A new documentary about the Barkley marathons dropped. This one, at 1:16hrs, follows Canadian Gary Robbins over the course of his attempt to finish the Barkeley in 2016 and 2017, suitably called where dreams come to die. As a reminder, the Barkeley is an annual race held at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee every April. It is a 5-loop race total 100 miles where runners have to retrieve pages from books that match their bib numbers. In addition to sleep deprivation, extreme exhaustion, weather, altitude changes. It’s one of the most legendary races in the world.
Amazing documentary, well worth sitting down and watching.
I’ll stop posting about packing updates because it’s making me depressed and very stressed.
I wish I have the motivation to go out and take a walk or go for a run. Sigh.
Anyway, a town in Texas will hold a 0.5k in May. That’s not a typo, the race is all of half a kilometer. The race starts at a local brewery (free beer), there’s a doughnut & coffee stop at 150m, and the race ends at another local brewery (more free beer). There’s the usual t-shirt and medals.
There’s even a VIP option, where for an extra $25, the VIPs get to go from start to finish in a 1963 VW bus. They still get the free beers too.
Proceeds go to a charity that provides food for underprivileged children. It all seems so much fun. I think they should expand it, who needs Rock’n’Roll races when there are 0.5ks to be organised.
Last weekend was the Boston Marathon. The unsurprising results were in the wheelchair division: Tatyana McFadden and Marcel Hug. In the non-wheelchair division the results were complete surprises–Yuki Kawauchi won the men’s and Desiree Linden won the women’s race. Only one Kenyan in either podium positions–Geoffrey Kirui came second in the men’s race. No Ethiopian, and the women’s podium had 3 North Americans.
The weather contributed a lot to the results. Conditions were horrid, cold and windy and rainy. Which made Kawauchi’s and Linden’s victories all that special.
Desiree Linden is an experienced marathoner, representing the US in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and came 4th at Boston last year. She is also a fabulous team player, slowing down mid-race to wait for Shalane Flanagan and again helping Molly Huddle try to close the gap on the leaders. If that isn’t the epitome of sportsmanship, what is.
Yuki Kawauchi is the first Japanese winner and he’s always been a legend. He participates in an average of one marathon per month. Just this year alone he’s run 4 marathons and look at his results:
Marshfield Road Runners–first
New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi–first
What’s more amazing is he’s still classified as an amateur–he has a full-time job working for the government of Saitama prefecture and unusually for Japanese runners, is not part of an ekiden. Because of his amateur status, he doesn’t have a sponsor although he is eligible to receive prize money. [Edit: he announced after Boston that he is turning pro.]
Brett Larner at japan running news has a detailed account of Kawauchi’s career leading up to Boston. He ran 2:08:27 at Tokyo 2011 and started looking at entering races abroad. Before this year his work schedule didn’t allow him to run Boston, which takes place on a monday. He has run NYC 3 times because the november race falls in a long weekend in japan.
The planning for Boston 2018 began one year earlier. Brett tells the story of meeting Bill Rodgers at a Red Sox game in 2017 and him recording a short video for Kawauchi. The message: “I know you haven’t run Boston yet. You HAVE TO run Boston.”
Kawauchi’s 2018 results show how versatile and tough he is. He finished 3rd on the brutal downhill 6th stage at the Hakone ekiden which shows he can tackle downhill. He won the Marshfield New Year marathon, Marshfield being south of Boston and it was sub-zero in January. Wan Ji Shi in Taiwan was in hot and humid conditions. All his bases were covered as far as possible Boston weather conditions.
That left strategising against the competition. The Kenyans, the Ethiopians, and the Americans, especially Chicago winner Galen Rupp. What became clear was it’s historically impossible to win Boston by going out fast, leading for the first 25k, and not fast enough in the last 10k. Nobody who goes out hard wins Boston.
So what did Kawauchi do?
He went out hard, very hard, 4:37 first mile. He made everyone in the field go out hard too, and played a little psychological warfare with them. They knew they shouldn’t be going out fast, but had to keep up with him, and at the back of their minds is the conventional wisdom of not going out hard. It must have played on the minds of the others. And then he started breaking them one by one. Rupp broke and ended up DNF, as did many others. The only remaining obstacle was Geoffrey Kirui, and he got passed at around 35k.
Kawauchi came to Boston fully prepared for any situation. In the words of outside:
On a day when the conventional running wisdom dictated that it would be absolute suicide to take the lead early and bear the brunt of the gale-force winds, Kawauchi not only took the lead, but jetted out at sub-world record pace for the first mile, opening up a huge gap between himself and the rest of the field.
A few of the stuff that’s happened over the past 2 weeks during nano, part 3. Sports and drinks, not sports drinks, two separate topics.
1a. marathons #1 — elites
The headlines all shouted “Galen Rupp is first American winner of the Chicago Marathon since 2002.” And although some of them clarifies that it’s the first American male since 2002 (last American female was Deena Kastor in 2005) it still feels like a huge, huge disservice to Tatyana McFadden, who has won the women’s wheelchair race fo the past seven years. I swear, paralympic athletes get an even worse deal than women athletes, the sort of media attention they get, ie zero. Not to take away Rupp’s victory, but the blatant inequality really needs to be addressed.
In the NYC marathon, Meb, in his last NYC, finished in 2:15:29, putting the 42 year old in 11th place. The women’s race was won by Shalane Flanagan. So the two big autumn US marathons both had American able-bodied winners. That’s good for the US. Much needed good news for them.
Simon Wheatcroft finished the NYC marathon in 5:17:40. An unremarkable time, but what’s truly remarkable is that he is a blind runner who ran the race solo.
I ran a night race a couple of years ago and there were a number of visually impaired runners. They were just as fast and just as good as able-bodied runners. The route was through part of the country park so the terrain was rough with narrow and winding paths; the runners and their guides negotiated those with ease and I could hear the guides telling the runners to make a right turn or there is a hump coming up. I’m full of admiration for them, as I am with all paralympic athletes.
Wheatcroft suffers from a rare genetic disorder called retinitis pigmentosa, and his sight has gradually deteriorated since he was a teenager. Nowadays, he can distinguish changes in light and darkness, like seeing the world through a fog. He knows when someone stands in front of him, because he sees a blurry shadow, but that’s it. He is also an experienced runner, marathoner and ultramarathoner, previously running with guides and trains by running up and down a straight abandoned road near his home in Doncaster. He memorises routes, obstacles, and navigate along the slightly raised edges of painted double yellow lines along the road.
In recent years, there have been massive inroads made in providing assisted technologies to help visually impaired people “see” by using AI and VR technologies. However, these type of technologies are limited–it requires outside help, or only work in static situations. For instance, a google glass subscription called aira connects the blind person and a sighted person so the sighted assistant can give verbal clues to tell the blind person what they are seeing through the glasses. The subscription costs US$349 per month, which is really expensive. Most assisted technology solutions are built around some sort of visual input and an audio output, but audio output is cumbersome. The Verge:
Imagine a Siri or Alexa-like interface describing every single object in your field of vision. Consider the cognitive overload that it would create on an already loud street crowded with obstacles.
Wheatcroft set out to look for alternatives and came across Wayband, a product from a company called WearWorks that uses haptic technology, which provides output through the sense of touch rather than audio. The company was cofounded by 3 graduates of New York’s Pratt Institute and just finished a 3 year residency at Brooklyn’s Urban-X incubator. Wayband was featured at SXSW and uses two technologies. First, it uses known GPS technology (google maps, OpenStreetMap) to map a route for the runner, the signal is transmitted via bluetooth using an armband which buzzes in a sort of Morse code (eg 2 long taps to turn right). This pairs with an ultrasonic device called the Tortoise that broadcasts and receives ultrasonic pulses. If there is an object or person in range, the ultrasonic waves that reflect back are changed and the device lets the user know using a series of vibrations. This is not new, devices that help people park their cars use similar ultrasonic technology.
During the NYC marathon, Wheatcroft started by using this system, the first time it had been tested in a race. And what a way to test. Not a small local race, but one of the largest marathons in the world, with more than 50,000 runners. During the race he was also accompanied by Kevin Yoo, one of the founders of WearWorks as well as Neil Bacon and Andrea Corak, his longtime friends and guides. They ran behind him and were there as a last resort, to prevent him from running into another runner and ruining their marathon.
