21 km Done and Dusted

I’ve had a week to recover and I finally have enough energy to sit down and bash out the story of last weekend and a really fun run!  Here are the highlights!

Road trip!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Shotgun!

Simon drove me and Ange in his zippy, Japanese-sized car.  It was great to be able to go somewhere with the convenience of a car for a change and I was able to bags the front seat too!

As chief navigator, I relied on google maps to get us up and back.  We questioned google’s advice on the way up and got stuck in a traffic jam so on the way back we decided to just do whatever she said.  There was one point where Simon was still a bit suspicious of the instructions though.  Google told us to continue straight ahead into what appeared to be someone’s gravel driveway.  It did in fact turn out to be a bit of a driveway but google was right and it did connect us to an actual road again and back on the expressway.  And we got to wave at residents as they came out to see who was coming along their alleyway.  We didn’t question google again!

Winter in summer

IMG_1919Since returning to Japan at the beginning of August, I had found running to be quite challenging in the heat and I was worried about doing a half marathon in the summer.  It was hot and humid when we left Yokohama but by the time we got up the mountain, it was raining heavily and absolutely freezing.  Despite all of us being seasoned travellers, none of us had had the forethought to pack anything but short sleeves.  During our visits to the caves and other tourist spots, I kept my eyes peeled for a jumper shop but no luck.

The upside of this though was that the race day on Sunday was also cool with just a light mist of rain – perfect for running up a big hill!

Carb loading

On the rainy Saturday, we had to find indoor activities to amuse us and Mami booked us in for a cooking lesson for lunch.  So all six of us landed at what turned out to be someone’s house to cook ‘hoto’ noodles.  The noodle is made from just flour and water and I volunteered to do the mixing.  Our finished noodles did not look that pretty but they sure tasted great!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Fujiyoshida half marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fujiyoshida half marathonFujiyoshida half marathon

 

Fujiyoshida half marathon
For dessert we decided to stop by an ice-cream stand despite the fact we were all freezing!  There were a lot of flavours to choose from and some were quite unfamiliar to my Australian experience.  Here are some of the flavours that were unusual to me:Fujiyoshida half marathon

  • cheese and biscuit
  • sweet potato (purple)
  • sweet potato (orange)
  • soba (buckwheat noodle)
  • wasabi
  • macha (green tea)
  • black sesame
  • azuki (red beans)

I settled on giving the wasabi a go but when I tried to order it, everyone around me including the ice-cream lady herself, gasped with shock!  Quite a lively commotion ensued with everyone getting involved in trying to dissuade me.  The ice-cream lady said it would be too hot for me and flatly refused to sell it to me!  I finally convinced everyone that I could handle it but the ice-cream lady felt that she couldn’t charge me full price for what she clearly thought was an insane choice of flavour and gave me a ¥50 discount!

The race

Finally we made it to the race venue and we were all excited and ready to go!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Next we did a warm-up with all the other participants.

Fujiyoshida half marathon

And about two and a half hours later we were all finished with just enough energy to do one big jump.

Fujiyoshida half marathon

I was really happy with my time considering I did a 500+ m climb over the course of the race!  Here is a snapshot of my results both official (right) and unofficial (left)!

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 3.28.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-03 at 3.47.16 PM

 

Thank you

A BIG thank you to our support crew of one – Angela!  She had many duties over the weekend including covering my back in bandaids so that my sports bra didn’t rub all my skin off and being my modesty curtain when I was trying on a top at one of the race stalls.  You’re the best Ange!  She was also the official photographer for the weekend and took most of the shots I’ve used in this post.

Finally it was time for a well earned drink – not the grass we were drinking in this photo below though – and to head back to Yokohama.  Simon’s small Japanese car proved to be a prison of pain for me after about half an hour into the trip but we pushed on to get home as quickly as possible so I could finally stretch my legs out again.

Next challenge – 30km run in October!

Fujiyoshida half marathon

Running is Harder in Japan

Today is my fasting day and I’ve just returned from the gym where I did an upper body and core workout designed by my fabulous personal trainer Renee at Falcon Anytime Fitness.  It was a great workout but when combined with the fatigue I’m still experiencing from yesterday’s long run, I’m finding it difficult to keep my arms in position to type.  Lifting up my water bottle is a challenge.

That aside, this post is about yesterday’s long run.  It was my first 10+ km run now that I’m back in summer weather.  In Lake Clifton, I knocked off a couple of 21 km runs and did them in a good time and fairly comfortably.  Yesterday’s run was quite different.

I had put three energy gels into the freezer after my last run and the unpleasant ‘hot salty banana juice’ experience of midway through the previous training session.  I had a bunch of podcasts lined up on my phone to listen to and I was really looking forward to going out and hitting the pavement for a couple of hours of running.

Due to the heat, I’ve been running in the evenings.  As I planned to run 22 kms, I knew it would take me a couple of hours so I didn’t want to wait too long but I also wanted to watch the West Coast Eagles game as I suspected it might be the last one we would win this season.  The game was planned to finish about 6pm so I was going to be out the door by then and back by 8:30pm which wasn’t too late.  In the end, I didn’t leave until after 6:30pm as mum rang to discuss the game.  She expressed her concern about me running at night but clearly wasn’t anxious enough to get off the phone so I could get going and get back at a reasonable hour!

The run started off great.  It was still light when I started so I ran down to the park behind Sankeien Gardens then back up Honmoku dori.  At about the 7km mark, I took the first of my energy gels and it was still cool and almost pleasant to taste.  It gave me a boost and I ran up Hospital Hill to the bluff.  By now it was dark but there were a lot of people out and about enjoying the warm summer evening so I was never in trouble.

