Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ota Subaru 1/2 Marathon Race Report - Don't Go Breaking My Heart

Today marked the yearly running of the 太田スバルマラソン (Ota Subaru 1/2 Marathon) here in my "home town" of Ota - Gunma Prefecture Japan.

Will go with the following for theme song for today's race:
Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John & Kiki Dee

Elton's suit and glasses (goggles) are dope!
This was one of the first songs I have a memory of having the "45" record of when I was a little mite.  I thought it was the jam.  I put it on to the iPod recently and re-remembered that this song is in fact still the jam.

It is the theme song for my race today as running is absolutely awesome, but she (running) keeps on breaking my heart.  I wish she would stop breaking my heart.
Such an elusive vixen is running.
But just like Kike Dee (great 70's stage name) says in the song - she (running) won't go breaking my heart.
As running is too awesome to always break your heart, and gives back what you put into it (and then some).

My heart was slightly broken though today due to another not so good time for the 1/2 marathon - 1:31.  Four minutes off my best, and I gotta do way better than this if I am ever to get under 3 hours in a full-marathon (life derelict level obsession).

It was an absolute perfect day today here in Gunma, maybe a little warm - upper 50's low 60's by the end of the race and sunny, a little windy, but still in total an awesome day.  A great day to be out running and living life.

I splurged a couple hundred Yen (couple bucks) a few days ago and bought a Halloween hat and scarf to start the race off with - gotta have a little fun!  Here are a few pre-race pics with my color coordinated Halloween running stuff on (note the top of the bill on the hat is yellow - matching my shirt - I am a fashionista).  One solo and one with a gent from work.

Had some fun looks / a few fun comments prior to the race - a mom took a picture with a little boys soccer team who were doing the kids run (I should have had her take one with my camera darnit).
Foreigners way stuck out - I saw one other Caucasian dude in the entire race area - maybe 7,000'ish people, thus little kids sometimes like to say "Hi" in English for the novelty of - all good fun.

So anywho, was off to the start and lined up with my 3 years running rival Sakakibara-san (we tied in this race last year at about 1:30) and a few other works friends.
I planned on wearing the hat and feather-scarf thing for a while during the race to have fun, but about 200 yards after starting the feather-scarf thing was already annoying me, so I grabbed it off and thought would throw it off quickly on the side of the road.  In Japan though throwing stuff away is way frowned upon (one thing I really like about Japan - it is so clean), so I figured better to give to the next person on the side of the road figuring they would take care of it for me (typical presumptuous bad-foreigner).
But I was going to hand it off it anyway, and without looking much (as I needed to concentrate on all of the people jockeying around at this point in the very start of the race), I started giving it off when I noticed I was giving it to a group of about 5 police officers.
Gack....  "Is this ok?  Am in trouble here?" I thought for a split second, but noticed one of the officers was sticking his hands out to accept it.  Whew... misdemeanor / cultural faux pas averted.

Continued on with the hat for a few kilometers and then threw it off where looked was ok to do.
What a trouble-making 外人 (foreigner) I am.

I tried to settle into a pace groove but since I forgot to take my Garmin watch to the race (typical knuclehead move) I didn't know except by feel how was doing.  Figured was running slightly under a 1:30 ending pace which was the goal.

About halfway into the race I noticed my calves starting to hurt.  I ran a 1/2 marathon last weekend, and for that race and this one I ran in my 4mm drop Saucony Mirage's (love 'em).
I also run/train in 8mm and 12mm drop shoes.  And the lower drop shoes work your calves more.  My calves were a little sore this past week but by Thursday or Friday felt fine so I figured no big deal.
Another knucklehead play.  Should have ran in the 8mm drop Saucony Hurricane's (also love them) to try to temper down this predictable issue (sore / cramping calves).

Thus as the race progressed on Crampy McCrampstein started poking, and then got to stabbing, his trident into my calves.
So if I could have seen my splits :-), I am sure I would have seen them falling off in the 2nd part of the race due to Crampy.  Which is usually not an issue as I am usually a dependable (albeit slow) even split runner.
So Crampy rode me into the finish line freely stabbing away in the later miles and thus I was way glad to be done and no longer have to hang out with McCrampstein.

I think back-to-back 1/2 marathons a week apart may not be a good idea.  I have no idea how Yuki Kawauchi (running deity) can churn out the world class level times he does with races so close together.  That dude is an absolute freak of nature combined with hard as nails determination.

Anyway - it was a great feeling to be done.  I drank a ton of water and sports drinks upon finishing.
Side note:  This is the only race I can recall in Japan which has unlimited drink refills at the finish.  Also continuing the side-bar, this race has so many volunteers, great support, and is run great.  An absolutely awesome race to have in my home away from home - home town.

I then snapped off / had snapped off a few pictures after the race:
One of Tajima-san (who putting an a** whupping on me by about 2 min). me, and my arch-rival (but great guy), Sakakibara-san.

I took out Sakakibara-san by about a minute this year, and so I took this picture with him:
I was brushing him off my shoulder  :-)   and so had to explain to him the meaning of the Jay Z song Dirt Off Your Shoulder (not sure it translated well - some jokes are best left in their original language).

The stadium which the race ended in and where everyone gathered.  Just a great day.

One last one before leaving had some dude take of my narcissistic a**.

The big takeaway I have reflecting on this race and running in general is that there is no true replacement to improve your running times other than... running.  Who would have thunk it... :-)
There is a reason I went to Michigan State.
Although the University of Momma's boys (UofM) better get ready for a smack down next weekend.

As I had my mileage knocked down from about 55 miles a week (and quite a bit more the week I blew up and got injured) down to around 15 to 20 max for 1.5 months due to an over-usage IT-band injury (idiot move), it has notably knocked back my running fitness.  You can do all the elliptical'ing and swimming you want, but nothing replaces getting out there and having at it running.

T-minus 27 days until fall full marathon.  Time to see what I can pull together by then...  Will be fun seeing what I can pull together.
Just don't go breaking my heart too much running you vixen!


  1. I'd say this is building nicely for you. They say being 10% under-trained is way better that being 1% over-trained. You might surprise yourself in T-minus 25 days.

  2. Well I have got the under-trained part fully under-control.
    It would be a very large surprise if I go sub 3 with the lack of mileage I have underneath (over?) my belt.
    If only the upcoming full could be some type of running, elliptical'ing and swimming combo race... :-)

  3. I beg to differ. I am if the opinion that a lot of very helpful work can be done in cross-training. I particularly stand behind doing "speed" and tempo work on the elliptical. Do you use a heart rate monitor? And thanks for your comment :) Most people read and leave. Jess is a dear friend and I know her beyond the blog world. I get #thesads when she goes all #fitfluential on us :(

    1. Heart rate monitor = No. Have been told by runner friends much smarter than I that I should. Thus naturally have yet to listen.

    2. Using the elliptical and a heart rate monitor to do speed and tempo work, I significantly dropped my 5k time. Sure, if you're not injury-prone do it on the road. But some of us are delicate flowers. HAHAHAHA!!! Good luck :)

  4. Ted I wouldn't worry too much about that 1:31 half time. I went sub 3 hours with a 1:30 half so it can be done. I do remember people telling me I had to have a faster half than that to break 3 hours in the full!

    1. Long ago put in the rear-view mirror. New upcoming races to conquer.
      BTW... good blog you have. Kansai area is my favorite in Japan - lived there in for a bit while was a youngster.