Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's Cricket

I heard that Australia is in the final of the "World Cup of Cricket." Thought I'd post this by way of congratulations. If I had to pick one thing that I love most about Australia I'd say it would have to be cricket.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What to do?

Coming down a bit after Nagano and Tokyo. For the past six months I've been training with an aim for both marathons and now they are over I'm having a rest after rediscovering the element "IDONTGIVEASHITIUM."

Enough of that, I reckon, now I'm going to have to find myself a new goal. Still, that's not as easy as just picking a new race as it is coming into summer here and unless I head way north I won't find any marathons run under 30 degrees.

I'm thinking of simply running "for fun" over the summer and starting up racing again in the "Fall" with a 10K and a half in late September or early October and a race in November, maybe another half and a full marathon in December of this year.

I'm a bit worried that I might not be able to stay focused over the summer so I think I'll use this time to try to get a 3K PB by myself by the end of August. That should keep me healthy, busy and occupied.

Anyway if you "DOGIVEASHITIUM" let me know what you think?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nagano more details


The temperature really climbed between the time I left my hotel 6:30am and the time of the race 8:30am、from 3 degrees to 14 degrees. Milling around the start area I was struck by the light atmosphere, people were going about their preparations often commenting on what a lovely morning it was. For warm up I jogged 5 laps of a 1K dirt covered track that was lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom. As you turned the first corner of this track you caught sight of a massive mountain range covered top 20% with snow. This contrasted against the deep blue sky and the pink of the cherry trees and was really a sight to see. Everyone was smiling and anticipating a great race.

The first 10 Kilometers: 1st 5km split 23:21 the 2nd 22:42

The first kilometer was totally straight and flat, followed by 2- 90 degree turns which resulted in you running in the opposite direction on a neighboring road. At the 2.6 kilometer point you make a sharp turn-around which then set you on your way to the main part of the course. This is run though the city proper and there were people lined three deep in places cheering us runners on.

Most of the way, you run on soft asphalt, however there were patches of hard cement between the 3-8 kilometer points. We ran under a train line just after the 4 kilometer point which is a steep downhill followed by uphill where the road was kind of rough. Still nothing that would slow anyone down at this point.

The course opened up even more at the 5 Km point as you entered the heart of the city. The roads were wider and the pack thinned out a great deal. There was a 300 m long incline leading up to the 6 Km mark. Just in front of the famous Zenkoji temple you turned left where the pace really picked up due to a 500m downhill stretch. Everyone was seemly cruising as we hadn’t even reached the 7km point yet. We then ran past Central Square (site of the medal ceremonies for the Olympics) and ran through central Nagano. Then it was another 2 kilometers to “Big Hat” (site of the Olympic hockey finals) and the 10 Km point. It was around this point that I struck up a conversation with “Adam”. A thirty something Englishman, a strapping fellow that looked to be doing it easy and around my pace. Turned out that Adam is a triathlete doing his first marathon and a friend of Stephen Lacey belonging to the same running club in Tokyo. Adam also had on a new Garmin that was beeping like mad. It sounded like some crazed cicada but it was rather reassuring as I knew we were on pace for a 3:15 finish.

10 Km to 25 Km: 3rd 5km split 23:13, the 4th 23:05, 5th 22:39

The stretch from Big Hat to the next Olympic Venue, “M-Wave” had nice new and flat roads. Between 10 Km and 15 Km, there were not the crowds of the first 10. The temperature was climbing but still comfortable I almost wanted to stop and take a break to glance at the different views. Adam and I took advantage of this stretch to talk and relax a bit.

However, the heart of the race was yet to come, and as you passed the 15 Km mark, we again enter a prime “cheering zone” and M- Wave came into view. On this stretch up to the 17 Km point you were able to see all the runners that were ahead of you coming back on the opposite side of the road. This helped to keep us on pace.

From M-Wave to the 19 Km point it was a flat stretch. Very easy to run however there was a little head wind here that only got worse as we ran over the 2 km long Gorin Bridge. It wasn’t too bad though and we didn’t lose any pace.

The 25 Km point brought us to the next point of interest on the course, “White Ring” (the venue for the figure skating at the Olympics). It was here that I thought I might be starting to feel the race in my legs as they were getting heavier and I ran a little faster to compensate, don’t know if this was a good idea.