It wasn’t perfect: tall buildings affected the GPS which incorrectly told him he was off course, the rain caused the Tortoise to stop working at mile 15, and at one of the water stops another runner stopped abruptly in front of him. Even a sighted runner would have found it difficult to stop in time and there was a small collision. Neither runner was hurt. The team ended the race with guides running next to Wheatcroft as per usual, but the experiment was by and large successful. There is still a way to go before the product can be marketed but the team now knows what those improvements are.
The implications are huge. Not only for running or sports, this system can help a blind person navigate through normal life. Wheatcroft on NYT:
It’s not the end, it’s just a start.”
1c. marathons #3 — grass root runner
The running bubble has popped, says the NYT on the day of the NYC marathon. A strange thing to say, considering 50,000 participated and the success rate for applications was 17%. I got my annual VLM rejection in October, so from my perspective the running bubble hasn’t quite popped.
Thing is, although interest in the big races have held steady, less well known races and shorter distance races have seen a decline in participation. Some reasons:
cost — gone are the days of US$10 or $25 races, now the cost is astronomical, Las Vegas RNR 5k is $79.99!
too much focus on charity running — while an honourable effort, it has become blackmail with too few places available for non-charity runners and huge amounts that needs to be raised
too many races, and competition from speciality races like mud runs
competition from other fitness activities like cross fit
The industry has become a victim of its own success and commercialisation. Once a race gets taken over by corporate interests, something goes missing. Not only will I not pay $80 for a 5k, I won’t ever run a RNR race again whatever the price because they have become pure greed. I remember a long time ago an ex-colleague asked me if I was running the NYC marathon and I said it’s too expensive ($295 now). She was so surprised, she thought it was free and you just showed up. I wish.
What we need, is a return to grassroots. Running clubs are still popular and just look at the success of parkruns in the UK. Another reason I want to go back to the UK.
2a. drinks #1 — alcohol and cancer
The American Society of Clinical Oncological published a report that says even light drinking can cause cancer. Yet another study that tells us not to eat or drink something, so much so that there was a study on the study of what foods are bad for us–in 2013 researchers took 40 ingredients from an ordinary cookbook and found 264 studies on whether at least one of those ingredients causes cancer. We’re talking about ingredients that are in almost everybody’s cupboards: salt, pepper, flour, egg, bread, butter, lemon, onion, carrot, milk, cheese.
We know that heavy or even moderate drinking has detrimental effects. The report says in the US, 3.5% of cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol. But as the NYT says in a more-or-less rebuttal:
this means that 96.5 percent of cancer deaths are not attributable to alcohol. If we eliminate heavy drinking, which no one endorses as healthy…that number climbs. If we also eliminate those who smoke…the number of cancer deaths not attributable to alcohol approaches 100 percent.
These reports mean well, but they tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies and then the media reports them using scaremongering headlines. The traditional image of a researcher is someone who observes or achieves some results and then postulates a theory that explains those results. There are researchers that are basically reverse-researchers, they know what result they want and then they do so-called research till they get those results. I call them hacks.
2b. drinks #2 — bartending in antarctica
Interesting article about bars in Antarctica. There are 45 research stations in Antarctica, with thousands of researchers there in the summer but only a few hundred during the winter. Each station has its own bar with names like Gallagher’s Pub, Southern Exposure, Tatty Flag. The bars had no owners, no official hours, and no price. People shared their stash of personal alcohol and were in luck when one of the researchers also have bartending skills. Bartending in Antarctica is voluntary and requires creativity and innovation, as not all ingredients are available. The good thing is, no fridge is needed, just put the stuff outside.
Drinking can be a problem in Antarctica, because of the monotony of life, especially in the winter months. The bars became social focus points, and bartenders did the job all other bartenders do all over the world. One bartending researcher said he:
swapped out soda for booze when people drank too much…and kept them inside the bar rather than watching them stumble out the door where, completely inebriated, they could hurt themselves or pass out in the snow.
2c. drinks #3 — escape from IPA
I do quick research during nano and I came across this beer called Escape from IPA from Pipeworks brewery in Chicago. What I found hilarious is the label, which is in line with all their other labels. Look at that Han Solo pirate escaping helicopters and red F1 racing cars, kinda comic book cliché.
With a name like Escape from IPA, it suggests that it’s the anti-IPA (scourge of craft beers). But it’s actually a 10% West Coast styled triple IPA made from 3 hops with the fancy names of Equinox, Galaxy, and Centennial.
Some people bet on racehorses based on their names or the colour of their jockey’s shirt. This is definitely one instance where people may pick a beer based on name or garish label. That’s exactly what my character did.
2d. drinks #4 — free beer while shopping
So a Morrisons in Leeds started offering free beer to shoppers while they go about their weekly shop. Not just beer, they have cider and wine too. The beer they serve is Saltaire Blonde ale from a local brewery.
It’s a whole pint, according to the daily mail (not linking to that drek). Sounds like a good idea, except I’d prefer half or 1/3 pints because of drinking and driving. They should put the featured beer on its own display stand and study how sales increase. I’m very sure more people will buy it because they are given a sample.
So close. Eliud Kipchoge almost succeeded in Nike’s #breaking2 marathon challenge at Monza F1 course. Even if he had gone sub-2 it wouldn’t have counted as a world record because he had 30 pacers and a lead car. Plus Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes and sports drinks delivered by moped were questionable against IAAF rules.
The amazing thing is, he was on pace until around 30km, when he dropped back. Regardless of whether it was a staged event, and regardless of the fact that he didn’t go sub-2, it was still, as the Guardian said,
Went running the other day, did 5k around the reservoir park. Extremely slow and there is no doubt I’ve lost 100% of my fitness, probably more since I need to lose weight too. It’s been a year since my last serious run. I still follow Paris Marathon on social media but I don’t dare think about any of it. I wonder when I’ll be ready to go back to running.
Saw the reddit thread by an artist who produced illustrated marathon maps. He’s done maps for Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, MCM, New York, Pittsburg, San Francisco, and Tokyo. All the drawings are fantastic, my favourites are London and Tokyo mainly because these are two cities I know and love. Definitely worth checking out the full gallery.
The prints are available for sale. $28 isn’t too bad though I wish they sold postcard sized too so I can get the whole set. If they did a Paris map I’ll consider getting the print; it’s the one that got away, innit.
My last recorded run was in June. My last serious training run was in March. It’s been a long time. I’m not sure if I’m ready yet, but an occasional 5k will do me good. Luckily, the charmander nest had gone from the small park, so only regular walkers were there. The gps went a little wonky, I was able to estimate total distance. The usual complaint, slow af.
Went to morse park after the run. The new nearby screen had a christmas pikachu and I was able to find it easily. The new nearby screen is both good and bad; it enables us to go after pokémons that are spawning near stops but the ones that aren’t near stops are totally invisible and depend on luck to find them. It is what it is.
Not that it was a great surprise, but I didn’t get a place in the london marathon through the ballot. This makes it 0 for 4 or may be 5. Why was I not surprised? Because it’s a scam. There are barely any places for people who just want to run, people who don’t want to be blackmailed into a charity place.
You get a free e-magazine as commiseration but I didn’t even click on it, because the sorrynotsorry email was already full of charity places! charity places! charity places! I have no doubt it’s the same inside the magazine.
Sour grapes? I don’t think I’m the only one who feel this. Others have described the whole thing as disgraceful and obscene. Even someone who ran it before with a charity has said never again because of the
amounts required by these scammers masquerading as charities. They want thousands of pounds. Thousands. If that’s not blackmail what is?
I agree with the ballot approach. It’s the only solution to a race that is so oversubscribed. But they need to be more transparent on how many ballot places there are vs charity spots. And to avoid turning it into a charityfest.
Of course, London is only one of many spring marathon possibilities. One of these days, I’ll be mentally strong enough to apply for Paris again. And of course there is always Brighton, Edinburgh (which is offering guaranteed places for London rejects for only £55), Barcelona, Amsterdam…and many others.
