Thursday, March 5, 2015

Race Report : Part 3 - Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015, Three Days in Tokyo/Hakone

This is the third and final part of the 'Running Tokyo' series which will cover post race time activities. 
  • Part1 : How to get to the race and reflections on the race itself
  • Part2 : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  • (This Post) : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area) 
We only had the rest of race Sunday through Tuesday and were scheduled to leave that Wed night back to the States - so not a lot of time. If we had more time we would have stayed longer in Hakone and toured more of the Lake, Mt Fuji, taken the tram ride, etc.

Those three days can be broker down this way:
  • [Saturday] : Tokyo Afternoon Tour
  • Sunday : Recovery walk and shopping in Ginza shopping district
  • Monday : Train ride to Hokone, tour of Venetian glass museum, hot springs
  • Tuesday : Tour of park, stay at local business hotel

Tokyo Afternoon Tour

Day before the race, we booked an Afternoon tour via Sunrise Tours because the tour was about what I could handle before a Marathon, relatively inexpensive (¥5,500) looked interesting and had pickup at our Hotel (Keio Plaza). The stops were:
  1. Seaside Observation Deck
  2. Imperial Palace Gardens
  3. Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa) and Nakamise Shopping Street
  4. Sumida River Cruise
Front gate seen from marathon
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Race Report : Part 2 - Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015, Two Weeks In Taiwan

This is Part2 (of three total parts) detailing some interesting runs I had the pleasure of doing in Taiwan to prepare for the Tokyo marathon.  The three parts are:
  • Part1 : How to got to the race and reflections on the race itself
  • (This Part) : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  • Part3 : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area) 
 Knowing that jetlag would be an issue for any traveler crossing the international date line and sleeping in different beds, etc we planned on a couple of weeks first in Taiwan, ROC; which is only 1.5 hours by flight from Japan and only off by 1 hour in timezone.  This excuse also provided us with more vacation abroad, time to visit my wife's family and for me to try some new beers and hookup with hard-core trail runners in Taiwan!

I had the great pleasure of finding the informative blog (Taipei Runner) and connecting with its author Amber.  She also has a Facebook page you can find here.

Here are three fun runs you can do while in Taipei.  I'll provide links to other running groups also in Taipei that I didn't get a chance this time to run with but want to next time I'm in Taiwan.

  • Fun Run 1 : Riverside Park (JiLong aka KeeLung River)
  • Fun Run 2 : Da-An Forest Park
  • Fun Run 3 : YangMing Park:  QiXing Mountain Summit- aka Amber's Run

Fun Run 1 : Riverside Park (JiLong also called KeeLung River)

When ever I'm in Taipei, I also get in a run along the River Park aka along the JiLong River because it is well marked, paved, has periodic restrooms, occasional drink kiosks and is easy to get to from the subway (MRT).

Tourist Map + MRT lines
We happen to be staying at a local hotel at a discount (3D2N Special) called the Landis near the ZhongShan Elementary School and the 'Orange' Line 4 MRT.  So, to get to a good starting place on the River you could take the 'Orange MRT westward a couple of stops then transfer to the 'Red' Line 2 'DanShui' link up to YuanShan Station. If you exit the YuanShan Station you will be at the Taipei Expo center which also happens to be near a convenient north exit to the River Park.  Since I was so close to the Taipei Expo center anyway I just hiked from the hotel directly via JiLin Road there.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Race Report : Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015 - Part 1

It's 2:48AM, Saturday Feb 28th, six days after completing the Tokyo Marathon, and I'm wide awake sitting on my couch in sunny northern California wondering why did take a nap after landing at noon in the States!  Yes, major jet lag.
Since, I have nothing better to do on an early Saturday morning let's talk about participating in the 6th World Major Marathon as well as logistics of getting to the marathon and faux pah for the foreign traveler to be aware of.  Let's break this up into three parts:
  1. (This Post): This part about how to get to the race and reflections on the race itself
  2. Part2 : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  3. Part3 : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area)
If you have never heard of the World Marathon Major Races then you should read about each of them here as each has a rich history of their own.  Tokyo was the last marathon to be added and is the largest marathon in Asia.  Each year more than 300,000 people apply to get in and only about 35,000 are accepted.  It's even harder for local Japanese to get in.

When I found out about the race last year I added it to my 'bucket list' of destination races I wanted to run and knew it would be very easy to convince my wife to go with me.  I filled out the application, paid my non-refundable registration fee and forgot about it.  To my great surprise I received one of those emails congratulating me on being selected to participate.  I immediately informed my wife to start planning and put in a request in at work for a couple weeks off in February!

I started doing background research and came across a three part writeup on one runners experience running the marathon in 2013.  Michele Sun does a great job in summarizing her experiences as well all providing useful tips and tricks. Read about her journey here.

