The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Knees improving?

Did a 5km time trial - alone - at the track last night. I arrived to run too late with Namban Rengo but did a 5km run myself and ran 18.07. I was happy enough with that, it was hard to stay motivated, and my shoelace came undone after 6 laps.

My knees feel much freer thanks to Idaten massage center. They have really freed up my quads and hips, so I've run pain-free for a few days. I hope it continues.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Follow up on Mara's win

A few quick points.

First Mara Yamauchi did get a PB - by three seconds.

Second, I mentioned the cameras following Kayoko Fukushi, what I hadn't seen was the distressing ending to her race - I had turned the television off before she finished. (Unrelated to turning the TV off, but I see no point in letting the nation's top athlete over 5km - 15km risk injuring herself, but it was a gritty performance.) Afterward Fukushi said something like "That was interesting wasn't it!" - so I guess no harm was done.

Third, the Olympic selectors criticized Tomo Morimoto for not going out harder at the start. If they expected her to follow Fukushi they are crazy. Morimoto ran, for her, almost the perfect race.

Finally, I said Mara's time could be largely attributed to the weather. While the heat of the Osaka summer must have hit her Worlds performance I probably didn't factor in the effect of the cold this time. This may have been a better run that her time indicated.

Re my own running: My knees are improving. I'm having some fun again, mixing up my runs, long, short, fast, slow, and I'm enjoying running instead of feeling constant burning pain on the side of my knees. I am doing many things people will disagree with, but they're working for me - all my training in an old pair of racing flats, fast 1 hour runs followed by a rest day or a 40 minute easy run, icing after every run, shorter stretches but more often.

Two weeks to my duathlon and a real test of my knees.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mara, Mara, Mara!

Mara Yamauchi won the Osaka Womens Marathon today (I refuse to use the silly "Ladies" title). Her first marathon win should also confirm her place in Beijing. If she can shave about 2 minutes off her marathon time she could find herself on the Olympic podium. She cut about 7 minutes off her Osaka World Championships time, but most of that can be attributed to the weather.

It was a pity the race commentators focussed on Kayoko Fukushi. Fukushi was the wildcard entrant, and looked like winning at one point, but to focus on her instead of Mara and the very fast Tomo Morimoto was wrong. Even when it was plain to see Fukushi wanted to be left alone, the TV cameras were following her - to the point of missing Morimoto break away from the awesome young runner from Kenya Julia Mumbi Muraga (a side note Mumbi set a world's fastest time for 2008 in the 20km just 21 days ago in Miyazaki).

But back to Mara. After a string of second places in half marathons (Matsue Half Marathon, 2nd; Sapporo International Half Marathon 2nd; Sanyo Road Race Half Marathon 2nd) it must be a great mental boost to win a big race over the full distance.

Good luck in Beijing Mara!

1. Mara Yamauchi (GBR) 2hr 25min 10sec*

2. Tomo Morimoto (JPN) 2:25:34

3. Julia Mumbi Muraga (KEN) 2:26:00

4. Miki Ohira (JPN) 2:26:09

5. Madoka Ogi (JPN) 2:26:55

6. Lidia Simon (ROM) 2:27:17

7. Mika Okunaga (JPN) 2:27:52

8. Aki Fujikawa (JPN) 2:28:06

9. Constantina Tomescu (ROM) 2:28:15

10. Christelle Daunay (FRA) 2:28:24

*After the race, Mara said she had missed her PB. But if reported times are correct, she broke it by 3 seconds. The TV commentator said Mara had broken her PB, so it'll be a nice bonus for Mara if it turns out she did go her fastest.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008


Second place. Funny enough, I guess we always thought we'd get 2nd place, but we had a chance to win and we couldn't take it. I ran slow. 30 seconds slower than last year. I could blame my knees, the cold, my stomach, going out too fast, but really it's because I'm undertrained (which is because of my knees ha ha). Our main competitors, Harriers, gave us nearly 1 minute at the start because they forgot their sash. But they caught us because of my slow run. At the end they beat us by about 30 seconds (I think).

Overall, our teams did well. The Masters men won their race, and I think the women came second.

You can find a (much more professional) report from the winning team here:

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Shibuya Ekiden is only hours away!

Good luck to all the Namban teams!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Countdown to Shibuya Ekiden

There's only three days to go until Shibuya Ekiden. I've done as much training as my knees will allow, and last night did a short speed session - 2 x 800m. I did the first one in 2.27 and forgot to time the second one. But I was happy enough with the way I ran - I just needed to remind my legs what speed feels like.

Here's some photos from last year's event - sorry, all of me, it's all I've got. (Oh, and apologies to whoever took these photos, I know I nicked them from somewhere).

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fixed gear bikes in Shibuya

The fixed gear scene is multiplying like rabbits - and Shibuya is the epicentre of the craze...

I saw all of these in the space of three hours. In fact I saw a lot more but I started getting picky about what I took photos of.

Check out the disc - a mirror-finish carbon disc with a Dura-Ace hub. The guy was super-friendly too. Nice rasta gloves.

This yellow bike is an awesome Bomber Pro - locked with a red plastic chain!
The guy who makes them is Ida Rinsei, only 34 years old (that's really young in the world of master frame builders) and an ex pro cyclist. His workshop is in Saitama, but it's rarely open because he is found at all the keirin races looking after the pros - his main customers.

From the fork crown I'm presuming this is a Vivalo. Made in Kobe for a very small rider.

This is a Meccanico Giro, built by Shojiro Iwai in Fukuoka. It's one of the best keirin frames money can buy - so a bit of a pity to see it with a top-tube pad and, even worse, an umbrella hanging off it.

Singlespeed or fixed gear? I forgot to check. But very different nonetheless.

This is one of the strangest single-speed bikes I've seen. The frame is nearly rusted through (the brown tinge is all rust, not paint), yet it's got disc brakes and some bling components. Oh, and a horn.

Nice headbadge.

A lovely Levant - but look at the stupid seat angle. He must sit on the back edge of the saddle - why?

Saw this one in Suitengumae. Check out the brake lever - positioned handily under the seat.

Running Diary
Did 50 minutes fast today. Felt fast, but the knees are fragile. 15 days to Shibuya Ekiden.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hakone Ekiden (東京箱根間往復大学駅伝競走)

Komazawa University won its 6th Hakone Ekiden in the past decade today. Ekiden is Japanese for a road relay race - and Hakone is massive. My work had it showing on three TVs from start to stop (about 12 hours over 2 days).

Here's some photos of the finish...

The runners flash across the line in a blur..

...then get caught by teammates.

Mekubo Mogusu set a course record on day 1.

The biggest upset was Juntendo's failure to finish the first day when their final runner collapsed. The media wanted to know more, so after the race the team received a lot of attention

It was good to see some Juntendo runners could still smile

I took a photo of this Hosei University guy because I thought he is probably famous. Does anyone know who he is?

More photos of the Yamanashi Gakuin University Team

The crowds at Hakone were massive. At 11am there were already thousands on the route.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fixed gear bikes in Osaka and Kobe...and a few old road bikes (couldn't resist the Rossin)