It started innocently enough with a pleasant journey with the well-tapered nanbanners to Tokyo Bigsite on Saturday, an extra large pasta for lunch, the usual caffeine and alcohol withdrawal, and a long sleep on Friday night. Saturday night's sleep was rather restless but I felt fairly fresh after a shower, well-timed train ride, starbucks latte, power bar, and short walk to our starting point at B block. This year the weather was fortuitous. Sunny and chilly, but I had on 4 layers, and felt nice and toasty at the start. Keren, Jay, Martin, Alex and I made small talk waiting for the gun to go off. Mayor Ishihara said his thing, the confetti flew, the guns shot, and we were off...thru the start gate in 2 minutes. I cruised a very slow jog with Keren until he found some open space and accelerated away. I was quite content to let some speed demons pass by, as my goal was to only finish without any injury.
The first 10K of Tokyo Marathon is quite pleasant, with a nice downhill and plenty of cheer and eye candy. I chatted with several nanbanners along the way including Chiba san and Anthony (who was snapping photos as we ran). I was very mindful of my lower back and hamstring injuries, and took liberal breaks to slowdown and drink at every opportunity. I even pulled over a couple of times to stretch the legs, which I usually don't do in a marathon.
I really enjoyed the middle bit of the marathon. On the way down to Shinagawa from 10k to 15K, I hugged the left side of the road and scanned the other side for the leaders. Daniel Njenga, last year's winner, was in the middle of the lead pack and looked good, but it was not to be for Danny on this day. Several minutes later I saw Yoshida san go by at a sparkling pace, followed by several nanbanners below 3 hour pace. The sun was than shining on us in between the shadows of the buildings in Shiba koen, Shinagawa, Daimon, Hibiya, etc, and I actually generated some heat (I had tossed 1 shirt away at 5K). Some runners were sweating profusely, particularly the gaijin beasts. At the Shinagawa turnaround at 15k, I again hugged the left side and headed back up to Hibiya, greeting Shiba san, and high 5-ving Carol. I guess at that point I was in the middle of the nanban contingency..not too fast, not too slow, goldilocks scenario. However, that would soon change. I finished the 1H at 1:53, which was right on my aggressive target of 3:45 (soft target was 4 hours).
At the halfway point, I felt a momentary lapse of energy (and reason), given that there was little eye candy and I was actually feeling tired (funny surprise!). I had plenty of air, just not enough drive in the legs. I headed up thru Ginza at my slowest split of 28:39. Up until 20K, I had been running 26-27 minute splits, so I knew motozo was losing his mojo at that point. At 23K or so, the scenary got better as we were passing the leaders again, and I could block out the fatigue with the search for familiar faces in the crowds of runners. Just at the turnaround at Asakusa at 27k, I saw my ex-colleague and CEO of Japaninvest. Soon after Rupert I spotted Yuka, and so I thought about trying to catch both of them. I accelerated slightly to 28:03 for that 25-30K split. I was passing a lot of runners now, but soon felt more fatigue and heaviness in my legs and feet. Well I definetely am getting the biggest workout of the year, I thought. (this past month I have been jonesing for a good workout)
The last 10K was excruciating. I abandoned any thoughts of catching Rupert or Yuka. It was just a matter of finishing under the embarrasingly low hurdle of 4 hours. What was worse is this course has a few nasty hills in the last 7K, which forces us out-of-shape runners to slow to a crawl. Trudging up one of those hills, I bumped into a familiar runner. It was Peter pulled over, cramped up. I gave him a quick 30 second yoga 101 course, and we jogged ahead together for a K or so. At the next water break, I slowed but lost Peter, and didn't have the patience to look around for him. Sorry Peter! I continued on. At 40K, I knew I could finish but it was harsh. 2K to go, than the 41K mark, than 1K to go! There was no strong gallop to the finish this year, only a half-baked stride across the finish. But I was happy.
Will Motozo redeem himself in the ironman this summer? Stay tuned for more...