Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

Posts tagged “The way we unite

Race Report – Tokyo Marathon – 2017/02/26

tokyo2017-finishline-thedayweunite

Happy finisher with double rewards!

 

Planned: 2:57/58, definitely sub3. Second target? Good place in the Run as One – Oversea category…

Actual:……3:02:31. Placing: 113 all women, 20th  age category, 1st Swedish woman, 1,527 out of total 33,947 finishers. Far from the expectation, far from being satisfied, too far from sub3 and a hip not collaborating at all during the second half, and still a sprint in the last km with a defecting knee and limping towards the finish line… Still… a whole adventure from start to end completing the 6 World Marathons Majors 🙂

Race Results: place (M/W) 113 place (age) 20

Total 1,527 (out of 33,947)

age/grade: 78.07% (2016 Amsterdam 79.9% / Ferrara 78.2% / Dubai 73.83 / 2015 NYC 75.93 / 2015 WMAC 74,99 / 2014 Chicago 75.97 / Stockholm 76.76 / Rotterdam 78.43 / Dubai 77.74 / 2013 Berlin 75.74/Stockholm:73.1/Boston:72.19/Dubai: 72.35/2012 Berlin:68.29/SF:65.66/London:66.47/Dubai:66.6)

time total (gun) 03:02:31

time total (brutto) 03:02:37

average pace: 4:20min/km

Official splits:

Name Time Time (split) Pace min/km
5 km 0:20:56 20:56 04:11 min/km
10 km 0:41:53 20:57 04:11 min/km
15 km 1:03:18 21:25 04:17 min/km
20 km 1:24:34 21:16 04:15 min/km
21.1 km 1:28:28 04:37 04:12 min/km
25 km 1:46:10 16:40 (21:30) 04:18 min/km
30 km 2:07:29 21:25 04:17 min/km
35 km 2:30:10 22:41 04:32 min/km
40 km 2:52:56 22:46 04:33 min/km
42.2 km (Finish) 03:02:31 09:35 04:22 min/km

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August 2016…

Receiving an email confirming my qualification in the “Run as One” program in the semi-elite overseas category. Felt really cool and happy as I had tried twice before to get in via the lottery and it was my final attempt. Not much done until final months of preparation. Yes…one more thing: never been in Asia, don’t speak nor understand the language and still will be running my 6th World Marathon Major there…

M Day-6&-5

Travel to Tokyo. Worked in the morning before boarding and then 2 flights, 3 movies and 13 hours later I landed in the country of the Rising Sun. Felt a bit surreal, although an airport is an airport… Exchange my JRPass voucher to a pass ticket and got on the Nigari express to reach Tokyo. Then smoothly bought an Suica card for travelling by subway and reaching my apartment close to Kayabasho station. All prefect. Until I started to chase for some food… All written in…Japanese and having no idea what was in it. Pictures ain’t helping neither some times. Ended in a little cafeteria and got a beef bowl with rice. A bit heavy. But that would do. Emptied some of my stuff and changed to get an easy run out there. Well-placed, my apartment was close to the intersection km28/10 of the race. So I took the km28 to 30 (straight long street) and then went over on the Hibiya park side where km41 would be and ran the final 1.2km. Crazy freezing and crazy windy. Was not expecting this at all. Took pics all along, so not much of an effort on this one. Body felt fine and no issue to get to sleep later on. Carb-depletion was not done fully thought, but reducing a bit the intake of carbs. Work in the evening to finish my day.

M Day -4

Early awaken and well-rested. Too early maybe. Changed and got a morning run along the race route again. The plan was 8-10km but it turned into a long(er) 15km repérage. Ran from km10/28 to km14, skipped the straight line to km 15 & back and took the km16 to the mid-race instead. Beautiful weather outside (read: sunny and chilly…4°C out there…). Felt good and once again the body was all ready for running. Too many stops during the run though in order to let the cars pass at the traffic lights. Good protein brunch cooked at home and then time to work a bit. Decided to go for some sightseeing too…on foot… Which work very well. Ended in 15km walk and frozen little me decided to call it the day after that. Not because I was tired, but the legs were expected to run a race in four days after all. Back home and light dinner. And then evening meetings and work. Time for bed after a while.

