Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tokashiki Half-Marathon 2012

For the fourth consecutive year I took the Zamami-sponsored boat - along with 15 other people - to go run the Tokashiki (neighboring island) half-marathon.

[Team Geruma, and Dave]

My training this year [for Tokyo Marathon] has been mediocre so I wasn't too sure what to expect out of my performance at the race.  Three years ago I finished in 31st place (overall), two years ago 26th place, and last year 11th place.  But my time last year was actually slower than two years ago, so the overall ranking has a lot to do with who shows up to the race.

The start surprised me this year as just two guys took off to the front and I found myself in the "chase" pack.  This is strange because.. well, I'm not really a runner and yet here I was near the front.  I thought I must be going too fast (oh, my heart rate monitor belt snapped in half 15 minutes before the start of the race, so I couldn't use my HR as a guide to energy output) so I kept trying to slow down, purposely letting people go ahead.  At the 1km mark I was able to check my pace and found that I was exactly on my full marathon pace (4:30), so I let go a little and caught back up.  I figured I was around 10th-11th place at the 3km mark, which is where a giant hill (~2km?) begins.  I reeled in at least four guys on that hill, which is not unexpected because I am just strong on hills.  I expected them to get me back on the ensuing downhill, but they didn't and instead I ran the next 6km completely alone.  Occasionally I could spot a couple guys way out ahead of or behind me, but otherwise it was really quiet.  From 11km to 13km is an out-and-back, so I could see who was ahead of me, then after I made the turn, I could see who was behind me.  I was seventh at the turn with one guy ahead who I thought I could catch, but another guy gaining quickly from behind, so I figured it'd be a wash and I'd be fighting to hold onto 7th from the big pack that was behind me.  It took 2km (all uphill) to gain the guy in front of me, then I caught glimpses of the next guy so I started working on him.  There was one last big uphill and I knew that would be my chance to both catch the guy ahead and lose the guy behind me, who was still there.  Both of those things happened and I came out on top of that hill in 5th place.  I cruised across the flat until reaching the downhill that leads to the final, flat 2km back to the village and the finish line.  At the bottom of that hill, confident I had 5th place secured, I noted that the 4th place guy was out ahead of me. He was pretty far away, but appeared to be struggling.  So I kicked it up a little bit, thinking if I could catch him sooner rather than later then I'd avoid any last minute power surges he might be saving up for. This strategy worked and I passed him in less than 1km, with more than 1km to the finish.  I was in the disadvantageous position at this point (ahead), so I had to exert a little more to assure my place, but I checked over my shoulder a few times and confirmed I was opening up my lead.

So that was that.  I came into the stadium and all the Geruma kids were cheering for me as I crossed the line in 4th place (out of 433 overall, 343 men).  My time was 1:34.41, which is really not a fast half-marathon time, though the 1440' of ascent (~470m) needs to be taken into account, as does the warm weather.  I didn't actually ever feel very great during the race.  I ran 'well', of course, but I had some stomach issues and I lost my energy gels in the second kilometer.  I never really felt like I found a comfortable pace and I was pretty dead at the finish, which has me worried for Tokyo.

[there is a 1.5km out-and-back at the start, so people can cheer/photograph when you come back through the starting gate.  I hate seeing pictures of myself running as I always think I look ridiculous..]

Though I missed out on the podium (by six minutes!), I was able to score first place in the 30-39 age bracket (out of 88).  Jeez, I just noticed one of those guys I chased down in the last half of the race was over 60 years old!

[Rei, a third-grader from Geruma, won the 3km trim marathon (you enter the time you think you will run, then the person whose ending time is close to their guess (no, you aren't allowed to wear a watch) wins) by missing his guess time by just one second!  He and I each got the BIG certificates and the heavy award medals.  Awesome!]

[on the boat ride back to Zamami we came across a pod of whales!] 

[my medals and certificates]

This morning I woke up at 4:15am to do my long run for the week.  I was hoping to do more, but I ended up with the prescribed 32km.  But I was pretty dead at the end.  Three weeks to Tokyo!


Wren said...

Great write-up!

Dave said...

Thanks, I wasn't sure anybody would read it!