Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Saint Patrick's 5k, let it snow

The Resolution Run on December 31st at 6pm had much better weather than this.
Still, it marks the end of waiting season, and the beginning of running season, even if spring has forgotten to show up.

A-Chang's favourite part was seeing me in my new Puma top which I picked up in Tokyo. If only they stocked the same stuff as in Asia and Europe, instead of the "shoplifter's uniform" Canada seems to get.

-12 was the temperature, with gusts of wind at 30+ km/h. It had been snowing for a few hours before gun time, with 1-2cm on the ground. Bad weather doesn't bother me all that much, but it was nice not to be doing the 10k. For race day I want to do your best, but regardless of the shape you're in, the weather owns you.

The snow certainly owned me as I hadn't brought my Salomons which would have gripped much better. As it was, people surged past me at the start. My legs were turning over at 5k pace, but I wasn't going that speed. Not a single step I took was "true". Is that foot-spin or leg-spin?

Towards the top of the initial hill, I passed a couple of teenagers who decided to walk (!) and another couple of runners. After the first turn at the top, I found myself running in lots of space, gently round the 120 degree left and downhill. One volunteer called out "go camera guy!", which gave me a flashback to that other meteorologically challenged race, California International Marathon last December.
On the next right there was Neil, the ace photographer, lying on his side - a great angle for making as all look like giant strong runners. "Does my gastrocnemius look big in this?", etc. The next corner had the course heading due north to the turnaround. The snow now blew almost parallel to the ground right in my face. Pull your hat down I said. You won't be able to see, I replied. That's healthy inner chatter.

On the way back I was slowly gaining on the next guy, so made that my aim. An AG podium might be possible if I pass him I thought. Just before rounding the last corner, I went past then battled that wind again on the home stretch.
22:06, and glad it was over although pleased to have given it everything among runners laughing in the face of adverse weather. 17th overall out of 281, and good enough for 2nd in my age group just like last year. Conditions give no clue as to my current fitness, but speed work of late suggests possible PB given better weather on the day.
Next up is the big push towards the Calgary half at the end of May and the aim of getting into the 1:25s.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Japan & Taiwan

I got back from holiday in Japan and Taiwan just over a week ago. Aside from a great experience in general, I got some decent runs in too.
Here's the vid of my Tokyo run It's blocked in Japan due to the music used (Dragonash). Not a pothole, piece of uneven pavement or litter in sight. I did the well-known runners' route of the emperor's palace. The path on the outside of the moat is 5k long and no traffic lights at all. It was 2k from my hotel, so perfect warm-up. 2 laps while the sun was rising was a perfect way to start my sunday. All path users stick strictly to the left except when overtaking, something else which makes for a relaxing run. The same is broadly true when walking down the street or taking the subway (I used to live in mainland China where it's elbows and general piss-offedness all the way). Perhaps inspired by the local impeccable manners I pointed out to a teenager I passed that his laces were undone on one shoe. He said thanks as he stopped to do them up, though all I could do was point.

I noticed that all the Japanese runners have rather nice looking clothing, better than most of the stuff available in Canada where most stuff you buy makes you look like a basket ball player. I picked up a couple of things at the Puma store in Harajuku. The last time I saw such great Puma stuff was in Berlin. When will their stores in North America stop selling "car thief in training" rubbish? Should I write them a letter?
Kyoto vid. My favourite vid, and favourite run despite being slightly lost much of the time. It was still dark when I set off, and passing traditional looking houses and temples/ shrines at daybreak made for quite the romantic image of Japan. A monk wished me good morning, and I passed a temple in which some were doing their early morning chanting. I was never exactly where I was planning to be from my map, but always had a rough idea. I did stop once to ask for directions, so as not to miss one particular street which is towards the end of the video.

2 days later I did a tempo interval run up and down the river to avoid getting lost and to hit my target pace without traffic lights. Lots of herons and egrets along the way. I needed to go for a bio-break halfway through. I knew there were metro stations along the river, so I went to one of those. It was inside the ticket gates, so I went to the ticket window and putting on my best pained expression, and maybe even the "twist like ropes" pose from yoga, said "toilu!" Thus relieved of my burden, got a couple more intervals in.

Taipei. Not the prettiest city in the world to be honest, though most places suffer in comparison with Kyoto. Being tropical, it was already over 15 degrees and humid when I started. Bathed in sweat. The nicest part was probably the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall, a grand open space with nice park off to the side. A lot of familiar hobbies on display, including fan dancing, taichi, and walking backwards. A more uninterrupted run would have been on the river pathways, but it was still a good workout.

Where did the winter go? Well, it's still here from the snow that keeps coming. It melts - partially - during the day. Hopefully the roads'll be clear for next sunday and the St Patrick's 5k. Race season is here!