M Day-3

Once again awaken pretty early. Very sweaty, which made me think I might go down for a cold or something and that was NOT in the plans. Drank a bit before heading out. Easy run to the Imperial Palace and then final fast distance trial before the race. Turned into 2*2.5km instead of 5km as the wind was really bothering me and honestly, I did not feel like fighting it today. Ran under drizzle and 14°C warmth in the air. Really nice…if it wasn’t for the wind. Could not get to the proper pace, either too slow or too fast. Ran back home and that was it. Breakfast and work. Changed my plans there as well and headed to the expo to get my BIB instead of doing it on my rest day on Friday. Took the bus down, walk the last bit, got my BIB and got lost in a very large and very loud expo. Bus back home, lunch and dead-tired little me laid down on my bed for a quick nap, which turned into 1.5hrs… Up for some work for the rest of the day. Unable to sleep early this time. Watched a movie on my laptop.

M Day-2

Rest day! Yipiii?…. Not really. Had nothing to do really, so worked a little bit and then took my shoes on and headed to Zojoji park for a bit of walking. The aim was MAXIMUM 5-6km walk. Got to the park, took lots of pics and then headed towards Moji park and the Maman araignée sculpture (with such an arachnophobia of my kind that was NOT considered as good therapy…) and then back home. Work the rest of the day. Once again got dead-tired around 3pm, slept 2hours and then back to work. And it was already time for bed. Again… Counted down the hours left to the start…several times! The positive with this day was the carboloading had started. Chose to drink the “sport drink” served during the race throughout the day. Work fine. Meals were pretty simple though: pork bowl with rice for lunch and noodles for dinner.

M Day-1

OMG! Only one day left! Prepared my breakfast and left it for a final leg shaking on the marathon course. Went to km10 and ran up the street towards km8 or so and then turned back home. The program said 4-6km and accelerations. A bit difficult to do the accelerations in streets which have stops at every traffic light…and honestly I completely forgot to do them… Nice leg shaking. Felt a bit off. Was it really tomorrow (already?) that the race would be? Rest of the day was pretty much based on “doing the least possible”, which was annoying as the sun was shining and it did not feel (that) cold outside. Spent time at the close-by Starbucks and then back home. Got my gear ready, carefully reading once again (!) all the instructions to get to the start and how it would work at the end. Food-wise it turned into a larger portion of beef bowl with rice and miso for lunch, additional drinking of sport drink during all afternoon and evening, a soy chocolate and chocolate chip scone at Starbucks and a bun stuffed with red beans later during the day. Mostly drinking during the afternoon and evening. Felt all fine. Ready? Not really, but that would do. Double-checked (again?!) the route to get to the start. And put myself into bed and watch 3 episodes of Game of Thrones to relax a bit. In deep sleep before 11pm. That’s a first for a night before a race…

M DAY!!!!

Finally!!!!

Before the race

04:05am – awoke up a bit, well-rested. Decided to remain in bed until the clock ring… Not really actually. Too much thoughts in the head, feeling at the same time that the mind was empty. Hummm…

5:05am – Up now for breakfast before the alarm rang. Breakfast of champions once again (chia seeds, green mix, 2 bananas and Pocari water, orange juice. Had not found a bread I wanted but bought 4 small pancakes… not reading the Japanese text (!) saying they were stuffed with something looking like jam and cream-like stuff. No time for finding a replacement. Cleaned up as much as could of the cream&jam off the pancake, covered it with honey and that was it. Not really ready for more sleep though.

5:35am – ok. Time to get ready. Got a video call from E, which made me very happy and for sure I got a bit late, but cheering at this time of the day is just priceless! Hot shower, drops in the eyes, fixing the hair, warming gel on the legs and that felt like everything was ok for going. Skipped the drinking every half hour and drank a bit more at once around 6:10am, hopefully all would be out before the race starts. Race outfit was a simple choice (had taken only one…): SWE hotpants and singlet, arm sleeves and wind gloves, a neckwarmer and ADIDAS Adizero Adios Boost Purple (Quicky). Got my sunglasses on the top of the head as counting for some sun. put 2 gels in my back pocket, one in a sock in the back of my sports bra, dextrosol and final red gel in the front. Had extra gel and strawberry small stuff in a little bag as well for before the start. And that was it!

6:10am – the wait was killing me (already) so I took on extra tshirt I would throw before start, my long pants and my black cosy jacket (had noticed the day before that unsmart I had forgotten to take a running jacket with me to get to the start… and yes, it was written on the checklist for preparing the luggage for the trip…).

06:15am – TIME TO LEAVE! Headed to Kayabasho subway station. Got stopped by a Japanese lady running who just would not stop in encouragements and word of kindness. Very nice indeed to hear this right before the race 🙂 Cheering is always good. Her final words were in English with “good luck”. Metro to Otemachi station for then changing to the line which would bring me to Shinjuku, where the start was. Started to see a bit more runners with their bags and the closer we got to Shinjuku, the more we saw 🙂 At least I was on the correct direction!

