Monday, February 28, 2011

Tokyo Marathon 2011

I didn't sleep well Friday night then walked around way too much on Saturday (I always do) and had hunger issues all that day as well.  I think I ate four meals, finally settling on a huge bowl of ramen at 7pm to make it all go away.  I went to bed at 9pm Saturday night and slept pretty well until 6am, when I again broke from tradition and ended up eating a lot (2 bananas, an orange, and 3 big pieces of toast).  Usually everything is very calculated for me, but this year was a big contrast.

Even when I got on the train I realized I might be late, which was further exacerbated when they stopped everybody in a tunnel (seriously?) to check our bags for explosives, except the check was only a peek inside.  Stupid security.

The temperature was 4 degrees (39F) when I left my friend's apartment, so this left me with an important choice to make when dropping off my bag at the truck: do I wear a long-sleeved capilene shirt over my short-sleeved running shirt, or do I just go for the one arm warmer (I found it in an airport, which is why I only have one) and gloves?  I opted for the latter, noting the clear sky and lack of wind.  Though I shivered for the final 20 minutes of standing around near the start line, I made the right clothing choice.

[loading our bags, which we'll pick up at the finish line]

I stood where I always stand: on the far right edge next to the planters so I can take a final pee in the hedge in the last two minutes before the start.  The start went off without a hitch and I was glad to go out slowly because I wanted to test my right leg, which I hadn't run on in three days (and I'd forgotten to take most of the inflammation medicine for it on Fri/Sat).  It ached a little, as usual, but this pain disappeared after 1-2k and never resurfaced.

If you followed my splits (thanks to those who did and wrote me!) you'd see that this year they accounted for the time it took me to cross the start line (1:14).  There is some slow going afterwards while the crowd spreads out, but I thought things picked up pretty well this year.  I tried not to pay attention to my pace much and just run something comfortable while keeping an eye on my heart rate to make sure I wasn't overexerting.  Since my HR was solidly under 170 I just kept going.  Also, I ditched my gloves and arm warmer into the belt of my shorts at around 2k.

There were some stomach issues and feelings of "I can't keep this up" as there always are for me in the first 10k (44:18, 42 seconds ahead of pace), but I settled out nicely thereafter.  Near 15k I spotted some ditched arm warmers in the median of the road.  This was about the 5th set I'd seen, but it was always too late to bend down and grab them (ever since attaining one arm warmer, I've been keen to acquire a second, but I am not keen to buy it - I even went so far as to write to Asics Japan with a picture of my one warmer and a sad face, but they rejected the idea of completing my pair).  So since we were on an out-and-back part of the course, I paid attention to landmarks so I could pick them up on the way back, which I did.  This created a small-sized load of laundry that i was toting in the waist of my shorts, but I correctly assumed I wouldn't notice it anymore after a few more kilometers.

I hit the halfway point (around 1:33) in fine shape.  I was sticking to my regimen of taking 2 cups of energy drink (which equates to about 2 sips) and 1-2 cups of water every 5k.  I'd also been sucking on my Clif Shot Blocks (gummy calorie things) well.  I struggle to take those or gels on the go, so this year I adapted to sucking them and taking a chomp every couple minutes - much better on my stomach.

At 25k (1:50.54, or about 1:30 under pace) I started feeling really optimistic, which I always do at this point.  I felt strong and fast and knew I was over halfway done.  "If I can just keep this up..."  is a thought I couldn't succeed at keeping away.

The day really started to warm up at this point so I was trying to keep myself in the shadows of the buildings on our second out-and-back.  At 30k (2:13.38) I started to feel my quads, which is a bad sign, though in line with my predictions about lack of endurance.

I would say I was still mentally aware and stable at 35k (2:36.40, still 50 seconds under pace), but I deteriorated from here.  I'll post my split breakdowns by kilometer later in the week, but things started to fall apart at 38k.  My quads were just giving out and my mind started to go with them.  I was grasping at anything to pull my mind off the pain.  Some of those tricks - like getting through 1.5 songs on my mp3 player to equal a 5-minute kilometer - sorta worked.  But by 40k (3:00.29, right about on pace) I was done and it was just a matter of getting to the finish line upright.  I stopped for the first time at the 40k drink stations and took in 3-4 cups of each beverage, which did help for a few hundred meters.  But the last 2k were very much of the mindset "what the.. stop.. go..." as my thoughts could only last about 1-2 seconds.  My vision got a little cloudy, which takes me back to the days of my first marathon.  My legs were obviously wobbly and I did sway a few times.  I got passed by quite a few people as I was just fighting to stop.

The relief at the finish line (3:12.06) needn't be stated.  I will, however, note that I did think about my experience at the finish line last year and subsequently told myself to 'suck it up'.  I could still walk on both legs, so I made my way through the chip removal, medal and towel pickup, then all the drink and food stops before going into a giant warehouse to pick up my bag  (how they get those 32,000 bags across Tokyo and organized in less than 3 hours is amazing).

[a little ragged]

I was really hungry, but I wasn't allowed to exit the building as in years past, which would have led me right to an Italian restaurant.  Instead they made us walk some long distance outside and to a train station, so I just went ahead and made my way to the airport, where I arrived at 2:30, ate a lot, then watched the Tokyo Marathon live on television as I waited in line to board my 4pm flight.

[one of two blisters (the other under my right pinky toenail) - that other thing on the middle toe is left over from Tokashiki] 

[for some reason my left shoe rubbed quite a bit against my right calf]

[my trusty Asics GT2150 shoes]

3:12 is not my goal of 3:10, but I don't know where I could have found those extra 2 minutes yesterday.  It's a big question and it's going to take some thinking, reading, and strategy to come up with a new plan.  While I like the training plans I've been following the last couple years, they are leaving me out to dry in the last 5k of my races, so I've got to address that.

Anyway, I'm happy with the time.  Quite pleased, actually.  I wasn't psyched about my training habits or diet this year, nor my time at my only warm-up race, the Tokashiki half-marathon. I didn't think much about my strategy for Tokyo - I just ran what felt comfortable.  Which worked pretty well until it got uncomfortable.


katecoloredglasses said...

Still my hero, Dave-Sensei! Congratulations.

erin said...

I think it's bad ass that you were finished running, fed, rested and getting on a plane while people were still running.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, what a sexy legs and foot!!!
I want kiss your feet.

Please, please show me your sexy bathing suits(especially Speedos) and chest hair photos next time.

You are the my dreaming man!!!

Dave said...

You have to show me yours first.

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Dave said...

Touche Anonymous!

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