Ohtawara Marathon & 10k for 2007

November 23rd, 2007 and the wind was blowing hard in Tochigi Prefecture. Nevertheless 10 sturdy Nambanners ran the Ohtawara Marathon, seven did the unofficial half, and another brace ran the 10k. Their reports follow.

Yoshida-san 2:50:08 My goal time was 2:50. I did not expect to break my PB of 2:49, and my result was slightly more than a minute slower than my PB. But I am extremely happy. I feel that I made the best performance in my marathon life. Before the race I had plans to run the first 5km at 19:50 and the 2nd 5km at 19:40 which would be 30 seconds slower than last year. I ran 19:49 for the first 5km and 19:40 in 2nd 5km so it was perfect pace making. After 10km, I maintained my own pace. Through 30km it felt like a very comfortable pace. After that, I tried to build up toward the finish line. But then the course turned into the heavy winds. I had to fight the heavy wind and my pace began to slow. But even in wind my pace slowed only a little and all the way to the finish line I never gave up on goal to run under 2:50. In the end, I fell 9 seconds short. Still my feeling at that moment was great satisfaction with my result. This Ohtawara marathon was my 40th full marathon since I started to run marathons in 1995. I will run at least 4 marathons in the 2007/08 season. I’d like to run my 50th marathon by next season (2008/09), thus hitting my 50th anniversary marathon at 2009 Tokyo or 2009 Boston. Race report on my blog.

Christian, 2:50:50 (PB) Ohtawara was another great Namban experience. Well organized by Chiba and Gareth for Namban, but also by the local team. I can recommend this race to everybody. After Obuse HM in July (1:25:58) I started training with an internet system telling me to run about 100k a week. Therefore, my plan was quite ambitious: running three new PBs in one race (two halves and one full). I felt confident to run 4 min pace, however, the wind was a little bit too strong for me. Except for that, the weather was perfect and I enjoyed the race very much. It was the first time for me that I did not run close to a pace maker and I found it quite difficult to run with an appropriate speed - every time I joined a group, they became slow as soon as the wind started - fortunately, I controlled the pace using GPS and was able to react. At the end, I felt quite strong and overtook many runners (even though the split time might suggest something different). Last but not least I would like to thank the various Namban experts for the valuable and much appreciated coaching/consulting. (Furthermore, thanks to the great massage, my legs feel almost recovered, ???!) 5k splits: 20:34, 20:00, 20:14, 20:44 19:45, 19:51, 20:07, 20:31 Halves: first half: 1:25:52 (PB), second half: 1:24:58 (PB)  See my blog for more.

2:53:35, Joachim I could run a negative split at Ohtawara, 1:27:23 / 1:26:12. Very happy with the result. A better time was not possible due to the strong, gusty head wind around 16-20k and 35-40k. Steve and I ran together for the first half, very carefully, conserving energy as much as possible. My original plan was to stay with that pace till the 30k mark and to run the last 12k very strong, e.g. almost at 15k pace. But the head wind section was really bad and my initial plan would fall into pieces if I stick to it. So, I took off at the half mark and targeted a strong 21k-35k stretch instead. The faster pace felt not too bad and I kind of settled into a sub-4min/km pace. Because my GPS was not working reliably, I can not give any hard data for that part of the race. I remember passing the 30k mark in 2:01 and the 40k mark in 2:44. From 35k on the race became very, very hard and I concentrated only on pushing as much as I can. I thought about giving up and not finishing the race many times. That’s quit normal at that point into the race because the brain wants to avoid the effort and this seems to be the only way out (poor brain, because it had stay with my body till the end wink ). But I knew deep inside I could have a strong finish and so I pushed even harder. The support from the Nambans around 40k was great even though I did not recognize all of them since my visuals became unclear at that time. My only thought was to push ever meter harder. There was not much left inside of me and when I crossed the finish line it felt like a big relief. I am very satisfied with my race result. Preparation went very well and this was my first decent Marathon in 3 years. Ohtawara is very well organized. The course is great, except for the terrible wind. I am looking forward to Tokyo Marathon 2008.

