Monday, May 27, 2024

I ran 45 miles around the Miura peninsula!

Throughout the year, I have been increasing my running mileage and training to be able to do a self-guided ultra distance around Miura Peninsula. The idea for the course was inspired by a local Strava athlete I randomly found by checking who has the local legend/course records for some of the segments on the routes I usually run. He has repeatedly done a 100km version of the Miura Peninsula run which includes a significant trail running portion. Since I had limited time (to train) and no trail running experience and don't have a GPS watch to ensure I don't get lost, I did a modified version which was all road (sidewalk) running and a bit shorter in distance. 

Some of the route I was already very familiar with as we had been running around the Kannonzaki coast for most of our time here already. Then I became more familiar with the southernmost Miura portion when we were training for the Miura (Half) Marathon which we ran in early March. The rest of it I pieced together by using Google Map and Google Earth. While planning and training, I broke it into 4 major segments: 
Kannonzaki to MiuraKaigan (22.5km, pink)
MiuraKaigan to Misakiguchi (16km, yellow)
Misakiguchi to Zushi-Hayama (17km, light orange)
Zushi-Hayama to Yokosuka (14km, orange)
Each of these (going one way) was already within my capabilities distance-wise so I just needed to get to know them a little bit before throwing it all together. I know I always feel much more comfortable if I'm already familiar with a route when running, so that was something I prioritized, especially for the first half of the route. 
I was able to easily practice the farther portions of the run that were away from my house by catching the train to start the run or catching the train back home after completing a run. It was really convenient and meant I could run in one direction without worrying about being able to run back. I will definitely miss this aspect of running in Japan. 
Other than trying out the segments, the other part of the training was increasing my overall distance load capacity (being able to run longer and longer in a single instance). When I started training, the longest I had ever run was a marathon - 42km or 26mi. I printed out the 100km training plan from this website and very loosely followed it, mostly looking at the total miles run for the week and working at increasing at a similar rate. I had a little difficulty keeping up when we had a lot of snowboarding and travel weekends (which is usually when I'd want to do longer runs), but tried to average around 65-70km/week as much as possible and managed to get to a 100km week total in mid April, about a month prior to the big run. 

Night before prep
I had been carb loading from Wednesday through Friday ahead of the Saturday morning run, but not super intensely because we had guests for two of those dinners. Friday night I did specifically request Indian food, and my husband and I went to our usual local spot for a bunch of naan (and a little bit of curry lol). 

For my outfit, I opted for my go-to Uniqlo high neck long sleeve shirt, Popflex Active sports bra and high waisted supershorts, Feetures socks, a generic white visor and my Salomon Sense Pro 5 vest. Not shown: Asics Superblasts. 
In the vest, I planned to started out with 2 soft flasks with water, 2 Honey Stinger chocolate waffles, 2 flavors of Clif Bloks (strawberry and salted watermelon), and 2 flavors of Ucan Edge Energy Gels (pineapple and strawberry banana). I also carried my SUICA card and 4 or 5-100yen coins in case I needed to buy something from a vending machine or conbini or even catch the bus or train in a more dire situation. 

In a tote bag prepped for my husband to haul around as part of my support crew, I put in a towel, a cooling towel, cooling body wipes, sanitizing wipes, our portable charger and a longer charging cord, a complete change of clothes for hotter weather, two types of sunscreen, anti-chafing cream, 2 bags of fuel with lots of different options and an insulated bag that had some frozen and some regular water bottles. 

Let's go! 
Saturday, May 11
I set my alarm and woke up around 4:00am with the intention to give myself enough time to have a leisurely wake up and start hydrating and eat a bit. The goal was to be running by 05:15 and I just about met that. The good thing about a self-guided ultra is that there's no rules for the start time and I could have cancelled at any time and tried again later. 
The sun was already up and almost directly in front of me for the first hour or so as I ran the most familiar parts of the route around the Kannonzaki coast. I have run on these sidewalks over and over and over again not just in the last couple of weeks for training but over the 2 years that we've lived here, so I was able to just relax and keep moving forward without thinking too much. 

I allowed myself to stop and take pictures as often as it suited me. I got my first glimpse of Mt Fuji looking back after I climbed a hill just before the 5km mark. It was a super clear day and I got to see Fuji a bunch of different times throughout this run but sadly it's just not as nice in photos as it is in person!

