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"Tokyo Marathon 2017"
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Tokyo Marathon race report.

Very long and perhaps boring but it is nonetheless my experience and I wanted to share.

So I am sitting in Starbucks in Ginza reflecting on my adventure in Tokyo. ...

This was my 2nd international race. Tokyo! 5th on a 6 stop World Majors Tour (Chicago, Boston, Berlin, New York, Tokyo). Will try for London in 2018.

What a beautiful country Japan is. More specifically Tokyo as that is where my wife and I have spent the past week. It is a mix of ancient times meets modernization. Fuji mountain, pagodas, Temples and shrines intermixed with skyscrapers.

The people here are so polite and helpful. Tokyo is also extremely clean and orderly. Not a lot of sight seeing prior to the race in order to not tax the legs for race day.

We split our time staying in a good friends apartment and the other half at the Hilton Tokyo (highly recommended). The Hilton is literally right down the street from the start line.

This was my first time going through an organization (Marathon Tours) to run a marathon as my time would have qualified my for 2018 but not 2017. Tokyo had 330,000 applications for which only 30,000+ were accepted. One of the most difficult races to get into - unless your name is Don Schroeder and you get selected 2 years in a row via lottery : ).

Getting into the race, although at first it seemed quite chaotic, was actually very organized. The most difficult part was waiting in line to use the port-o-potty. Lines stretched endlessly cutting back and forth. I must've waited over 20 min before I decided to cut my loss and jump out of line to head to my Starting Block for fear of not making it in time. The only thing allowed in the Starting Block other than what you wear is max 2 250ml unopened plastic bottles of liquid.

I sat in the corral thinking through my strategy. My game plan was to enjoy myself, take in the sights, and secure a respectable time. I knew I wasn't in top condition to nail a PR due to recent injury but also knew that this was an extremely fast course and a little effort would go a long way. My game plan was to target 2:58 and a 1:29-ish first half.

As I waited for the start my bladder grew more and more anxious. I had to pee so bad that was all I could think of. Unlike American corrals where everyone pees when and where they want, Tokyo demands more class. You do not see this behavior anywhere. People even politely set there pre-race warm-up clothes down and gently place them out of the way - versus target practice throwing style in the U.S. (Which I always compete in).

In the starting block (B), a Japanese woman dressed in a strawberry costume used my right shoulder against her left shoulder to keep warm with body heat (Arigato mystery woman). Although perfect racing conditions, freezing standing around waiting conditions. Race temps prob started in mid-to upper 30s and ultimately got up to 50-ish when I finished.

The race started and there was a whole lot of going nowhere for the first few miles. Unlike other races where you can weave your way around people, I was stuck in No-mans land. First few miles seemed all downhill. Legs felt pretty darn good. Although I had a Sascha-customized pace band taped to my right forearm, I quickly forgot about specified paces for each mile and just started running based on how I felt.

To hit 2:58 (and secure my 3rd and 3rd out of last 4 sub-3hour marathons) I would need to run a 6:48 avg pace. This seemed in jeopardy as my bladder screened to pull over until finally around mike 5 I acquiesced. This couldn't be happening...for the first time ever I was pulling off the race to pee. Luckily the had restrooms around every mile for the first few so I quickly took advantage of thus. Quick dash off the course and I was right back to racing again.

The crowd was extremely energetic but in a much subdued way. Everyone was shouting "Ganbare"?" What could this mean. It sounded like they were shouting "Andalé". I later found out that "Ganbare" means "keep it up". Ok..that makes sense.

Instead of Gatorade they have Pocari Sweat (Their version of Gatorade). Aid stations abundantly everywhere. And volunteers holding plastic garbage bags so you could toss your Gu wrappers and paper cups into the garbage instead on all over the street.

As I motored through the course I realized that I was hitting my target pace with relatively little effort. It actually felt comfortable. The Miles continued to tick off. Cool thing about the course was it had a number of switchback and sort of resembled running up and down each finger of your hand. So in certain areas you would see faster runners coming back down the other way towards you but on the opposite side of the street. Demoralizing to some extent but was pretty cool the first time when I saw all the elites race by.

I saw my wife 3 times on the course and around mile 10 as we were rounding left, I raced to the other side of the street to high five her. Ok one bath room break and one slight detour. How would this affect my time?

Pretty soon I was at mile 21 and still feeling good. As far as fuel goes, although on all of my training runs over the course of winter, I used no fuel, I didn't want to chance it here. To fast to come to crash. Took 1/2 Gu at mile 8, 1/2 Gu at mile 16, and one last 1/2 Gu at mile 21. Still on track.... or so I thought.

Enter Mile 23 stage left. All of a sudden I started slowing down. Mile 24 was 7:00, Mile 25 was 7:06, and Mile 26 was 7:01. Crash and burn for last 5K. Luckily I ran the last 4K or so of the course 2 days prior so I was in familiar territory. That's what you think until you start to get a little tired. Then you are like "where the F@&k is the finish line". What seemed like a 1 block final run the other day was now a several block run.

Finally, the last turn. There it was. The finish line. I made it and finished with 2:59:10. Better planning and a little more push and I think I could have made this an Epic run! Easy to say but I have to remember that my goal was not to PR but to enjoy it and secure a respectable time. Mission accomplished!!

And the fruit of victory was one of the sweetest medals I have yet to receive. Tokyo....Arigato for the experience.

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