Steve 2:59:40 see blog for full report.

Stuart 3:07 I ran the first 1/2 with the 3hr pacers who were running at 4:10 pace, then started second 1/2 at 4:15 pace. Was fine until the 35k mark when I hit the awe-ful head-wind and my pace just died (along with my hopes of finishing in sub 3). Crossed the line in 3hr7min. Next time I’ll trust my own pacing (and my Garmin)!

Paddy 3:09:48 (PB) My 2nd marathon at Ohtawara went very well. Training, tapering and pre-race preparations were near perfect. Although I was completely spent when I crossed the line, the fatigue onset was more gradual than any of my previous marathons. I knew beforehand, that baring a disaster, a PB wasn’t in doubt (previous was 3:28) but I wanted to run a solid race and not destroy my body with Tokyo coming so soon after. I set out aiming for 4:30/km pace which would give a 3:09:52 finish and am really pleased to have been so consistent with my splits. My watch can give me my current speed which was really helpful not drifting off pace, especially after the sections with the strong head winds. I felt mentally very strong throughout the race too with no real negative thoughts creeping in. The cheers of fellow Nambanners in the last 1km was definitely what helped me go sub-3:10. Trying to look good in front of them by speeding-up resulted in an instant calf cramp which nearly killed me. Thanks for all the support in the run-up and on the race day. Paddy 5km Splits 5 ? 22:15 (4:27/km) 10 ? 22:17 (4:28/km) 15 ? 22:36 (4:32/km) 20 ? 22:47 (4:34/km) 25 ? 21:48 (4:22/km) 30 ? 22:20 (4:28/km) 35 ? 22:26 (4:30/km) 40 ? 23:21 (4:41/km) 42.195 ? 9:55 (4:32/km

Colin 3:13:20 I had many injury problems (back, hips, knee) during my training and had to abandon numerous runs so I was concerned if I could even finish this, my 5th Ohtawara outing. But I swallowed an 800mg ibuprofen, rounded up 3 running partners (Paddy, David and Phil) and settled in for a comfortable first half and planned to see how it went from there. The tail wind helped and we were at 10K in good time but when the wind shifted to head-on I didn’t fight it and slowed to conserve energy. Felt OK at the half, so took another ibuprofen and headed off again. I got another boost from the tailwind and was back on 3:10 pace by 30K but was still not committed or confident enough to push the pace into the wind which was stronger the second time around and slowed even more. I was able to pick up the pace for the final 3K and finished very comfortably in 3:13 with none of the brain games required to push the body to its limit. In fact I feel guilty after reading reports from Christian, Joachim, Steve and Paddy that I didn’t really give it my all. In hindsight I should have pushed hard for the sub 3:10 but overall I was very happy to finish in one piece with a respectable time, and finishing a marathon without pain is a remarkably pleasant experience. My splits: 5K - 22:22 10K - 22:16 15K - 22:43 20K - 23:33 Half - 1:35:55 25K - 22:08 (5K) 30K - 22:05 35K - 23:18 40K - 24:44 42.2K - 10:11 Total - 3:13:20

Teruyuki 3:32:22 My time is almost 10 minute slower. I am frustrated but it was an indication of the amount of recent time spent running and my level of enthusiasm. I have to share more time to run together with you guys that what I thought that time. Thank you all the people who cheered during my run. The Otawara is always enjoyable race and full of enjoyment, especially hot spring with the Riyokan. Gareth and Colin’s nice karaoke duet has been still sounding in my brain. Of course, I will try next year to overcome for this years record. Thank you very much organizing everything Chiba-san and Gareth-san.

