Friday, 30 October 2009

A quickie

Forgot to write last night that I was out pounding the riverbank in pursuit of running perfection. Unfortunately it again proved elusive but I put in a 7.3km stint, clocking a reasonable 36m 40s - a bit slower than Tuesday night but still respectable. Pain factor was a little on the high side for the left achillies, so much so that I felt the need to ice it a bit after gtting home. Think I'll give it a rest over the weekend.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon...

Not really, but I am listening to a Radiohead gig from the internet as I type - isn't the internet fab, just a quick browse and you can find gigs from everyone from everytime and they're all free. It's great (quite possibly slightly south of legal, but i figure if you aren't able to buy it then it can't be wrong to get it for free).

Anyway it's late so a brief note to note that I was out tonight, the usual 7.3km route in 36m 20s, which is just under the PB time for the distance. Felt good.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sunday evening

Evening all, so what a fun packed weekend that was - well, packed is an accurate descriptive expression, however it's something of a stretch to include 'fun' in there as well.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early - actually make that still dark and early as I had agreed to go with a bunch of school kids down to a mass footy kickabout at the American school (ASIJ) campus down in Chofu. The get together started at 8.30 so it was meet in Setagaya at 7.30 so yours truly had to be there at 7.00 to make sure everything was set up ok, so up at 5.15 am in the morning to be on time. Lawks that's early for a Saturday! But I made it, thankfully. The reason I was doing this rather than, say, the Primary PE teachers whose job it is, was that last week was half term and we couldn't possibly ask teachers to work during their holidays now could we? So helpful HR managers step into the breach so the kids can attend a tournament.

So we took three school teams down there; ASIJ have a great campus, they had a choice a few years ago - stay as a city centre school and have limited space and facilities or move out of Tokyo and have fields - they took the latter option and have a great place, lots of space, sports fields, big classrooms, first rate facilities etc. They also have a large fleet of buses to ferry the kids from central Tokyo to Chofu and back everyday. One day our school will have to make the same decision - I wonder which way we will go...?

Anyway I just thought I was going as a bus monitor (got to have enough adults on the bus or it won't be allowed to go), but when we got there we realised that all the teams would be well spaced out and playing almost continuously so in the end it was 'Justin, here's the girls team, look after them, they have only ever had 3 lessons, good luck...'. Ah.

But actually it was great. They didn't have particularly high expectations and the tournament was really a tournament as no one was keeping scores (luckily for us) or progressing to the next round (as there wasn't one). The first game they were completely overrun and didn't really know what to do so were hit for a cricket score (it was 6-a-side and two 8-minute halves), same in the second game with an even worse score, but at least they started playing a bit thanks to some on-the-spot coaching from their new gaffer.

Then in the third game they really started to play (and listen to my shouting from the side line). The first half ended 2-0 to the opposition but the second half, after what must have been a half-time talk from yours truly of Shakespearean (or Fergusonian) grandeur that they went out and played really well, scoring their first goal (a lovely strike by right-midfielder Lauren) and only a late defensive error allowed the oppo to score, making it 1-1 for the half. OK, they lost, but they scored their first goal and the smiles at the end were really special.

The girls lost all their games in the end, but they scored a few more times and really got into it. The fact that all but one of the teams they played were all boys showed that they scrapped really hard, giving one boys team a torrid second half after one of the little blighters said to his coach 'this is really easy, we can score whenever we want' after they went 4-0 up (the second half was 2-2, I think). If they had played another all-girl team I reckon they could have won a game, but it was not to be. Next time, however...

Sunday morning was the next health check day. This follows on from a colon cancer and hepatitis check (results available from tomorrow) and the annual medical on Friday; today was barium time. For those not in the know this is good for knowing if you have stomach cancer - you drink liquid barium and then they take lots of photos on a weird rig thing that turns you over and around and upside down. Personally I think filling your stomach with radioactive barium is a jolly good way to give yourself stomach cancer, but apparently I am wrong in this (or maybe some bit of it).