07:01am – Finally out of the subway and then long walk to the Gate 2 where I was getting in. A bit chilly, but I was covered enough. The atmosphere was a reminder of London where all runners get to the train stop and then all walk in the same direction towards the start area with all the luggage trucks. Crazy long queue at the first loo made me continue to walk and quickly after, there was just nobody there. First pitstop to empty this blaster of mine. Found my truck #3, but felt that it was a bit too early to leave it (as it meant taking off my clothes and staying with bare legs in the cold. Without running yet). All was well indicated and despite the number of people growing in the area, it felt well organized. And there was always someone to ask indication to.

7:33am – Off with the pants and cosy warmjacket. I put one gel in each of my arm sleeves, leaving only one in my back pocket. Felt like a smart move. Quick photo from a very kind volunteer and headed to my start group. A bit of wait to get up the stairs and got directly to the loo. Second pitstop. Cannot understand a blaster can hold THAT much… Then I headed slowly to my start.

08:03am – Assigned to Group A – Run as One, which meant having the invited athletes, then the elite athletes and then…us! Very cool indeed. Another cool thing was that they separated the ladies and the men for the start. We had the left side and the men the right side. This was to avoid accident at start apparently. And then the wait started…in the cold. A line of Japanese was already sitting in the front and I took the row right behind. Pretty freezing legs and I really regretted NOT to have planned for this. Decided to do a few rounds of running in our corral while it was still empty. Not much of a warmup really, but at least it was making the body a bit less lethargic and after turning around a bit, it felt warmer. Still one hour to go…

8:17am – Still a lot of wait. Sitting here in the cold asphalt with my legs covered as good as I could with my too-big tshirt… Found out that there was no toilet close to our start corral, but it felt all fine. Stood up a bit to look at the elites warming up. Very surprised actually to see them doing rounds and rounds and rounds for quite a while, one hour before the start. Very jealous to see all of them in long pants and warm jacket…. Cannot tell that I was the only one! Most of the runners around me had extra tops but bare legs. Not all of them, but still.

8:26am – a bit of chat with my Japanese runner-buddy close to me. Not understanding a single word but getting that she wanted to know my expected time to finish. Having a 2:50 written on my arm, she left her eyes to the skies. I re-insured her by showing my real wristband for 3:00-2:58. Would not go faster today with this cold for start. After a bit of while sitting, we just got closer and closer so to warm each other. Which was cosy and nice. Other runners were doing the same. She happened to be running her first marathon ever… Felt pretty cool to have this done here in Tokyo.

8:40am-ish – alignment of the wheelchair athletes. Once again, pretty cool to have them one meter before me! I think I recognize a couple of them. A bit of buzz on the left side… the elites were lining up. WoooooW! How COOL is that?!?! Yes it is not the first ever time to have elite of this level starting beside me, but here he was! The former WR-holder Wilson Kipsang and other fast guys around him. They just look amazing, calm and focused…and so-like “normal people”!

9:ish am – Hearing the Japanese anthem. Feeling that I need to get to the loo. Now! Really much. Looking right and left. All runners are standing and I feel like sitting down…. Guys do it ALL the time in the start of races, which would gals not be able to do it… But nope. Not freaking bold enough to do it. That might work. Maybe.

9:05 am – start of the wheelchair race. The elite athletes are now lining up in front of us. Seeing Sara Hall there. In the middle of Kenyan and Japanese elites. The male runners are freaking gorgeous! They look fast and are actually fast too! Turning around quickly, so many people behind us. 30,000 runners!!! How cool is that?!?!? Throwing my t-shirt away. Eating the two small strawberry jellies. And that was it. Seconds left… No countdown… Still we are not allowed to get close(r) to the elite athletes and stand 10m behind them…

