Tag Archive | fitness

Tsugaru Channel swim: the EPIC video

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I shall just say that 2018 has been an EPIC year for me. And hopefully I’ll get around to writing about some various highlight at some point before the year end.

But for the past 8 months of the year, I was swimming. A lot. I achieved a bucketlist item of swimming Tsugaru Channel (that body of water between Honshu and Hokkaido) and one of the Oceans Seven swims. I swam it as part of an international 3-person relay with two friends (also expats in Tokyo). And for the record, I’ve been trying to do this swim for the past 2-3 years and was never chosen for a slot. But at the end of 2017, I was finally notified of a last-minute slot for 2018 (I think due to someone else cancelling).

It was quite the journey in terms of training and build-up and the actual swim itself. Will eventually write an epic swim report, but for now, I will leave you with the EPIC video documenting our channel swim which we did on 19-20 July 2018. The film was shot and edited by my amazingly talented friend (and crew support on the swim) Matt.

For your viewing pleasure: (and yes, we really did this!)

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Journey towards Tokyo Marathon 2018

Today I officially got accepted into the Tokyo Marathon! A bucket list item about to come true (if I make it to the finish line)!

I saw people on Facebook getting their rejection emails, so I checked my email and nothing yet. Hopefully no news is good news. I then finally got an email and was amazed to see that I had been accepted! I had previously applied 5 times and been rejected. So about time, I say.

Wow. Can’t believe I’m one of the lucky ones who get to participate.

Shit. This means I’m going to actually have to run and train! I don’t remember the last time I went for a jog and I’m at my heaviest weight ever!

So now I gotta train for a full marathon. I can’t believe my first ever marathon is going to be the Tokyo Marathon in 2018. I think the hardest part is over though – the actually getting accepting into it. I suppose running is the easy part but perhaps not for me. This is going to be a huge wake up call for the body.

First thing on my list is to buy a pair of running shoes. My current running shoes are so old and ruined that they are no longer wearable. I’m going to have to do something about.

And I’m going to have to find a lot of motivation to train for this. But it’s such a rare opportunity that I don’t want to squander it, so I really want to finish within the time limit of 7 hours.

I’m going to make an effort to jog, train and blog about my journey to Tokyo Marathon 2018! Bring. It. On.

 

Progress

Getting faster, slowly.

From Progress

Not running as often as I’d like.

And to think that I ran a half marathon this time last last year (in Feb 2012). Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I struggle to run 5km these days, let alone 21km!

“Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going.”

Taxirobics

Move over Zumba, Taxirobics is in. I was walking around the streets of Ginza yesterday armed with my camera (as I was on my way to an afternoon tea), and lo and behold, I saw a taxi driver who was obviously taking a break and thought he’d get in a bit of aerobics. He was doing a variety of aerobics moves – side kicks, jogging on the spot etc. He was pretty intense about it. Totally oblivious to everything around him, I managed to capture a few discreet shots. I would have loved to have watched him for longer and taken more photos, but instead of him being the weird one, I started looking like the crazy person taking photos of him! I love that he’s wearing his taxi driver uniform complete with vest and everything. Although, I see he did take off his white driving gloves.

From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics

He’s in pretty good shape, so it’s definitely working for him. Taxirobics – the next big thing. You heard it here first!

Kozushima aquathlon race report

So it’s been a while since I did a race report…or simply a race for that matter. This summer, I didn’t have much of a chance to enter in an as many events due to lengthy travel plans. At the beginning of the year, I did a slow and painful half marathon. I have also only done one other open water swim race and a sprint aquathlon race this year. Over the weekend, I finally got around to completing my first proper (longer) distance aquathlon race. I started out in 2010 doing only ows races. I needed more of a challenge than just swimming, so have slowly built in jogging into my fitness routine, despite being a really lousy runner. I have bad, uncooperative feet. So on Saturday, I did a 1.5km open water swim and a 10km run race (ie an aquathlon). I didn’t treat it too much like a race, more like a hard training session, in preparation for a triathlon I have prematurely and foolishly entered. The race was on Kozushima island. Logistics for this race was a bit of a nightmare. Because it’s on an island, access is only by boat. And the boats to get there were all fully-booked! I ended up having to take the Friday off work and get there the day earlier. At least there were seats available on the Friday. This meant staying on the island for two nights. Next nightmare was accommodation! I rang up 10 places and they were all booked out! No room at the inn! I very nearly thought I would have to camp on the island! I ended up finally finding a place to stay at a little minshuku. Thankfully, this place had a room to spare. Actually, they weren’t booked out at all. They even had rooms to spare. And it was in a great location. A 5-minute walk to the beach and my room had partial sea views.