Anyway as I'm going to run the marathon the guru said I had to get as much of my health checked as possible as she does not want me to keel over whilst running (sensible girl), and as the barium check this is free, organised by the local ward office, then one would be silly not to take it. So off we trooped to Itabashi ward office this morning, after not eating or drinking (no water even) from 10pm on Saturday night to get the job done. There isn't much to write about really, as it was all done with typical ruthless Japanese efficiency, even down to providing the laxative necessary to expel the barium gloop from the other end sometime this evening (took the thing at 2pm and still no sign of Niagara Falls...).

What was not operating with ruthless Japanese efficiency, however, was the Denny's just over the road from the ward office. As you can imagine the first thing a big bunch of people who haven't eaten or drunk anything for over 12 hours is going to do is make a bee-line for the nearest restaurant --> Itabashi Denny's. Waiting 20 minutes just to get a cup of coffee - the first of the day - is not going to make one happy, and the food was cold as well. It was the same for everyone in there and so it was not a happy atmosphere. The staff kept apologising but they were fighting a losing battle - better coordination with the ward office needed, I think.

On top of all that I got a couple of runs in as well. I didn't do the 10km again, but a 5.3km on Saturday in 25m 58s; and a 7.3km this evening in 36m 35s, both of which I was happy with. Felt a bit ropey after the Saturday run (it had been a long day) but much better tonight (even though I kept worrying the the ex-lax would suddenly kick in and I'd have to dive into the bushes for an emergency evacuation a la Monty Python's Marathon for Incontinents). Luckily I made it home safely.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

I know, I know...

I *should* have gone out running last night, but as it was the end of my working week (Thursday and Friday off as it's half term) I had a few beers and watched Valkyrie instead (which was quite good even though you knew what was going to happen in the end).

So anyway I went out tonight and to make up for it I did my first 10k run. I clocked a respectable 52m 05s, which I think is respectable anyway. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it was slightly longer than 10k as there is a big dogleg over a tributary and I think the distance is measured on the river not the riverbank. We'll see on Saturday as I'll do a 10k going up the other way (with hopefully no doglegs) and see what the time is (I was hoping for a 50m or slightly under tonight).

Not good pain wise though as I have a sore left calf/Achilles (again) and the right knee feels iffy, soI'd have to put that at a 4/10, the highest for a while.

Other than that today we went to *another* park, this time one in Shinanomachi (near Shinjuku). Again this was an adventure playground stylee thing, but certainly less bucolic than Abiko Shrine on Sunday. But it was fun and the little fella had a good time. It was also, oddly, chock-full of French kids with their (French) mums. This is not a bad thing, I hasten to add, just odd as it felt like a lot of families - maybe they had arranged a big playdate (there's a weird expression, playdate, it's probably American; when I was a kid it was called 'going to your mate's house after school': I agree playdate is easier, but it sounds so...American) because the Lycee is on half term as well. I don't know, but it was nice anyway.

Then we had lunch and wandered back past other, less inspiring, parks and the, more inspiring, national stadium, (but which I'm not sure they use much anymore - it seemed a bit on the rundown side).

Tomorrow, however, is health check up day... (oh joy)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Monday night

Out again tonight, 7.3K in 36m 27s, which for that distance is pretty good so happy with the time. Felt good and right knee felt pretty stable so hopefully getting stronger there.

Didn't get the chance to go out yesterday as we went to this shrine place. It is in a place called Abiko and the reason we went there was to save the world. As I'm now writing this I think we can safely say 'mission accomplished' but in a very real way not in a rubbish way like certain former US presidents.

Well sort of. It was all about Feng Shui, which the guru is most into. You write down your wishes, work out which direction from your house is best to travel and then go to a shrine in that direction, the further the better I think, take your letter with wishes on and pray. In the end it all becomes true so fingers crossed. Naturally one of my wishes for politico types to put an end to war in the word so watch this space as it could be happening to local armed conflict near you anytime soon. Our premium direction was northeast, hence Abiko and luckily enough it was northeast for both of us - if your feng shui isn't aligned properly you have to go in different directions apparently - dashed clever the ancient Chinese monk fellows, or whoever invented it.