Someone commented that Chicago has pretty good chance (50% or higher) because they want payment upfront. May be that’s what VLM can do too, to get rid of those who enter on a lark. I guess until they start charging, I’ll still do my sign up for your free “sorry” magazine in october next year.
a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running. Participation is easy—just pledge to take part in some type of running activity on June 1, 2016. It can be a solo lap around the block, a long run with friends, or even a game of tag with your kids. The key is to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving
Brooks made a bib template to encourage people to participate in the event. I asked G if she can draw something for my bib. She didn’t use the template but what she gave me was a million times better. So cute!
We’re under the first big heatwave of the year, temp up to 32ºC. Not wise to run during the day so I ran around the streets downstairs after dinner. Started faster than I’ve run recently, but then the heat got to me and I slowed down a lot.
Small steps. Most of the run was in the rain,;not heavy enough to bother me as I had a hat but heavy enough to make puddles on the path. The last 400m or so I heard incoming thunder so I got out of the park asap. Went inside: market, had my glasses fixed, shuttle bus home.
Chicago marathon application just closed; Brighton and Paris marathon applications are still open. London is this weekend so applications will likely open soon. Sigh. Not sure if I should run one more marathon or give up and switch to halfs.
Get back to running regularly and building base first. Plus I’ve probably lost close to half a stone in a month. It’s a good thing, losing the weight. Now need to build up fitness. Keep healthy. Small steps.
This weekend is the barkley marathons. And no, there is no typo, it’s marathons. Barkley is one of the toughest and secretive ultramarathons in the world. 100 miles in the Tennessee wildnerness. Registration, course and even start time are secretive and all up to the organiser Laz. The course is a 20-mile unmarked route,
with no aid stations except water at two points along the route and the runner’s parked car at the beginning of the loop
plus an elevation of over 50,000 accumulated climb. There is a “fun run” at 60 miles, with a time limit of 40hrs. The race itself has a time limit of 60hrs, or 12hrs per loop.
Since its inauguration in 1986 only 15 winners have won. The race mystique was increased this year with the release of a documentary.
This year’s race is covered widely on twitter via #bm100. One of the most remarkable runners is Rhonda-Marie Avery, a blind runner who will run with a guide. This is her arriving after completing one loop in 32hrs. She tapped out at one loop but what an achievement.
Edit: the race was won by Jared Campbell, his third finish. What an achievement.
I’m been switching between local and Paris time occasionally during the day. I was in the last coral, scheduled to depart at 10.35am CET. I was looking at the clock around 20mins before, and felt a small pang of sadness. Then we went to the hospital and there was again an improvement, which immediately took the sadness away.
When we left at the end of visiting hour, it was around 2pm CET, so I was imagining where I would have been. I got home, showered and it was nearing 3.30pm CET. If I were aiming at 5.30, I would have been around 5k from the finish. Realistically, I was probably at around 35-37k. Slowness, tiredness and definitely stopping to take pictures.
The official fb page has been posting pics. This is a nice one at 30k, can see part of the Eiffel Tower. They have a nice set showing the glorious day (may be too sunny) and the magnificent city the route takes.
Found a google earth route. I’ve been wondering about what it would be like at the 2 borses. I guess it’s difficult unless you’re there in person.
The women’s race was won by Visiline Jepkesho (Ken) at 2.25.53 and the men’s race by Cybrian Kotut (Ken) at 2.07.11.
I should be on the plane. May be I’ve been watching episodes of bake-off, or a noisy adventure film, the type I love to watch on the plane. Or I’ve managed to sleep and am just waking up. Flight is due to arrive at 0655, my plans were for us to get the Roissybus to Opèra and then either taxi or metro to our hotel. If we can check in, great. If not, we’ll leave our luggage there and go to the nearby Treilhard covered market, which on google maps is 10mins’ walk away. In the afternoon, I was going to let Mum rest at the hotel while I go to the expo to pick up my stuff. Then we’ll venture out in the evening.
I’m not on the plane. I watched this week’s bake-off on tv and there’s no available noisy adventure film. My dad is still in the hospital so the entire trip is cancelled. What’s more important, his health or my piddly marathon? Do I even need to ask this question? A part of me is disappointed, of course. But mostly, it’s the right decision.
I contacted the travel agent to cancel the flight+hotel package. Not sure if we’ll get the refund as it’s the cheapest class ticket. The French airbnbs I was able to cancel and get a refund less fees, the London airbnb I only get 50% refund. Car rental: refund less fee. Ferry: refund less deposit. Just by cancelling online I get around 25% back. What I can’t get refunded, I’ll try to claim travel insurance. All this comes later.
A bunch of really fantastic people sponsored me for the race and we’re up to around USD500 already. The Board is helping me contact them with the latest news and to give them a couple of options. Hopefully everyone isn’t too disappointed, I hate that I’m not delivering my part of the bargain. I think they will understand, my friends are good people who all agree that family and health takes precedence. There will be other races.
Regardless of what you feel about Eddie Izzard, my hat off to him for completing 27 marathons in 27 days. He did 2 on the last day and raised more than £1 million for charity. Awesome.
BBC3 has been following him on his quest, the clip of his last day shows dedication as well as humour. Yes he has a team supporting him but it seems so lonely to run mostly on his own. I bet he got a lift from supporters running with him and cheering him along the way. And why did they make him climb up those stairs to Nelson Mandela’s statue after he ran 56 miles that day?
As far as I can tell, Eddie Izzard’s daily schedule looks something like:
5.30 am, Alarm goes off
A quick before breakfast marathon
Shower. A healthy breakfast
Get dressed. Try on a sequined dress. Look fabulous
Change of mind. Put on a suit
A brisk 26.2 mile jog into work
Start shooting scenes for pilot of tv show. Nail every scene
The odd marathon between takes
That’s a wrap
After work drinks
Head downtown to do a standup show. Audience is in stitches
Fit in a quick marathon before returning to thunderous applause to perform encore
When I started the challenge, I thought I’d be able to get a PR at one of the races if I pushed myself to do marathon training. It’s been very difficult to gain speed, and I’ve all but given up.
The weekend long run went well, so while I had a little time before we need to set off for our cruise, I went off for a quick run. It was pretty good, even a little flow-like. Felt like old times.
The problem was the GPS. There is no way I did km 3 in 1.37. That’s equivalent to running 100m in 9.7 seconds. Km 4 and 6 were weird too. Luckily I was running at the baseball park so I was able to estimate distances. I think the GPS overestimated my run by around 1km.
wonky GPS: 8.0km 46.59min 5.52min/km
more realistic: 7.0km 46.59 6.43min/km
If we believe the GPS, it’s a PR by 1 second. Of course, it’s more realistic to stick with the 6.43 number, which is close to what used to be my baseline of 6.40. This is the best since I started 101.1001 and is basically telling me not to write myself off. May be there’s time to get a real PR in the next few months.
30.36km 4.36.18hr 9.06min/km (I took 7 minutes off for stoppages, see post)
It’s been said that a marathon is a 20-mile warm up followed by a 10k race. There is definitely something mystical about the 20-mile marker. It’s the longest long run in many training programs, and is also the point where the wall hits.
After bonking last weekend’s long run, I approached this weekend’s milestone 20-miler with trepidation. Argh the first few meters: shoelaces felt too tight, knee brace kept falling down. Not a good sign.
20 miles is 32km, so I mentally split the run into sections: 12k, 20k, 27k, 32k. Increasingly smaller distances between breaks, because inevitably I get tired towards the end. Surprisingly I got to 8k and felt all right. Had a stroopwafel and the green tea I brought as hydration at 12k. Another fuel break between 19-20k of gu and water. Went over to the smaller park for the final third. Slow for a bit, another gu break at 25k after which somehow I found second wind. Legs even felt fresh at that point. Huh.
I stopped at 30k or almost 19 miles because I ran out of time–I volunteered to get dinner, prices go up after 6pm and it was 5.45pm. Could I have gone another 2k? Yep, I was slowing down a little, but not significantly.
