Still in Training for Tokyo Marathon 2013 Despite a Metatarsal Fracture

This is an IQ question for Primary 2 students in Hong Kong which my mom-mah picked up from the papers:

You are given 3 photos of 3 men looking exactly like the normal man plucked off the street. Each one of them has a nose, a mouth, eyes, eyebrows, ears and hair. Can you tell me which one of them is an Alien?”

I brought this IQ riddle up because this is exactly the fly on the wall situation I was facing. I had a X-ray taken of my foot 4 weeks ago because I kept getting discomfort after my training. Ever since I broke the neck of my femur in a trail-running accident in a remote countryside in China 2 years ago, I have learnt to never EVER wing any discomfort or pain!  (Smart!)

For any athlete, professional or otherwise, one can never be the same after any injuries. I now have a titanium plate inserted in my hip and I still get occasional discomfort and aches (very weather dependent). My range of motion is no longer the same – say, crossing my leg to clip my toenails for instance!

…SO, the radiographer couldn’t determine any fracture and said in his report that “…There is a possibly a small  stress fracture.  Correlation with bone scan advised…”.  My GP prescribed Vit D and plenty of rest since stress fractures will heal by itself in 3-4 weeks.  Dilly-dally, dilly-dally, 4 weeks on, my foot is still feeling tired – no pain, just achy soreness after training. So I decided it’s high time to pay my Podiatrist a visit.

BAM! As soon as he saw my X-ray, he said “You see this? There is a huge crack between the 4th and 5th metatarsal!”

Shite! How can I not see it? It’s been staring me right in the face while I was scrutinising for a hairline fracture!!  Geez, no wonder you have to cough up to see a professional!

Anyway, my Pod said that this is a tricky fracture.  Basically, this type of fracture is asymptomatic, so the pain will not be on the site.  He squeezed my foot laterally and my foot screamed in pain!  But when he pushed on the injured site, I did not experience a single thing!  He told me that there is only 1 study done on stress fracture between the 4th and 5th metatarsals.  It was done a couple of years ago by a sports doctor in Sydney Uni on a footballer.  While I do not need to wear the boot because the fracuture is in a stable location – at the base of the toes, he advised me to baby-nurse it and not to put any weight on my foot.  And with me insisting that I am still going for the TM2013 (cue the Michelin eateries), he advised me to do massive amounts of cross-trainings and not to hold high expectations for the race, just run according to how I feel. The healing will not be fast, because of the lack of blood supply around the area, but after 6 weeks, with another X-ray I will know. So, fingers crossed, let’s hope for Good News in the coming week-and-a-half!So, there – the answer to the riddle is:

“The person who asked me to pick is the Alien!”

Moving forward with only 4-5 weeks left to train for TM2013, how am I going to wing it?

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AQX Aqua Shoes, AquaJogger Floatation Belt, 2XU Visor and Gymboss

Deep water running (DWR), of course! I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks now and I believe I’m gaining good traction – in power, core engagement and endurance too. (How did I know? Well, …duh! Because I resumed my training the 3rd week after I got my X-ray back?!!) This was stoopid…Me a VERY Silly Nelly!) From the literatures I’ve read, DWR is highly specific to running. However, you must do with INTENSITY to spike the heartrate, otherwise it is of no use and fitness cannot be maintained. Just like running on land, you need to keep your back straight (no slouching!) and maintain a quick turnover of at least 180 strides per minute. Pump your arms the same way as well, maintaining about a 90 degree angle at your elbow.  There is a good sample of DWR  workout intervals by Pete Pfizinger.  And also, go to You Tube, there are lots of examples if you are not sure.  I like this one here.

What about Food?

One of the first thing I experienced when I started DWR was the increase in my hunger.  According to Tim Ferriss’s ‘4-hour Body’, this is usual, how else is Michael Phelps able to eat 7,000 calories in a day?

Because I know that once weight is gained, it’s hard to lose, so I decided to give Konjac noodles a go.  Shirataki or konjac noodles are supposed to be very low in calories. These are the products I have tried so far:

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Kelp Noodles and Miracle Noodles

Slim Pasta from Woolworths

Slim Pasta

Product Review: Kelp Noodles. This is my favourite. Very crunchy. I give it a hot water bath, then mixes Dashi and Wasabi with it. I buy from iHerb.

