Nosappu-misaki HALF-MARATHON : 2015

2015 Race #5
2015 HM #3
Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Out to Nemuro for the half-marathon here. Left around 6:30pm on Saturday evening and got within 30K to Attoko at 11:30pm. On the road again at 6:30am the next morning and arrived at the city office at 7am. Got a decent-ish park, but gotta get there earlier obviously. The city office carpark is small and they have no one there to make sure people park properly. Kinda crazy in there. 

Anyway, registered and got on the bus to get out to Cape Nosappu…which is 21K away and the most eastern point of Japan! A little scary going over the course as there are a bunch of hills…pretty much the whole way. Had the opening ceremony right at the cape, then back on the bus to the start line at the local school, which is not that far away. 

Two years ago it was rainy with a solid head wind. This year it was sunny and warm, but…not too warm. However it was probably around 20 degrees as opposed to over 30 in Nakashibetsu back in July. Drank more water anyway… Wrote down all the cutoff times as well, just in case… 

The race had a two hour fifty limit. Nakashibetsu had a three hour limit so both were quite similar in having a bunch of tough freaking hills! As I said, not quite as hot today though… 

Anyway, haven’t really done much since Nakashibetsu (although I have been doing a bunch of hilly walks with MHM), but eased into the rolling course without any problems. A little surprised! Cruised to the first checkpoint/water station at 5K and drank a jelly drink (I accidentally bought four Weider instead of the Seicomart brand last night…double the price…), which I had been carrying in my hand. MHM was there with the support bus, which gave me a lift. 

More of the same up down rolling course and got to 10K, where I drank my second jelly drink and a bunch of water. (Not taking any risks getting overheated…) 

Then on to the 15K checkpoint. Here I drank more water and had half my slo-bar (or something like that), but not sure if I really like eating solid food in a race. Felt like I coughed most of it down (or up). 

It had just been a rolling course until then, but at about 17K there was the hill back into Nemuro. A solid hill. A tough hill. A b#####d of a hill. Knowing that people would be in the streets in town supporting the runners, I ran halfway up, then walked the rest. Needed to conserve some energy for the finish. Of course, it was a pretty hard hill…that might have had something to do with it, too… 

Once I finally crested it, it was just a gentle downhill through town. Not sure of my time as I cleared 20K, but no one was cutting me today! 

Of course, there was the final hill back up to the city office. Ridiculous. Yet ridiculously awesome. What a killer way to finish! I ran the first third and the last third of it and walked the middle. Then, after turning left at the top of the hill, out of nowhere I charged the final 20 meters or so to the finish. When was the last time I have ever done that?! In fact, despite not training as hard as I should have, I didn’t cramp up in my legs… Maybe it’s all the hills I have been walking (and running) recently? 

Anyway, put no pressure on myself for times and just enjoyed the race. Quite a nice area in good weather even. (Yankee culture does still seem to be alive and well though.) 

The guest runner from Shikoku (who got a free ticket to come win the race, screw the locals!) did a Q and A session so I got up and asked him how much mileage he does per week. 140K. Man, I don’t want to run that much! Getting paid to come up to all these races in Hokkaido in the off-season would be kinda cool though. 

Ice cream at Akkeshi on the way home. That town is nice on a nice day, too. My perception of the area has changed a little!


Nakashibetsu HALF-MARATHON : 2015

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Pulled into town around midnight the night before and managed to find a nice rest area to park at – it wasn’t that obvious at first though. Woke up the next morning and drove to the city office to park our car. Unfortunately we couldn’t park at the sports grounds so we had to take the free shuttle bus to get there.

It was already pretty “warm” when we got there and not a lot of shade or cool places to sit. The whiteboard said it was 31 and I didn’t doubt it. However not being used to running in hot weather, I didn’t drink nearly as much in advance as I should have…

The course also had a three hour limit. Most races have a two and a half hour limit. I didn’t investigate why…

Two big mistakes!

