Monday, February 19, 2007

Tokyo Marathon: It's not about the rain...

This was a battle between man, pain, and rain.

Motozo prevailed with a 1 minute personal best (PB) at the first annual Tokyo marathon.

Preparation was key...lots of pasta meals to the point of overload..nearly every meal was rice or pasta the final alcohol for the last week and no caffeine for the last 4 days. A nice sleep-in on Saturday morning and off to bed again at 9 PM on Saturday before the race. The taper was enjoyable and my legs healed up nicely following months of pavement pounding. After a peak of 108K 3 weeks prior to the race, I reduced drastically to 64K 2 weeks before and 56K the final week with mainly marathon pace 5K and 10K runs to maintain fitness levels.

The race was a less than auspicious start. I groaned when I heard the rain sputtering on my veranda at 6AM. The subway ride on the Oedo line to Shinjuku Tochomae was a flurry of soggy shoes and umbrellas. At Tocho, I bumped into Shiba san, Robin, and a few others but we never made it to the outdoor meeting place due to the chaos and rain. Instead, the hour before the start was another flurry of bathroom line waiting, coffee sipping, power bar scoffing, and corral crawling. I struggled to get in my D corral without getting wet or trampled. At one point I was walking on the 1 meter divider with an umbrella before a volunteer shot me down. With 5 minutes to go to the start, I was in position at the front of corral D with relatively dry shoes.

Start: Mayor Ishihara pulled the trigger, the white flowers sprayed through the air, and we were off...sort of. They told us not to run after the start gun went off! That was a first. So, after a minute and a half of walking, I trunged through the start line into the streets of Shinjuku...After, a toilet break at 2K, I got into a semi-groove going down those hills in Shinjuku. At this point I was still wearing 3 shirts and a poncho, which made me feel heavy and uncomfortable, but I figured I would take off 2 layers later....

5K: The first 5K was 23:53, which was virtually on plan as I had factored in a 2 minute delay at the start (from the start line). I bumped into several nanbanners and we chatted about the weather. Keren, Rie, and Anthony were both cool and collected. Paul Jones, and old friend in from California, was moving at a nice clip, so Anthony and I ran with him at a 4:20 pace for a few K, caught up to Colin, and pondered our race strategies...this was the fastest split of the day at 21:31...

10K: I went through the 10K point next to the palace and looked for Kanako, who I suspected was armed with gels and energy drinks. At the turn at Hibiya, I heard "Debiddo!", and there she stood, to my left, waiting patiently...I immediately stripped off my sopping extra cotton shirt and poncho, got a jel from Kanako, and was off to Shinagawa...

15K: The run down to Shinagawa was quite easy as I was warmed up, jelled up, and a few pounds lighter. I ran with Colin for a about 1K before as we approached the lead group heading back up towards Hibiya. As I approached the turnaround at Shinagawa, I scanned the crowd and spotted Greg and Steve, than Jay and Martin moving all too easily, than Mika and Terry. I heard yells and screams of "Go Motozo", gambare, fighto, which was a nice little pick-me-up.

20K: I caught up to Terry, who slowed to eat a jel, but promised to catch me at the finish. Than I approached Mika and we stayed close together until Hibiya when Kanako again appeared, this time to my right side, bearing more energy gifts. It had started raining hard, so I grabbed the poncho back from Kanako, and refitted it over my head sans soaked shirt this time, which felt actually quite nice. Thank you Kamu! (chu to dakko shite!)

25K: Scoffing on a power gel, I surged forward having lost a valuable 45 seconds on the gel/poncho break and managed a 23:15 split, which was my slowest of the day excluding the slow start. I now felt really good, knowing that half the race was behind me. The bright atmosphere of Ginza (pictured here) also helped. It was like a white tunnel of love. Bands were playing, cheerleaders dancing, obasans and kids yelling the G word. I was fully fuelled and relatively dry, except for my feet.

30K: I kept pushing the pedal to the medal and felt that my goal time was actually realistic. I ran a 22:12 split, which was under my goal pace of 22:20. Running up towards the Asukusa turnaround at 28K, I again spied at the runners heading down on the right. I called out again to Brett, Greg, Adam, Jay and Martin (again running steady), and Steve before hitting the turn.

35K: The 30K point was where I crashed and burned in Ohtawara last November, but I felt better this time and pressed on at a blistering 4:22 pace, my 2nd fastest split of the day. I was now in the Motozo Zone. Noone was going to catch me, and I wasn't going to catch anyone. I thought of Lance Armstrong's book, "It's not about the Bike", and how pain was only temporarily, but the disappointment of quitting lasts forever. I wasn't going to quit unless my body caved in. It was about how much I wanted my PB...

40K: Well, my legs almost caved in at the 38K point. I felt like I was working 110%, but running 10% slower. My splits from 35K slowing started to deteriorate, from 4:25 to 4:29, than 4:31, 4:35. At 40K, I came in at 22:36, my 2nd slowest split (excluding the start). Those hills in Odaiba hurt me. My right hamstring and calf felt really tight. Several guys had pulled over at the middle of those hills. Still, I tried to push myself. I counted down....5K to go, now 4K, now 3K, just pretend you're in the palace on the 2nd half of a 5K run, coming into the home stretch...

Last 2.2K: At 40K, I was almost sure I would get under became a question of by how much..could I get 3:07 or even 3:06??? I groaned as another big hill came into view. It looked like a war zone ahead. Wounded soldiers pulled over left and right, stetching sore calves and hamstrings, the scanty crowd yelling "Lasto". I tried to sprint, but that only slightly increased my speed. At 1K to go, I had a full 5 minutes to get my goal. Those last steps felt an eternity. I checked my watch at about 500 meters, than again at 300. Where is the damn finish? Still not in my sights....finally, a turn and I can see the finish line, but it's so far! I try to sprint again and this time my legs respond...Welcome to the Big Site! Next stop, Iron Man Japan!!!

5K: 23:53
10K: 21:31
15K: 21:45
20K: 21:48
25K: 23:15
30K: 22:12
35K: 21:52
40K: 22:36
2.2K: 9:53

First 15K: 1:07:14
20K: 1:29:02
Half: 1:33:55
30K: 2:14:29
40K: 2:58:57
42.2K: 3:08:49 (previous best, 3:09:58, was Ohtawara Marathon, 2002)


802 place out of 25,000 runners, approx. top 3%


David 元三 Rubenstein said...

domo bee, that's motozo's excuse for missing your last party!

Stephen Lacey said...

Congratulations on a really well-executed plan, my man! You definitely got your early pace about right. I was over-ambitious. Kudos. Respect.


Keren_m said...

Bloody well done! I will now have to amp up my IM training to make sure that I stay in front of you!


spiridon said...

Congrats... I'm so sick right now, I can't even think of running...

Anonymous said...

hi motozo!!!
how are you doing?? wow i am very surprised you run Tokyo marathon!!

chikak said...

Omedeto, PB.
That's great, getting your PB under such cold weather.
Next is sub 3:00??


zihuatanejo said...

Ohhh man, your running was really excellent.

Do you remember that I cheered you after half point and around 38k point, never mind.


David 元三 Rubenstein said...

of course I remember you Satohi...thanks for the "go go go gosho motozo"! -oyaji gyagu