Overall I think I did some stuff right. Mentally I wasn’t putting pressure on myself. I foam rollered my ITB beforehand. I made myself take fuel breaks, because I remembered that by the time you feel you need food and/or water, it’s too late. Unlike previous long runs, I didn’t physically stop for fuel breaks; I kept walking. Although I did take 7mins off my total time for stoppages–traffic lights and water fountains.
Quite pleased with completing this milestone training run. Legs were okay afterwards, I walked around the shopping centre in search of dinner and walked to the bus stop without too much pain. This is the key. If I’m pain-free on race day, I have a chance of finishing in decent shape. It’ll never be a PR time, I think those days are gone. Still, if I’m able to replicate today’s performance in 3 weeks’ time, I’ll be okay.
Something else I’ve been reading up on the last few days is the Kaihōgyō 回峰行 or circling the mountains meditation challenge that is undertaken by the so-called marathon monks of Mt Hiei, just outside Kyoto.
As part of a 7 year quest, a participating monk runs or walks 1000 marathons in 1000 days:
year 1: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
year 2: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
year 3: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
year 4: 30-40km every day for 200 consecutive days
year 5: 30-40km every day for 200 consecutive days
end of year 5: survive 9 days without food, water or sleep
year 6: 60km every day for 100 consecutive days
year 7: 85km every day for 100 consecutive days
They don’t just walk along paths in the mountain, they stop off at places of worship too. It was moving to see in the film how people bowed and kneeled along the path of the kaihōgyō in order to be blessed by the monk.
The monks are part of the Tendai school of Buddhism, and only 46 monks have ever completed the challenge. Traditionally after the first 100 days, the monk must either complete the challenge or commit suicide if he fails. In practice, a solid selection process means no one has had to commit suicide for over 100 years. Upon successful completion, the monk achieves the revered status of living Buddha and become celebrities.
They don’t walk or run with the type of gear used by modern day runners. Their shoes are handmade from straw and they wear their white monk’s habit. What’s most amazing, as writer and runner Adharanand Finn discovered when he met one of the monks and tells a story of someone meeting a marathon monk on the last day of his challenge, expecting to see his feet all swollen and sore.
“But they were smooth and clean,” she says. “As though he had been floating over the ground.”
The term marathon monk was coined by John Stevens in his book of the same name. Himself a marathon monk, with 35 years experience living in Japan and an expert in aikido, this is a book I’d love to read.
The reader will learn about the monks’ death-defying fasts, their vegetarian training diet, their handmade straw running shoes, and feats of endurance such as their ceremonial leap into a waterfall
Perhaps not to buy. I don’t think the library has it, it’s a shame.
The plan was 12 miles or 19km. I thought I’d split it up into 11-12km, a break for fuel then the remainder. Started off fine. First 10k was okay, the slower paced bits were either stoppage for traffic light or water fountain.
Convenient break at 11km at one of the parks. Had a stroopwafel and a bottle of energy drink. The second part of the run, argh. Went 500m then had to stop and walk. Simply had no legs to run for anything more than 1km or so. Ran some, then had to walk. Gave up at 16km and walked home. Out of breath and no energy. This is ridiculous, I did 28km last weekend and two 13km runs mid-week. I can’t go 11km and then bonk.
The only significant change from last week was starting on HBP medicine. It’s the third day but BP hadn’t gone down. [edit: measured at night before bed, 131/88. Okay, silver lining.] There is some anecdotal evidence that hypertension medication may aversely affect performance. ACE inhibitors and their cousins ARBs, of which Blopress is an example, are supposed to:
have no major effects on energy metabolism and cause no impairment of maximum oxygen uptake. In general, these drugs have no deleterious effects on training or competition.
A couple of things may be at play here. First, I could have just had a bad running day, it happens. Second, medication affect different people in different ways. My body is not used to medication apart from anti-histamine and the occasional panadol. Mentally my head keeps telling me it doesn’t like the prospect of being on long term medication, and therefore may have contributed to a bad run.
There’s less than one month to go do sort this out. Adding to the stress of moving, unpacking, trying to find space to put stuff, selling things, finding an estate agent to list the flat for sale. Ha, no wonder my BP is high.
This is a very busy week for me, I’m at sis’ a couple of days and staying over on friday. The movers are coming thursday so I have to go home tonight to finish packing tomorrow. Plus there are a couple of people who want to buy the stuff I advertised.
Have to fit in running in between, as much as I can. Did the midweek 8-miler early as I won’t get the time later. Only one more month. Haven’t been running well the last couple of times, there’s a pretty sharp pain in my left hip and, no surprise, down the ITB. I thought the squats and lunges I’ve been doing would help.
Found another routine that target the hips called the Myrtl routine. Takes 5-10mins. Some of the stretches, like the fire hydrant, seems to be working new muscles, although i’m still hurting. Not a lot of time left to get rid of the pain. Sigh.
I’ve done the running sponsorship once before and that’s it. I remember telling my friend CC about Chicago marathon and her first reaction was to reach for her wallet and ask “who are you running for?” So sweet, but I explained that I wasn’t running for any charity. She was puzzled; like many non-runners she associated races with sponsorships. All well and good, but that’s one of the reasons I don’t run for charity–while I cheer on the fundraising and good cause, I hate the way that races have been taken over to the point of being hijacked by charities. How many years have I entered for the VLM lottery? 100% failure rate.
I guess it’ll have to be a really great cause to get me to go the race sponsorship route. I’ve been involved with the GCLS for a few years now, I feel like I’m contributing, and they appreciate my efforts by giving me an award last year. As the organisation grows, so do operating expenses and the need to provide even more to members in the form of scholarships and technology. It seemed an opportune time to combine Paris marathon with the GCLS.
As I don’t live in the US, I approached the Board to figure out a way that works best for everyone. I initially thought about having sponsors fill out a form (so I can track total amount) and then donating directly. The Board did one better: they kindly created a fund just for me, to provide a convenient place to make and collect donations. That’s simply…awesome.
Here is the call for sponsorship that I posted on fb earlier, and is also on the description on the fund page:
On 3 April 2016 I will wake up early, gobble down several delicious French pastries, lace up my best running shoes and participate in the Paris Marathon. This is my 5th marathon and my first race on Continental Europe. The course takes us past sights such as Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
This year, I will run in honour of the GCLS.
As many of you know, the GCLS is close to my heart and I am involved in their mission to educate, recognise and promote lesbian literary work. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organisation, entirely run by volunteers and funded through donations. Please consider sponsoring me in my efforts to help in their cause.
With today’s long run, I’m now at 1786 miles / 2874km, so I’ve reached the target. This is the last part, when the fellowship broke up at Rauros. Frodo and Sam travelled 470 miles to Mt Doom in a tough 30 day journey, first paddling and then climbing, climbing, climbing. Plus meeting and fighting Gollum.
It’s taken 26 and a bit months to do this. Some months I clocked more than others. Initially I was just getting through the minimum and then marathon training helped a lot–probably if I weren’t training for 2 marathons I may find if hard to finish.
458 miles: from Hobbiton to Rivendell
462 miles: set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien = 920 miles total
389 miles: from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls = 1309 miles total
470 miles: Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom = 1779 miles total
101.1001 challenge done, but the overall challenge continues. I wonder how long it’ll take me to complete the remaining 1618 miles / 2604km that takes the fellowship from Minas Tirith back to Bag End especially since there’s no deadline. I work best with a target date.
An unremarkable distance over an unremarkable time. But it’s my first run in 12 days, so it’s a small achievement. I’m ignoring that according to the training program, it’s supposed to be a 17mile/27km run this weekend. I need to slowly get back on track.
I have a suspicion that the GPS is short when I run along bowen road. It felt slower than 7.25. I don’t remember stopping halfway, even though the app says I did. Hmm. The first dip is a long uphill stretch and the last 2 dips are for uphill and traffic light.
I’m still coughing, but I don’t feel like I’m coughing up my lungs constantly. It’s gotten better the last 1-2 days but I know it’ll take a few more weeks to clear.
