I went up to Vermont this weekend (forgoing both my Saturday and Sunday runs), so pre-emptively, the miles below are mega-suckage.
Things I learned up on the farm:
1) Maple syrupin’ season is over for the year. You’re all too late.
2) Wide angle lenses (#4, check!) rock my socks. Particularly useful for covered bridges.
3) NH is considerably less attractive than VT.
4) Hungarians get really excited about Tokaji.
5) There is a limit to the amount of sharpness I want in my cheddar cheese. The 8-year “rat trap” sample? Too strong.
6) I’m not embarrassed to admit I drink my tea from a dainty cup.
7) Pygmy goats are less evil than the normal sized buggers.
8) Maija may very possibly (and lamentably) have it in for my parents.
The mental effects of skipping across fourteen time zones have been surprisingly persistent. Maybe this is a normal part of getting older but it’s taken me a solid week back from Japan to renormalize my internal clock, sleep & energy-wise. Passing out at 9pm and wide awake at 3 or 4am. Only one run of note this week was my long on Saturday. I pushed the first 11 miles, either at current marathon PR pace or (for miles 8 & 9) at goal BQ pace. Last three I started to feel sick and pretty much cruised it home. But honestly the best part of the run was HOW FRIGGIN WARM it was. Spring has come, winter has fallen. Even the certainty that we’ll have more snow before it’s finally finally over can’t dampen my mood.
I got my number for next weekend’s marathon in Wilmington, North Carolina – I’ll be number 113, which I’ll take as a good sign. I don’t think there’s online running tracking, but here’s the map of the course. This will be the first double loop marathon I think I’ve done. I’m hoping to go faster than Tokyo, if even by a minute or two. 3:33 would be a nice round goal (an 8:07 split). We’ll see. Still dealing with a small left knee hyperextension issue. :/
An off mileage week coming off my third marathon of 2014. I’m not too bothered by this as I spent pretty much the entire week on my feet. I’m not sure of the proper way to do a restful vacation but my way tends to be to carry my camera as far as I can before I collapse. A brief recap of my week – last Sunday I ran the Tokyo marathon. Monday I kicked around Tokyo, Tuesday spent the day running & walking in Yokohama, Wednesday took the Shinkansen to Hiroshima, Thursday took a ferry to Miyajima, Friday back to Yokohama for dinner with Keiko’s sister’s family, Saturday did Yokohama again (with company this time) and Sunday flew home. I flirted with the idea of doing a long run Sunday after arriving back in Boston but my internal clock was screwed up enough that the final decision was for an extra rest day. My full set of photos from the trip (were you so inclined) is here.
Next up race wise, one week off then another pair of marathons – Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, NC on 3/16 followed a week later by the Georgia Marathon in Atlanta on 3/23. When I originally set up the plan for these two races I didn’t realize I’d be going to do Tokyo so now they feel a bit like afterthoughts but I’m excited about them regardless for a few reasons. First off, I’m stoked to see YJP in North Carolina – she’s picking me up in Raleigh & running the half in Wilmington. Second, I haven’t been to Georgia in a good number of years. I’ve had mixed emotions about the state since things fell apart for me there however long ago. I won’t be going to Athens on this trip, but I’m still excited to see Atlanta again. Both trips are structured as quick in & outs, flying down on Saturday and home Sunday after the race, which is good for work purposes but maybe not so good for smelling pretty on the airplane.
Song of the week, Big in Japan by Tom Waits.
One Response to “I got the rooster, I got the crow. I got the ebb, I got the flow”
Tokyo Marathon race recap! This may go on a bit as I tend to ramble.
Flight to Tokyo was interesting – a long non-stop from Boston on the Japan Air 787 Dreamliner. The trippy thing was the sun out my window stayed at the same angle in the sky for like eight hours, before climbing again as we lost latitude.
Day before the race was the expo (which was huge, and packed), then after that we met up with KPH for carbo loading purposes at an “Italian” place called Agio in Shinjuku. Despite our best efforts we learned at the last moment that the plain non-meat tomato sauce did, in fact, have chicken stock in it. It’s difficult to eat vegan in Japan.
Race morning I woke up at 2am and could not go back to sleep. The race had a late start (9:10) so I had hoped to sleep until 6 but my internal clock is still messed up. At 4am I gave up going back to sleep and decided to get up for real. Had coffee & bagel (with travel peanut butter courtesy of Chrissy).
