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.


  1. That's exciting Bob! No shame in being beaten by the world record holder. You look like his twin brother ;)

    Amazing that he ran at his marathon pace - I wonder what he could have run if he'd pushed the pace? Must be a great feeling to rock up to a race and win so easily.

  2. I'd be star struck!

    Great post and photos. Running is certainly a good way to see the country. I think you haven't really seen Japan unless you go to one of its marathons. It's really a great scene, isn't it?