Weather is grotty: heavy rain and windy yesterday, less heavy today but still steady. Swapping the weekend long run with monday’s short run since it’s supposed to be at least not raining on monday. Ran around the field I discovered last week. The field was actually very quiet during the week, with around 10 walkers and runners plus one kid playing basketball. Today there were baseball lessons for small kids, and one team was there practicing.
Like all parks here, it’s gated and staffed by a cleaning crew so there is always someone around. Makes it a bit safer, even though generally it’s a safe area. What I like about it is that I don’t need to cross any main road or traffic lights to get to it. Leave our building, turn right, right again at the bottom of our street and straight up. Most of the first 1.5km is uphill, which also means the last 1.5km is downhill. Wheeeeee.
I really didn’t want to go running but somehow forced myself outside. Couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way to the parks I normally go to, just ran up to the sad housing estate and back a couple of times.
The second cycle I went into the estate via a different street and saw a pedestrian bridge leading what what looks like another park. This one is well hidden between buildings and a giant flyover. I thought I’d go exploring.
Turned out to be quite a large flat area. One basketball court and the rest is dirt field. Today there were lots of teams there playing baseball. There were at least 3 games going on and the rest of the field were occupied by teams practicing. One or two runners there running around the entire field. I knew baseball is played here, an ex-colleague used to play (still does, I see her posts on fb), I didn’t know where. Now I know. Seems like this is one of a few local venues.
Oh, running. Not too bad. Between foam rollering, squats as part of the 30 day challenge and wearing a sturdy knee brace, the pain has subsided a fair amount.
Summary of 2015 running, by month, showing total distance and average pace. Combined with walking and biking. More stationary bike and walking during early months; a lot of walking in March and April during our Europe trip, which still didn’t make up for the lack of running. Looking back, slow pace especially during the summer months wasn’t just because of heat and humidity, there was also the hip/knee injury that I ignored. The sudden speediness in July was due to shorter indoor runs at the hotel treadmill.
By the numbers in both km and miles:
High points: finished Chicago marathon
Low points: finished Chicago marathon in a crap time; injuries
if I was offered a deal by a genie that I get my sub-3 marathon, have to miss a month due to injury, then can come back healthy, I’d take it
If a genie offered me a 4.30 marathon but I have to miss a month’s running due to injury, I’d take it. If the genie offered me a sub-4 marathon then have to miss running for the rest of the year, I’d take it too.
The 5-day rest seemed to have helped. I rearranged this week’s runs since I won’t have time on saturday or sunday to do the long run. Started off fine, pretty decent (for 2015) pace and good range of motion around hips and knees. Slowed down as I got tired. Around 12km the spot above my knee started to hurt, and it persisted till the end. Overall, the pain was manageable.
I split the run into 3 different missions, with two drinking breaks between missions. Miscalculated a bit, should have doubled back 500m or looped around a side street. The scheduled run is 11 miles or 17.6km, I was short 1km.
What I don’t like about zombiesrun is that it doesn’t give pretty graphs like nike+. I suppose I can turn on both nike+ and zombiesrun, they seem to coexist happily enough. It’ll be a drain on the battery.
Last run was Tuesday. Have only been walking and doing bodyweight exercises since then. Knee, hip and sometimes calf hurt. Taking a leaf out of how elites treat ITBS in 5 days:
stop running — the advice is simple: if it hurts to run, don’t run
increase strength — the #30daychallenge I’m following has squats, lunges and crunches, it’s perfect for my injury
massage the injured area — foam rollering every day, it’s painful but needs to be done
sleep more — trying, but not always possible
Honestly I’m not seeing huge improvements. I did some running on the spot and it still hurts. I can feel the tightness even when I’m sitting down now. Let’s see how I feel over the weekend, may be a short run.
18 weeks before the marathon means the start of training. Higdon novice 2 got me through chicago, but I felt undertrained. The difference between novice 2 and intermediate is the extra weekend run (in red). I’m going to try to add more miles if I can; I doubt I will make all the extra runs, let’s see.
The 5k today to start the program is supposed to be easy. No more excuses of hot and humid weather. It’s around 23ºC in the afternoon.
But hell damnations. First run of training and within 400m it’s ITBS. Bloody hell. And I rollered it beforehand too. Hoping that rollering, stretches and squats will improve hip extension and loosen the IT Band.
Am I still going to Paris marathon next April? France has extended its state of emergency for 3 months, and Belgium is on lockdown. Germany, Holland, the UK, Spain and all European cities are on high alert.
If I’m still going, training starts next week. 18 weeks isn’t a long time for the state of alert to die down. Then again, if we give in to our fears, then the terrorists have won. I’m going to go on the basis that I will be there, unless the organisers and/or the French government say otherwise. Last year’s race went ahead 2 months after Charlie Hebdo, so I think they will try to keep business as usual as much as possible.
Flights are still expensive, they’re mainly booking for Christmas now so I’ll look later. There are plenty of options on where to fly into. Aside from Paris itself, London, Barcelona, Geneva, Brussels, Amstersdam are all reachable by train. The problem is, it’s the week after Easter so I have to be careful of blackout periods.
What’s more pressing is finding somewhere to stay for the weekend, starting from expo to at least the day after the race. I started looking in the area close to the start and end of the course. The race starts on Champs, just down from Arc de Triomphe (blue circle centre right of map) and ends on Avenue Foch, near Port Dauphine (red checkered circle left of map). All the red blobs are hotels that are fully booked, and of the blue ones left many are expensive.
The good thing about making hotel reservations is I can hold it till nearer the time and keep searching. I made 2 reservations, on the basis that mum will be travelling with me. One is within walking distance of both start and end (white label)—perfect location but €240 per night, yikes. I’m only holding onto this one in case there is nothing else. The other is €150 per night, one stop NW of the map on line 1. I’ll keep looking, and at first glance on airbnb there may be something more affordable.
The news that our friend Sandra was diagnosed with an aggresive form of cancer, stage IV was so unexpected, so utterly devastating. I had no words. I met Sandra at her first conference and like everyone I know, became a huge fan of her writing, her cheerfulness, her wisdom and simply everything about her.
Our community immediately rallied around her in support. #moranstrong was established. Then the Moran Mayhem Plan (alternatively titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine”) was hatched:
monday: #moraning blurry pet and animal pics
tuesday: pie charts, pies
wednesday: it’s in the syllabus
thursday: neon day
friday: gross food (it started with Sandra posting pics of pork rinds, which is equivalent to pork scratchings)
saturday: #flatsandra out and about (we started that, on our drive to Portland)
sundey: bad hair / no comb day
The first Moran Mayhem day calls for wearing the most outrageous neon. I don’t have my brightest running shirts with me, but I do have the bright blue #runlightstand shirt. Plus my vizio orange sauconys. So I went out for a 5k around the field, my first run since the marathon. I hope it’s fitting, since Sandra is a runner too.
Set alarm at 5am but woke up at 4am. Tea, a couple of waffles, a banana and a cereal bar for breakfast. Superfriend Carleen dropped me off and I joined thousands of people walking towards the start line. Found a quiet spot to watch the sunrise then joined the horrendous line for the portaloo. After half an hour in the cold wind the line hadn’t moved much but then someone came over and told us about other portaloos with shorter lines.
The corral was crowded. Wave 2 start was 8am, I crosssed the start line at around 8.11am. I felt great and happy. The crowds were fantastic and pushed me on, soon I found myself at LaSalle and 5k already. Lots of fun signs from spectators urging us on.
Things haven’t changed from 2010 and 2011: I stopped for the traditional pic outside the chicago theatre, there was warm support at Moody’s church, music at boystown, Japanese drummers at mile 10, the lasalle church opening their toilets up for us at mile 11. The roar of the crowds really did help.
I also caught up with a runner holding an American flag at lincoln park, same as 2011 but different guy. Saw a fireman in full gear too. And a man in his 70s with “50th marathon” on his shirt. I spent quite a bit high-fiving kids and grinning.
Around mile 10 was when it started going pear shaped. First I got a nasty side stitch, which I hardly ever do. Then my left knee started hurting, which affected my calf and then moved to my right leg and finally my back. Basically anything that could hurt, was hurting. So disappointing, the wall came early. Even the biofreeze and tylenol at mile 12 wasn’t much help.