THE RACE

First half

09:10am – BAAAAM! We are finally unleashed! No push, no pressure. Loving those starts. Feels like there is more pushing on the right side when the male runners are starting. To have a pretty freezing body to be asked to run at 4:10-tempo right from the start ain’t one of my specialties… And indeed the start with the confetti, the roar from the crowd (probably just in my head…), the pounding of thousands of feet on the asphalt… Talk about thrill! Turning pretty soon on the right and there we mix with the guys. Still pretty good. Checking that my watch has started properly and yes. Indicating sub4 start, which sounds pretty logical and ok. The first 5K are regular downhill, so the plan is to get as much ahead of time by km10 and then getting into MP. Not planning to burn all my energy there though. Downhill running is however the worse when having a blaster ready to explode. Seeing a first loo on the right side and guys running towards it. Have always felt that it was strange to have people getting to the loo so close to the start being given. Now I was right in it. 900m to the next toilet. That would be my stop. Not a chance I am running much longer this way. And Beeep! First km clocking in…WHAAAAAT?!?!? 3:17? Yeah sure! D*mn buildings and stupid GPS. Pressing lap when the km1-sign is appearing. Feeling that I am about 4min-tempo and that is fine. And here they are, the next stop for the loo. Cannot do anything else but stopping. Counting the seconds and probably lost 20-25seconds there. But way better after that. My km2 was fine but this stop is killing my km3-pace… I ran right back in the crowd. I have however lost the gals I was following. I have lost the pace I had. I have lost the flow I got from start. All these will never come back during the race. Feeling a bit off. The GPS is completely wrong, the km-signs are not placed properly. Even when I am lapping them on the watch. OK, running alongside of a couple of gals, felt ok. Have no clue how fast (or more likely “how slow”) I am running. So I wait until getting to km5. Good. Right under 21 minutes. Surely slower than I wanted, but considering the stupid-but-necessary stop at the loo, that would be ok. How will I get back those 20-30 seconds I lost is the next challenge… If this is not done before km10, then I doubt there is other place more appropriate for that in the race. Have taken a few glups of Pocari water at the station and it goes well. Not really necessary, but you never know… (Well, you eventually know, but then it is generally too late!). The sun is shining. Feeling a bit warm with the arm sleeves. Both gels have now gone down along my arm sleeves and are right at my elbows. BOTH of them! Not practical at all. Km7 of now passed. The flow is gone. I cannot find a good way to get INTO this race. Hoping that it would change when reaching the parts I have run during the prior days. We separate from the km10-race by now – they have the right side of the street and we -marathoners- have the left side. Shortly we reach km8. But this does not really ring a bell. I have run here yesterday, stupid mind of mine. Remember the feeling! Now! There has been quite some turn right and left since the start. My compass is off…on the top of everything else. As good as I enjoy the sun then! Feeling at least that the effort level is pretty low. Kilometers after kilometers. I try to figure out how to get into a decent pace which would make the body pressing a bit, but nope. Getting to km9 and the Starbucks on the left side. Feeling like stopping by for a Soy chocolate… Not right now! Focus! Under the bridge and we are getting close to km10. A little up towards the “Go! Go!”-sign I have seen a couple of times in the past days and we turn left, when the 10km-runners turn right. Taking off my gloves then…and losing my blue/yellow bracelet that T has given me… Looking back at it on the asphalt, considering running back to pick it up, but nope. Sadly continuing forward. 10km has been reached. Passed slightly under 42minutes. Stupid slow donkey I am! 1 minute off the pace I wanted there! But here is my “hoods” 🙂 Feeling comfortable after turning left and getting to the first little bridge (of many before we would get back to this specific spot). Did not feel THAT heavy as the day I ran here. Have taken a bit of Pocari water again at the 10km-station. All according to plan…apart from the slow pace. The stretch to km14 or so is just disappearing as in a trance. Hearing there somewhere the first “Heja Sverige! Ser stark tut!“ (“Go Sweden! Looking strong!”) from a gal on the side. She got me smile 🙂 And I wave. The tricky of this race is the feeling of running in another planet or universe. Not understanding a single cheering (even though I know the thousands of people in the street ARE cheering), not understanding a single sign written on the posters, seeing mostly Japanese around (and apologies is other Asian were in the race and I mistakenly count them in the Japanese). I feel off. Reaching km12 and the countdown is continuing: 30km to go 🙂 Feeling too good for being in a race actually. Enjoying the sun too much. Looking a bit too much around. Calculating too many time how far off the expected time I am. Too much thinking really! Reaching the separating street where we go straight towards km15 and the other come back and turn towards km16. As expected the female athletes are there. Beautiful sight. Then lots of Japanese elite men and then I try to focus again on MY race. Feeling rubbish. Why on earth continuing if I cannot make it to the time I want and can? AWAY WITH THIS THOUGHT! Turning back at the end of the street. Noticing that we have reached Kamirarimon Gate. WHAT?!?! Have we run THAT far? I was there on Wednesday and took the subway there!!! Passing a few gals. But not many enough. Taking a few glups of pocari water at the 15km-station as well as throwing a glass of water on my too-hot head. Feeling great afterwards. And now we are turning left towards the halfway point. My wristband indicate that I am still good for a 2:58 finish. Have not seen the 3:00-pacesetters and do NOT want to see them. Doubting I will pass the halfway for 1:28, but should definitely be under 90minutes. Small bridges up&down all the way to the halfway. Passing km19. Preparing my gel to take before km20. OMG it feels warm. Have to dig into my left arm sleeves to get the gel. NOT practical at all! Taking the gel. The opening is not working properly and I have to use both hands for pressing it inside my throat 😦 Soon enough I will get water…I think… and I thought wrong. Passing km20 still in half-decent time and then turning left for this stupid 500m back&forth. Couldn’t they have had the route heading forward for 500 more meters instead?!?! Full sun on this little stretch. Feels like I am in another world. Feels pretty quiet in my head even though I see people screaming and cheering. Turning back and trying to accelerate towards the mat. And passing the first tables of sport-drink…WHERE IS THE BLOODY WATER?!?!? Ooooh….here after… Slowing down to drink properly and the race is on. Haven’t seen the 3:00-guys yet. But from time to time, there are groups of guys coming heavily behind me and it sounds like the 3:00-group… Turning right again. Seeing the km21-sign. Yihoooo! Still in this race. Passing halfway a bit above 1:29. But still under 1:30 😛 One half done, one half to go!