At 8am I walked the few blocks to the start. I was able to find D right outside security, fortuitous. We went in, found our baggage trucks then split up as our respective corrals were in different directions. I was in Corral D which was on the same street as the start – I could see the grandstand and so on while the announcer was doing their thing. At first they were doing both Japanese and English but at some point just switched over to all Japanese. Still, I got the jist. I was standing next to a woman from Columbus, OH here – I thought it was interesting that I ran Columbus last year while she ran Boston. Also interesting, she was one of the few women in the whole corral – the ratio was easily 100:1 or worse. I don’t know what ratio for the whole race was but my view it was almost all dudes.
Start: The race gets underway with a cannon burst of confetti. As I got closer I realized they were little paper hearts. It was incredibly dense, lots of traffic. I don’t think they started the corrals in waves, I think they just let everyone go at once. People were zigging and zagging every which way. It was clear there were slower runners in the earlier corrals, I had read about & expected this and just worked through it while trying to get up to speed. Start itself was in Shinjuku, then through Shibuya, then on eastward.
12K: The race ran past the Tokyo Tower here, but I completely missed it even though it was right next to the course. I’m not sure how. Sometimes running and being a tourist are contraindications.
15K: I’m looking for KPH & Natsuko here but couldn’t see them in the crowd. Later Natsuko told me she saw me but only when I was on the far side of the course, not when we looped around nearer to where they were standing. Still helpful to know they were there even if I didn’t find them. The crowd was several people deep all along this section.
16K: Some Japanese guy yelled Rock Chalk at me here. Awesome.
20K: “Go Kansas!” Excited to hear this and a push through the half. Around here I give up hope that I’ll magically run into KPH.
Half: There was not timing mat at the half mark so I’m missing that point! Interesting. Not sure what my splits were as the GPS data was unreliable (more on that further down).
27K: There’s a shrine here. Actually this is the Asakusa Kaminarimon Gate (the Thunder Gate), which leads up to Senso-Ji, a shrine I visited the last time I was in Tokyo.
30K: Back along the flow of the course again. Here I start actively looking for D coming back the other direction, and this occupies my time (I never see him, unfortunately). I’m starting to struggle a bit here, and take two half bananas, which help. I don’t finish my sports beans, which was probably a mistake. I have some nausea from here on out.
32K: I swear to you, it was snowing here. Or frozen misting, or something. I felt it hitting my face. Generally speaking, this race was cold. I was thinking I’d warm up as the day went on, but never really did. I’m really glad I decided to wear the long sleeve compression layer. After the race was over I was fairly well hypothermic in the finishing queue.
35K: Struggling. Crowds are sparser but not non-existent like I had read happened in the past. I decide to kick my headphones in around here for the first time in the race though. It’s more anti-social but I’m running head down focused on the road trying to hang on to my dwindling pace at this point.
Finish: I finally find the 42K marker around the final turn. There’s a false finish structure type thing here you run through that says 195M to go til the real finish. I pull it together and finish things the best I can. My final time (both watch and chip) is 3:36:17. Not a PR, but it’s among my faster times (it’s actually my 5th fastest behind Chicago, Nashville, Austin and Bayshore). There’s quite a walk from the finish to get medals, water, swag bag. I am sick sick sick during this part, and am freezing. Much like Nashville, severe thermal regulation issues for the next hour, even after I make it inside the conference center. Which for whatever reasons has concrete floors and no places to sit.
The numbers: I don’t want to get too hung up on the numbers for this race since my main goal was the experience, not as a goal race. But still, I am the type of person I am so here’s some of my thought process on my race results. First, I couldn’t get a GPS lock at the start, so I knew from the beginning that my distance might be a bit off. Hindsight being what it is, I should have planned to switch the watch to kilometers, or even just skipped GPS for a watch and 5K split goal list. Anyway. I thought I was running 7:30 miles for the first half of the race, which would have been well below my PR pace. But the “miles” my watch was reporting were less than a mile, due to the interference from tall buildings (you can see my “path” zig zag around like crazy on the above blowup of my GPS map. That said, looking at official the 5K mat splits I actually was under PR pace through 25K, and only 8 seconds behind at 30K. I didn’t realize this, unfortunately. I thought I was well ahead of PR pace and at what I thought was the ~20 mile mark (in actuality, it was closer to 19) I calculated I could run the last six miles at an energy conserving 8:30 split and finish under my best – this was not the case. At each mark where I was able to recalculate the goal kept shifting, and it wasn’t until the last 4K or so where I realized I had fallen off pace. That was a little disappointing. I think part of the mistake was giving myself mental permission to ease off. This isn’t the end game mindset that’s going to be required to BQ in the future, and merely beating my own prior best shouldn’t be a sufficient goal. Finishing as strong as possible should be. I know this sounds obvious but I’m writing it now so that the next time my race-fuzzeled brain is dealing with this scenario the decision will already have been made.