From Kozushima aquathlon

On Friday, I snorkeled and explored the island. The island is fabulous for marine activities – snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming. The waters were teeming with marine life. That’ll be a separate post. Took some awesome pics. Saturday was race day. Breakfast at the minshuku was served at 7:30am:

From Kozushima aquathlon

However, the race didn’t start until 1:50pm. The weather was concerning. It rained in the morning, then cleared up to be a ridiculously hot day. This summer has been crazy hot. Temps were in the 30s and I was worried about running in the heat and the humidity of the middle of the day. I had the morning free, so I decided to walk a part of the run course to familiarise myself with it. Kozushima island is beautiful. Wonderful coastline and beautiful beaches and water. My favourite beach on the island was Sawajiri beach.

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

Lovely water vista:

From Kozushima aquathlon

The swim part of the race took place on Maehama beach (the beach next to the port). This beach was ok. On the Friday, I had tested out the waters, and there were a lot of jellyfish. In the race briefing, we had been warned there would be a lot of jellyfish but during my swim, I didn’t see or notice any. Thank God! Maehama beach:

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

A pretty nice race venue, I might add on a nice little island. This was the first race where I would test out my new wetsuit. I vowed I would never own a wetsuit, being the swimming purist that I am. But unfortunately, wetsuits are compulsory for triathlon races in Japan, so I had to buy one. I ended up forking over about 200 buks and buying one on the Internet (I don’t really fit into Japanese sizes) which is always risky because you can’t try before you buy. I had only worn it once before in the water at a test open water swim training session at Kamakura beach. This would be the first time under race conditions.

From Kozushima aquathlon

The very cool lifeguard team. They would have given the Baywatch cast a run for their money!

From Kozushima aquathlon

Wetsuits have a negative effect for me. I actually swim faster without one. I already have a high percentage of body fat so I don’t need the extra bouyancy. If anything, I felt that it weighed me down and made me feel heavier and slower. It also gave me a hell of a neck rash. I barely have any skin left on my neck. For me, I like the feeling of being light and free in the water, and a wetsuit detracts that from me. I would much rather prefer to be as close to naked as possible when in the water. The wetsuit felt cumbersome in the water. During the swim, I was really bothered by the stinging and chafing on my neck. 1.5km swim time was 30min and 32 seconds, which I wasn’t happy with. I had expected to swim well under 30minutes.That being said, I was the 5th female out of the water, and overall 33rd place (out of total 99 people). The swim course was 2 laps of 750m, with a land exit between the 2 laps. The water temperature was a whopping 29 degrees! I seriously debated not wearing the wetsuit thinking it would be kind of dangerous in this heat. But I really needed a trial run wearing it. I wasn’t really relaxed swimming in the wetsuit. How lovely does the water look!

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

Transition was awkward. I got out of the wetsuit pretty quickly though. Helps that it was sleeveless. The thing with the transition was that it was on the sand! Here are our transition baskets laid on the actual beach!

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

There was no possible way to clean and dry your wet feet! How were we supposed to put on socks and joggers when your whole body is wet and there was nothing to stand on but sand, and we all had to dump our wetsuits on the sand. At the transition, I took off goggles, cap, wetsuit, threw on my glasses, a cap, and wrist sweatbands (yeah, I know, I went bought sweatbands. How very 80s of me. But seriously, you try jogging in 35-degree heat). I had also bought a race belt and buckled that on as well. I didn’t know what to do with my wet sandy feet. So I held my joggers and socks and ran up the beach barefooted until I got up to the beach promenade where I sat down and tried to brush sand off my feet with my hands, threw on my socks onto my damp sandy feet, threw on the shoes and just started running.

From Kozushima aquathlon

By the time I started the run leg, I was the 5th female out there. And this is where I lose it. I really wish my running was a lot better to be able to maintain my lead. This 10km course was intense. It was extremely hilly. We were on a crazy hilly island. It was a tough, hard course. A lot of people’s times were slower than normal for a 10km run. They actually used to hold a triathlon here, but it was deemed too hilly, curvy and dangerous, they used to have bike accidents, so this was the first year they changed it to an aquathlon event instead. Still, the hills were a killer. And it was 2 laps of a 5km course. The flat parts of the run course were nice though along the coastline. Run course:

