3:46:55 (My watch)
10 days before the Tokyo Marathon I was suffering from a terrible cold. The day before I had gone up Tokyo Skytree and suffered terribly standing around for 2 hours. I had missed out on the marathon lottery the previous October and while I had entered the Nagano Marathon on April 19, it was looking like I would have to work that day. So when I came back from work a little early and saw a mail from Phil R that there was a spot in the Tokyo Marathon up for grabs, I was totally shocked and perplexed. On one hand I was sick and had no decent training and on the other, I really wanted to do it. I sat looking at Phil’s e-mail for 5 minutes wondering what I should do. I was not the only person copied on the mail so I knew that if I did not move fast one of my running friends would. Although I felt like crap, I thought what the hell, and replied that I would love to take the number. He replied right away that it was mine.
With just 10 days to go I knew that the primary objective was to get well first and then to try to get in a training run. I never fully recovered, or did any more training, and on the 22nd Feb I found myself on the starting line (well block B actually) coughing and spluttering and not having run in almost 2 weeks. OK, enough with the excuses, as Jon M would say. The race day weather was perfect. It was due to rain but never did and although I had on a plastic mack while I was waiting to start, I am sure that I could have done without it and not be cold.
This year’s race was getting attention for the extra security measures that were being put in place to combat terrorism: metal detectors to gain access to the start, security men checking your bags (half heartedly), restrictions on how much liquids you could bring on the run and 60 or so police running with cameras on their heads so that they could react quickly to trouble. Looking back it looks like overkill but I am sure that the authorities did not want to take any chances with all that is going on in the world at the moment. It did leave a somber feeling to the whole proceedings.
As usual I could not decide what pace to run at but I did know that I wanted to finish so I decided to take it fairly easy and see how it went. Michael had told me that he was planning to go out at a 4:55 pace and come in under 3:30. I eventually decided that that was a good plan and headed off at that pace. Of course the start of the Tokyo Marathon is downhill so it all felt fairly easy for the first 5km or so. It was around then that I noticed that I was feeling a bit hot and wondered if I should give my long sleeved shirt to my family when I met them at the 21km mark and continue in just my singlet. I quickly decided against this as I was not sure how the second half of the race would work out and I might need it to keep warm.
Up to the 15km mark I thought that things were going well and I was keeping under 5 min per km. I saw several Nambanners cheering and felt really good. Then Michael came gliding past me with the words of warning “Hey up, the 3:30 pacers are about to catch you.” OK, he did not speak like a Beatle but you can get his drift. I thanked him for his information, then bid him good luck and continued to concentrate on the white line. It was not long after that that a guy in a blue shirt shot across the road in front of me and grabbed 2 handfuls of sweets from the table at the side of the road. I muttered “wanker” underneath my breath and then noticed that he had 3:30 written on his back and a ballon sticking out of his head. Bloody pacer. If I was in better shape I would have tried to stay with him but I gradually just let him go off ahead.
Shortly after that Kylie came up behind me and asked if that was the pacers ahead in the blue shirts. I confirmed it was and she told me that she would take a quick bathroom break, catch up with me again and then catch the pacers. And she did. At 21 km my family were waiting for me at the Ginza Apple Store. I had not told them to bring anything for me but for the last 2 or 3 km I was imagining a hot steamy cup of coffee waiting for me. Of course they had nothing, so I stopped and then headed off again. Shortly after that Kylie passed me for the second time looking strong and determined. It was around this point, 23km, that I had dropped out of the Tokyo Marathon in 2012 and since then has always been a major threshold for me. I convince myself that if i can get passed there, then I can finish. I muddled through and came out the other end and at 25km met Colin from Hong Kong came past me. He was looking strong and running well. At 27km I took my first of 2 gels and 1000mg of paracetamol and 130mg of caffeine. Suddenly I felt great. For a while.
I kept going and at 31km took a bathroom break as much for a rest as anything else and continued on. Shortly after that another nambanner (I think Carol) came passed me and gave me a cheer. I was now starting what I called the War of Attrition. You know that you are going down but you just try and hang on till the end and hopefully cross the line. The best advice that I ever received was in the “Non Runners Marathon Book.” It was the first running book I ever read for my first marathon, Tokyo 2009. The author said that accept that you are going to walk and when you do hold your head high and don’t get demoralised and quit. I took my second gel at 35km and start my walk/run final stretch. My plan is to walk for 60 seconds after a 1km marker and then run to the next marker and repeat. It generally results in 6 min/km which is good at the end of a marathon when you are just trying to close it out on tired legs.
As I hit the 41km mark I saw more Nambanners cheering and thankfully I was running at this point. Just before the 42km point I saw my family again who where now in full celebrity spotting mode. I only found this out later when they failed to come and see me after the race as they were still hoping to see more talentos. Eventually I crossed the line and collected my medal. It was not my best marathon but far from my worst and as it was number 10 I did feel a lot of pride.