Second half

This second half starts with a little slope to get under the bridge and then straight… Getting into a good pace (I think?) and passing km22 actually happy. I know this place, I have seen the nice park on the left the other day and there is only 20km left to this race. Straight and then left. Feeling a bit off. Taking dextrosol at km23 and then 24. Cannot see km25 getting close soon enough. GPS is stupid and crazy again. What is my d*mn pace????? (Apart from being snail-like…again!). Taking sport-drink at km25 and right after, I can feel they are there: Right behind me. In my footsteps. Seeing in a shop window a guy with a golden balloon attached to him. NooooO! The 3hr-guys are here!!! Nothing better to stimulate and increase the pace than knowing you have a bunch of guys steering at your butt/legs/back/whatever they steer at. Km26 is getting in a better pace. They SHALL NOT PASSSSSS! I actually smile and laugh inside at this thought. Km27 is gone with this little stupid bridge close to home…and they get closer. Turning towards km28 and accelerating…. Passing the km28-sign and they are still behind me. The long stretch coming I know it. It is killer if not focused…and that is when it happens. Right before km29, the first pacesetter passes me. The lap on his back indicates “My gun time is 3:00”, meaning that if I keep up with them, I should get to 3hrs (as I believe my net time will be pretty much the same as gun time). Sun in the face, trying to keep up, but the right hip ain’t liking it. I am not running that fast, what is its problem then?!?! The street feels like 10km-long. Have they stretched it since Tuesday when I ran there? Pretty sure they did… The 3hrs balloons are still there. Passed by 2 gals who are hanging along those balloons. Doesn’t matter how many guys are there. Only gals are counting. And finally reaching the 30km turn. Have missed the km29-sign. Taking the second gel I have in my other arm sleeve. Not much easier to reach as it is closer to my wrist than my shoulder by now… Taking my time to open it…and even WALKING at the 30km-water station. What is WRONG with me?!?! Have reached the final 12km. Counting that the snail-like pace I am having might mean It’s gonna take an hour before I finish this thing… REALLY? Seeing the elite guys on the other side moving towards their final 2km is helping boosting my low enthusiasm to a little higher level. Now I am no longer focusing. I know that and it makes me not happy at all. Should has well stopping it now… Well, no I don’t think so. Because there is only 10km left now and that means really nothing compared to what has been run already. So stop weeping inside your head and finish this! Passing the Zojo ji park. Really? I have seen it two days ago. Don’t need to see it AGAIN! The sun is warm by then. Seeing the elite women on the other side and that is just beautiful to see. Sara Hall is the only one I know by name and face and this is spectacular to see her running! OK, back to my stupid race. The 3:00 balloons have disappeared. No idea how. Suspecting the guys have left them blowing away so I would not know how far from me they actually are. Good move! It won’t make me feeling more down than I do right now. The right hip and the muscle right under the bum are not happy. But now I see the turning point. This is it. Not much left. Have checked the “counting down” km-signs on the other side of the road and they will hopefully keep me focused until the end. Final stretch. I see the 5km to go-sign. Nothing. Less than 25 minutes. I hope… Passing again the Zojo ji park. Seeing the other runners on the other direction and am so pleased I am now on this side. The sun is warming my back and it feels good. Cheering coming with a smiling “James” and a “Go Sweden, go” could not come more appropriately! I have been cheering for a Spanish guy just earlier telling him “go go Italia”… So the mind ain’t really in the game, but at least I can take the cheering from others! Not sure at all what pace I am running at. Just focusing on the two gals before me and decide to not let them disappear from my side. Getting closer to them. Cheering from the left for a gal passing me on my right does not make me happy. I keep on running and she will NOT pass me. It does not feel that I am pushing at all here! Swedish cheerings are heard once more on the left side from the gal I saw earlier. Could not make me happier! If only it could make me faster… Reaching for my red gel. Taking it fast and hoping to be able to get water and here it come. The water station. Feeling fine with grabbing the water cup, slurping some of the content and continuing to run. I see the 2km to go-sign. This is nothing. Passing one gal with her paceholder. Where is MY paceholder?!?!? It feels like I have been running on my own ALL the way!!! I love the cheering at this moment. I count down and give me less than 10 minutes to reach the end. I will crawl to the end if need be, but I will NOT let any new gal passing me nor slow down. Km41, corner of Hibiya park. I LOOOOOOVE THIS PART! Passing one gal once more but keeping it safe still as I really do not want her to pass me right before the finish line. Turning right and then left again. No more sun in the back. THIS is the final stretch. Fresh in mind from Barcelona, I dig deep to accelerate and make this 800m(?) count. Passing two gals and then the cheered one is coming back on my right!!! NOT.A.CHANCE! I am strong and I can prove it. More power to the engine. Cannot hear anything but one “Go Sweden, Go”. Lifting my hand to thank. And by half way to the end of the street, my left knee is stopping to work properly. WHAAATTTT?!?!? I feel like I have to stop. Rest this stupid knee. No. Not now. Feels like I am limping…because I probably do! Running on those stones on the street ain’t helping. Passing guys as well. I am almost finished. No clue how long is left. The only thing I see is this giant blond gal in front of me. One more place to win. Just one more little place. Passing her on the left right when we turn left to the final final fiiiiiiiinal stretch. No cheering here. Sounds dead-quiet in my head. I just want to get to the finish mat. No idea WHERE it is. Go go go! You’ll fall later after the….finish line? Here? Now? Already?!?!? Pressing my stop button. Shaking a bit while slowing down. And smiling. Done!