Product Review: Miracle Noodle – I buy this online. It smells very fishy, so I rinse it with hot water and mix with Dashi and Wasabi.

Product Review: Slim Pasta. I buy this in Woolworths. It smells fishy and very slippery to chew. I rinse in hot water and mix with Dashi and Wasabi.

There are many recipes online on how to cook/ season these noodles, but I find Dashi and Wasabi are the best way. I eat them as salads with rocket and baby spinach.

To Tokyo Marathon 2013 and Bust

There is only 6 weeks to go before I stand at the start line at the Tokyo Marathon 2013 on February 24! Saying that I am nervous is only an understatement since I am seriously undertrained. My stress fracture is stil healing, and I’ve not spent much time on my foot. Bursting my lungs out in the pool deep water running while GR8T, doesn’t cut it especially since that one runs on dry land for a marathon.

Although I have been to Tokyo a few times already and they were all business trips, where I got chauffeured around from hotels, offices and restaurants -so I only have an inkling of an impression of Tokyo. And the last time I was in Tokyo was back in 2010 for a whirlwind museums studies trip. This time, I want to pig-out at Michelin restaurants, be a little more adventurous and take best of all, take a trip out of Tokyo!

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Newton, my guide books and I preparing for our assault on TM2013

To make my trip to Japan an exciting destination race, I have been browsing through blogs, websites and guides for über chic place to shop, see and eat. So, I am lucky to learn months beforehand that in order to score a table at the Michelin restaurants in Tokyo, one needs an advanced reservation of 2-3 months. One also have to do a bit of research, for example read lots of blogs and peruse all the pictures posted until the dishes become second-nature, in the process, losing some mystique. Still, I hope I can manage to squeeze out some element of surprise when I finally get to sample those exquisite dishes!

Also, most restaurants only accept bookings from the hotel concierge for overseas visitors and require a credit card to secure the booking, neverteless, one still need to reconfirm 1 week ahead. So, that’s why I chose to stay 5-stars – not only for the rooms, but for the services of efficient Concierge services.

The resources that I looked up to besides Google, included:
Chowhound – seems to be a busy forum with lots on ongoing discussion
Bento.com
• TripAdvisor
Andy Hayler – a Brit with serious eating cred
• For some inspiration off the beaten travel path, a good dose of daily pictures of Japan by a lady photographer, Muza-Chan

MY MICHELIN PIG-OUT ITINERARY
Feb 22 (Friday): TOKYO
7pm Dinner @Takazawa
JPY 30,000 (Chef’s Special Tasting Menu of the Day)
Self-booking – emailing the wife of the owner/chef Akiko
Much read and very highly regarded restaurant. Came out TOPS in all reviews. The chef refused the Michelin rating one time a many!

Feb 23 (Saturday): TOKYO
12pm Lunch @Ginza Okuda
JPY16,800 +13% (same menu as the premium dinner course)
This is the 2nd restaurant by the award-wining Chef Okuda. His main restaurant is ‘Ginza Kojyu’. There is much debate online about the qualities and differences of the 2 restaurants, but I read from reviews that he personally come to cook Saturday lunch in this ‘Ginza Okuda’, so thus, a booking made!

Dinner: Not sure what to have on the eve of the Marathon, but perhaps carb-loading via a French- styled soba place at Fumotoya Keio Plaza Hotel?

Feb 24 (Sunday): TOKYO MARATHON DAY
4pm 60min Deep Tissue Massage at hotel (Run fast slow-coach!!)

6pm Dinner @Tapas Molecular Bar, Mandarin Oriental
JPY14000 per person + 13% service charge
Self-booking thru online reservation form, but need a copy of credit card to secure reservation
There are only 8 seats per seating. 2 seatings per night : 6pm or 8:30pm – let’s see if it floats my boat!

Feb 25 (Monday): TOKYO
12pm Lunch @Le Creations de Narisawa
JPY 12,600 + 10%
Self-booking thru online reservation form
Ranked 27th in the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Feb 26 (Tuesday) : TOKYO – Outing to KAMAKURA
6:30pm Dinner @RyuGin
JPY 23,100 for the rudimentary Tasting Menu
Wow! Another hard table to get! The table is only available for booking exactly 2 months in advance! Ranked 28th in the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Feb 27 (Wednesday): TOBA
Overnight @Oyado the Earth, Toba (Breakfast and dinner included)
I couldn’t find any reviews on TripAdvisor, however the write-ups in glossy mags were really good.