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

Now during the run leg, I was in a lot of pain! It also happened to be the first time that I was wearing a tri suit, which I wore under the wetsuit for the swim leg. This meant that I was already wearing shorts and a singlet so I didn’t need to faff about with clothes at the transition. The shorts though come with padding for the bike leg in a triathlon. I was in for a rude surprise, when I felt major discomfort. How shall I put this delicately… it was something akin to adult nappy rash. Under the shorts, you don’t wear swimmers or undies, so I was suffering major chafing in a majorly sensitive area. Holy crap. I had heard of saddle sores, but I had not been warned about this kind of friction. You try running in wet, salty, sandy, sweaty shorts for 10km in 30 degree heat. Basically, I had two mantras going in my head during the run course. “Nappy rash. Blisters. Nappy rash. Blisters.” I didn’t know which was worse! — the chafing or the blisters on my feet. I couldn’t run as fast as I would have liked given that my feet were giving me grief. You might already be aware that I have a lot of feet problems…namely blisters and that I am very prone to them. I think the fact that I have flat feet (absolutely no arch) doesn’t help. More surface area for friction. And given the crappy transition, there was no way to properly dry my feet and get rid of the sand. So my feet were moist and sandy. I’m not exaggerating when I say the blisters were slowing me down. It hurts to run when meanwhile this is going on…WARNING: ugly feet photos coming up NOW! This is how my feet looked after 10km. Believe me, I wanted to quit during the run. Yeah, I know I gotta HTFU (Harden The FEET UP).

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

Seriously, flat feet much?

From Kozushima aquathlon

Friction is my Enemy Number 1. Given the hilly course, my nappy-like rash and blisters on my feet, I finally hauled my arse to the finish line. The 10km run took me a whopping and painfully slow 1hr and 9min and 27 seconds. I’ve mapped out the run, and yes, there was definitely one hilly section. And we had to do it twice. A lot of people struggled on this section. I much prefer an absolute flat courses! To hell with hills.

5km course x 2 laps

Total race time for 1.5km and 10km hill run was 1hr 39min and 59 seconds. Transition time is included in there as well (although I’m not sure if that gets lumped in with the swim time or run time). Hooray. Made it to the finish line in one piece! (Check out the sweat wristbands!)

From Kozushima aquathlon

I ended up being 12th overall female (out of 21 females), and 70th place out of 99 competitors (male and female). I surprised myself by not coming last! Despite slow times, I did ok relative to the field. I was actually 2nd place in my female age group (of which there were 5 of us). Unfortunately, no AG prizes. Only the top overall 6 places got prizes. Bummer. I was disappointed. Far out, I have no idea how I am supposed to squeeze in a 40km cycle in between all that, in the upcoming triathlon. I’m going to be looking at about 3.5 hours for the OD tri. Ugh. My feet were in a lot of pain after the race. Could barely walk on the soles of my feet. Had to bandaid and tape them up. Had a shower back at the minshuku. And boy was I stinging in places where one should never be stinging. It hurt to shower (and pee for that matter. TMI?). Finally, got myself refreshed, although I was rather exhausted and sore. Definitely feeling a little worse for wear. Definitely was not looking as fresh as this during the race.

Saw the sun set.

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

In the evening, there was a party and awards ceremony. It was all a free all you can eat and drink spread, prize giving and taiko performance (all included in race entry).

From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon
From Kozushima aquathlon

Goal to complete a full aquathlon distance, now complete, although painfully slow as it was.

From Kozushima aquathlon

5193322 2012-09-04 10:18:21 2012-09-04 01:18:21 open closed kozushima-aquathlon-race-report publish 0 0 post 0 aquathlon Fitness here and there in japan Japan Swimming Swimming Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo life Travel _edit_last 253158 _encloseme 1 _encloseme 1 _encloseme 1

My first half-marathon

Have just crawled my way through a half marathon race. Show me the chocolate! Stat! And a new pair of legs while you’re at it. I eat. I swim. I walk. I travel. I drink. I work. I poop. I sleep. But ‘run’ is not a verb in my repertoire. So it may surprise you to know that I ran – actually ‘attended’ or ‘participated’ in would be a more accurate description – in my first half marathon. Might be my last as well. Don’t plan on doing that again any time soon.

Don’t know why they call these things “fun runs”. Traumatising, is what it was. Fun is a theme park. Fun is a holiday. A run is not fun. 21.097494 kilometres. 13.1094 miles. A half marathon. The first 21km were fine. It’s those last .097494 kilometres that got to me! Because I didn’t get lucky in the Tokyo Marathon lottery this year (which I think may be a blessing, in light of today’s efforts), I decided last year to do a half marathon in the same month instead.

I can officially say I have completed my first half marathon today – the Tokyo-Akabane half marathon. That’s 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life I will never get back. So yes, a PB! Should be pretty easy to beat, coz I doubt I could ever run this slow again. My form was neither fast nor pretty but I did make it across the finish line in one piece…barely. That wise guy Confucius said: “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop”. Yeah, I bet Confucius never ran a half marathon in his damn life! Talk to the hand, brother. I mean, what kind of name is Confucius anyway.