Official time received later: 3:02:31…

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After the finish line

My watch is stopped. Don’t want to look at it. There’s no point. Disappointment is not HUGE as I thought it would be. I have limited the damages and that’s what count. Getting a large smiling thanks from James from Mexico, my running buddy since km30 or so. Then from other runners from Japan. That feels pretty good and cool to hear that I helped them getting to the end 🙂 Looking strong tells me one guy right after hugging me. OK. At least I made people happy today! Talking with James and meeting the long blond gal I passed in the final stretch. We are turning right to get to our bag trucks. Receiving a cool Finisher-towel (no tshirt). And the long walk is starting. NY marathon-long walk-like… Quick stop for a finisher photo. Chatting with those two guys along the way to the end. The blond gal from NY had Tokyo as warmup race before London in 2 months, where she is aiming for 2:50. The Mexican guy had 3:40 for goal as he had been in bad shape (sick) the past 4-6 weeks. What is my excuse then for my ridiculous/boring slow time?… Getting my bag. Pics with James and then final hug before I aim back to Hibiya park to get my 6-stars medal. Have started my watch after getting my bag and it will actually show that I walked 3km (!) to get back to Hibiya park. Probably more as I took the subway path as well. Tricky to get there as the streets are closed and I have to get back to where runners are arriving. A king volunteer is bringing me back…to the finish line (!) and then heading towards the left-side turn of finishers. Walk walk walk… and getting once again some refreshments, another finisher towel and space cover. Say no-thanks for an additional medal and then…finding a kind volunteer to get me to Hibiya park. Looooong way underground and finally to the Hibiya park. Finding a guy with “6-stars” sign who tells me where to go. Which was actually a bit incorrect and I get another kind volunteer to help me around…the loooooong way around! We chat a bit and he tells me he is a runner too. 10,000m and 5,000m are his specialty at the moment but that he wants to get to the marathon one day. 33min to the 10K… not bad I said. Yes, but you can finish a marathon he answers 🙂 And after moremoremore walk, we finally reached the 6-stars area. Greetings and thanks. Getting my second (heavy) medal. And that’s it. I am done. Where do I go now? Final pic with both medals in front of the fountain, quick stop at the free acupuncture tent and I am finally out of the park. Seeing the runners still moving along. Happy to be finished, I am telling myself. Why was I so slow? It feels fine now. The limping of the final stretch, the excruciating pain in the hip after the finish line and all the way to the bag pick-up area…all that is gone…

