The penultimate in the list of Majors. Marathon number eight, I’m coming for you…
Tuesday 20th February 2018
This week other than training, sleeping, eating and drinking lots of water, I plan on doing very little, hence all the sightseeing and tourist stuff first time round.
Training for today was a light threshold run; 3x 5 minutes with 3 minutes easy between efforts, back to the river we go.
This afternoon I pitched up with my notepad and a nice coffee (for a change) to reflect on my training journey since NYC. Tom suggested writing down ‘10 positives’ from this block that I could take in to Sunday’s race. Ten things what have gone well or that I have learned from. My ten positives. He advised it could be a stand out run or session that was tough but that I got through that I could think about when the going gets tough (two words…Gold Coast!), getting enough sleep, something I’ve focussed on nutrition wise, anything that was going to boost my confidence and be personal to me. I found this to be super helpful and I’m definitely going to use it again.
Operation hydration is also underway. I drink loads of water anyway, but during race week I make a conscious effort to make sure I drink at least 2-3 litres a day along with some extra electrolytes.
Wednesday 21st February 2018
40 minutes easy running to keep the legs ticking over this morning.
I went to grab a Starbucks afterwards as they are celebrating ‘Sukura’…blossom season. This wee selection of coffees are only available in Asia at this time of year and the locals go crazy for it…all the flavoured syrups and teas and all the overpriced merchandise that goes along with it. I should know better, these flavoured coffees are really not my thing. I’m not too keen on anything too sweet when it comes to drinks but when in Rome and all!
Thursday 22nd February 2018
30 minutes easy along the river…and it is snowing! Really, Japan? I’ve been here for close to a month and your choose 4 days before the race to start snowing. On the positive, hopefully this means the cool temperatures forecast will hold up. Whilst I love running in the sunshine, racing in it is a bit different.
Today is Expo day. I check out of the hostel and drop off my backpack as I’m transferring to New Otani Hotel with the 2:09 group later. This will be my third trip with 2:09. Their organisation really is first class and my dream of finishing all of the big six in one calendar year would never have been possible without them. With a backpack full of water and snacks to commence the official start of carb loading, I make my way to the expo venue, Tokyo Big Sight.
If I’m being honest, by way of comparison to the other Majors, so far I’d rank Tokyo as lowest for communications so unfortunately I’m not one hundred per cent sure of the set up for today but I’m sure it won’t be that different to the usual routine.
Wow, wow, wow! The loudest, craziest, expo yet. In true Tokyo fashion, it was sensory overload with the brightest, flashiest of signs and most energetic (yet still super polite) volunteers and staff. The first person I bumped in to as I reached the top of the escalator was Yvonne, a friend I worked with at a local leisure centre years ago. We knew we were both going to be in Tokyo for the marathon but I wasn’t expecting to see her quite so soon!
As I wandered round, bearing in mind I could barely understand a word, I thought I was seeing things as a brass band marched through the middle of the hall with a parade of volunteers chanting loudly behind it. Lots going and the usual photo opportunities but very little in the way of freebies, at least that I could see. With ASICS as the brand sponsor, I really had to exert some serious willpower to limit my spending, though did manage to pick up thee must have souvenir item…Tokyo Marathon chopsticks. I mean, you just never know when they might come in handy.
Still dreaming of the illusive Sub 4…
I made sure I kept drinking water and munching on snacks throughout the morning and once my ears and eyes had had just about enough of the craziness, I made my way back to the hostel and transferred to the hotel in Chyiyoda.
Friday 23rd February 2018
All in all a very quiet day. Not too much in the way of walking around, rest day training wise and a bit in the way of eating a few extra carbs to prioritise. I found a great restaurant where Japanese meets Italian, Spajiro, mostly spaghetti dishes with a slight Japanese influence. Perfect. And thankfully I’ve mastered chopsticks enough by now to eat the bowlful without any problems…a whole bowl of spaghetti with chopsticks, now that’s skills!
In the afternoon I laid out all of my kit, still debating whether there is a need to acquire an extra throw away layer before joining the 2:09 group for dinner at a local restaurant. This time I have deliberately opted for mostly black. It feels business-like, almost like a uniform…and on Sunday, I mean business!
Dinner was fascinating. A soup and fish course, followed by a Shabu- Shabu meal of thinly sliced meat and vegetables that you cook at the table in front of you in large bowls of boiling water. I sat with Yvonne, her Mum and we had some lovely company at our table to join in the fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m glad I sourced some extra carbs at lunch time!
Saturday 24th February 2018
International Friendship Run
As part of the usual pre-race day routine, I had a shakeout jog with a few strides to do to waken up the legs and was registered for the International Friendship run to do just that. The group warm up was quite like nothing I have ever seen before. I was literally laughing so much that one of the volunteers came over to ask if I was alright because he thought I was crying. I was…with laughter. It was definitely a ‘had to be there’ moment and is somewhat impossible to put in to words but if you can imagine a livelier Japanese version of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes as commentated by the Teletubbies with the occasional chorus of YMCA you’d be close to understanding my hilarity.
I met a lovely lady from Ireland and we enjoyed a blether on the way round. It was our first taste of just how awesome the volunteers were. They never stopped smiling, cheering or congratulating us, 1 kilometre in and they were treating us like we’d just completed 100 miles. The fan and neckerchief given instead of a medal was a lovely authentic touch.
Afterwards my plan for the rest of the day… stay off my feet as much as possible. So I chilled in the hotel for a good part of the afternoon with my book then went back to Spajiro for round two…more veggie spaghetti with tomato sauce, exactly the same as yesterday following the golden rule; nothing new before race day. I know there would have been loads of options in the form of rice or noodles but I am quite proud of myself for finding pasta in Tokyo! I met up with Yvonne for our last pow wow and to wish each other good luck. We were doing our own thing in the morning with regards getting to the start which I think selfishly suited both of us.
It sounds super cheesy, but just before I go to bed, I like to have a look out the window and have a wee ‘chat’ with the city about what is going to go down in the morning; asking it to look after me, and trying to bargain a promise or two as to how the race is going to go.
Once we were finished talking, I went to sleep.