OK on to the discussion about three short days:
  • Friday, Feb 20th - arrive in Tokyo and check into hotel in Shinjuku, then visit expo
  • Saturday, Feb 21st - Afternoon tour of Tokyo, Shopping with wife
  • Sunday, Feb 22nd - Race and post race activities

I) Getting to Hotel Keio in Shinjuku

We were in the departure gate waiting for our ANA flight to leave Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan when we truck a conversation with other passengers waiting to board the aircraft.  We exchanged flight itineraries and asked them if they ever vacationed in Tokyo and knew the best way to get around.  One young gentleman said he had been to Tokyo many times and said we were in luck because the NEX was having a sell for foreigners where they could use the express train leaving Tokyo for half price.  And, that we could ride the bus to get back from Shinjuku.  We knew we were going to make mistakes since neither of us spoke Japanese and had never been to Tokyo before but now we felt slightly more confident because we had a goal.  Find the NEX train station!

Getting through customs in Narita was a breeze because we had learned from prior mistakes and:
  1. Left the energy bars in Taiwan - since energy bars have a density similar to explosives and set off alarms
  2. NO liquids and no lotions/perfumes greater than 100 grams
  3. NO knives
After we cleared customs we emerged in North terminal and successfully found the JAL counter to pick up our rental cell phone and managed to send our large luggage ahead to the hotel so we wouldn't have to carry it.  A very convenient service you'll find at the airport and nearly every hotel in Japan.  For about ¥1600 you can ship a large suite case to your hotel!  We used JAL but Black Cat (Yamoto Transport) is also popular.

Next, we scored an airport map and eventually found the NEX station on the level below the arrival gate (north wing).  There was a kiosk to buy tickets but we went strait to the ticket agent not trusting our luck buying tickets.  The agent spoke enough English to help us buy a ticket and sure enough it was half price (¥1500)!

It took the 'express' train one and half hours to reach Shinjuku station. Later we learned that the bus can get their in about 50min for half that price!  Oh man is Shinjuku station large.  When you see photos of crammed commuter trains, and bodies shoulder to shoulder racing from one platform to another that is probably Shinjuku main station.  We were lucky in that our hotel has only a couple blocks from the status but it took us more then 30 min to find the correct exist then tow our luggage there.

Celebration lunch aboard the NEX that we made it to the train station

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Race Report : Kaiser Permanente (KP) SF HM 02/01/2015 (3rd year running)

This is the third year I've run the KP San Francisco Golden Gate Half Marathon and probably the most fun for three reasons:
  • The weather was stunning perfect
  • PR'ed by nearly six minutes over last year
  • Was able to encourage more fellow KP-IT employees to run this year
Last year (2014) was a HM PR for me but under challenging conditions.  If you want to read about the storm conditions we ran in and my slip on a manhole cover read the gory details here.

Strava has a nice feature that once you name a run a 'route' then it will automatically compare them.  Here Strava compares my last three races.  You can clearly see a nice ~7 min improvement from 2013->2014, then a nice ~6 min improvement from 2014->2015.  I'd sure like to think if I continued to train and improve that I could knock off another ~5 off for a 1:42 next year!  Clearly not linear and it is going to be fun to see over time how fast I can become on the same course. If I had not been suffering from that dang cough that has been going around for the last four weeks I think I could have nailed my ~7:45min/mile average I was actually shooting for (not the 8:03 I measured with my Garmin 310xt).  However, I'm not unhappy.  In fact, I was downright giddy passing the finish with the clock showing a 1:47!

In case you were wondering.  The top male finished the HM in 1:06:29 or roughly a 5:05 min/mile pace for 13.3 miles!


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Product Review : Orange Mud HydraQuiver (Single Barrel)

My friend and running buddy Jacob 'Jake' Dinardi (http://HikeItLikeIt.com/) and I were talking the other day and thought it would be rad to do some sort of collaborative post since both of us are blogging nuts. We put our heads together and came up with the idea to talk about some hydration vests. BOOM! I'm going to talk about the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel and the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka (“AK”) Race Vest; whereas, Jake will be covering the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin (“PB”) Adventure Vest, and the Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Vest. There are a lot of hydra-vests on the market of course, but this small group covers the bases pretty well from the most minimal all the way up to something an adventure racer would reach for. In this installment we'll review Orange Mud's Single Barrel Quiver. Check it out and let us know what your favorite vest is!