5km-walk to get back home (instead of the straight 2km…no idea how I got so wrong!) added to the 3km to get to the 6-stars area… Good resting pace and move for those tired legs of mine who did not deliver properly today. Emptying my bag when reaching home and off with my outfit. Laying on the bed for a while, drinking some more water and then shower and getting out for some food. Found a fun fish restaurant pretty close to home, which I dare to enter. Ordering skewers and dumplings, a coke and a Japanese tea. No need to celebrate as nothing has been properly done today. The body still needs food… Finishing my day with a steamed bun filled with red beans (I feel crazy about them now!) and that’s it. Tired in the head, tired in the body, but tricky to get some sleep. Until the whole body just shut down. Good!

A disappointing day in the capital of the Rising sun country, but still an adventure to remember and a 6-star medal to show that this 19th marathon was not THAT bad after all. 4th best time ever in a marathon and best time in all world majors. OK, this was not a totally bad day after all….

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Weather: 9°C, Sunny, Feels like 9°C, high humidity. Pretty cold and chilly at start, but as soon as getting the legs running, it felt as usual nice and perfect for running. Took a bit however to have the bum properly warmed up while the legs took less long. Estimating the average temperature throughout the race as 9-10°C. Not much wind. Sunny.

Food: > before: chia porridge with green mix and orange juice, 2 bananas, 4 small baby pancakes with honey, Pocari sweat (5dl?) (5:10am)

> right after: banana+Pocari sweat

> on the way back home: steamed bun with red beans

> 5.5 hours after: skewers+dumplings+rice, coke and japanese tea

> During: 2 strawberry jellies right before start, Pocari sweat @km5-10-15-25, green gel @km20-30-35, red gel at km40 (right before the water stations). Dextrosol: 2 at km22 and 1 every km or so at km23-24-26. Full Dextrosol halfpack left…

Gear: ADIDAS SWE outfit (hotpants & sports bra), Casal Iconic black Sports bra MIK, arm sleeves blacke, Decath windgloves pink/black, sunglasses, shoes happy to run on the feet. As usual, they just were great. A bit strange feeling at start as the asphalt was not really plain and nice. It felt a lot under the feet then…

=> Perfect outfit? Without question…Well it was the only one I had! Apart from black shorts and other singlet. The arm sleeves felt good until the sun warmed a bit more and it felt then quite warm. Had them down to the elbow as soon as I had taken the gels. Using them for the gels was NOT optimal! Hotpants looked good and worked well too. For once!!! Singlet was all fine, although I could have run as well with only sports bra. The gel carrying worked. Not optimally, but ok. The Dextrosol carrying was once again a disaster and I will NOT have them in the front of my sports bra in future races… Burn marks once AGAIN… DO I ever learn?!? Forgetting to have extra long pants to keep myself warm before the start was not good. To keep in mind and be better prepared next time.

14/ Up to the halfway I tried to have a decent effort level. Probably got to 15 or so, but after getting passed by the 3hrs-guys, not a chance that the effort was higher than a 13/14. Did not want to have more pain in the hip while still wanting to finish this race. This is disappointing not to have been able to get higher on the effort level. But better safe than sorry….

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SUMMARY: This race was expected to be an adventure. To a country far far away. All alone. And it ended this way too. Disappointing results, but finalizing the race was as usual one of the objectives. And this one was completed at least. It gives more experience to the whole journey. The race itself was perfectly arranged. From the expo to the new route. I am very angry at myself for this stupid stop at the loo 2km-into the race. What was the alternative really?… I never get into the race really, and probably because of this stop. The 20-25seconds stop did kill probably most of the first half. Unsure how the hip would have worked out without this stop. The weather was definitely on the positive side. After a few freezing days in Tokyo, it was a delight to be running under the sun (well…OK…it was dead-freezing at start however…). The wind was there but not annoying at all.

On the downsides, the GPS freaking out was also not cheering for me today. Could hear some other watches beeping properly at the km-signs, when mine was just crazy. Good to have wristbands for reference… The hip was not functioning properly and unsure how to explain it. The walk like crazy after the finish line should be revised. NO need to walk so much really. Hopefully they will re-assess this arrangement for future races. The walk back to Hibiya park was just stupidly too long (but still worth for the medal I got 🙂 ).

