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Feb 5, 2016

Storm season

Summer in Brisbane is thunderstorm season. The weather got fairly hot (38ºC/100ºF) and humid this week, and unsurprisingly it ended in style, with a very big bang...
This photo was taken with my iPhone on my way back from work, but hopefully I will get a chance to catch a storm with my DSLR camera soon enough.

Storm approaching

Shortly after, I managed to get a (poor) video of that storm from my balcony. The quality is not great, but it gives an idea of what it might have looked like with a better view and a better camera.

As always, you can have a look at sky photos from all over the world on the Skywatch Friday website. Have a good week-end everyone!

May 28, 2015

An update on my running

The last time I posted anything about my running was in November 2013, shortly after I (very slowly) finished the Kobe marathon. If you follow me on Twitter (@dperrin), you know this long and painful attempt (my first race, ever!) did not put me off running. Since then, I participated in two 10K races, one quarter-marathon, two 5K races, and two 'ekiden' (Japanese relay races, where I had 3km and 5km segments). My next event is probably going to be at the Brisbane marathon festival, but I have yet to decide whether to register for my first half-marathon or for another 10K (to try to get faster on that distance).

Now that I am settled into a new routine here in Australia (more on that in a later post, I guess), I have also started cycling to work. It is just under 9km each way, so if I can do it on most days, it will improve my overall fitness and should help my running. I am also looking into core-training exercises, but my time is limited (family and work come first).

As you may know, today is day 2 of the 2015 edition of the Global Corporate Challenge. Being Australian, it is no surprise that our university encourages staff to participate, and I am captain of one of our 153 teams entering the challenge. It should be fun, and I love data, so another way to track my activities is always tempting. Let's see if all of us (7 members per team) can get to the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

One of the ways I try to keep myself focused and motivated is by setting goals. If I leave 2011 aside (Project Biwa made it an outlier), a busy workload meant I lacked consistency and only managed a maximum of 442.3 km cycling, and 444 km running (both in 2013). Given I only resumed running in March, and cycling this week, my goal for 2015 is simply to beat these: at least 443km cycling and 445km running. I am currently being pace (due to the late start), but should be able to catch up. In terms of time, I would like to get below 25:00 over 5 km, below 54:00 over 10 km, and maybe around 2:15:00 if I end running my first half-marathon. Whether these become actual PBs will depend on which races I register for.

I will try to keep you posted on my progress.

Apr 27, 2015

Back again?

Last year I decided that, in the interest of time, it was better to put all my online efforts into a single place.
As it made absolutely no difference, I am thinking of reverting that change and starting to use this blog again (as it is better referenced that the other one). If I do so, I will probably transfer the content here. Do not be surprised if you see old posts popping up.

Nov 19, 2013

Kobe Marathon finisher

After being on the roadside to cheer and photograph runners at several marathons (as you can see here and here for Dublin, or there for Osaka), and as I was looking for a new challenge after our charity bike ride for Project Biwa, I decided some time ago that it would be nice to run one as well.

Initially, my plan was to run last year's Dublin Marathon. It is said to be very nice, and after so many years living in the city, it was quite fitting. However, with the arrival of our son scheduled for a few months before the race, it became clear that it was not such a good idea, and I did not register.

Six months ago, I decided that this year would better. I applied to the Kobe Marathon (it is over-subscribed so there is a lottery to award spots in the race), and prepared a training schedule, based on information I could find online. When we were training for Project Biwa, I had prepared our schedule by scaling a marathon training programme to the longer distances we would cover on the bike, so I knew that if I could follow through on the schedule, I would be fine.

The big problem, of course, was to fit that training programme on top of a busy work and the exciting (but time-consuming) family life with a one-year old.

My 24-week programme had a total distance of just over 800km, the longest week at 66km, and six runs over 20km, with the longest being 32km.
In the end, I only managed 347km. My best week was 38.6km, and I only had three runs over 20km (maxing out at 25km). Quite a big gap, isn't it? As you can see in the graph below, my training was in trouble early on, but a mid-October injury to my foot did not help.