It was a race which almost didn’t happen. I made it to the race in the nick of time. For some reason I thought it started at 11:30am, so I figured I should get there around 11am. Fark me. It started at 11:10am! I had to run from the train station to the start point. I arrived with barely five minutes to spare, and was at the back of the pack coz I had arrived so late. It was a brisk 8 degrees but at least the sun was out. No rain. No snow. But there was plenty of wind and chill factor. And then the torture began. First 10km was bearable. By no means enjoyable. It was a hairpin course along the Arakawa River which meant that we ran the 10.5 something k’s and then looped back around the exact way we came.

I had my runkeeper app going to keep track of my pace whilst listening to my half marathon music playlist. And then at the 17km mark my iPhone battery died. And with it my music and my spirits. At least I know that ‘I’ can last a half marathon. Sadly, the iPhone can not. I had anticipated that this would happen. I had done a 20km practice run two weeks prior, and the battery didn’t last then either. The last 4 kilometres therefore were music-less. A fate worse than death. 15km in, and things started to go downhill. Body system shutdown. My legs were starting to cave. There’s a fine line between a ridiculously slow jog and a fast walk. At what point does a walk become a jog and vice versa?

The second part of the course was also super windy as we were running right into it for the last 10km. Also had girly stomach cramps. And feeling cold. No fun at all. The run/walk turned into a crawl. Was feeling really drained and slightly nauseous. Kept thinking that I would need to puke like those people on Biggest Loser at the slightest physical exertion. Thankfully, that never happened. Just counting down the k’s to end this misery. For the last 5km’s, the only thing that consumed my thoughts was ‘sugar’. Wanted sugar. Needed sugar. Stat. I hadn’t eaten enough before the race because I was running so late. Two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast were the only things I had consumed pre-race and are what got me to the finish line. I had packed bananas and had planned on eating them prior to the race but with barely enough time to get to the start line to begin with there was no time for bananas before the starting gun. I desperately wanted some sports drink during the race course, but they were only offering water. “Sugar. Chocolate. Sports drink.” Anything. Needed energy.

I don’t recommend running a half marathon on very little training. Do not try this at home, kiddies. Should’ve trained more. Should have trained. Full stop. Made it to the finish line just within the 3-hour race limit. Official time was an officially embarrassing 2 hours, 45 minutes and 6 seconds. Safe to say, I ain’t a runner. I really should stick to swimming. By some sheer miracle I did not come last. That title went to some other poor soul (with poor soles).

Here is a breakdown of my pace/km splits up until the 17km mark when my iPhone battery died. Times are indicative only. The start time I pressed on my iPhone may differ from the official time on my run chip.

From Half marathon
From Half marathon

After the 10km mark, my times got slower…

From Half marathon

and slower…

From Half marathon

From the 18km to the finish line, I think I was doing 11-12min plus/km as I was half walking, half jogging, praying that my legs wouldn’t break off. I almost thought about getting on all fours, except damn pride stopped me. Crossed the finish mat and was ready to keel over. They finally offered us that sugary sports drink that I had been yearning for. They made us run 21km to earn it. Was really cold at the end of the race. Sat on the grass to rest my weary legs and wrapped myself up in my trackpants, jacket and scarf. Wolfed down two chocolate bars and a banana. A banana has never tasted so freaking delicious. That was a 3 Michelin star banana, to be sure. It was that amazing. All I needed now was a drip to intravenously inject sugar into my bloodstream. Race done and dusted.

Next hurdle…to walk/limp all the way back to the train station. The walk back was somewhat worthwhile. There’s a Mister Donut right next to Akabane station. Just the man I wanted to see. And there was a donut sale (100yen donuts). I bought two. I had earnt them! As if to add insult to injury, I had to stand up on the trains all the way back home. As if running a half marathon wasn’t tiring enough for my feet. Those train courtesy seats should not only be extended to pregnant women and handicapable peoples, but to those who have also run 21km.

Home, a bath and a cup of tea never felt so good. I am now going to have be surgically removed from my bed. I am exhausted. I feel like a broken woman. My knees are shattered. Some minor toe blisters as well. And to think that a full marathon is double that!!! The thought of doing that all over again is enough to make me run walk crawl for the hills. The first of my sporting goals for 2012 is done. Another three to go! For details of my training or lack thereof, you can check out the running blog I’ve been keeping for a while, over here.

And finally, now I ain’t no Confucius, but some sage words of wisdom would be: “One who is foolish enough to enter a half-marathon must be willing to punish themselves, and get their training on!”