also ahead of me (also from last year's 50s) in 41:18. So I got third, out of 323. If two guys had beaten me by 15 seconds I would have been upset, but to lose to obviously better runners was not shameful. Spoke to Hosaka-san at the awards ceremony, and as Brett Larner has said, he is a terrific guy, very friendly and cheerful.

June 14, 2009

Fastest 1200s in 9 Years

Planned for week: 70k. Ran: 68.8k

Mon: Rest
Tues: AM: Xtrng (wts and abs)
PM: 10k easy in 59:00.

Wed 7:30pm: 9.8k. 600/1200/600/1200/600/1200/600. 200 jog after 600s, 400 after 1200s.
Times (jog): 2:12 (1:56) 4:16 (3:44) 2:08 (2:18) 4:04 (4:13) 2:05 (2:48) 4:05 (4:15) 1:58.
The 4:04 and 4:05 were the fastest 1200s I have run in 9 years (3:24/k pace). Most over the years, including recently, have been in the 4:20s. The 600s were pretty good, too.
So, as fellow club member Juergen said to me after the workout: What happened to you?
Well, there were four reasons. 1) I am finally getting into pretty good shape. 2) I am down to almost minimum racing weight. 3) I am getting comfortable with my new running style (midfoot striking, light on the feet, feet landing under the body, feet flicking back and up, quick cadence, straight back or slight forward lean). Or as Caballo Blanco says in Born to Run: Easy, Light, Smooth, Fast (the first 3 take care of the 4th). And 4) The mental attitude/lessons of Born to Run, one being: You're tougher than you think you are, which I modified to You're faster than you think you are. The first 1200 was pretty good, but Paddy, our good Irish runner, was quite a ways ahead of me. The second one, I just decided, You're faster than you think you are, stay with Paddy. Which I kept repeating. And stayed with him. Light and smooth all the way. Then did it again on the third one and on the last 600.
So...it's a combination of the physical and the mental. When both are in an optimal state, you can run well...better than you think you can.
Temp: abt 22°. Wt: 60.0kg. Shoes: 250g (lightish)

Thurs: 10k easy in 52:59 (26:38, 26:21).
Fri: AM: Xtrng (wts and abs).
4:00pm: 15k in 1:14:35 (27:11, 24:56, 22:26).
Planned to run 27:30, 25:00, 22:30, and did that, even though there's no real reason to push the last one. Was kind of tired the last 3k.
Temp: 28°. Wt: 60.6kg. shoes: 280g

Sat: Easy 10k (approx.) in 54:00, pausing twice to watch two groups of 14 Namban crazies race a Beer Mile (drink a beer, run 400m x 4).
AND...tried 200 x 4 barefoot on the grass (Born to Run again). Yes, I have to admit, it feels really good to run barefoot. It feels really...natural. I think I will incorporate barefoot striders into some workouts. Not ready to run far or on asphalt.
(Michael B.: I was skeptical, but now I get it: once you read that section of the book, you want to go out and try it.)

Sun: 14k in Ome hills in 1:55:36. Easy pace with visitor Denise from Michigan, Taeko and Kiki. Of course, even "easy" at Ome is a good workout. Very pleasant run in the cool of the woods.

Next week is an easy week because I have a 10.7k race around Saiko (one of the five Mt. Fuji lakes) on Sunday.
Almost finished Born to Run. This book is so good, I think I am going to take it with me everywhere, so I can re-read sections whenever I feel like it.

June 7, 2009

Up a Mountain!

Week — Planned: 70k. Ran: 69.1k.
But 16k of that was practically straight up and down, as hard as a 30k run.

Mon: Rest
Tues: AM: X-trng (Wts, bk 15 mins., abs)
4:00: 10k in 53:43 (27:47, 25:55). Knees still at first, ok after 3k.

Wed: 12.1k. 2.1k warmup, 1000m x 6 (by myself in the morning; could not go to the track at night).
3:46/49/50/47/48/44 (400m jog in 3 mins.)
Felt ok, worked pretty hard. Calf and knee were fine.

Thurs: 10k easy in 54:41 (28:23, 26:18). Legs stiff, esp. knees.

Fri: AM: Xtrng (Wts, bk 15 mins., abs)
4:30: 15k in 1:12:56 (26:03, 24:52, 22:00). Planned last 5k to be at 4:30 pace and then 4:15 for the last k, but ran the last one in 4:03.
Knees a bit sore off and on, but felt generally good.
Temp: 20° (light rain). Weight: 60.6kg. Shoes: 250g.

Sat: 6k very easy. Legs very stiff, and have to run uphill tomorrow.

Sun: 16k (approx.) 2:15:13. With 4 other people (Colin, Cyrille, Taizo, Satohi).
Ran from Mitake station, which is in the Okutama mountains west of Tokyo. Out further than the Ome hills that I usually run.
7 mins. flat along a river (with white water kayakers), then 13 mins. straight up to the cablecar station. 13 minutes is a long time to go straight up, but that was just the start! Short rest, then 25:16 up a zig-zagging path (too steep to go straight up) to Mitake Shrine. Fun to pass the people walking (struggling) up and hear their expressions of surprise that people are _running_ up. Naturally, by "running" I mean slow running. Another short rest, then 45:55 along mountain trails, at first following a stream, mostly up, narrow with lots of big and small rocks, then serious Up (partly walking/climbing) to the top of Nabewari mountain, 1,084m high. Then back down to the cablecar (half of which was very treacherous going) in 30:20. Rode the cablecar because I didn't want to stress my calf too much, but then had to run the long downhill to Mitake station, which was ok, and ran the stretch along the river at a pretty good pace. Pretty damn tired at the end. Took the train 30 mins. to Kabe where there is a nice onsen (hot spring baths) that also has a Japanese restaurant for post-run carbo loading of noodles, rice and beer.
All in all, a very nice run, but very tough. I do not want to do that every week! In fact, I may not do it again, as it is just too much climbing. I prefer the shorter ups and downs of Ome. It was a hot day, although much cooler in the mountains.