Chad 3:40 I deserved a bit better from this race, but I have no complaints because the paati at the onsen afterwards was too much fun… ahhhhh, back to the race… I ran a nice and steady first 30km in a split of 2:22. The next few km I felt a bit weaker, and then I hit the wall at 33km. Intense leg cramping and spasming took over. I never ran in so much pain in my life. I had energy, but the muscles did not want to move altogether in one direction. I ended up running the last 7.2km in 50:09, earning me an overall time of 3:40. Heavy winds, not my usual drink mix (Cytomax), and a dry day overall left me low on electrolytes and I paid for it. On the bright side, this was good mental training for Ironman Austria, and it is a very soft PB, so I guarantee I’ll break it on the next go around! Thanks to all who taught me what Gambare means!!!

Chika -DNF I stop at 36.5Km with my cold shaking body. It was too cold to keep running. I kept recording my time as… 5Km…23’25’’ 10Km…22’29’’ (24’54’‘) 15Km…23’37’’ (1:09’32’‘) 20Km…24’54’’ (1:34’27’‘) -two “Ganbatte” got me strong and my speed recovered in next 5Km. Thank you, Jay and Christiane!! 25Km…23’53’’ (1:58’20’‘) 30Km…24’46’’ (2:23’07’‘) 35Km…26’00’’ (2:49’07’‘) 36.5Km…stop running and shaking with cold The day was very windy and cold (7 C). Especially 15-20Km and 35-42.195Km were hard parts as we had to run against a strong wind. So, I used my energy from 15Km-20Km, much harder than I expected. It is not only because of strong wind but my mind was too eager about keeping under 24min/5Km speed to make my PB. But I lost my strong mind before 35Km. It was just few minutes later when I passed by Chad with my “Ganbatte”. I gave away “Ganbatte” feeling. Actually I thought I should do so because I felt my body temperature getting low and my upper body, specially my lungs and throat were cold like I drank icy cold water. I continued to walk and jog for a little while. Then, finally I found a staff and said “Samui (I’m cold)”. It was just one word that I could say. After that, I took several minutes to feel “warm” in front of a heater. I wished to make my 2007’s 3rd PB. 1st was 10Km, 2nd was half marathon and then…I couldn’t make it… However, another event “ryokan with onsen & party"was completely different. I had very good time. Many thanks to Gareth & Chiba san. Thank you all Ohtawara marathon runners. Many things I would like to say “thank you” to each of you.

HALF-MARATHON

Gary 1:34:39

Appearances to the contrary, I’d been training for Ohtawara throughout Summer and was hoping for a PB (currently at 93:06) and at some level wondering if I could break 90 mins, which is my goal for this season. Training had been going fairly well though I was missing some long runs, but was spending much more time in the gym working on core strength, flexibility and balance. 3 weeks ago I trapped a nerve in the shoulder and that put paid to my last build-up to the race. I think that may have had some impact, and the wind at 15-20km was definitely another, but at the end of the day missing those long runs hurt the most. I went out strong and right on target, hitting the 5km with an average pace of 4:20/km. The next split was predominantly downhill and wind-assisted so I ended up ahead of schedule, clocking this 5km with an average of 4:13/km. At 12km, which had been my longest race pace run in training, it was 51 and a few seconds, just 5 seconds off my best time and still feeling strong. Then the next time I looked at my watch, I had somehow slowed down to 4:30 pace - without realizing. I passed the 15km point at 65:05 - now my average pace was 4:20 and dropping. I still felt really strong and doing the math on the run thought that maintaining 4:20 through to the end would give me a healthy PB, and didn’t feel too hard to do. Then I noticed the wind and try as I might I couldn’t bring the pace back up and even faltered into 4:40/km ground. I tried to find a group to draft behind but we 94-minute-half-marathoner-types are a selfish and disorganized brood, and the best I could manage was to sit behind the tallest Japanese runner around - believe me, that helped not at all, but options were few. I dragged my aching legs across the unofficial half end-point in a really disappointing 94:39 - not a PW, but not far off. With a little help from the weather, I still think I could have broken 93 minutes, but there is no excuse, and no substitute, for the long run. Ho hum, roll on Kanagawa. Thanks to Gareth and to Chiba-san for the organization and for the reservations at the Ryokan for Mami and I - we stayed on for a lazy extra day and can recommend the Yuba Teishoku from the Yuba Factory to everyone who runs Ohtawara 2008.

