3:34:13 (Net time)
They said that it couldn’t be done …. and they were wrong!
3 weeks ago I completed the Tokyo Marathon in less than spectacular form. As I lay curled up in a ball on the floor, gasping for air in a somewhat famous English Pub in Osaki, people told me that I would get injured and not be able to run another marathon in such a short interval. It was then that I hatched my plan. I would mainly do recovery runs (lots of them Coach H!) and go to the track twice to try to get some speed in the time that was left. I would take my HRV regularly and drop back even further if I saw it fall.
So how did I end up running 2 marathons in such close proximity I hear you ask? Initially I only intended to run the Nagano Marathon in April but real life caught up with me (Events, my dear boy, events) and I was no longer able to run that. Shortly after realizing that I was copied on a mail from Satohi in my club, Namban Rengo, where she said that there was a very flat 10km and marathon race not an hour from Ueno that was still open. I jumped at the opportunity and within 15 minutes I was signed up. Then a short time later I received a chance to run the Tokyo Marathon As any runner in Japan will tell you, this is not something that you will pass up so I jumped at it and ended up being registered for 2 marathons within 3 weeks of each other.
The day before the race I was feeling a little tired in my legs and I went to bed for the afternoon. When I got up I felt much better and was looking forward to the race. I ate well and went to bed early. Actually, I had been looking for a hotel close to Koga (well the Missus had been) but I could not find one and I resigned myself to getting up at 5am for a 10am race. If I ever do this race again, I will try harder to get a hotel.
Sunday morning I was in good condition. My HRV had remained constant in the 70s all week and it was 76 on race day. I ate a couple of bananas and an avocado and was out the door by 5:45. On the way I bought a couple of onigiris to eat on the train north which was a major plus as I was feeling rather peckish by the time I reached Shibuya at 6:20.
I reach Koga station at 8:01 and met up with Satohi as we got off the same train. The race owners had laid on coaches to bring the athletes to the start of the event and as always in Japan, the organization was amazing. We were on our bus at 8:20 and at the start of the race at 8:30 even though they had announced that the journey might take twenty minutes depending on traffic. It was here that I made a mental note to bring 4 x 100 yen coins if I ever did this race again. Normally, when people say that there are lockers at a race, it turns out that there are 100 lockers for 5,000 people so I do not bother about it. This time there were literally 1000s of lockers and I had to queue up to get change which was a waste of time.
As with everything in Japan, the race started right on time. Although Satohi was in the same block as me I failed to meet her at the start but I soon found her out on the course. We ran together for the first 10km or so but I had to stop to adjust a wardrobe malfunction and she went ahead. My plan, as always, is to run at 4:50 pace and I managed to do that for the first 17km or so. I was feeling a little tired from the start but I told myself that the goal for today was to finish regardless of the time and persevered. Fortunately, my time did not drop too much after that and I was able to keep my pace at around the 5 minute mark for most of the race and go through halfway in 1:42 and 30km in 2:28. But it was there that I started to fade.
The 23km aid station was a real treat with bananas and strawberries. I was considering taking a gel at that point but I felt so energised by the fruit I was able to continue. I did take my first gel (and paracetamol and caffeine tablet) around 28km and immediately felt good again. At 32km the local 7-eleven where out giving hot tea to the runners which was greatly appreciated. I had hoped to go through 36km in under 3 hours to maintain the 5min/km average pace but things had started to slow by then and I missed it by 28 seconds. I took my second and final gel at the 38km aid station and kept running to the end. At 40km I saw Sam who took this photo of me, after I shouted at him to.
Sam ran a 40:16 10km PB and was looking very relaxed. At 41km I saw Taeko who had no camera at all. I did not complain as she had taken a great photo of me in Ohtawara last November. When I finished the race I learned that she was back to fitness and finished her 10km in 48 minutes.
The last 2km were tough as we had to round outside the stadium before running inside to finish. It was a case of so close and yet so far. When we got into the stadium I pushed it as hard as I could but could not manage to go under 3:34. Still I was very happy to finished a full 12 minutes faster than I had in Tokyo last month and to not have walked except during the 2 aid stations where I took my gels.
I would definitely recommend this race to anybody even though it is only in its third year of existence. It is well organised, flat and has great food and drinks on the course at regular intervals.