Yesterday I ran the final 5km leg of an Ekiden (relay race). Myself and My friends were just two teams amongst hundreds that ran the 23km course along the Tama river. The weather was perfect for running – blue skies, but not too hot.

Looking at my stats on runkeeper, I could see that my personal record for 5km was 21mins 51seconds, set back in May at the Arakawa Ekiden. My goal this time was to beat that – a tough challenge as I nearly died from exhaustion back then.

The first to run for the Quatro Kids was Tom – he had the tough job of running 10km on a very crowded track. Despite the traffic jam at the beginning he was back in 46 minutes – a fantastic start.

Next to run (5km) was Sheffield classmate Phil. He too is pretty damn fast, and was back in 21 minutes. Nami, friend and Japanese teacher (who organised the teams – thank you!) then took the baton for the 3km stretch, before handing it to me – I had the final 5km ahead of me.

Having scrapped the idea of doing a live video I focused on the running, taking off at an unsustainable speed of 1km/4mins. It was only when I’d run a full km and Runkeeper read me my stats that I realised my pace was too fast and that I’d probably collapse if I continued like that.

Having slowed down to an almost-comfortable 4mins15sec per km I started looking for a runner that I could use as a pace-keeper, and soon found one in a Japanese guy in his 40s. Not quite the young female runner I’d hoped for, but he was running at just the right speed; I focused on his shoes and imagined myself as being in his slipstream.

The final kilometer was tough. It seemed my legs hadn’t fully recovered from the running I’d done earlier in the week, and I desperately wanted to slow right down. But regular updates from Runkeeper I knew I’d miss my target time if I did that, so pushed on.

Entering the final 500m, the pain was taken away by the cheering crowds. Crossing the line I was a happy bunny… and looked down to see what time i’d made it in: 21min 55sec – 4 seconds slower than back in May! That made me laugh…

Still, I’ve had my best week running so far this week, covering almost running 50km. Also, 30km of that saw me carrying quite a bit of weight, in the form of 2 x 0.5kg weights strapped to my wrists (need to build up my arm muscles for carrying the camera) and a rucksack containing an iPad and an assortment of clothes.

There’s still a long way to go until I’m ready for the marathon though.

Running is continuing to make me feel a lot more energized generally, which is a good thing as I have so much on my plate at present.

Been talking with *Twinkle* more about long term plans and a project that we can work on together. A decision has been made there… watch this space.