Motozo 1:35 Needless to say, a great time was had by all at our annual Nanban getaway in Tochigi ken, Ohtawara, near the famous Utsunomiya gyoza (not to be confused with Odawara, gateway to Hakone resort). This was my 4th trip back to the local 42k/10k race, but first time running the unofficial half marathon, which was quite pleasant. I think this race and trip gets funner and funner every year. I had a nice comfortable run of 1:35, which suited me fine since my goal was to get a decent training run under 1:40. I also paced Colin with Phil for the first 10k, and we chatted casually about the fortuitous sunny weather and memories of prior races. The race was a tale of 2 conditions, however, from sunny and pleasantly warm on the first 10k to windy and cold over the last 7-8k. I lost Colin and Phil, who were chasing Paddy, over the windy back course, but caught up to them at 20K. I was indeed happy to pull over at 21k and felt guilty/sorry for the guys that did the full marathon in that tough wind. The fact that several nanbanners ran PBs and placed in both races is a tribute to the depth of our squad. My 5k splits were: 22:27 22:17 22:51 23:32 1.1k : 4:45 21.1k: 1:35:55 Other funny tidbits: -I wore no number and was not kicked off the course. -There were 2 minor accidents/injuries incurred after the race. Gareth slipped on the floor of the onsen changing room (after a few drinks), and sprawled out naked on the wet floor like a helpless crab, a funny image. Luckily he was not injured and was able to continue partying into the wee hours. Apparently Yuka also slipped and fell in the women’s onsen bath, and bruised her torso. She was also able to complete her drinking regime after the mishap. -I managed to coerce several nanbanners to engage in group massage sessions at the 2jikai party, which featured Chika standing on top of sore marathoners’ backs and legs (called level 1). Level 2 was Yuka/Rie. I hope this trend continues in future. The ryokan was excellent; many thanks to Chiba san. It was slightly further away from Ohtawara than usual, but we did get to view the second longest suspension bridge in Japan on the way up there. It was a nice secluded spot and the snow on the ground created wintery fuzzy feelings, which were enhanced by the evenings’ bubbly intoxicants, oishii cuisine, and steamy onsen. The onsen/rotemburo was perfect, 30 seconds from the rooms, and the decent meal featured free karaoke which we took full advantage of, much to the dismay of the neighboring tribes. The washoku meals were quite good, and they even served natto in the morning. It doesn’t get better than this! For photos and more details, visit my blog.

Phil Ryan 1:35:43 (Unofficial Half) My best result in almost 7 years! Splits: 1-5km: 22:27 (4:29 pace) - I had planned to run with Colin and David but an early stitch held me back while Colin pushed on determined not to let the Frog Man get ahead of him… 5-10km: 22:17 (4:27 pace) - caught C&D for a chat on some lovely quiet back streets. Paddy in sight up ahead still. 10-15km: 22:25 (4:29 pace) - nice warm sun and a tail wind even. Colin pushes us a little to catch Paddy for a chat. 15-20km: 23:28 (4:41 pace) - headwinds. Everyone slowing down a fraction. This is where I somehow found the gall to push the lads a bit. It didn’t last long. Passed by Paddy somewhere about the 18km mark. 20-21.1km: 5:08 (4:40 pace) - starting to fade. David catches me at the end and we finish together, bowing out apologetically while the other poor folks push on to finish the second half in that frigid wind!!

Yuka 1:47 Ohtawara is one of the highlights of the year for sharing a happy experience with Namban teammates. Fortunately Ohtawara was held on a Friday this year so we could have wild celebration afterwards and enjoy hiking and snow and autumn leaves and lunch at a farm on Saturday. I have not been diligent in my training and faded a bit over the second 10k. A large costumed frog passed me, but I managed to overtake him at the end of the unofficial half.

Taeko 1:49?

