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.