Official splits from here, in comparison to my current PR race from Chicago.
All in all, the race was a positive experience. My 20th marathon. It kinda blows my mind when I think on them in aggregate.
Next up! A week of vacation in Japan. But next up race-wise, Wrightsville Beach Marathon in three weeks (with YJP!), and the Georgia Marathon a week after that.
My last long run is done. Next weekend, Tokyo. I’m not sure what I’m going to aim for yet, time-wise. I’d like to be fast, the course looks fast, but I’ve also read it can be crowded and that costumed club runners fill the first corral and can impede the flow. So executive decision to not be upset if my time is above where it might otherwise be. Let’s do this for the experience, and worry about blasting away on a quieter day.
I’m not sure if I’ll be posting updates here, but will for sure on twitter/instagram. See you on the other side.
Song of the week, Everything is Free, by Gillian Welch.
I’m leaving in 11 days for Japan where I’ll be running in the Tokyo Marathon. Assuming all goes well, this will be my 20th race at this distance. I like that, a nice even number. The pace of preparations has been picking up this past week. More reservations made, more plans finalized, more hotels, more papers and passes bought & sold. We will travel by bus and cab and shinkansen. By freaking Dreamliner! This is the first time I’ve ever run overseas, and while I’m nervous in the same way I’m always nervous before a marathon, I’m nervous in new and different ways. Lots of things are unforeseeable. I am trying my best to guess my way through what will happen based on misunderstandings I’ve had in Japan in the past. I guess we’ll see.
Training this week was pretty good. I got a solid 17 miles in Saturday for the “last long” of any real effort of this cycle. I’ll probably run 13 miles next weekend to come down into my taper. I’ve been trying to do some up-tempo work on the treadmill at the end of a mid-range run – this week that was my Thursday run where I did three sub-7:00 miles after 4 @ 8:00. I wanted to do more by the treadmill kept shutting down on me while running at the higher rate, entering cool-down mode at random times. This has been happening more often at my Longwood gym (the BodyScapes in Coolidge Corner has newer treadmills and I’ve had fewer problems there).
I haven’t discussed it here much as it’s hard to see past this trip, but two weeks after I get home from Japan I’ll be doing the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, and the week after that, to Atlanta for the Georgia Marathon. No need to stress about those two quite yet. But still, they’re coming. Fortunately YJP will be in North Carolina with me.
Song of the week, Tides by Hey Marseilles.
One Response to “You can’t deny the shore its tide”
The past two years on Superbowl Sunday I’ve run the Super Sunday 5. This year I decided against it, and I’ve been trying not to regret that (I’ve rather enjoyed that race). That said, I had two good runs this weekend, the first 9+ with Christine on Saturday that ended a bit prematurely with coffee in the North End, the second 15.1 miles out on the marathon course.
My last race to tune-up for the Tokyo Marathon was today, the Boston Prep 16 miler (my third time running this event). I didn’t get my best time, finishing in 2:06:54, 136th place of 508 finishers. So slower than last year, faster than two years ago. But today had it’s own special set of challenges, with extreme cold and packed snow scattered throughout the course. I had some trouble breathing (I couldn’t breathe at all through my nose, and my lungs weren’t working quite right). Anyway. A few photos.
Song of the week, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? by Waylon Jennings.
I’ve wanted to do a double marathon since October 2012 (when my original New Hampshire/Maine plan was foiled by gravity and shitty ankle ligaments). This weekend, I finally got it done. I’ve tried & failed to be brief, regardless, my double recap.
