Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ohtawara Marathon Memories...bittersweet

Motozo's goal (and folly) was to run a solid yet easy 3:20ish tuneup marathon for the Tokyo International Marathon in February, but the race turned out to be a big and hairy challenge to break 3 and 1/2 hours. In retrospect the goal was unrealistic but a decent learning experience and a fantastic festival afterwards in the georgeous Tochigi automn setting.

It started innocently enough, but Motozo faded badly in the 2H of the marathon.

5K splits were:

22:43, 23:00, 23:48, 24:54, 24:11, 25:10, 26:09, 27:28, 11:31 (2.2K)

for a 3:28:58 race, about 20 minutes slower than my marathon PB! The first 20K went well at 1:34:26, which put me well under my goal of low 3:20s. At this point I felt semi-decent with little knee pain, but at about 30K I hit "the wall" while running with Paddy. We both slowed to a tortoise pace 26:09 5K at 30-35K, and tried to pump each other up with "Fighto" or "Last one across the finish is a rotten egg" or Keren's favorite, "you're a very attractive man, and don't think I haven't noticed". The last 7K was excrutiating, and I nearly threw in the towel (if it weren't for Paddy and Leng Leng (caught embarrasingly in this photo) from Singapore Singapore I would have walked those last few K). I saw my low 3:20s goal erased before my eyes but my stiff legs could not toil any faster than a pitiful jogger's pace. I knew I was in trouble when the 3:30 pacers passed me at 40K, but at 41K somehow I managed to pick up the pace and crossed the finish with over a minute to spare under 3:30.

The 2H clearly showed my lack of long run training.

Below is a handy list of excuses for my poor performance (feel free to incorporate them for any of your underperformances):

1. Lack of long runs: only 2 "long" runs of 25K in past 2 months (not including the 40K Yamanote run, which took over 4 hours). Note to myself; run more high quality runs...Mika, let's challenge in December/January!

2. Jet lag: returned from Hawaii less than 3 days before the race (5 hour time difference). Note to myself; don't go on an international trip before a big race!

3. Wind was a much heralded negative factor: several nanbanners ran slower than expected due to the "headwind". How this slowed people down, I am not exactly sure, since rationally, a headwind should become a tailwind on a circular course like Ohtawara.

4. Lack of overall mileage: only maxed out at 70K per week in September and October. Average was about 55-60K per week. Note to myself; run more!

5. Heavier training shoes: I wore my Kayanos to protect my sore runner's knee. Note to myself; use the light trainers for Tokyo, Motozo!

6. A gash on my left toe (surfing accident in Hawaii). This turned out to be a non-factor virtually, thanks to Mami's wrapping supplies and free advice from several nanbanners. Note to Motozo; don't go surfing, skiing, play rugby, party like a rock star, or engage in any other horseplay before the Tokyo marathon or Japan Ironman next year!

Congrats to those that ran PBs!! Chika, Rie, Mika (last week), Stuart, Paddy, and Majime Mike...did I leave anyone out? Both Rie and Chika passed me early in the 1H (quite damaging to my male ego, but the beer and onsen soothed my wounds), and they both slowed considerably in the 2H not dissimilar to my own splits. So perhaps the wind did play a role in their performances as well.

Some of the festivities and debauchery are depicted in the photos below. Notice Chika giving Stuart, Rie, and herself a warm round of applause (atatatatatakai hakushu) for their marathon PBs. Thanks to Gareth for organizing and skillful MC tasks. Respect! Motozo