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.