Feb 28 (Thursday) : TAKAYAMA
Overnight @a traditional Japanese Ryoken, with shared bathrooms – YIKES!!

Eat @Ebihachi (A cheap tempura joint highly recommended by TripAdvisor.)

March 1 (Friday): TAKAYAMA – Daytrip to SHIRAKAWA-GO
I am going to join this tour provided by Nouhi Bus (includes an English speaking guide and a lunch), reservation only starts 1 month prior

Overnight @same Ryoken, but am thinking of going direct to Kanazawa after the day trip.
Taking a bus (around 1 hour) is faster than the JR (nearly 3 hours!)

March 2 (Saturday): KANAZAWA
12:30pm Lunch @Miyoshian, Kenrokuen Park (telephone number:076-221-0127)
No website.
Requested a table by the window so I can watch the carps as suggested by Guide Book
(Update: My review here)

6:30pm Dinner@Zeniya (Japanese)
I’ve never heard of this chap Chef Shin Takagi, but he is all over the epicurean blogging world! He’s even been to Sydney for an ‘ international’ cooking event, so naturally, I must check him out! (…his cooking)
Other choice cheap eats for future reference:
Either: Ippudo (Ramen), Tel:076-263-3331
Or: Curiente Kanazawa Higashiyama (Creative French),Tel:078-251-0403

March 3 (Sunday): NARA
7pm@ Wa Yamamura (Japanese) , 2-11-15 Shibatsuhi-Cho, Nara, Tel: 81 742 33 0102
3 Michelin stars
No website found

March 4 (Monday): NARA
6:30pm @Le Benkei (French)
JPY23,100 for Tasting Course

March 5 (Tuesday): HIROSHIMA
Seriously, can it be that HARD to find a luxe eats in Hiroshima, the only place that kept popping up is Kanawa. I read mixed reviews on it, but personally, why would I want to pay top $$$ to dine on an old shabby house boat?

Here is a webpage for travelers by the locals
http://www.nileguide.com/destination/hiroshima/best/five-star-restaurants

Some dinner options:
Kazumaru – oysters, conger eels

Suishin Shinkansenten– tag line ‘Serving Hiroshima for last 60 years’

HITOARIKI KURA – got some serious list of producers , seems very organic

Kakiden – oysters (looks good, but all in Japanese)

March 6 (Wednesday): HIROSHIMA – Day Trip to IWAKUNI AND MIYAJIMA
12pm Lunch: Hope to sample ‘Iwakuni sushi’

Might try a 7pm Dinner @Okonomi – Mura (‘Okonomiyaki Village’)
(tel 082/241-2210) 5-13 Shintenchi, Hiroshima. Open: 11am-9pm, but some stalls stay open later.  NY Times suggested stall is Chii-Chan.

March 7 (THURSDAY ): OKAYAMA
No meals reserved yet. Possible choices for Dinner:
Option A) Perhaps try a Fugu banquet @Suigyokuen, ING building 3F, 6-29, Saiwaicho, Kita-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama, 700-0903

Option B) Try a soba dinner @ToriSoba

March 8 (FRIDAY ): NAOSHIMA
Stay @Hotel Benesse House,Check in hotel at 3pm
This is an Art Island, akin to Cockatoo Island here in Sydney.
Exciting Arty Day includes:
Kinza Art House @ 11:15am – 12pm (Viewing times must be pre-booked)
Night program ‘James Turrell’s “Open Sky” Night Programio’ 17:50 – 18:55 (Only for the guests staying at Hotel Benesse House) @ChiChu Museum designed by Tadao Ando!

8pm Dinner @Museum House (Shabu-shabu)

March 9 (Saturday): OSAKA
7:30am -9am Breakfast @Museum House,Check out hotel at 11am
Catch 4pm JR from Uno to Osaka – Arrive Osaka 18:16 (the latest)

@7:30pm Dinner @Hajime, OSAKA (French contemporary)
JPY 25,000 Tasting Menu
3 Michelin stars
This only is another toughie! Booked online through their website, but got a confirmation that they have received my request, but the confirmation will only come through 72 hours prior to my requested date! So, I have to seek my hotel’s concierge for assistance. I managed to secure it after paying up-front via PayPal.