By this time I was very sweaty and I could feel that my brand new sports bra that hadn’t caused me any problems whilst running in the winter climate the week before, was starting to slide around a bit.  Still it wasn’t hurting me and I kept going.

After about 10km I need to take a pit stop.  I don’t think this was because of the gel but merely because I hadn’t gone earlier in the day.  Luckily I was running by the Red Brick Warehouse and the quite excellent public facilities that are located there.  I used the disabled toilet because although I wasn’t that tired yet, I was still grateful for something to hang on to on the way down.

At the 14 km mark, I was ready to take my next energy gel and I was starting to look forward to a good long sit down.  Although starting to feel pretty tired, I was still confident that I would complete the run.  My RunKeeper app reminded me to begin running at a faster pace for the next 6 kms but I decided to ignore it.  My aim for this run was just to finish and I was already feeling it despite running slower than in previous weeks.

With just a handful of kilometres to go, I took my last energy gel at Yamashita Park.   A few minutes later, I really started to struggle as the stomach cramps began.  These were the type of cramps I was familiar with from my time in Ghana where I had leant the hard way never to trust a fart.  Despite my best efforts though, fart I did but mercifully that is all I did!

By now I’m more waddling than running.  I feel a bit nauseous and any left over energy is being channelled into keeping my butt cheeks clenched.  With my apartment building in sight, my RunKeeper app speaks the two most beautiful words in the English language – ‘workout completed’.

It had just past 9:30 pm.  I was exhausted.  When I g0t home, I took off my running gear to assess the damage.  I have four chafe spots on my chest and two on my back from my sports bra that made showering a very painful exercise.  My feet have begun to look pretty gnarly with old and new blisters, callouses and peeling skin.

Although I’ve run this distance before, this is the longest it has taken me to do so.  In three weeks, I’m running the same distance in a race on a mountain.  If the race was in wintery Lake Clifton, I think I could have a crack at doing it in 120 minutes but running is harder now that I’m back in Japan!

Longest run

The final waddle took its toll on my average pace!

 

Getting Faster Despite Stitches and Insects

Two weeks ago, I went out to brunch, ate enough food to choke a small horse and then came home and ran my fastest 5 km ever!  This was despite having a murderous stitch for half of the run.  Yesterday, I had a better preparation before my run and despite inhaling a swarm of midgies with 2 km to go, I managed to run my fastest average pace yet again!

Imagine how fast I would be without eating a community of insects during the run!

Imagine how fast I would be without eating a community of insects during the run!

Marathon Preparation Update

I have signed up for a half marathon at the end of August which takes place up around Mt Fuji.  I’ve selected a 16 week training plan from the RunKeeper that will commence in early May.  Once I’ve completed this race, I will start a training plan for the full marathon in preparation for 2017!

The half marathon I’ve signed up for is going to be hot and hilly so I’m just aiming to finish and not really worried about the time.  Luckily I will be able to practice some hills around mum’s place when I’m home in July!

 

Back on the Wagon

Over the last month or so, I’ve totally undone all the good work I’d done in the lead up to my half marathon the other weekend.  I should mention that this is a half marathon that I ended up withdrawing from.

I withdrew because my training had been interrupted by several trips where I couldn’t train.  Two ski trips, one trip to a snow festival and another to tropical Cambodia.  All of these interrupted my long run training plan.  In the end, I just hadn’t done enough long runs to be ready.  That, and it was raining on the day.

Again my clothes are feeling a little too tight.  I threw out a pair of jeans last week after I noticed that I had a blow-out where my thighs were rubbing together.  I’m now forced to wear a pair of corduroy pants that at this weight, is definitely a fire hazard.

I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t been shopping.  So I’ve been eating out and ordering pizza online.  My weight has ballooned.

New Year's Eve 2015

A taste of what’s to come!

But today is a new day.  Today I went to the gym.  Today I recorded my food diary in MyFitnessPal and I was under my calorie limit.  Today I weighed myself at the gym and I was less than expected. Today I resisted apple tea cake from a colleague.

Tomorrow is what I’m worried about.  Over the next few months, I will have some challenges to deal with.  A busy time at work, my first assignment for my masters degree due, a presentation at a conference and a bunch of house guests that I like to drink wine with.  How to juggle all of this, make healthy choices, sleep enough and exercise.  Advice please!

12 Hours to Go!

Tomorrow morning is race day.

I had a semi-successful test on Thursday of my Runkeeper Live.  In order to view the real time race map, you need to have a Runkeeper account yourself.  This is free and you can sign up at runkeeper.com.

If you don’t want to do that though, you can still see my race except you will have to refresh the page to see my little blue dot move!  My Runkeeper page can be found here.

A link is supposed to appear on my Facebook page when I start the race, but this didn’t work during my test run on Thursday.  Instead a link appeared after I’d finished and declared that I had run a paltry 0.48 km instead of the 8 km that I had actually run!  So I think the safest thing to do if you wish to check on my progress is just go straight to my Runkeeper page itself.

The race begins at 9:37 am JST.  This is 8:37 am Perth time.  As for anywhere else, I’ll let you work it out yourselves!

You will have plenty of time to check in as I suspect it will take me at least two and a half hours to complete!  My goal is just to finish the bugger.

This evening I have spent the day sticking to my normal routine.  I had gnocchi for dinner which I also intend to have for breakfast in the morning and one glass of red wine.  I made sure I was at the end of the bottle yesterday so that I wouldn’t be tempted to have a second glass tonight!  It is all about preparation!