My husband caught the train to cheer for me near Uraga station. This was still relatively early in the run (about 75 min after starting), so he came on his own, no supplies, just support and smiles. 

So much of the first third of the run is quite close to the coast and I love being able to see the ocean while I run (and still being safely away from getting splashed lol). 

I had a brief bathroom stop around the 19km mark (probably too much water first before starting). I've stopped at that restroom before during another long run, so I felt comfortable knowing its location along the route and continued along comfortably after.

I made it to Miura Beach around 07:50, ~2 hours and 35 min and somewhere around 23km in. This is where the second "segment" starts and I still felt like I was in familiar territory but knew I still had a lot to go. My husband caught the train to MiuraKaigan station and met me here for a water and fuel refill and sunscreen reapplication. The sun was still out and blazing!

Our friend M volunteered to cheer and support on his bike. I had given him my route in a kmz earlier in the week and he caught up with me just after 08:00 as I went further into the Miura section. I would see him occasionally as he passed and waited for me at various spots along the route. 

Fuji near the southernmost part of the peninsula! I got some really clear views in this section but they were so difficult to photograph. 

I got to Misakiguchi station at around 09:35 where my husband and M were waiting for me. This is the transition between the second and third segment, about 39km in. I had let my husband know that I wanted a cup of ice from a convenience store ahead of arriving, so he had that ready for me to add to the soft flasks along with water, more fuel and additional sunscreen. At this point (which I had estimated as the halfway spot), I thought I might have wanted to reapply the chafing gel or change into a short sleeve shirt or switch out my socks or visor, but I was honestly still feeling good and wanted to just keep moving, so I did! 

I continued on the third segment along the west side the peninsula towards Hayama. I had only run this section 2 times before, but it's very straightforward which is by design since I created the route. I had adapted this part of the run (from the original 100km trail run) to stay on main roads and sidewalks without too many turns, so it's not as close to the edge as the east side was and honestly quite boring at times because you're just running along the road. 
I finally got a peek at the ocean at around 10:45, 49km in, where there's a section along the coast, and it was a stunning and welcome view. 

Plus unobstructed FUJI!! Let me tell you this view was magical irl. 
M had stopped along this part for a photo of his own and waited for me to pass as well. 

I hit a bit of a wall around the 50-51km mark. The sun was beating down on me, this was the farthest and longest time I had ever run and I still had so much to go! I stopped taking out my phone to take unnecessary photos or video and just concentrated on running and keeping myself going. I took opportunities to stop at crosswalks (where the hand was red) as they happened and walked across pedestrian overpasses if I encountered stairs. 
I made it to the last segment transition point at Zushi-Hayama station, about 59km in at 11:45, where my husband and M were both waiting for me again with my requested cup of ice, water and fuel refill. 

We had planned for my husband to join me for this last closing leg of the run which I was least familiar with and knew I'd be in uncharted waters with the distance load, and I was so happy to have him with me. 

I had to take a couple of short walk breaks, but for the most part just kept trudging through the last 14km back to the start. Luckily my husband had fresh legs and was full of encouragement. We were able to chat and he kept me motivated. My headphones died somewhere after the 66km mark, so I had to check my phone manually for the distance markers from then on out. 
We stopped for another bathroom break and ice refill by visiting a Family Mart along the way at around 67km and I was feeling really fatigued. I definitely hit a second major wall somewhere around 68-70km where we entered back into an area I was very familiar with and honestly wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep running with only a handful of km left. I told my husband I might cut the last 1ish mile off and just walk home since I would have completed a loop anyway. 

After getting down a final gel (which took 6-8 min probably lol), I was able to make it through, all the way to the planned ending point which was just over 73km or 45mi. I didn't look or feel glamorous in those last moments, but I was happy to be done.

We walked back to find a vending machine that had a Coke in it (somehow the two nearest ones didn't have it lmao), and then were welcomed back by M&M who were waiting to celebrate with us! 
I'm so grateful for my friends who helped support, including those who were cheering me on from a distance by following along on my live route (via Strava beacon) and especially M who followed and waited with his bike. But the biggest shoutout to my husband who not only tracked and met me at 4 different points with exactly what I wanted but also ran the last segment with me without complaint and full of energy. 
Not only that, but he also tolerated and supported all of my training runs for months leading up to this which was a big time commitment! I wouldn't have been able to complete this run without having that solid base. 