It’s always good to reach halfway, located just behind the old office. HM was at almost exactly 3hrs. I was pretty behind schedule at that point. After mile 13, the crowds thinned out and there wasn’t much shade. I started slowing down significantly and walked a lot. From mile 14 onwards it was boring and tough. Mile 19 was good, loud crowds through Pilsen. Lots of music and drums. Still a lot of walking. When first the 5.10 then 5.25 and finally 5.45 pace groups caught up with me, I tried my best to follow them for as long as I could.
After mile 22 from chinatown to sox park it was awful. Walking and walking. Turning into IIT and back north on michigan was more walking. I was keeping track of my time and I knew I was perilously close to the 6.30 cut off time. At mile 25 it was the final push. I picked up the pace and ran the last mile. It seemed forever before I saw the screen and the right turn up the hill. 400m, 200m and then it was finally the finish line. My iphone registered 6.33. I think they pushed the cut off time because of the hot weather.
I collected my medal, a couple of bottles of water and a banana. There was a beer truck right at the finish, but unfortunately the beer was warm. The best thing was a cool, wet towel they gave us. Had my pic taken with the medal, couldn’t be bothered to go to the other side of the park for the tents. The exit closest to me was nearest the train station so that was where I headed.
I had more than 30mins to wait for the train. Felt a little dizzy and realised I hadn’t had much to eat for 7 hours apart from gu, bloks and gatorade. Fished through the goodie bag and found chocolate, and chocolate milk. That helped.
Carleen picked me up at the train station and we had pizza for dinner. I was more tired than hungry, and my feet were hurting. I came back to the house with the news that my fb friends had been tracking my progress online and there were dozens of comments and well-wishes. So moving. I posted a thank you status plus a pic of the medal and there were even more well-wishes. My fb friends are so wonderful. I didn’t even meet my most basic goal (beat 6.30) but the overwhelming support from the organisers, volunteers, fellow runners and my friends more than made up for the disappointment. Looking on the positive side, I finished. And that’s the most important accomplishment.
I didn’t take my camera with me, just used the iphone: uploaded to flickr.
p.s. this also counts as #99 of 101.1001 because I found a race, and I trained for it.
Race day prep consisted of resting and getting into a positive, relaxed state of mind. Packed for the race and for Ptown, since we will be leaving first thing Monday morning.
D goal: finish before cut off time of 6.30
C goal: beat 5.38 (Chicago time)
B goal: beat 5.05 (Brighton time, all time PR)
A goal: 4.59.59
I signed up with the 5.25 pace group, I hope I can keep up with them. My aim is to keep them within sight at all times and it’ll be a bonus if I can go past them.
Here’s a really nice view of part of the course, taken by drone. It shows the city at its best. Drones are, of course, not allowed on the race (except officially sanctioned ones).
Some of the good things I remember from last time: the excitement going through the Loop, beautiful Lincoln Park, noisy crowds at Boystown (but that’s also where I lost my sunglasses clip-on), halfway point near the office, the nice Hispanic grandmother who gave me an orange ice lolly at mile 19, struggling back up Michigan and then hitting the crowds and cowbells on the final right turn.
People are joking about why runners run and put ourselves through this. The answer is simple:
There’s a free 312 waiting for us at the end, plus pizza and bananas and water and free massages. I’ll see what my time is, and how long I have to hang around the park afterwards. May be a second beer before I have to catch the train.
Caught the train to the city and walked about 15mins to the Hilton to catch the shuttlebus to the marathon expo. The queue for the bus was long, I had to wait for bus #4 before it was my turn to board. Took about 15mins to get to McCormick Place. The expo started at 9am this morning and I got there around 10.30am. The place was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded.
Got my confirmation scanned, got my bib, got my shirt. Nice shirt colour this year, a deep red, more maroon than the bright red of 2010. I made it a point to systematically visit every stall. I had on my shopping list the race cap and a few gu packets. I bought the cap ($30!!!) and resisted the t-shirt ($45). Bought a combination of gu and bloks. Sampled many cereal bars, bloks and gatorade. Bought a set of 3 bondi bands since the ones I have are getting grubby. Looked into socks but decided the pair I brought is good enough and I’d buy socks when I get back.
There were also tons of freebies. Encouragement signs, cowbells (sponsored by ML so in ML blue), a poster, space blanket, shoe bag and lots of leaflets in the official bag. Got a 30 second massage on my ITB at the free massage stand. Chatted with people at other marathon desks. Osaka marathon in October (though I’m wary of autumn marathons now) and Dusseldorf marathon in April. The lady at the Dusseldorf desk was super nice, it’s just a shame that it clashes with Paris.
By the time I was finished it was 12.30pm. The bus back downtown was less crowded and I walked around the corner to go to Lou Malnati’s. It’s been a while, and I had a craving for deep dish. The wait was around 15mins for a table, during which we were encouraged to put our order in to shorten the wait for food. I ordered the lunch special — small pizza with salad and a drink for $8.95. The pizza was smaller than expected, very tasty especially the crust and the sausage. It appeared that many people had the same idea for carb-loading, I saw many people with the marathon bags or marathon t-shirts in the restaurant.
Train back and it was time to empty the bag and sort out my gear. Less than 2 days to go, it’s getting closer.
Rested in the morning, didn’t do much apart from reading and munching on snacks. Nice way to get over jetlag.
5.02km 40.20min 8.02min/km
Easy 5k around the field next to the church in the afternoon. It was hot but not as humid. My legs felt stiff and my whole body felt heavy so it took me a long time to get into any sort of pattern, and then it was time to head back. I wish I brought my roller with me, but in its absence I’ll do some stretches. Anyway I just taped it up.
Did some baking in the evening before dinner. Cinnamon monkey bread from this recipe. I’d never heard of monkey bread, so had to look up its definition: sweet, sticky, gooey pieces of soft bread with cinnamon sprinkled on it. The ingredients are in cup measurements so I tried to convert, with dubious success.
3x16oz (1.36kg) packages refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough — this is the pillsbury dough they have available in the freezer cabinet
2 sticks (250g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (180g) sugar
1/2 cup (120g) brown sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon
Cut biscuit dough into quarters, mix sugar and cinnamon in ziploc bag, add dough and shake. Arrange in a bundt tin. Melt butter and brown sugar then pour onto the dough pieces. Bake at 180ºC for 35mins, then turn out.
A very typical American recipe, using pre-packaged ingredients. I can’t get over the fact that they use packet cake mixes and pre-made frozen dough. There is a huge amount of butter and sugar and carbs in there.
The end result is definitely a sweet, sticky, gooey mess. It’s tasty though, and perfect as a tear and share bread/cake. I found it very rich, and liked how it was slightly undercooked so the dough pieces were melt-in-the mouth-inside.
Went out to the end of bowen road and back, 12km went by quite quickly. Since it’s a public holiday, there were tons and tons of people out walking and hiking. Glad it was only out and back once for me.
On the way back I stopped at the supermarket and bought some chicken drumsticks. Grabbed a butternut squash and was horrified at the price tag at the till, so had to exchange for another type of pumpkin at a more reasonable price. Cooked it all with okra and israeli couscous. Found a small tin of olives that dated from chicago, so added to the roasting tray for flavour. There are leftovers, which ended up proving problematic as I have no fridge. Had to leave the aircon and wrap the food tightly in a box then foil.
Met mm for drinks then dinner. Many places were closed so we just went to a nearby pub and then a small diner. We’ll meet again tomorrow for lunch, so nice.
Rested for 2 whole days, what a luxury. It’s still ridiculously hot and oppressively humid, but I felt good running on relatively fresh legs. I also strongly believe it’s mental—I know it’s only 6km today so I allowed myself to go out faster.
Someone on runnit asked why marathon training plans top out at 20 miles when the race is 26.2 miles. What I’ve always been told is that race day adrenaline and (hopefully) crowd support will get us through the last 10k. There’s also the fact that it takes a few days to recover from a long run; during training we’re going into weekend long runs tired from all the running during the week and we need too many days to recover from 26 miles to fully follow a 4-5 times a week training program. If we taper correctly, we’ll be starting the race having rested and recovered by doing shorter runs.
