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Tokyo Marathon # 8 race report

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I finished my 8th Tokyo Marathon on February 23th 2014!

I really enjoyed the race.

Short resume: I finished in 5:29:30, which is my best time in 3-4 years. The winner finished 3:22 ahead of me 😉

I ran hard (for me) and tried to keep a good pace. I was careful. I didn’t injure myself…

As I injured my right achilles at Honolulu marathon in December, I lined up with zero miles / kilometers in 3 months. I simply train at the gym with a combination of bike, strength, equilibrium, rotation and stretching. I also hiked across Hong Kong every week end, walking on MacLehose 1st stage (HighLand reservoir) , 2nd stage (with the diverticule similar to the OTW 2013) , 5th stage (from Unicorn ridge to Shing Mun Reservoir), 8th stage (Tai Mo Shan, 3 rd time I summit at HongKong at 952 meters) and walking up Sunset Peak on Lantau Island (867 meters).

This was my first marathon with zero kilometer of running in the past three months, only strength and hiking.

And I liked the outcome, second best ever on Tokyo Marathon!

I met my team mates of Namban Rengo before the start at the usual Starbucks near the departing line at 7:30. Good to see familiar faces. One told me that I would finally come back to Japan! Premonitoire? Some guys were also coming up from hot Hong Kong.

I lined up at 8:15 with my 350 yens plastic rain proctection protecting me against the wind and the cold for the 9:10 kick off. I was fine, enjoying the countdown with a couple of helicopters above us.

We had a call of runners: 1st time runners (many people in my area), 2nd time (some more), 3rd time (few), 4th time (one or two), then the (stupid) presentator said 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th in very quick succession, ruining my 8th call, as it is somehow rare and unheard of, but they didn’t even bother checking… then the Japanese National Anthem and the first runners went on.

I passed the departure line after 13 minutes, as usual as I started at the back of the pack. In pack J. No special treatment for 8th time running  Tokyo marathon. Another slow guy at the back of the pack.

Then the race went on!

I ran fast like the usual idiot I am. I caught up the 5:30 pace group and followed them for 15 kilometres till Shinagawa station. I saw the family and friends at kilometre 5, at the bottom of Kagurazaka, where we lived 7 years. I jumped with the Village People and their YMCA song at kilometre 7.

My bib was 41971. Attentive people will notice that 41971 = 19 x 47 x 47 and that 47 is the lucky number of my daughter ! I also noticed that 19 x 47 is 893, which is ya-ku-san or Yakuza in Japanese, a not so lucky hand in traditional Japanese gambling!

When we turned at kilometer 15, at Shinagawa, I immediatly felt the wind. We had the wind pushing us since Kanda at kilometer 6 ! We now had to push back till Asakusa on kilometer 28 !

I lost the 5:30 pace group at that point. They didn’t slow down at water station and kept a constant 6:45 pace which was too fast for me at that point.

We had snow for a moment, for a couple of minutes, amazing feeling… but it was a cold day.

When I reached the 10 kilometres point near Hibiya Koen, I just saw very fast runners passing the 20 kilometres point, and when i reached the half point in Ginza I saw the guys reaching the 34 kilometres point going the other way! I saw a couple of Namban Rengo runners, these guys are so fast!

We had food from 22k point. I had a banana and a few tomatoes (not sure it was a good idea), and later got some bread stuffed with chocolate. We had water and sports drink on the way every 3-5 kilometres. I think i need to carry my own food and train/experience with it.

After Ginza, the way up to Asakusa is quite long and cold. My right leg cramped at 25K and I had to stop to stretch. My left leg cramped 2 kilometres later. I was really concerned. But went on. I saw Asakusa bashi station near my kids school “LeLycée Franco-Japonais”. And Tokyo Sky Tree. I was so cold, I couldn’t put a name on the tower. Then we turned at the big lantern at Asakusa where the public is 3-5 people deep. Great cheering teams!

At 36k, on the bridges, I met my great friend A.I.B. who had to wait for one hour for my arrival as I broke down and slow down dramatically as usual after 28k.

I slowed down but kept a good rhythm in the last 3  kilometers, overtaking many runners. I was not caught by Santa Claus or any stuffed animal on my way to the finished line.

I tried my best to keep a consistent (and slow) pace and I managed to get in in a relatively good time, first time under 5:30 in 4 years.

I had my bib attached in my back and it attracted the attention of many judges who tried to stop what they expected me to be a pirate! At least 7 of them shouted at me to see my bib and I simply showed them my back. I’ve not seen a single pirate at Tokyo Marathon. Ever. And I was a legit paying participant with a bib in the back. A rare 8th time participant! I should have had a special bib.

I passed the line in 5:42 gun time, 5:29:30 net on my watch. I had pain in my legs and on the top of my left foot. I had no real emotions. I used to cry a lot when crossing the line as this was a real achievement for me in the past, a former very obese cancer survivor. This was my 13th marathon (8 Tokyo, 2 Tsukuba, 2 Honolulu, 1 HongKong (and I did 3x50k)).

I was just in pain, happy, very cold, focused, heureux, terrified, satisfied with my time, and so cold.

We got a towel, a banana, a mikan, water and sports drink.

And the finisher medal. My 8th Tokyo Marathon medal. I have all 8 medals. Against odds of 1 / 2,000,000 or less, i don’t care anymore. I enjoyed the race and the fantastic support of the Tokyoites and all the cheering teams.

I’ll be back. At one point of time. May be next year if the lottery goes my way again! We’ll see.

 

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