Overview of The Hydra Vests in this Roundup

  • Orange Mud Single Barrel: A minimalist vest that offers an alternative to carrying a handheld. 
  • Nathan HPL 020:A small vest that carries a 70 oz hydration bladder and provides just enough room for some snacks or small items. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)
  • Ultimate Direction AK 2.0: A small vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles AND up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, or other gear. (Read more at Dirty Trail Shoes)
  • Ultimate Direction PB 2.0: A large vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles, up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, AND room for clothing/other gear. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)

Orange Mud HydraQuiver (Single Barrel)

Like many of us Josh Sprague, founder of Orange Mud and developer of the Quiver, was frustrated with many of the existing hydration packs of the day (fanny packs, hand-helds, back packs) and decided to build the ideal means of carrying water and supplies that minimized the negatives. What was born was a Quiver, something completely unlike anything else on the market and sure to turn peoples head at the next training run or race!
Skyline 50k

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Product Review : Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (2.0)


My friend and running buddy Jacob 'Jake' Dinardi (http://HikeItLikeIt.com/) and I were talking the other day and thought it would be rad to do some sort of collaborative post since both of us are blogging nuts. We put our heads together and came up with the idea to talk about some hydration vests. BOOM! I'm going to talk about the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel and the Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka (“AK”) Race Vest; whereas, Jake will be covering the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin (“PB”) Adventure Vest, and the Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Vest. There are a lot of hydra-vests on the market of course, but this small group covers the bases pretty well from the most minimal all the way up to something an adventure racer would reach for. In this installment we'll review Ultimate Direction's AK Race Vest (version 2). Check it out and let us know what your favorite vest is!

Overview of The Hydra Vests in this Roundup

  • Orange Mud Single Barrel: A minimalist vest that offers an alternative to carrying a handheld. (Read more at Dirty Trail Shoes)
  • Nathan HPL 020:A small vest that carries a 70 oz hydration bladder and provides just enough room for some snacks or small items. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)
  • Ultimate Direction AK 2.0: A small vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles AND up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, or other gear.
  • Ultimate Direction PB 2.0: A large vest with the ability to carry two 20 oz bottles, up to a 70 oz hydration bladder, AND room for clothing/other gear. (Read more at Hike It Like It!)

Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest (2.0)

The "AK" is Anton Krupicka's signature vest. For those wondering "who is Anton Krupicka", he's an ultra runner / mountain runner who has won many over the worlds toughest ultra races including but not limited to: Leadville 100, Miwok 100k, and Rocky Raccoon 100. He's also featured in the film, Indulgence: 1000 Miles Under The Colorado Sky, and of course an Ultimate Direction sponsored athlete. You can read more about Anton here if you're interested, as our segment is less about him and more about the AK vest.
Northface Endurance Challenge SF 50K #NFEC

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Race Report : Pleasanton Double (10K + 5K) 12/21/2014

I had joined Bob Anderson's, co-founder of Runners World Magazine, UjENA Fit Club some time ago but never ran a 'Double' because of race conflicts.  That is until I signed my 13 year-old son and I up for the Pleasanton Double December 21, 2014 for some father/son bonding!

Group shot with Bob after race. Bob doesn't even look tired!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Race Report : North Face Endurance Challenge (#NFEC), SF 50k, Dec 6,2014

I enjoy reading race reports. And, in most race reports where the runner runs in a race with the word 'Endurance', 'Challenge' or both 'Endurance Challenge' you get to read along as the runner suffers all that makes up the endurance challenge and the usual conclusion that if you are going to attempt it you better be prepared. The North Face Endurance Challenge is no exception to this classification of race and this years race on Dec 6th, 2014 enjoyed a deluge of rain the night before promising to make the challenging course even more so. Here are my results with muddy details to follow.
  • Distance = 32.10 mi
  • Avg Pace  = 15:56 min/mi
  • Time = 8:31:39
  • Elev Gain = 5,909 ft
  • Elev Loss = 5,915 ft
  • Avg HR = 156 bpm, 84 % of Max, 3.8z
  • Max HR = 174 bpm, 94 % of Max, 5.2z


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Interview : Heli's sub three marathon PR and BQ


Runner Background

Name: Heli Carrillo (HC)
Age: 38
Location:Los Angeles
Occupation: Programmer Analyst for Kaiser Permanente

Race History
Running Since: 2004
Total # of Races: 38
# of 5k's:5
# of 10k's:7
# of 13.1's: 14
# of 26.2's: 12

Dirty Trail Shoes (DTS) first interview with a badass runner, friend and colleague, Heli.  Heli has been trying to Boston Qualify (BQ) for sometime but with his young age and gender a 3:15 is a real tough bar to reach.  His last BQ attempt was LA Marathon back in March of this year and he came in 3:35.  However, after doing more strength training, loosing 5 pounds he killed his goal time of 3:10 with a 2:58:35.  Here is how he smashed his goal.

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