Anyway we went, we prayed and then I took lots of photos with my new birthday camera. Some of the shots are quite good, but I did make the mistake of leaving it on a really high ISO setting from last time so a lot of the really sharp detail has blurred a bit. Oh well, you live and learn.

Next to the shrine, which really was in the middle of nowhere (part of north Chiba) was a jolly little sort of country park thing (I mean it was little and jolly, not that it was jolly little), with open grassy spaces, ponds, a bbq area (with food supplied) and a little but super adventure playground. So after the shrine we lunched on bbq'd food and then Marcus attempted the play ground. It was great as it had about 20 big wooden obstacle things you had to crawl, jump, balance or climb in, out, through, up, down, under, over and any other prepositions you can think of. Marcus did most of them and was most chuffed by the end, as were his admiring parents. In fact we were all so chuffed we had ice creams to celebrate.

To be honest, however, dad was most chuffed by the fact it was free to get in.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

This afternoon's run...

Was an 8K wander along the riverbank, this was good as it was the longest I have run for a while, certainly since the marathon came along, and overall it was fine.

Whilst I was running I was thinking about politics. I know, I know, but it happens sometimes and once it starts there isn't much you can do to stop it (well, apart from think about sex, but that's not good when one is running - the bulges can get in the way...)

Anyway what I was thinking about was the fact that a lot of politics has gone on since I last wrote about politics on this blog, and that's not good (not good that I haven't written about it, I mean, it's ok that lots of politics has gone on). That isn't good mainly because we've had a few politicians that I haven't given nicknames to, which is most remiss on my part. So we had the Kool Kid (Koizumi) and Silent (Shinzo Abe) and I think that was the last of them that I named.

So, in a better-late-than-never offering can I propose, after Silent we got the Fuckwit (Fukuda) and Short Step (Aso - as in It's only a Short Step from Aso to Asshole) until we come to the present incumbent of the job (I wanted to say where he lived, e.g. the present incumbent of 10 Downing St or the Elysee Palace, but I don't know what the official residence of the JPM is).

Anyway the new guy is Yukio Hatoyama, he is the first non-Liberal Democratic Party (who, lest we forget, were neither liberal nor democratic) PM in years (well, from 1993 to 1996 we had Hosokawa (Japan New), (mad) Hata (Renewal - whoever the fuck that was) and Murayama (Socialist) but apart from that...). So since 1945 we had 64 years minus 3 of LDP and this year the electorate threw them out. Why? Because they were shite and at last people realised it. By the way I knew they were shite ages ago but I'm not allowed to vote so no one else gives a toss what I think.

So Hatoyama is a bit like Obama in the US - he's new, new's not from the old guard and he's making a load or really good sounding promises that he just isn't going to be able to deliver on. You know the sort of thing, an end to pork-barrel building projects, less corruption, no more amakudari, incentives to have children, that sort of thing. He's also a Democrat (but not a Liberal Democrat) which means he and Obama should get on well. However he isn't black, or the Japanese equivalent which would be Ainu, so the parallels stop there.

Anyway he needs a nickname and this, returning to my opening theme, was what I was thinking about whilst running this afternoon. But as I couldn't think of a decent nickname it can't have been that successful a run. OK, I admit Fuckwit isn't particularly original or that difficult to think of, but Fukuda really was one. I'd like to think of something a bit better for Yukio so I think I'll wait a bit, see which of his big election promises nosedives first.

So to the run - 8K in 38m 59s (which is pretty darned good going even if I say it myself - puts me in a 3h 46m marathon time (allowing for slowing) according to Runners World's calculator thingy, to which I say 'no, no, sub 5 hours is fine with me!). Pain factor again only 3/10, some left achillies and right knee issues, but nothing too bad and both seem OK now at 11pm. The most important thing, however, was that at the end of 8K I didn't feel I had to stop - it was nice to, but I could have carried on. Important that.