Strava recorded the run as 73.3km (45.5mi). Moving time and pace was 8:06:58, 6:39/km while elapsed time and pace was 8:38:07, 7:04/km. 
I'm probably more inclined to go with the elapsed time and pace since I turned off the auto-pause, and I think any time I stopped for any reason (refueling, bathroom, traffic light or rest) should count towards what happened! But beyond that, I FINISHED IT! I did it, guys!! 

I was determined to have some sort of consistent update throughout the run (as much as possible), so I tried to recorded a video every 5km. Here is a screenshot from each of them. Can you tell when I started to struggle or did was I able to hide it? πŸ˜… 
First 10km, no problem, all smiles, very optimistic!
Apparently forgot to get 25, so I recorded 26 instead. Still feeling good but it's windy!
Continuing to trudge along for 30-40. I just got some ice in the flasks right before 40, so I was really looking forward to that. Plus I had a view of Fuji too!
Smiling at 45, officially in ultra territory and then looking virtually the same at 50 and 55 apparently. Not seen here, but I really hit a wall around 51/52 when I wasn't filming and even admitted that I might need to stop doing updates to focus on just getting through. 
My husband joined me and you can tell how much happier he is than I am in the videos πŸ˜‚. Feeling a bit tired in 60 but feeling absolutely done at 70. All I said in the video was "70". My husband waited to see if I had anything else to add for a bit, and then said "no notes?" I said "no" and stopped recording lol. 

I also recorded whenever I fueled and what I fueled with! This was an important part of the run and would have been impossible without this component. 
6km: Clif Bloks, 12km: Ucan Edge Energy Gel, 18km: Honey Stinger waffle
24km: Clif Bloks, 30km: Ucan Edge Energy Gel, 35km: Clif Bloks (w/caffeine)
41km: Honey Stinger waffler, 46km: Clif Bloks, 51km: Ucan Edge Energy Gel (needed this gel to keep going for sure)
56km: Clif Bloks, 62km: Ucan Edge Energy Gel, 68km: Ucan Edge Energy Gel (wouldn't have kept running without it lol)
I like the taste of Clif Bloks the best during an easy training run, but for something like this requiring a lot of effort, I think the Ucan gels get it done. I knew that when I really needed it (like at 51 and 68km), the gels would come through for me and help get to me to the next landmark and were also easier to swallow (although still difficult). I had also prepped some "real food" (like chex mix and bite size cookies) but hadn't really wanted to eat anything like that once I was really tired and just wanted the fast carbs. 
I also drank quite a bit of water although I don't know the exact amount because I would refill it to a random amount every time. Having cold and refreshing water (ice added) when I was really dragging helped a ton. 

My Google Earth projected run (traced the aerial image using the path feature) in the lighter/lime green vs my Strava data in the wider blue outline. They matched up pretty well which meant I ran where I intended. There's just a little deviation near the end of the end where I was willing to run along the back of the buildings to see the sea vs on the road next to the cars. Google Earth path is 68.9km or 42.8mi. Strava recorded my run as 73.3km or 45.5mi! Some of that is likely just due to Strava's specificity and some GPS issues in the tunnels, but I didn't anticipate it being so off :/. I was definitely ready to be done at 68km lol. 

I mentioned the idea of doing this run in my "My running diary 2024 start" post but was pretty hesitant about it. I didn't want to have to say I failed if I wasn't able to do it! But I'm so proud that I set the goal and reached it within the timeline before moving. 
I would love to be able to try it again, but with the weather getting so warm and our move so close (plus a few days after the run I might have strained a muscle in my quad after doing bulgarian split squats/lunges BOO), I'm happy to leave this single run as a standalone memory. I did reach out to the runner who inspired me to begin with and he kindly offered to show me the original 100km course if I'm back in the area which was so heartwarming even if just polite conversation. 
I'm so thankful to my husband and friends who helped support me and made this possible. Overall, coming out of this run and this experience saying "I love running πŸ’—".

Instagram video clips/reels here (general post) | here (at ever 5km) | here (how I fueled) if that's how you prefer to consume content :)

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