Anyway, the race started at 9:45am and it was HOT. And then…from about 2.5K we started to climb…and climb…and climb. I hadn’t run enough hills and I didn’t drink enough in preparation so I got tired quick. As did a LOT of other people. It was brutal!

The first water station was at 5K and I drank several cups of water there and continued. I usually drink half a cup at best. I was lagging badly, but I was still three minutes ahead at the first cutoff point at 6K. At about this stage the first person was lying passed out in the ditch. Fortunately there was staff on hand to look after her. Lots of people were to be picked up by the ambulance service during the race…

So anyway, we kept climbing in the heat. And climbing. I was taking walk breaks very early on, but we just kept going up. Just couldn’t get on top of it! We hit a sponge station at 8K. Didn’t help much, but I was hanging in there. 

Eventually got to the next water station at 10.5K. Very much appreciated, but it wasn’t getting any cooler. Another water station was directly opposite it so I figured we would run to the turnaround point at the halfway mark then get another shot at the water station very shortly. They even had watermelon!

It was a major downer to find out the turnaround point was actually at 13K, although there was a sponge station at 12K. I must have looked exhausted as a guy gave me a whole jug of water to drink. I pretty much drank all of it too.

Anyway, the next cutoff time was at the turnaround at 13K. I was five minutes ahead. Man, never have I been so close to being cut off in a race! My fault totally though. Just bad preparation. The guy there was calling out times to let the other runners know they had to speed up etc. At least it gave people a chance.

Looking at the map of the course now, I see that it climbs from 2.5K all the way to 12K. Really got to check the race details in advance!!!

The heat was intense, but I struggled on. No energy at all… Felt I was going to make it though. Just getting to the turnaround point at 13K seemed like a marathon in itself!

Got back to the water station, which was actually at 15K, but there was no more watermelon. GONE. Spent a bunch of time drinking water, ate something (can’t remember what it was now though) and had multiple buckets of water tipped over my head. Felt I had my times worked out and there had to be a good downhill section coming up. Saving up for a strong finish.

From the water station at 15K to the sponge station at 17K there was a slight climb so I took it easy getting up there. I had plenty of time and there was that big downhill section coming up, right?

WRONG. I got up to the 17K sponge station after taking my sweet time at the 15K water station and was the FIRST person cut there. There were people running a little in front of me who were allowed to continue. I was gutted.

Admittedly, I should never have gotten myself into this position. I should have investigated the course, run more hills in training, checked the weather forecast and drank more water in advance…

But I really wish someone at the 15K water station had told me to hurry up. Or I wish they had the 17K cutoff time posted at the 13K cutoff. The cutoff times were written in the program admittedly…but who really takes note of the cutoff times?!

What is most frustrating is that I had almost 40 minutes to cover the final 4K (with a big downhill section). I could have walked that! Yet I wasn’t allowed to continue… Cut at 17K…


Takasu HALF-MARATHON : 2015

2015 Race 4
2015 HM 2 
Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Rolled into the rest area at around 2am. No parks, but after a couple of laps miraculously someone left. Four hours sleep… 

Up and out to Takasu for registration at 8am. Really close to Asahikawa, but it was the first time to ever hit this town. Anyway, race started at 10:20. 10K started at 10:25, meaning the 10K runners all thundered past us. Still trying to work out the logic there. Wouldn’t it be better for the 10K to start before the HM…? 

Anyway, being a “jogging festival”, there were all sorts of races… meaning there were a billion water stations. At the start anyway. It was actually fairly cool out and perfect for running, but I actually considered wearing a long t-shirt and/or tights. Glad I didn’t though. The water was good. Took a drink at every station. Ran with the sponge in my hand too. They even used ice! A little unusual really… 

It was an out and back course in the countryside. As with all my races recently, didn’t look at the watch much and just cruised. Makes it so much more… well, fun!

The first hill came just after 7K. Long-ish, but not that steep. Turned the corner after that and then a shorter drop back down. Hit the turn around and the hills on the way back were fine. Just cruised, but started to feel it on the flat at 18K. Got slower and slower, but eventually made it across the line.