All-in-all, Sunday long run in Tokyo provided some miles under my feet and more experience for the future. Head has rested now, body is under recovery. Cannot wait to race again…properly this time! 🙂

===> Loads of thanks for the cheering and the support received while I was preparing this race. Not many knew about it and that was the plan. Preparation did work very well, despite the stupidly crazy cold weather at home, the race-prep in Barcelona was ok but might have made the body a bit tired 2 weeks before Tokyo. Well, missing the expected time, missing the placing I was planning, I still completed the race, and that counts fully. Celebration needed, even if only little J The season is still young…

Thanks to all the runners who cheered during the race. Mostly foreigners (ie not Japanese). Thanks for the lovely Japanese gals I met right before start. Unable to speak the same language, but running was what made us happy. Together 🙂 Great thanks to the gal cheering in Swedish along the course and for the pics received afterwards. Priceless! Thousands of thanks for all the cheering people along the course. Not understanding a word but still getting your warmth for continuing the running! And final thanks to you, my special people, who are standing there in my mind when the running gets tough or the running gets fun or the running gets easier. Your support and love are counting so that no word can really describe.

Big thanks to E for video-calling me in the morning of the race. A large smile and encouragement kept in my thoughts, which got me to the end! Loads of thanks for my little personal cheering-squad at home, always supportive and encouraging during training and race. Priceless!

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A few more days in Japan, sun shine or grey skies, a lot of walking… I might wait a bit longer before this tattoo on my hip saying in Japanese “The limping snail”… Time for recovery now. The body feels fine, no hip nor knee trouble two days after the race, and despite the walking and walking and more walking around in Kyoto. More rest will be still on the menu for a few days… thereafter…new adventures shall begin! THANKS!

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A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: Let’s start with the body. Because it always is the body that might stop from achieving this particular goal. Tired after the finish line mostly because of the final 1km-sprint (or whatever you may call the limping-stuff I did). The hip pain was not planned and am a bit unsure how it came into picture. The knee pain was also a surprise (a bad one) as it really felt I would not be able to walk at all after all this. But nope. Nothing. To be checked, but still. Thinking it is a bad compensation of the body of some kind. Have to work on this. A positive note? Achille’s heels did not bother me at all. Good sign, right?

NOTE: Warmup? Would more likely call it a “cool down” what I had today! Freezing was an understatement! Felt pretty jealous to see the elites running back and forth during probably 20-30 minutes in their training clothes, while we were freezing sitting on the cold asphalt. Lessons learned: I will have a full outfit on my on the top of my racing outfit for the next race! Not a chance I will freeze this way again! Took probably 1-2km for getting into a good rhythm…which was killed due to the stop at the loo…

NOTE:…which brings me to the “loo incident”. HOW ON EARTH CAN THIS HAPPEN?!?! Had timed well the drinking, got to the loo twice before start…but still…. Having over one hour of wait made it pretty clear that the blaster would not master it. Unsure what could have been done differently. But that will NOT EVER happen again to stop during a race. Promise to myself.

NOTE: Energy/refueling during the race? On this, I am actually pretty happy and proud about how it went. The sport drink during all the first half worked properly. Still a bit tricky to drink in the paper cups, but worked anyway. Then the gels taken were all fine and well planned. Did not take the extra one I had in the back of my sport bra. Not needed. Could probably have done without the Dextrosol and take sports drink instead. What did NOT work was the carrying of the Dextrosol. Won’t happen again. Promise to myself.

NOTE: Beetroot loading? Still unsure this helps or not helps. Will probably cut it for the next races. Although beetroot juice is good to drink 🙂

NOTE: then…gels in the sport-bra, on the back? Same as earlier races. No issue with that. Only that I did not take this gel…

NOTE: …and dextrosol+gel in the sport-bra, in the front? Read thought above… won’t happen again. I mean it this time…

NOTE: then…gels in the arm sleeves and back pocket of the hotpants? Arm sleeves were a good-to-have for the race. But should have attached the gels to the arm sleeves maybe. Backpocket of the hotpants worked fine.

NOTE: Tokyo marathon is hereby the LONGEST marathon I have ever run (since Berlin 2013…) – 42,88km 😛

NOTE: Post-marathon recovery on-going and working well. 20km walk each day after the race for two days… the body is happy to move! Time to plan for a massage. More days ahead without running and then have to take care of that hip of mine. So that it won’t annoy me next time.

New adventures on the way…