Mami 1:53*?(PB) I had missed work the past week with a bad head cold. But Steve informed me as long as my illness was above the neck I could still consider running and I did not want to miss Ohtawara Marathon. So I loaded up on strong cold medicine right before the race and showed up at starting line and ended up running a PB. *Subject to anti-doping investigation

Daniel 2:11:53 (PB) I ran the unofficial half. So cold and so windy. I ran with running pants, 2 long sleeves shirts, plus a cap and gloves. The wind came from the right for the first 5K, down from the mountain. From 5 to 10, back wind, then gradually we faced a strong and very cold head wind. 5km in 28’19 , 10km in 57’58 and 15km en 1h30 exactly. The race organizers asked me to stopped at 15.4 km as I didn’t make their 90 minutes cut of time and asked me to board a bus. I declined, removed my number and went on. Alone. 20km in 2h06 and half in 2h11’53. PB for half marathon by 8 minutes. Great race and great organization by Gareth and Chiba and thanks for all your support

############## 10K

Gerard 35:25

Fabrizio 36:46 I felt good from the beginning and kept a steady pace throughout the race, passing in 18:22:07 at the 5K mark and, always according to my watch, finishing the second 5K in 18:22:04

The wind has been quite nasty throughout the 10K race and at the turnaround point (about 6.5K) , when everyone was expecting to receive a bit of help, actually it get worst! Finished 9th in my age category in 36:46 just to make it to the podium for one of the medal. The Ryokan and Onsen was my first experience with the group and definetely will not be last! A big note of appreciation goes to all those of you involved in the organization of this event

Rie 41:18, 5th place

Shoji 44:11

Christiane 46:53, 9th place First one and a half round in the station was a little bit crowded and so the first kilometer was a little bit slow. Next Kilometer with a strong headwind, I could hide behind Gareth. We ran together for some kilometers. Then a women of my age-group overtook me but I could follow her without problems and overtook her again. I felt confident up to kilometer 7. I got some cramp in my hamstring and so I reduced pace a little bit. Gareth and the women overtook me again but because of the cramp I could´t followed them. I finished 9th in age group
Chiba-san: 50 minutes I’d like to thank all Ohtawara-Nambanners. Congratulations to all the PB breakers. I enjoyed the race, Onsen, and a post race dinner as usual. I am delighted to finish the 10K within an hour, especially considering my troubled left ankle. 50 minutes and some seconds is a bit of a surprising result at the moment. Recently I changed to a special new insole for my shoes. I also attached a special supporter to my troubled ankle. These equipment had a great effect. The Ohtawara course is quite flat and surface is good for running and therefore it was not such a hard race, and I was able to regain a little self-confidence for running. Anyway I might decide whether to have a surgery or not soon. Prior to Fabrizio (a 10K medal holder) joining a Namban trip, no one sang songs at a post race party. Fabrizio made the first move of great new Namban Karaoke tradition. We could enjoy Nambanners’ secret talent for singing. I could listen to Nat King Colin’s nice song, Mona Lisa, after an interval of ten years. To my surprise, our ryokan’s owner and founder was a great runner. Akutsu-san, ran 20K every day forty years ago. They did not have any NIKE and ASICS in those days. He was not a mere shuttle bus driver. I already miss Steve’s extremely nice ale, and special sports massage by Namban girls.

Gareth 46:18 I ran 10k at a pace slower than the pace of my best Ohtawara marathon. A memory for the ages.

Jay 38:24 The brilliant timing of the Ohtawara 10k allows one to watch the start of the marathon, then participate in a 10,000 meter race, then support Nambanners at the halfway point of the marathon, then go to the 10k award ceremony and finally proceed to the 40k mark to support the final, brutal stretch of the marathon. (The only mishap occurred because I got so caught up eating cinnamon twists and sipping coffee at the Mr. Donut that I missed Yoshida-san and Joachim blaze by the 40k mark at an amazing marathon pace against the bitter wind, otherwise I executed the Ohtawara system perfectly). As far as my 10k, I ran a hard, consistent pace and did as well as I could have expected on the day.