Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 Tokyo Marathon

I woke up at 5:45am and proceeded through my usual 'marathon morning' routine, which took about 1.5 hours. At 7:20 I took the train a couple stops down to Shinjuku and then followed the crowds. The start was well-organized, considering there were 35,000 runners attending plus at least as many fans.

[The day before with my time prediction, and my muscles]

Being in the 'B' group was awesome because the A's, B's, and C's had special holding areas close to the start. It made me feel cool being able to walk freely with a B on my number. I peed in some bushes twice and addressed an issue at the medical building (forgotten Bodyglide) before jumping onto the race course at 8:30. I peed three more times into an unfortunate little 10" hedge that found itself at just the right height on its road barrier. The wheelchair start was at 9:05am and then, after various 'move ups', I was about 30 meters from the start (and peeing) when the gun went off. It was an awesome start with important dignitaries, beautiful women in kimonos, and confetti guns.

[Exit train, follow everybody - photo credit: Yuki (all others by Wren)]

It took me somewhere around 55 seconds to get across the start line, but I started my watch with the official gun, so that's what I used all day. The start was slow and people didn't spread out for over a kilometer. I figure I lost at least a minute in there just trying to get up to speed. I weaved and danced through openings, but I was also careful not to do anything stupid. At around 1k, I spotted my friend Wren in the crowd, standing on top of something that put him 6' above everyone else. And a few hundred meters later the girl I was staying with (Yuki) spotted me and yelled.

[Japanese like to show the peace sign when they pose for pictures, apparently I like to flex (me in blue)]

Once things sorted out in the race, I became unsettled. My stomach gave me a lot of issues during the first half and rarely did I feel good. I kept the energy drink/water consumption up even though that seemed to be contributing to my stomach problems. My pace was solid, if a little fast. I paid attention to my 5k splits half-heartedly and knew I was doing fine. I didn't think I could maintain a strong second-half pace so my goal was to go out hard (Prefontaine style) then just hope to hang on long enough to salvage a good time. The first half of a marathon is always tedious for me because I don't even begin to think about the race until the halfway point. But my friend Wren broke it up nicely by somehow (he had a bike) showing up to catch my attention again at ~13k and ~17k.

I hit halfway around 1:39.11, which was only 30 seconds faster than this and last year's (PR) Okinawa City Marathon. This bothered me because I knew to get a PR I would have less than 2 minutes to give up on the second half.

The weather was good. Temperature was around 15C and the sky was dark and cloudy. There were also some unfavorable high winds blowing around.

[I'm so fast I'm blurrier than everybody else]

The second 21k of a marathon is an equal part mental and physical battle. My body is going to fatigue, but I do my best to distract my mind from it as long as possible. I watched the leaders going the opposite direction on the out-and-backs, I looked for pretty girls in the crowd, I thought about people following my real-time results online - whatever I could concentrate on other than impending pain and the finish (it never helps to think about the finish).

At 30k and 35k I knew I was still on pace - and surprised by it. At 40k I knew it would be close, but I was encouraged by my physical and mental states. I had to run the final 2.2k in an under-5-minute/kilometer pace. So off I went. I didn't go into a sprint until 400 meters to go, but I was running real well for those last 2k. There was a clock about 100m out from the finish and I could see I was going to make it, which I did in a time of 3:19.49.

[Only about 400 meters to the finish]

That's cutting it pretty close to my goal time, but it's also not quite accurate. That is my 'official time' which started with the gun and ended with me crossing the finish line. My 'chip time' started when I actually crossed the start line and should be around a minute faster. I didn't get a certificate yet, but maybe I'll find that out later this week.

The Tokyo Marathon was awesome. They had a massive volunteer staff, the crowd support was incredible, and the organization was unfathomable. The aid stations, the start, and the numerous clocks were all designed for fast runners, which I really appreciated. The course was great (flat). I only saw a few of the sights I was meant to see, but that's okay by me.

I ran a great race. I'll post the numbers tomorrow, but my first and second half times only had a ~1.30 time differential. My mind was clear and I was able to formulate real thoughts all the way to the finish. Usually everything is sort of a mess as the race nears its end. This was a great marathon.


Laura said...


Dave said...

haha.. nice, Laura. thanks.

erin said...

Congrats on a good race! You have me inspired to really push myself on Saturday. My times will be nowhere near as great as yours but hopefully this year I won't get passed by a speedwalker!!

Katy. said...

Well played.. Congrats! :)

kerign said...

Woah...well done and congrats! One of the best marathons for you than?

Dave said...

THE best! Thanks Kerri, Katy, Erin.