Marathon season is in full swing. Berlin last weekend. Brussels, Cologne, Kuala Lumpur, Portland (Maine and Oregon), Minneapolis/St Paul this coming weekend. As I run Chicago, others will be participating in Budapest, Munich, Buenos Aires, Ottawa, Lake Tahoe, Albany and my family’s hometown of Newport RI. Then in the coming weeks it’s the MCM in DC, NYC, Niagara Falls, Snowdonia, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Seoul, Jo’burg and the Antarctic Ice marathon on 19 November. Plus many many more, too many to list.
What will all of these marathons have in common? A winner, probably from Kenya or Ethiopia. And someone who finishes dead last. Just in time for marathon season is Nike’s newest ad, in which they salute the last place finisher. It’s so realistic. To the sound of Every Little Bit Hurts by Aretha Franklin, the stragglers slowly trudge through on a carpet of paper cups and dodging the cleaning crew and the pedestrians who’ve already begun to reclaim the road. The voiceover (Rooney Mara!) is guaranteed to bring tears to any runner’s eye:
You are not a runner.
You are especially not a marathon runner.
But at the end of this, you will be.
The ad promotes the nike+ running, and even though I don’t use it any more, I started with nike+ and it’s a place where runners of every ability can find inspiration and motivation.
Okay, enough running posts. Only a couple more weeks to go then I’ll stop the incessant posting.
The last >10mile long run before the race, next weekend’s scheduled run is 8 miles. Sigh, it’s end of September and still 33ºC and 90%+ humidity. No breeze at all. I could feel sweat dripping down my back and it’s quite uncomfortable running in clothes that are completely soaked, even though they are made from dry-fit material.
At my last stop, one of the people who were cleaning at the park said that it’ll start raining soon. That’s it, it felt exactly like the oppressive heat that comes before a thunderstorm. True enough, it started raining after lunch.
I’m very relieved that it’s the start of the taper. Feeling tired both physically and mentally. I know I only got up to 20 miles once, and today I was supposed to go up to 15 miles / 25km but I simply was wiped out. Just hoping the training is enough and fingers crossed for better weather conditions at the race. Cold (10ºC will be perfect), dry and a little wind.
On the topic of marathon training, someone posted a screenshot on runnit, of someone’s job application. The question was “Describe a time when you had to set and achieve an ambitious personal goal.” The applicant went into a detailed account of how he trainied for the portland marathon in 2.5 months, getting to 15-20 miles two to three times a week and exactly 26 miles at least once. He claimed he finished his first marathon in around 2hrs.
When I posted on fb, all of the friends who answered spotted the lie. The marathon world record is 2.03, and portland’s record is 2.17 so there’s no way this first timer with 10 weeks’ training could finish in around 2hrs. The training he described was improbable too. Seemed like someone downloaded a few training plans and pretended to have followed them.
It takes a lot of training and talent to be so close to 2hrs. People don’t realise how fast the elites really run. This was a few years ago on the NYC subway, when people were challenged to beat Ryan Hall over a short distance. Even Ryan himself showed up. Have to remember that he runs at that pace for 26.2 miles.
It’s starting to sink in. Three weeks till the marathon. The participant guide arrived via email, the hardcopy would have been sent by post. I need the hardcopy to claim my bib and packet at the expo. No escaping anymore.
With the guide also comes confirmation of my start corral. I’m in corral G, wave 2 8am start. I also have a map to see where my gear check is, and where the corral will be located. It’s quite a way down, almost to Buckingham Fountain. The guide has lots of information about the expo, start line and also where aid stations are. Even what is available at each aid station in addition to water and gatorade (chews at mile 12.5, powergel at mile 18, bananas from mile 20 onwards).
There are pace teams for 4.40, 4.55, 5.00, 5.10, 5.25 and 5.45. I haven’t seen pace teams go this much down the order. I’m tempted to sign up with them. In years past I followed them, but was never part of the group. I’ll chat the pacer at the expo to see.
What I don’t see is anything about a BoA customer tent. It was really useful in 2011 but it’s been 4 years. I have been tempted to sign up for either the official hospitality tent or the CARA VIP experience. Not sure if it’s worth $40 for private gear check, lounge, food & beer. They’re at the Radisson Blu, which is little bit of a walk to the start. I’ll probably just hang out like the other 40,000 people in the park.
Whilst Chicago people are doing the ready to run 20 miler this weekend, I tested my race readiness by running a local 7k night race. It’s the first time I’ve participated in a night race.
Not a big race, around 1000 people. The race itself is along a dam then into a park. Took over 1.5hrs to get to the starting point, via train then bus.
There were 2 races. The kids race started at 6pm, a shorter 1.5km distance. Those kids were fast. The winner of the age 6-8 category ran the distance in something like 6mins, which I can’t even do. What’s great was the top 10 in each category got prizes, and that probably covered every single kid in the race.
The adult race started at 7pm and by then it was dark. They gave us temporary tattoos and the shirt was a little flourescent too. Some people were prepared with headlamps or made bracelets from glowsticks. Since it was along a dam and into parkland there were no streetlights at all. A couple of volunteers with glowsticks stood next to the various sleeping policemen along the way telling us to be careful. I couldn’t really see where I was going, I tried to follow people with lights as much as I could.
There were also a group of visually impaired runners with their guides. They were fast too. The guides had lights and shouted warnings when they approached. I always get a warm feeling when I encounter disadvantaged athletes.
My time was…okay. Faster than normal training runs, and conditions were similar. Even though it was night, it was still hot and humid. I hung around for a little bit to watch prizes given out. The top male runner finished in 23mins; the top runner in my division finished in 37mins.
I moved the 20-mile training run up one week because: a) I had the time; b) I have a race next weekend and c) I was worried about it so wanted to just get it over with. So I set off for bowen road armed with a 1l bottle of flavoured water and 4 gu packets. I planned my breaks so they were all at the second water fountain. It was fine to leave the water bottle there too, lots of people do that.
Started off not too badly, it was hot but there was a little breeze. Many people hiking and running but by and large they knew how to share the path. No stupid mainland tourist groups. Pretty boring, running up and down one path. Pace was slow and the last 5km had a lot of walking. I did it though, so it’s one training goal finished.
The last 20-mile training run was 4 times around Hyde Park and with a much more respectable pace of 7.24min/km. I’m still hoping I’m so slow now because of the hot weather.
After that 20-miler in London I treated myself to a big huge 24oz bone-in rib-eye, which I couldn’t finish. This time round, I don’t have the luxury of getting lovely steak from Whole Foods. I debated whether to go out or to stay in. My calves were hurting so on the way back home I stopped at the supermarket and bought chicken legs which I baked. Lots of foam rollering and I kept my legs elevated, feeling tired but not injured tired.
Humidity is marginally lower, but speed is still not here. Whatever.
I try to think back to why I started running. What I posted 4 years ago is still relevant. I hadn’t made much progress in 4 years, due to lethargy and lack of interest in participating in the local running scene.
Anyway, another reason for starting running was the cost, or supposed lack of cost. I don’t like joining gyms, I hate group classes. I love racket sports but have no one to play with. I love basketball but haven’t played in 20 years.
So yeah, cheapest sport. Everyone should have t-shirt, shorts or loose clothing. Most people will have sneakers or comfortable shoes. Tell the time using a watch, or check the clock on the way out and way in. Check distance by measuring on a map or run around a track. So in theory it costs nothing, but of course it doesn’t work that way. Gear creep starts with shoes, then it’s tech shirts, then GPS, then wearables, then all the various and sundry accessories.
Shoes come first for me. Initially I went to the running store to get the latest models but I quickly learned how to seek out good running shoes for under $100. One pair can last something like 500 miles, so it is worth the investment, unlike cheap $16 walmart shoes that are so terrible they aren’t even worth paying for.
I used to have a nike+, then a polar HRM, then a garmin. I just use the iphone nowadays. Zombies run is free, although I did pay $9.99 for a full version before they messed up the pricing and update. It was worth the money, especially since legacy pro users came out ahead after the mess.