I flew into Mobile, Alabama early on Friday morning and drove three hours (in a super tiny Fiat 500) to Jackson, Mississippi. A more culturally inappropriately vehicle I can’t imagine. Despite having lived in Georgia for three years I’ve only ever been to Alabama once before (on a cross state road trip slowed by one of our tires melting to the highway), so was excited to see the state.
Race #1 on Saturday in Jackson was the Mississippi Blues Marathon. My hotel was a half mile from the expo and start area at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The expo itself was on the small side of things, but did have a stage with couple guys playing blues which was great (I sat for a while but didn’t catch their name). The swag bag had the normal crap but also a blues cd and a harmonica, which is sweet. For dinner I found a local “healthy” restaurant (Adobo) on the way back to the hotel – I had the pre-race special, turkey lasagna.
Race morning #1, I woke at 1am to the sound of heavy rain, not what I had been hoping for. The weather report the day before had maxed at an 80% chance of precipitation on race day. I went back to sleep until up for good at 3am, and fortunately the rain had stopped (it never came back). At 4am I went downstairs for a cup of the “24 hour” coffee but the lady setting up breakfast chased me out of the kitchen for ‘health code reasons’. I lurked around the lobby until she acquiesced.
At 6:15 I walked down to the start, weather was low 40s, gently cold, short shirt sleeves. The race started west, through Jackson State where there was a university band playing. The course runs through the center of campus, past where the two students were killed by police in 1970. Looping back around past the start, where there’s a bunch of people who we just left 3 1/2 miles earlier are cheering.
Most of the rest of the course had rolling hills throughout. A study of contrast, neighborhood-wise, running through some extremely wealthy neighborhoods at mile ~7 and ~17 between poorer neighborhoods closer to the highways. The elevation profile didn’t look horrible but the hills were definitely tiring. Half was at 1:54, about where I had been hoping.
Nearing the end of the race I had some doubts of sticking my four hour goal, particularly around miles 21-23 where we were running parallel to the interstate in direct sun (my splits went above 10:00 for two miles here, I don’t like this). Fortunately I was able to bring down the pace for the last few miles to finish with a 3:57:38, good for 172nd (of 828 finishers). The announcer guy said my name as I’m coming across the finish line, I love this! Contrary to my registration he says Boston not Allston, which makes me happy.
After the race I grab some salty soup & Gatorade and sit for a bit in the art garden. I talk to a woman from Nashville who ran the half in last year’s downpour – she says she would have liked a little light rain today for the cloud cover but I can’t really agree, the Jackson weather is lovely. Unfortunately I have to pass up a trip to the interesting looking Iron Horse as well as a blues crawl the race puts on to head back to Mobile for race #2.
After a painfully crampy drive I roll into Mobile at 5pm. Race #2 is called the First Light Marathon, a fundraiser for L’Arche Mobile, an organization that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Mobile area. The expo itself is pretty much adjacent to my hotel which is fantastic, as after the morning’s race and a 3+ hours in the car I’m of strongly mixed emotions regarding my need to simultaneously stretch my legs and rest. I get my bib, shirt and a pretty sweet handmade plaque for the Back2Back runners and then wander down towards the waterfront to find food. The bar I end up in for dinner has football on, and as Mobile is only two hours from New Orleans everyone there is big into the Saints. Who unfortunately are in the process of getting pounded by Seattle. At 7pm I migrate back to my hotel hoping to sleep early but end up staying up til 10:30 watching the Patriots beat the Colts.
Sunday morning I wake a little later than usual, at 4:30am. Force myself to eat despite no desire whatsoever. Force down coffee, unpleasant. I have strong nausea, like my gut has been tipped off to the day’s plan and is objecting the only way it knows how. I text with Hondo & YJP a bit, fishing for an out but they talk me back from the edge. The line that does it – “You knew this would be a scary undertaking.” I don’t want to be afraid of failing just because something is hard or tough or scary. I will try.
The race start is two blocks from my hotel, super convenient. It’s a fairly small race, 1100 people total, roughly half of those in the full. I’ve decided to wear the Back2Back shirt because it’s the lightest long sleeve I have. This has two benefits – one it’s white so when it gets sunny later in the race it’s not so bad. Two people keep talking to me about Jackson throughout the course of the race, which is cool. I know 400+ people are running Back2Back so it’s not terribly unique but having the shirt on opens it up as a topic.