Must have had really bad timing as the lines to get food were out of control just as I had finished. Ended up going to the convenience store… Oh well, liked this race though. Back next year!


Ebetsu Nopporo HALF-MARATHON : 2015

2015 Race 3
2015 HM 1

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Almost signed up for the 10K here, but signed up for the HM in the end. Always going to be very much a training run though. Anyway, left town way too late at about 9:30pm. Arrived at our rest stop on the expressway between Tomakomai and Sapporo at about 1:30am. Slept then got to the venue at the Nopporo Sports Grounds.

Anyway, turns out it is six laps on a course in and around the sports grounds here. One good thing is that there are six drink stations. Planned on walking through all of them and taking my time! Looked to be pretty warm too. Plenty of time as they did the 5/10K at 9am first up, but somehow I managed to get rushed to the start. No warmup, but did get a few stretches in. Gut was a little rough, but that’s nothing new. So, six laps.

Turned out it wasn’t a flat course either! Nothing crazy, but there was a climb at the start of the lap and another drop and climb about halfway through. Six of each is a grind!

First lap was rough and took me a while to warm into it. The first half of each lap was quite sheltered, but the second half was quite windy. A headwind, in fact. Kept on running though. Kept my pace slow and only looked at the watch after every lap…

MHM was on hand at the start/finish of almost every lap, which was good. She handed me a Mini Snickers at the end of lap four (I had actually asked her to do it at the end of lap five). Tasted amazing. Eventually made my gut worse though. Nothing to stop me running, but didn’t encourage me to run any faster. Hah!

Second half of the race was, not surprisingly, slower than the first. Last lap started to get cramps. Hard work, but got over the line. Got water, four packets of packaged ramen and pork soup. No free onsen though. To avoid disappointment, I had a Corona on ice in my cooler box. Nice.

Wasn’t expecting anything with this so fine with how I did. Just needed to get a couple of races done in May to set me up for June.

Kaiten sushi for lunch!

Karikachi 12K Trail Run : 2015

2015 Race 2
2015 Trail Run 2

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Up at 5am and out the door at 6ish to drive out to Sahoro. Crazy wind in town, which turned to on and off rain from about Shimizu. The pass was covered in cloud and it wasn’t looking that promising… Got there for registration at around 8:30am and it even started to hail. Kinda cleared up UNTIL five minutes before the race was due to start when we got hit with a downpour. A cold downpour.

So that’s how the race started. Raining. Hard. Anyway, the course was generally on hard trails and much more of a rolling course than the last two trail runs I did. Fun, and a really nice course too. Some good climbs, but nothing too steep or too long. There was a patch in the middle when it sunned up (and even heated up), but we finished like we started – in the wind and rain. After about 8K the course got a little softer (but not really that soft) and the first and only drink station (water only) came at 9K. Why even bother?! (The people doing the 20K probably appreciated it though…)

Despite the weather I totally enjoyed running this as I had no pressure on myself for times. Crossed the finish line in the rain feeling good and got my complimentary drink (again, water). Also scored some local packaged soba (can’t be very expensive) and free admission to a hot spring a little off the main drag (which I had to go use). 3500 yen entry. Come on… no soup?!

I guess they printed off the certificates at the tent at the finish line as soon as people crossed the line. Once I worked this out, I grabbed my folder and walked back there to get it. A guy there sees me coming, walks out from under the tent and hands my certificate to me. In the rain. The guy was all thumbs too. Man, nice thinking there. Oh well… dried quick enough…

Burgers at Oakway for lunch. Always good.

2015 BC Day 16 : No Name Peak

2015 BC Day 16
2015 BC Snowboard Day 6 
Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Started hiking at 6:35am with MHM after sleeping in the car the night before. Felt a bit rough first thing in the morning, but fortunately it was bluebird with no wind. Amazing day to be out. Slow hike today, but got to the top in 1 hour 45. So nice up there I could have sat up top all day. Amazing.

It had been wet all day yesterday so we were hoping for powder on the mountain. There was some technically, but it didn’t really matter as it was extremely rippable corn snow. Totally fun.