Tomorrow we're off to some shrine but might get a cheeky run in later in the afternoon.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Lots of running...

...but no running training tonight; no, Friday night is footy night.

Now I know this throws up a few interesting questions, the first of which is 'I didn't think you could play football...?'. This is both true and, indeed, not true. I cannot do skillful things like dribble (with the ball) or 'beat' players with my silky smooth footwork. However there is a lot to be said for commitment and getting in the way of the opposing players, or, to put it another way, defense. Running around, huffing and, indeed, puffing and stopping other players doing their 'thing' can, in itself, be a thing of beauty. Well, that's what I keep telling myself anyway.

The other question, of course, is what does this have to do with running? Well lots of running around playing football is useful as it is a different kind of running. Usually,when I go out to the riverbank, it's short gentle jog, stop and stretch, long medium/hard run, stop, water, short gentle jog finish. Very little change of pace or direction.

But playing football is good because it is lots of short intense sprints, short recovery time and then short hard sprint again (which is, of course, essentially what Fartlek is all about). Included in this is a lot of changes of direction which good for my iffy knee joints as they need some lateral stress on the tendons. Of course there is the only to real possibility of going over on an ankle or some other such muscular misfortune, but there you go - I'll stop it after Christmas as I would be mightily pissed off if I missed the run with a ruptured achillies after playing football.

Until then I will keep snapping and harrying the opposition. Tonight's pain factor 3/10, got a whack on the left calf and stamp on the right big toe (again) and a smack on the nose (but that shouldn't stop me going out this weekend).

So, 7k tomorrow and I reckon a 9 or 10k might be in the offing for Sunday...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Don't ask why...

But not only have I signed up, but I have actually succeeded in the lottery, for a place in next year's Tokyo Marathon.

Yup, on 28th February 2010 Iwill strap on a pair of running shoes and slog round 26miles, or about 42 kilometers, of Tokyo's finest urban sprawl. I will be aiming to do this in less than 5 hours and then aim to recover in less than 5 weeks. My aims may be lofty, but I think I can reach them...

I have been asking myselfwhy I should sign up for this kind of nonsense and think it is the responsibility of my mate Dave who... (aside, everyone in the world has, according to an immutable universal law, a mate called Dave. These Dave characters do stuff so their mates can begin stories with 'well, my mate Dave who...'. But it does beg the question, do people called Dave have mates called Dave...?). Anyway my mate Dave who lives in Bangkok and who has done the Bangkok marathon twice was over in Japan a while back and during a drunken conversation a plan was hatched that we would do the Tokyo marathon with Steve as well. Now Steve totally denies he ever agreed to it and I'm not sure Dave ever applied, but I did and I'm in.

I have been running at weekends (and the odd evening) for a good few years now, indeed my MBA was written on the back on 5K runs on Sunday afternoons - very good for clearing the mind of clutter, I usually started the run with a question or a 'how am I going to do this tricky bit of [plagiarism/editorial vandalism/statistics]?' and by the end I would have had an epiphany and the next section would be written.

But big jump from a 5K on a Sunday afternoon to 42K on Sunday morning, but we'll give it a crack. I've already started regular evening runs and will start upping my weekend distances soon. I may even drastically cut my alcohol intake from January onwards! Yes, it's that serious...

Anyway, that means that this blog will now become my online journal of running and pain. I shall log runs, times and all that stuff, along with breathtaking insights on how really dull it is (apparently) to run by yourself for 20 or 30 kilometers.

So tonight, 5.3Km, 26m 59s, slight precipitation in the air with some thunder and lightning, along the riverbank. Pain factor 2/10, felt pretty good but disappointed with the time (best is 25m 05s) as thought it was faster, some right knee issues whilst running but nothing severe.