Tokyo Day 5 (Japan 2017)

Tokyo Day 5 (Japan 2017)

I woke up on Day 5 and was a bit sick (related to the previous night’s visit to the New York Bar).  The sad part is that we had ordered the Girandole Japanese breakfast.  Girandole is one of the restaurants in the building and the Japanese breakfast is supposed to be one of those “must haves” while in Tokyo.  Unfortunately due to how I was feeling, I only had a small portion of it but it looked amazing.

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It was our last full day in Tokyo so I tried to get my sh*t together and we headed out before noon.  I wanted to see Tsukiji Fish Market and possibly get some fresh fish while there.  Since we were arriving so late, I knew we probably wouldn’t see as much as if we went super early like most people.  I learned that if you want to see the actual tuna auctions, you have to sign up because it was becoming too popular, that start super early like 4 am.  Next to the marker were some tourist-filled small alleyways that were lined with restaurants and other shops.  We ducked into a small sushi joint to get some lunch.  I will say that the fish was definitely fresh and overall good.  And for dessert, my wife had some taro ice cream.  yum!

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Taro ice cream

From Tsukiji Market, we walked over to Hamarikyu Gardens, which sits near the water.

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Continue reading “Tokyo Day 5 (Japan 2017)”

2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

I did it!  Successfully (mostly) completed my fourth full marathon.  I am currently recovering from a hard effort.  I’ll have a separate post about our time in Carmel that is unrelated to the actual marathon itself.

Let’s start with the race expo.  We drove down from Sac on Friday late morning and went straight to the Portola Hotel, where the race expo was being held.  We had the dog with us so I didn’t get to explore the expo too much on Friday but went back Saturday morning to get a better idea.  I had read on other blogs that the expo is typically fairly small for a major marathon and they were correct.  Packet pickup was very smooth.  The organizers were great in sending out emails prior to the weekend letting me know my bib number since that was what you needed to get your bib.  Because there is only one way to get to the race start, I also had to pick up a bus ticket (free) from my pickup location (which was in the heart of Carmel).  There were about 4-5 different areas of pickup for the full marathon.  After grabbing my bib and bus ticket, I got my shirt and gear check bag and the helpful volunteer put everything into the bag for me.  The following morning I walked through the expo.  There were a few of the usual booths for various races as well as a few gear booths selling everything from gels to water bottles to clothes.  The largest merchandise area belonged to Asics, who is one of the big sponsors.  Overall it was a nice little expo area but nothing to write home about.  I did find my name on the Big Sur poster that is comprised of every runner.

I had all intentions of a breakout run on Saturday morning but that fell threw just because I was doing enough walking around with the wife.  The day before the race, we did drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur because my wife had never been.  Essentially we drove the course backwards on our way down and then in the proper direction on our return trip back to Carmel.  The drive really showed me just how non-flat the course actually is.  When you look at the elevation chart of the race, you go “okay, there are a few major hills and few minor ones,” but when you’re actually driving the course you realize the entire thing is essentially either “up” or “down.”  There aren’t actually many flat spots to the course.

Elevation

The drive is when I really did start to worry about my race and my training.  I knew that my trip to Japan as well as my illness didn’t hep matters but I wasn’t that worried about it.  After driving the course, I started to wonder a bit.  I had an “A” and “B” goal for this race.  The “A” goal was to PR the race, which I know is a challenge given the above regarding elevation changes.  My “B” goal was to finish under the 6 hour course time limit, which given that I was overall physically okay I figured I should be able to do.  Honestly I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt but knew that I had signed up, gotten in the lottery, and trained for it so I might as well give it a shot.  Outwardly of course I didn’t reveal my concerns to my wife. Continue reading “2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap”

Current shoe rotation – Altra & Asics

Since my injury last Feburary-March, I decided to try a completely different approach to the shoes I run in.  After recovery, I looked to explore some new types of shoes.  Previously I’d been running in stability shoes, typically from a few different brands (Asics, New Balance, Saucony).

Through either facebook or all the various running sites I visit, I learned about a company called Altra.  I actually had been looking at the brand for over a year before I pulled the trigger and invested in some of their shoes.  There are a few unique features of their shoes including the foot-shaped toe box as well as zero drop.  A shoe’s “drop” is the height difference from the heel to the toe.  Most running shoes have a “drop” of anywhere between 6 and 12 mm.  A zero drop shoe is flat all the way across (hence a 0 mm drop).  The store where I purchased my first Altra Running shoes only had one style in the size that I wear.  I went with the Altra Provision 1.5, which is one of their stability shoes.  These shoes tend to a run a little on the small size and the original US9.5 that I ordered was too small.  Typically I have been US9.5 in all my running shoes.  I returned the shoes and purchased some US10 shoes and these fit much better.

Putting these shoes on, I noticed that the shoe kind of hugs your foot.  With the widened toe box, your feet/toes aren’t squished like most running shoes to their narrowness.  One of the neat things that the company does with their shoes is they provide a little instruction booklet in the shoe box.  This explains that these shoes aren’t like your average running shoe and your body (feet, legs) aren’t adapted to running in these shoes long distances right away.  They suggest a long, slow break in period so your body adjusts to the shoes.  Some of the reported differences is that there is more strain on your achilles due to the zero drop.  My first run with the shoes was a very short 1.6 miler.  I definitely felt different muscles working in my legs with these shoes.

At the same time as the Altra Provision 1.5, I also decided to try an even more stable shoe than traditional stability shoes: Asics GEL-Foundation 8.  This shoe is classified as a motion control shoe.  Motion control shoes are the most “stable” shoe to help with pronation.  I threw on these Asics right after a short run with the Altras and boy did I notice a huge difference.  It felt like my feet were in a large boat with the Asics.  The Asics are also a bit heavier than the Provision but they felt more stable.

For awhile I would rotate between these two shoes and then I decided maybe I needed a 3rd alternative for a shoe because I was still experiencing some aches and pains.  I know shoes aren’t the key to solving all injuries, but I had also implemented some other tools to help with my injuries.  I bought a foam roller and started rolling.  Also I looked up some good stretches to help with previous plantar fasciitis and knee pain.

A good deal came up for the Altra Repetition.  This was a departure from the “minimalist” Provision 1.5 and actually is deemed a “maximalist” shoe.  These shoes have a thick foam cushioning running along the entire underside of your foot.  These types of shoes have been used for many years by a lot of ultrarunners who do 50+ mile trail races in the mountains.  Slowly the maximalist movement has trickled into the road running scene a little.  I figured that having a shoe with some extra padding may actually help offset the lightly padded Provision and be different than the motion control Asics.  After trying the Altra Repetition, I really liked these shoes.  They provided some great cushioning and also had the zero drop that I preferred for trying to run with a mid-foot strike gait.

So over the last year or so now, I’ve had a 2, then 3 shoe rotation that seems to work.  I haven’t had any major injuries (*knock on wood*) in the last year or so.  Still a few areas of aches and pains but nothing long lasting like some of my previous injuries (which I’ll talk about later).

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(From left to right): Altra Provision 1.5, Asics GEL-Foundation 8, Altra Repetition

Up next in the rotation will be the Altra Provision 2.0 (to replace the 1.5), Saucony Guide 8 (to replace the Asics), and keeping the Altra Repetition (as the mileage is much lower than the other two at this time).

-StewsCat