Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marathon Morning

On Sunday morning I will wake up at about 6am. I'll immediately take a shower to get my muscles warm and my body feeling clean. I'll eat the same thing I've been eating before all my weekend runs for the last month: toast with a wee bit of butter, an Organic Food Bar, and a piece of fruit. I want energy, but not so much as to weigh me down. I'll stretch while I'm eating and also try to induce enough bathroom trips so that's not an issue during the race.

I'm supposed to be at the race start an hour early (they say 1.5 hours, but I don't listen well) so I'll leave the hotel with Mariko around 7:30am. We're only a couple subway stops away, fortunately. Last year finding the start was pretty easy - I only had to board the train and then follow everybody. I'll be wearing my running clothes under a full set of disposable clothes because the temperature is going to be 5-7C (41-45F). I'll carry with me a numbered plastic bag containing everything I will need after the race: food to eat right away, warm, dry clothes, different shoes, camera, etc. I will split off from Mariko at the "runners only beyond this point" sign, where I will make my way to the appropriate truck to drop off my 'finish line' bag. From there I have to get to my starting position.

Runners are designated by lettered group (from A-K) based on expected finish time. I am in group B, which has a 'special' section that requires two checkpoints (they actually check your race number) to reach. Then I get to wait for 45 minutes. I will spend half that time peeing in the bushes (portable toilet lines take too long), then I will enter the assigned section with my fellow B-people. At 9am, 10 minutes before the start, we'll start jockeying our way forward to gain a couple extra meters. With five minutes to go, they'll release the barriers at the front of all the sections so we B people will be able to push up behind the A's. People are pretty cool and there isn't actually any squeezing. With about three minutes left, everybody wearing pants and extra shirts will remove those clothes and throw them to the sides. The sidewalks are staffed with tons of volunteers who walk back and forth with big plastic bags and collect all the clothes. Presumably they donate them to charity. I should note here that the start is incredibly organized. Runners are forbidden from the sidewalks, so there's no unfair 'line cutting' that goes on. You can only get into the starting area for your letter and that's where you stay until you cross the start line. It's important in a serious race to prevent 'line cutting' because our official time is what matters for things like Boston or New York qualification. The official time starts when the gun goes off, so if it takes me a minute to cross the start line (or, in the case of a K person, 15-20 minutes!) that is included in my official time (as opposed to my chip time, which only measures my time between the start and finish lines).

At 9:05am the wheelchair race begins, at 9:10am the 10k and marathon begin and it's a big show with important dudes and pretty girls. Last year it took me exactly a minute to cross the start line, then I figure I lost another minute waiting for the runners ahead to stretch out and the pace to pick up. That'll take about a kilometer, so my first 5k split will show up a little slower (two minutes?) than the pace I want, which means I will have to make up this deficit later. More later in the week on the goal time and the splits necessary to get there.

1 comment:

shicun said...

This is Shicun of OSCAMINTOL.
Your photographs of WW are wonderful.

Tokyo city marathon
You must achieve the record for three hours and ten minutes.
Good luck.