Finally, race day came this Sunday, November 17th. I was quite anxious, but also excited to get going at last.

Before the race, my only objective was to finish. To do so, my rough strategy was to have a good start, if possible going faster than the five-hour pacesetters, then to hang on with them as long as possible when they would overtake me (which was very much expected, given my lack of training), and to finish relying on my willpower.

The first step went even better than planned. I was cautious of not going too fast, but finished the first 10km in 1:07:51, (a 6:47/km pace corresponding to a 4:46:17 finish).

Even though there is no real hill on the course (except from the climb to the highway section and the bridge to Port Island, both in the last 8km), there were still a few bumps and bridges to get over on the way to Akashi. While running down one of these (shortly after the 12km mark, if I remember correctly), I must have landed awkwardly on my right foot, because my knee started to hurt, and my pace to decrease.

Another few kilometres on, I decided it was wiser to try to walk this off. It did not quite work, and I started to run again. I could not run properly though, and rapidly developed a major blister under my foot, (it is still longer and wider than my thumb, two days after the race).
With all that, my second 10K split was 1:30:23, and I was starting to worry about not being able to finish, as I was barely able to walk, let alone run.

My third 10K split was the slowest and most depressing, limping my way through the course at 10:53/km to reach the 30K mark after 4:27:13. After a while though, I suppose you get used to the pain. I was able to slightly increase my "limping pace", even managing to run a few hundred metres here and there. My fourth 10K split was covered at 10:35/km, and I finally crossed the finish line in 6:35:24.

Very slow, but enough to get my prize.

It was probably unwise to attempt a marathon with that sort of training and so little running experience beforehand (my total running distance since 2010 is 512km, 424km of which coming since April this year!), but I am thrilled to have finished it.

A big thank you to family and friends for their comments on Twitter and Facebook during the race, and to the amazing crowd along the course. They really helped me get through this despite my body doing everything to stop me.

A special mention to the unknown cyclist I spotted many times along the course, who was offering some "magic spray" to the runners. You saved my knee, and my race, good sir.

Finally, another big thank you to Kevin and Scott who helped me several times in the last few months when I had silly newbie questions. The race was Kevin's tenth marathon. Impressive! And Scott finished in about 2:47, which is not even his PB!! Congratulations to both of them.
You can follow Scott's progress towards a sub 2:30 marathon on his blog.

In 2014, I will probably focus on 5K and 10K races, as it will be easier to fit a training plan for such distances into my schedule. Then maybe a half-marathon in 2015, and my second marathon in late 2015 or early 2016.

I have already noticed two convenient races right on my doorstep: a 10K on February 9th, and 5K on March 2nd. Time to start thinking about how to properly train for these. Advices and recommendations welcome!

Nov 4, 2013

Hanshin vs Chunichi at Koshien

The Japanese baseball season officially ended yesterday, with the Rakuten Eagles defeating the Giants in game 7 to win the Nippon Series. Congratulations to them!
For the Tigers, we had the usual ups (such as finishing 2nd in the Central League) and downs (for instance being swept in the play-offs). Maybe one day they will be consistent enough to get some silverware. The potential is definitely there.

Anyway, to wait until the new season next March, here are a few photos I took back in July, when the Tigers hosted the Dragons at Koshien (and won 8-1).

The photos feature Matt Murton, Ryota Arai, Takashi Toritani, Katsuhiko Saka, Yamato, and of course two of the team mascots, Lucky and To-Lucky.

As always, questions are welcome in the comments, and you can click on the photos to see larger versions.




Matsuri video highlights

Some video highlights of a local matsuri on Port Island in Kobe, Japan. I have quite a few photos as well, and these will appear in a later post.

Mar 22, 2013

Kobe beef

As you may have noticed, I hardly have any time to post anything here, so I will try the new approach I mentioned in my last post: photos (as always), but very little text. For details, please ask any question you may have in the comments section below.

Today's focus is on Kobe beef. Yes, it is as good as said to be, and even better than it looks on the photos. I highly recommend it.


(for those wondering, we were in a very small restaurant on a Kobe backstreet, near too far from Sannomiya station.)