March 10 (Sunday): OSAKA – Daytrip to MIHO MUSEUM, NARA
Miho Museum will only be re-opened on March 9 2013, and this building is designed by I.M.Pei. I’ve visited his works I Paris, Beijing and Hongkong. He was the subject of my undergraduate thesis, BTW

Evening: Visit Umeda area perhaps and find time to squeeze in a meal @La Baie (French), 3 Michelins within the next 2 days

March 11 (Monday): Osaka
12 pm Lunch @Fujiya 1935 (Fusion)
6,500 JPY Tasting Course (tax and service charge not included).
3 Michelin stars

March 12 (Tuesday): HOMEWARD BOUND!
Still deciding on the 9am flight or 6:20pm flight…. Lose some serious weight and Start training for Paris Marathon 2013 pronto!

Marathon on Stage

Today looks to be scorcher. The digital thermometer reads 25 degree as of now – 7:30am – and the pool downstairs is packed!

I’ve been off running for 3 weeks since I developed a metatarsal stress fracture. Since then, I had never trained harder – deep water running, stationary bike and elliptical – my ventricle vein has literally popped out! My aim was not to come dead-last in the Tokyo Marathon 2013 next month which is about 7 weeks away, but the true motivation is the Michelin-eat-athon that I have lined up for my Japanese trip. I have confirmed reservations for 8 top-notch restaurants including RyuGin, thus far! Let’s just say that I have to shed fat before I add on more.

Since today is Day 1 of the month-long Sydney Festival 2013 and that I have just received my new pair of Asics in half a size larger; half a size larger because I am hoping that it will solve the numbness on my toes. I decided that I should test out my shoes and walk to Hyde Park to catch some action.

I read that the launch of the Sydney Festival will be some guy called ‘Humphreys’ running a marathon on stage in Hyde Park. This, I have gotta see! How monotonous can running get? And seriously can any kudos be due to the curator and his creative team to come up with this cheesy idea? Anywaz, like I said, a good day to try out my new pairs of shoes.

—Time Lapsed—

I’m back! True to my word, it was a cheesy launch! But I had a fantastic time. In any case, the key to make any entertainment fun is ‘cheesiness’ and ‘tackines’!!

Water-fountain at Hyde Park – one of the most photographed tourist spot in Sydney

The festival started off slightly late at after 9:30am with the Marching Koala Band. The band was made up of school kids and they proceeded to march around the fountain a few times (maybe 3 or 4) with the mascot Koala, led by a woman symbolising the Greek Goddess, followed by the Athean Runners or ‘Haus da Humps’.

Australia’s Marching Koala Band

 

Marching Koala Band and 'Goddess'

 

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Humps on Golden Chair

The guys were so BOSS! Kitted out in skin-tight shiny blue singlets and gold spandex shorts, headband, gold aviators galore – AH! The aerobics craze of the 80s are back! Bring it on!

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Humps on stage – with his golden tits guards! Dressed to the part right down to his tits!

Before the ‘marathon’ starts, a bit of ceremony is in order. Smoke, fire and streamers de riguer. Funky disco dancing, upbeat music and even a Gang-nam Style flash mob! Jolly good! Am enjoying myself!

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Humps finally begins his Fun Run

While running to the music spinned by his disc jockeys, the MC said that Humps is 29 years of age, weighs 89kg (what?) and the furthest run he has done is only 32km. And one of the rules is that Humps must stay on the treadmill at all times. Seriously dude, let’s see how you pan out. Right now, the sun is stinging me and I want to get cultured by ‘Alexander The Great’ at Australian Museum across the block. so check you out later.

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Walking ATM – wish you were real! Heheh!

2 hours on, he is still running! Man, you are going to be so badly sun-burnt with the sorriest feet ever. I salute you, bro!

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By now, I am hungry and decided to head home.

The lunch today was a bite at The Botanist. A glass of white ($11) and a plate of chips ($7). The aoli chips were good, the mayonaise was only so-so. But a nice place to chill-out. Over and out for now!

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