Other gear I’ve bought include a very useful spibelt, water bottle belt, earphones, knee braces, KT tape, foam rollers and compression socks. I don’t think I’ve been that indulgent. Many of the gear is from 4-5 years ago and I’ll keep on using them until they need to be replaced. I run in tech shirts from races, cheap shorts from the market, ordinary socks and a towel, the sort we get from the market to use around home.
I guess if I wanted to, I can splash out a lot for clothing. But I won’t. I’m certainly not going to pay $89, or $99, or $129 full price for this ridiculously named PHYSICLO x RXACTIVE: Activewear series of shorts and leggings with
custom power mesh panels that push your leg muscles to work harder, resulting in increased muscle tone and caloric burn
The claims are equally impressive outlandish: 23% more muscle activity, 14% more calories burned, 8% increase in heart rate. What’s amazing is over 850 people have bought into the indiegogo campaign. Hive mindset or people with too much money or people wanting to get in on the lastes, coolest, gear?
I was clicking around marathon websites over the weekend (don’t ask) and realised I missed the registration for Tokyo. Then I spotted that Paris registration opens at 8am on 08-sep. I mean, it’s Paris. The course map above is small, but the route is clear. Start at Champs Élysées, run across the city past landmarks—Concorde, Louvre, Bastille, Notre Dame, Eiffel, along the Seine, finish within sight of Arc de Triomphe. It’s not a World Marathon Major event, but in terms of attractiveness of venue, is hard to beat.
The one thought I had going through my head during the last few weeks of Chicago training was: “why am I doing this? I’m never running a marathon again.” I hadn’t deliberately remembered Paris registration time until I looked at the clock, then checked the world clock: it was 7.55am Paris time. I found myself on the website, then to the registration site, then entering my details. I couldn’t even be bothered to switch to english, forms asking for name, DOB, address, t-shirt size are similar whatever the language.
The final step was to pay. It took me to a page that said redirecting and it will take some time. If I were just messing around, it was my opportunity to close the tab. But I left it, thinking if I get in, then it’s fate. If the page refreshes to quota full, then it’s also fate.
I went back to what I was doing, reading a book and surfing through feedly. Occasionally I’d glance at the redirect page, only to see it’s still waiting. More than 30mins later, it changed to give me the payment form. No going back now. €99 is a lot of money but at US$110 equivalent it’s 2/3 the price of Chicago and half the price of NYC. We get an image of our bib and race number immediately. Hopefully I’ll combine it with a trip to London and/or Amsterdam and/or elsewhere in Europe. Yikes, mm is going to kill me.
So, provided I finish Chicago next month, marathon #5 will be Paris. Or #6. London lottery results come out in october, wouldn’t it be just my luck if I got in? I can’t possibly run 2 marathons three weeks apart so I’ll have to defer one. Well, no sense thinking about that now. Back to Chicago training.
Long run this week according to higdon is 19 miles, according to the one-year plan is 18 miles. Since I’m only up to 13 miles, I didn’t want such a big step up so aimed at 16/17 miles (26/27km).
Not much to report, aside from the sheer mind-numbingness of running for 4hrs up and down a stretch of 4km running path. Not too many people, and I recognise a couple from last week. Everyone was faster than me. Had a couple of breaks, at 12km then 8km. Progressively slower, the last 7km was pretty much walking.
Completely knackered. Cooked mushroom pasta (with a whole can of cream of mushroom soup) for lunch. Didn’t have energy or appetite for big dinner. Even with my usual unhappiness about the slow pace—9.20min/km is 15min/mi and just about makes the 6.30hr cut off point for the marathon—I’m a bit more encouraged, that I have this long run under my belt.
Nike had a fastest mile virtual event on the 30th. It was a rest day for me, so I thought I’d go out to the track today and see what my mile time is. The weather is still not good for running, but it was only 29ºC, so better than before. Thunderstorms and rain means high humidity though.
I’ve never gone out and deliberately run one mile. My best mile time was at the 2010 corporate challenge when I finished the 3.5 mile course in 33.24min, meaning a mile pace of 9.13min. I was at my fastest during early 2010, getting my first sub-30 5k at ravenswood, before I got injured. I’ve never been able to get back to that pace.
Today I did a 3km warmup run to the track, then ran 4 times around to get to 1.6km. Instead of using a stopwatch I used the supply run part of zombies run. The app registered 10 even for 1.61km, I know that at 1.6km / 1 mile it was 9.54min.
Obviously not my fastest mile, although I’m okay about the pace. I did another mile at a slower 12.30 pace. To beat 5hr in the marathon, I have to average under 11.30, so I have a little ways to go yet.
Anyway, today’s run brought me to a total of 170.63km for the month of august, or 106.02 miles. I’ve had months where run/walk/bike total was over 100 but it’s been a while since I’ve had a 100 mile running month, I think it’s during the last marathon training round in 2012.
It’s imperative, 6 weeks to the marathon, to get to minimum HM distance in my long runs. Actually longer, but one step at a time. Try for 17 miles / 27km next weekend.
Went out early in the morning, plotted the course along bowen road. Ate oatmeal for breakfast, took 3 gu packets with me as well as energy drink. Planned stopping points too, I realised that just stopping, resting and refueling for a few minutes is better than stubbornly plodding on. Can probably recoup those few minutes via the overall faster pace.
I read that the kfc double down has finally arrived, so I thought I’d go and try it out. The doubledown started as an april’s fool day press release in 2010, it’s a chicken sandwich with 2 pieces of chicken acting as the bread and bacon & cheese filling. It achieved some sort of geeky legendary status via social media. Everyone wanted to try it when it came out.
Only the fried version was available, I would have preferred the grilled. It came with nachos and runny cheese sauce as the side, I would have preferred a choice of fries or coleslaw or corn. The doubledown itself was smaller than expected. I couldn’t tell whether it was white or dark meat, probably breast, looking at the size and shape. The chicken was pretty okay, standard kfc taste. The bacon and cheese had no taste whatsoever. The whole thing had a boring soggy texture.
The one criticism aimed at the doubledown from day one was salt content. Absolutely right. Very salty and without the normal bread to soak up the saltiness. I won’t have it again, but I’m glad I tried it.
More normal dinner of noodles, fish and veg at parents’ place, plus watermelon afterwards. Even with the monstrous doubledown meal, I’m at negative calories for the day.
tl;dr: wanted to do 17 miles, couldn’t even manage 17km
Long runs need to get longer, and yet I don’t have the endurance. Ran up to the desolate housing estate, then to a new park a little further away. It’s divided into 4 sections, with oddly-communist sounding names: Morse Park no. 1, Morse Park no. 2 and so on, divided by roads. The largest one is no. 3, which has several football pitches, basketball courts, a swimming pool and an indoor sports centre. About 1km to run totally around the park. It’s surrounded by the nearby housing estates so is busy with runners, walkers and people taking a shortcut. It’s nice. The problem was, there seemed to be only one water fountain and it was out of order, ugh. I’d brought a bottle of energy drink with me, but it wasn’t enough. Managed 8km up to that point.
Crossed the road to no. 1, which is quite small so I just did one circuit. No. 4 was better, medium sized with a garden, tennis courts, children playground and even a skateboarding section. And a working water fountain. Got another 5km in.
The route home was through another park, quite small and very crowded due to its proximity to a shopping centre and station. By then I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other so I struggled to do a couple of circuits then headed back. 3km home.
16km is 10 miles, so at least I got to that milestone. Aim for HM distance next long run.
Anyway, this was a circular rainbow mum spotted the other day. Enhanced via instagram.
Today I reached milestone 3: from lothlorien down the anduin to rauros falls at 1309 miles / 2106km. According to people who keep track of such things, this part of the journey took 11 days and was mostly paddling on the river. From then on the fellowship breaks up and continue independently: frodo and sam 470 miles to mt doom; merry and pippin 355 miles to isengard; aragorn, legolas and gimli takes a longer route of 484 miles to isengard.
There are only 470 miles left on the task, I will be able to complete this. A goal is by the end of the year; B goal is by the end of Q1 next year. I’ll probably do the back part of there and back again: after being rescued by giant eagles there is the 1625 miles from minas tirith back to bag end.