As for the race itself – it was just tough. The simplest way to explain it is like this – a marathon is usually hard at the end, when the body starts running out of gas. Sometimes that happens earlier, sometimes later, and super rarely, it never quite happens. This second race was tough from the very beginning. Tough at the start, tough at mile 3, at 9, 12. I mentally broke the race into 9×3 and tried to run it 1/9th at a time.
Mile 10 was notable – we crossed over the interstate and passed by a large church playing a bell tape. This was a strong reminder of my dad’s old church in Wamego. I took my headphones out and listened till they faded.
I hit the half mark around 1:59 (5 minutes behind day 1) but I had no illusions well before then regarding my 4 hour goal for this second day.
Pre-race Hondo & I decided that 14.5-17.5 was all downhill – I spent a lot of time thinking about this in the first half. It turned out to be mostly accurate, and this part of the course was also a race highlight, looping down through Spring Hill College. There were swamps here several signs here say Beware Snakes & Alligators! Sadly I saw none.
A note on the trees – Mobile reminded me of New Orleans in that there are these giant oaks everywhere with huge beautiful branches covered in moss or some other kind of green growth. None of the photos I have of them are particularly good but it’s a striking visual, and they make for really great shade.
At mile 18 I looked east and saw the mobile skyline and was like holy hell that’s a far way off, we have to run back there? Luckily around this point I scored a banana and a cup of gummi bears – the gummi bear song occupies my mouth and brain for the next three miles. These are my single most favorite “I’ve run too far but have to keep going” emergency race food – thank you, whoever it was that handed me these.
The last five or so miles were dull compared to the gator zone, mostly a straight shot back along some road we had already run and decent stretches without shade. Not much in the way of cheering along the course, but this was made up for by the crowd in the last couple blocks of Dauphin Street. The field was so spread out far enough that I’m pretty sure the crowd response was for me. The guy on the mic shouts “finishing the double, I’ve been there man” and with that finish it I do. My final time was 4:08:09, a 9:28 split, good for 156th place of 533 finishers. It’s the slowest time I’ve run in the last half dozen or so marathons but I’m not particularly bothered by this, all things considered.
The race medal is awesome. At first I wasn’t sure about my pink ribbon but then I noticed it matches my new 1400s perfectly, a sign. The medal, like my plaque, was handmade by a resident of L’arche Mobile. I honestly like it much better than the giant guitar from Jackson.
Post race, grubbed up some food and liquids in the park, listening to a zydeco-type band. My choice of a powdered donut is a poor post-race snack, hydration-wise, it turns out. I reluctantly had to limp back to my hotel far too soon to address some gnarly left foot blister issues and check out before they confiscate my luggage.
After dealing with the hotel I come back down to the finish area to find a beer & real food and some more football. After that I found my way over to tour the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park for a while, though I’m in pain and not terribly mobile to be scrambling up metal ladders. And lastly two interminable connecting flights back to Boston which is where I’m writing this up.
So that’s it. Two marathons in two days. Easy as falling off a bike, you could definitely do it if you wanted to. That said, I don’t know that I’ll be trying this again, but I know better to not rule it out while I am as bone dead tired as I am right now.
Song of the week, You’re The Only Thing In Your Way by Cloud Cult.
I’m not sure that I’ve done the absolute best I could do to prepare for my races next weekend, but there’s not much I can do about it at this point. For the next four days I’ll try to taper down, taking an easy week. Friday early I’m flying to Mobile, AL and then will drive up to Jackson, MS. On Saturday I’ll be running the Mississippi Blues Marathon, then drive back to Mobile. Saturday night I hope I’ll be able to stay awake to watch the Patriots play (and beat) the Colts. And Sunday morning, I’ll wake early again and run the First Light Marathon. And then I’ll fly home.
That’s the plan anyway. It could work out well. Or blow up in my face. My goal is to finish both races in under four hours.
This past week was pretty good for me. I got some more miles in Melrose through the snow without getting hit by a snowplow. Today’s long run in Boston along the Charles was less perilous, sun was out and it almost felt like spring. The river is frozen still but really wanting to melt. The bar chart below shows 8 & 34 miles for weeks 53 & 1 but in reality that’s a normal 42 mile week to start 2014.