25 Km to Finish:  6th 5km split 23:58, the 7th 24:22, 8th 25:24

There was no reason to hold back any longer but it was from the 30th K that I really started to think this isn’t going to be easy to finish off. The stretch to Km 33 was straight on nice winding bicycle path asphalt trails, and the only difference after that is that from Km 33 to 39 we were going in the opposite direction on the other side of the river! The wind played a factor in this part of the race and it seemed to last forever. I lost Adam at a drink station and I was by myself with my thoughts and tiring body. The finish point, the Olympic stadium came into view from kilometer 33 on the left, and reaching it was all I was thinking about from that point on! This part of the course ran alongside the Chikuma river, the longest running river in Japan. There are fruit orchards (apple, pear and peach) whose flowers were in full bloom at this time of year making for attractive scenery.

At km 39 we went over the last of 3 bridges coming up a slight rise on to this last bridge I had a strange feeling like I was running the wrong way on one of those moving airport walkways. I knew I was really in trouble from that point. Then we headed into the final 3 km home stretch. This section was tough for me I thought of my fellow bloggers/runners and dug deep as it was all I could do to not stop.

Finishing in an Olympic stadium was exhilarating but it was a bit of a blur, I must have looked in trouble cause several Japanese spectators took the time to scream at me in their best English, stuff like “good luck” and “Go fight!” The Olympic track was covered with some really soft spongy substance that almost buckled my legs after coming off the hard concrete through the tunnel into the stadium. It felt like I was running on a bloody waterbed.

Everyone was cheering us on and after making a small sprint to the line I was interviewed/filmed and asked to make an appeal to my fellow countrymen to “Come to Nagano” for next year’s 10th anniversary of this marathon. This I did with as much effort as I could still muster.

Later at restaurant with my new found mate Adam, drinking beer eating pizza like it was our last meal, we reflected on how great this sport is. And coming back on the train to Osaka I promised myself that I would PB in my next race as well.

I have played high level rugby and surfed waves the size of apartment blocks but nothing has given such thrills, satisfaction and feelings of anticipation that running does. I think I have found my sport. It's really a terrific sport isn't it? I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted when I say that.

Total time 3:19:42

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nagano race report

Well, it was an interesting kind of weekend. Started off with a bit of a scare. Friday morning woke up with definite headcold symptoms and went to bed early to try to nip it in the bud. Saturday morning felt better but by Sat night I felt bad again runny nose, headache, and the start of a cough.

I stayed in my hotel room and I swear had I not been such a hard bastard, I would have cried ;) Anyway after a restless sleep and a few prays I woke the morning of the race feeling much better, I still had a runny nose but chest seemed clear. It helped too when I looked out my window to see the dawn of a clear crisp day.

Anyway to get to the point, blog details later, the race was good, fantastic course with mountain ranges caped with snow on one side and cherry and plum blossoms on the other. I'd say it's the most scenic course I've run so far. The weather was 14 degrees at the start, much warmed than predicted, and 18 at the finish. If it wasn't for the head wind between 35 and 40kms it was the perfect conditions/race.

As for my performance, well I hit the wall at the 35km mark and felt then that my race had finished but sucked it up and thought I can't come back to this blog with bad news, but I can tell you I really think I would have stopped for a rest if it wasn't for me thinking the other runners I know always try their best I'm not going to give up today.

Those last 7kms were some of the hardest I've ever run but I'm happy to say that I managed to finish off and record a PB that was a good 5mins faster than my previous one.

Total time 3:19:42

Overall pretty pleased with the day and effort again thanks for your support. I'm heading toward 3hrs, it may take me longer than anticipated but with your help, good advice and encouragement, I know now I can do it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The right temperature?

I was reading on "Speedygeoff's blog" that the forecast for this Sunday's Canberra Marathon is "fine and sunny, 9 minimum, 26 maximum". The forecast for this Sunday's Nagano Marathon is "cloudy later sunny, 3 minimum, 15 maximum".

I'd be interested to know what you people think about what the ideal weather/conditions are for running a marathon, and why. I guess that for all but the Queenslanders 26 degrees would be a bit too hot :p

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring has sprung

Attempted a 5KTT today. I couldn't get out till the afternoon and it was windy as usual but managed to do 3:40 1st K, 3:43 2nd K, 3:45 3rd K, 3:50 4th K and then stopped as I was getting a side stitch. Pushed my hand into my guts and took some deep ones and after 2 mins rest took off for the last 1K angry with myself for not being able to finish off the 5th K straight. Anyway, pushed the last one and did it in 3:30, so I kind of made up for it.

One week to go after today and its smooth sailing as the taper really kicks in from Monday. My wife is back from overseas so all is right in my little piece of the world today. The photo, of my family, was taken today. Note the cherry blossoms in the background. Spring has finally sprung.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Godless Liberal

I found this while following some links from Steve Lacey's blog. Pretty funny stuff.The cat at the end probably best sums up my attitude to organised religion.