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breaking 10k + csa cooking

October 5, 2010

About a month ago I signed up for the Koshu Fruits Marathon 10k race. The race will take place on October 17th at the Katsunuma Winery in Yamanashi Prefecture (about 3 hours west of Tokyo) as part of the annual festivities celebrating the wine and grapes the area is famous for.

I have been running pretty regularly for a bit over two years, and participated in two 5k charity races here in Tokyo this past year – Run for the Cure 2009, and TELL (Tokyo English Life Line) 2010.

One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2010 was to complete my first 10k race before the end of the year. I had been eyeing a late November 10k at Lake Saiko in Saitama since January, but due to a scheduling conflict had been forced to give up on it before registration even opened.

I found the Katsunuma 10k on the Japanese racing site Runnet in a fit of motivation/race envy after cheering my long-time friend Alexa through her first 5k in early September, and it seemed to be the answer, the perfect substitute that would allow me follow through on my goal despite no longer being able to run at Lake Saiko.

There were just a few issues keeping me from jumping for joy–

• The race was scheduled for 10/17, which was just 5 weeks away and a full month earlier than Lake Saiko
• Issue 2: I had never run a distance over 5k at that point, and had actually been struggling to do just that after some health setbacks earlier in the year
• Issue 3: participants in previous races warned that the course was difficult and hilly, with a lot of ups and downs and a climb of several hundred meters total.
• Issue 4: the registration deadline was fast approaching and all age/gender groups other than my own were already full, so I would have to make a decision FAST.

I spent the rest of the day at work debating the pros and cons and consulting my closest advisors for their opinions. Would I be able to train up from a flat, slow, painful 5k to a hilly 10k in just 5.5 weeks? Was I insane to even be considering a hilly course for my first 10k?  Eric, the non-runner that he is, offered advice along the line of: “5 weeks is plenty of time! You said free wine and grapes, right?” while Alexa, fresh from her first 5k and very obviously still inflicted with post-race runner’s high, responded more along the lines of: “OMG RACE! YOU SHOULD DO IT RACES ARE AWESOME WHEEEEE!!”

So I was pretty much on my own with the decision.

I completed online registration at work in an attempt to hold my spot, telling myself I had a couple of days to pay before I really had to make up my mind. But, in a fit of insanity and thoughts of having less regret for something I did less than something I didn’t do, I went straight to the nearest convenience store and paid the fee after work.

That night after I got home I ran 6k for the first time.

Since then I have been increasing the distance of my long runs by about 1k every week. I felt pretty good at 6k, 7k, and 8k. With one 7.5k run being the best I think I’ve ever done. But last week’s 9k was a real struggle. My body seemed to rebel slightly against the distance. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, so I ran one more easy 5k that week, and then took several days off to rest up for my next long run. Which was yesterday.

I thought about my long run all day at work, and couldn’t make up my mind whether I would try to tackle the full 10k according to my original training plan, or instead pull back and run a do-over of the painful 9k. I was tired, but the difference between 9k and 10k seemed so small that it would be kinda ridiculous to not just attempt the full distance. After getting off work I came home, and made myself a pre-run snack before prepping dinner so it would be ready when I got back.

I had a brown rice cake with cashew butter and a chopped up medjool date. I didn’t want to take any chances with my energy on the run, so I did something I almost never do, and brewed up an iced coffee at 6pm to wash my snack down with. I also had two pieces of 70% chocolate right before setting out, and packed an extra date in my pocket for fuel along the run.

The run itself was not spectacular, but also not as much of a failure as the previous week had been. I had some issues with tingling/loosing feeling in my left foot at around the mid-point and again 3/4 of the way through the run, and I definitely did not bring enough fuel with me. I could have easily eaten at least one or two more dates in the last 1/3 of the run. But the important part? I went for the full 10k, and I finished it.

Between a few loooong traffic stops and pausing to shake out my foot 2-3 times it took me 70 minutes to get through the whole 10k, but that’s fine with me for now. I have now run a full 10k, and I have done it two weeks before my race. That lifts an amazing amount weight off my mind. I’ve done the distance, now all I have to worry about is making sure I can do it again in Katsunuma with all those hills.

I was starving after my run, and very glad that dinner was almost finished by the time I got home.

I had decided to make a simple takikomi gohan with several of the items I got in my Kaze no Oka Farm box over the weekend. Takikomi gohan literally translates to ‘cooked in with rice,’ and is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

For this particular meal I added carrots, maitake mushrooms, satoimo (taro root), and ginger into my rice cooker with genmai (japanese short grain brown rice), and flavored it with soy sauce and dashi (a stock made with kombu seaweed). I topped the whole thing with chopped nira, fried eggs, and steamed turnip greens, all from the farm.

I was pretty pleased with it, but wish I hadn’t been out of sake when making the rice. It just wasn’t quite the same without it. My favorite part of the meal, was definitely the turnip greens, though. I had never had them before and didn’t know what to expect, but they were very good. They reminded me and Eric a little of the stir-fried morning-glory we sometimes get at Thai restaurants here, and it was a lot of fun to eat the little baby turnip sprouts mixed in among the green.

Anyone out there have any experience with tingling/losing sensation in their feet while running? I’m interested in tips and advice on how to deal with it for my race, since I probably can’t get in to see a specialist before the big day.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2010 9:09 am

    To be fair, you also should note that since it was my first race ever, and I don’t have experience with distance training, I told you that I didn’t have any real advice. I had nothing to base it on.

    But I did think you could do it.

    And I do think racing is awesome.

    And I fully support the idea of free wine.

    • October 6, 2010 10:02 pm

      True, but my enduring memory of the day is how insanely happy and giddy you were after running your first 5k. <3

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