11 December 2017

Kameoka Half Marathon 2017

I have tightness on the right side of my lower back. My left ankle feels a little weak and my quads hurt somewhat whenever I make my way downstairs to our bathroom. 24 hours earlier I’d run the Kameoka Half Marathon.

My time of 1:28:10 is another cheeky PB. Why cheeky? Well, I like to nibble away at personal best times. Like a delicious dessert you want to saviour and take longer to finish, my PBs are very much the same. I chip away at them little by little.

Kameoka is no more than 30 minutes away from Kyoto by bus. A small rural settlement made up of mostly older people that work their land to produce rice. The course on a good day with little wind is ideal for fast times. Uphill for the first 5K, then flat and finally a 5K descent to the finish. Yesterday the weather was perfect.

Before the race I’d targeted 4.13 per kilometer splits to pinch a PB. To run 4.10 splits came as a bit of a surprise. On refection, I reckon it had a lot to do with:

  • a stronger core
  • more consistent longer runs with some big hills
  • coach Scott Brown’s advice and encouragement
  • running a negative split and
  • better running form

Scott of course had finished before me and waited. Post-race chatter is something I always look forward to. We both agreed that the run had been perfect preparation for what lay ahead. The Kakogawa Marathon was now less than two weeks away.

I had family waiting at the bridge 1K out from the finish line armed with recording devices. Here is one comment that resinated with me a lot. The lead runners seemed to be going through a lot more hurt than I. Why they almost seemed to be shitting themselves! Maybe it’s time to cross that line in two weeks and see where it takes me ... or not.

We’ll see.

17 September 2017

The ravages of time

These photos were taken nearly 50 years apart. On the left, a recent trip home to New Zealand dressed in dashing salmon pink. On the right, back in 1970 when I lived in Fiji. At 2, I didn't have a care in the world. These days I subconsciously choose to live in a state of freneticism. I know it’s not good for me but for the moment I can’t see any other way. Whoever coined the ‘work life balance’ concept didn't bloody live in Japan and that's for sure.

When I run, everything is way less complicated. Time slows and life again seems orderly and as Spock would say, logical. For me, it’s that simple. Running is the greatest medicine/placebo known to us humans.

I reckon I’ve managed summer really well. There’ve been no heat exhaustion incidents and no significant injuries. PBs are again likely this coming season. There I’ve said it … an absolute certainty no less. My coach reckons I have two very soft personal bests. My half at 1.29.14 and my full at 3.16.14. Fair suck of the sav I thought at the time but on reflection he’s probably right.

My 10k PB of 38.57 came out of nowhere earlier in the year and will definitely be near impossible to beat. So, there you have it. I’m serious too. Now marvel at the following. The perfect race progression to achieve the before mentioned goals.

· 10km at Awaji on 15 October
· 10km at Oizumi on 26 November
· 21.1km at Kameoka on 10 December
· 42.2km at Kakogawa on 23 December
· 42.2km at Senshu on 18 February

- my training programme:

I have to confess at being a little excited. I currently train on a route that begins with a 4km incline which eventually levels out for as long as I want. Then on the way home I’m able to work the quads with a fast downhill over that same 4km stretch. It’s perfect and I’m lucky to have it so close to where I live. In addition, I’ll need to do daily core exercises, lose a little weight and keep my head down when the odd missile passes overhead.

Legends of the 2017 UTMB. Having run a couple of ultra-marathons in the past I can only imagine what it must be like to run the times these guys did over one of the most challenging courses in the world. A 166km route through France, Italy and Switzerland with a total elevation gain of around 9,600m. They are superhuman for sure. I’d love to run the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. Just getting there would be an achievement. However, as Spock would say “you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical but it is often true”.

Happy meaningful running my friends.

2 June 2017

Long may we run

A fledgling business is said to be one that is immature, inexperienced and still underdeveloped. The definition certainly fits my little operation here in Japan but it also suggests that one should have all the time in the world to update their blog weekly. Not so my friends. As a good mate of mine recently said, I’ve been as busy as a one-armed taxi driver with crabs.

My running route had become a little predictable these last few months. It didn't seem to capture my imagination like it used to. I no longer noticed the quaint wooden arched bridge or the small town that modelled itself on a bygone Japanese village. I didn't even notice the river surging along after a recent burst of rain. Despite the course being dead flat, it felt stale and worn having run it so many times before.

A few weeks ago, a mate of mine shouted me out to a buffet lunch. His way helping me cushion the blow of turning 49. The restaurant wasn't that far from home. It nestled among the many hills that surround the city. We could’ve taken a bus but instead decided to walk. The trek up through a beautiful bamboo forest took no more than 30 minutes. The restaurants patrons were a mix of university teachers, administration staff and the general public.

It was on the walk home I found my new running route. Instead of the trail we’d used to get up the hill, we walked a cheery blossom tree lined road all the way down to the city. With a few minor modifications, I now have an 8km run that meets all my summer season running requirements. It's:
  • very steep. A 3km continuous climb followed by a 500m drop then climb again.
  • sheltered most of the way with overhanging trees or embankments of manicured gardens.
  • extremely quiet. In fact, at one point the road is closed entirely to cars. Just me bounding along in the shadows of one of Japans most elite university campuses.
  • of course, downhill too for the same 3km distance to finish. Essential to build pace into my workout and to increase strength in my quads.
  • a distance short enough to get out of the heat in Japan. 36 degree days in the peak of summer literally kills. That said the workout is hard enough in its intensity.

I’ve missed updating this silly little ‘runningraggedy’ site. I wonder why? I may not be running the distance or the frequency I used to but that's not to say I don't love it just as much as I always have. Am I getting better? We’ll see … I determined to try.

That's what we all strive for, right?