Race: Tokyo Marathon
Date: February 23, 2014
Finish time: 4:35

Globe centered on Asia, with Asia highlighted. The continent is shaped like a right-angle triangle, with Europe to the west, oceans to the south and east, and Australia visible to the south-east.

Area: 44,579,000 km2 (17,212,000 sq mi)
Population: 4,164,252,000
Countries: 49

Read About the Whole Trip:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tokyo Marathon

I should probably wait awhile before writing this post in order to gain some perspective and not let the not so great end of the day color the whole experience. But I am stuck in bed unable to do anything else, so I am not going to wait. This is going to be a long one...... so settle in.

I woke up super early again and finally got tired of tossing and turning and just got up at 5:30. So I had a long leisurely time to get ready, foam roll, and do some sun salutations. I was hoping we'd beat the crowd to breakfast, but apparently everyone had the same idea, because we had to wait in line just to get in. We went to the combo Japanese/Western buffet, and I was tempted by all the yummy Western stuff I hadn't had in the Japanese breakfast we've been having. But, I know not to try new things on race day so I just grabbed some toast and a banana to have with the peanut butter I brought from home.

ready to run
 I left the hotel around 8 which I thought was plenty of time since the race started at 9:10 less than a block from the hotel. I needed all that time! The race has 40,000 runners, so even though it was incredibly organized, it was a long slow shuffle through the medal detectors, past the bathrooms, past the bag drop, and then back up and around into the corals. I probably walked at least a mile.
Runners at the bag drop
 Everyone was so polite though- there was no pushing or shoving, everyone just shuffled ahead quietly. I had a throw-away sweatshirt and I was so glad because it was only about 40 with a little wind. I planned to wait and toss it a mile or so in, but before the start everyone else started taking theirs off and walking over to give it to a volunteer. I didn't want to be the rude American I did the same. Mistake! They played the national anthem (which is hauntingly beautiful), did a bunch of talking, and then the starting gun fired. 15 minutes later I finally reached the start!

The confetti was totally gone by the time I got to the start

It was crowded and slow going so I couldn't settle into the pace. I don't know if I would have anyway, because I felt terrible from the very beginning. My throat felt like it was swelling shut and I had a sick heavy feeling like something was sitting on my diaphragm. I also really had to go to the bathroom! They had frequent bathrooms on the side of course, but the lines were so long. Finally I just sucked it up and stopped and got in line. I wasted more than 5 minutes, but since it's not like I was trying to win the race, it was totally worth it.

So many runners means long bathroom lines!

From then on I just focused on keeping my feet moving forward. I amused myself by looking at the costumes. I saw Jesus, running almost naked and barefoot with a giant cross on his back, a team of power rangers, Shrek (in a giant rubber suit that I can't imagine running in), a bunch of geishas, a transformer, and many others.

There was also great entertainment along the course. There were various martial arts groups, dancers, cheerleaders, and musicians. My favorite were the Japanese drummers. Their beat totally picked up by pace.

There was water every 2-3 k and sports drink every 5. They served a Japanese drink called Amino Value. I tried it at the expo and really liked it, but again didn't want to mess with anything new on race day so I stuck with water. Unfortunately, the water was way after about 20 tables of Amino Value and it was a mess trying to cut in to get to it. What completely amazed me, is that every single runner walked their empty cups over to the trash instead of just tossing them all over the ground like they do in every place I've ever been. Just another example of the incredible neatness of the Japanese people. There was no gel along the course, but they did have food stops that included sweets, bananas, tomatoes, and bread. The tomatoes baffled me. I have never heard of tomatoes during a race and it did not sound appealing. By 35k though, I was tired of Gu Chomps and decided to try the bread. It looked like a soft little roll and I took a big bite. EWWWW it was filled with a brown bean paste. I knew I couldn't spit it out (see comments about neatness above) so I swallowed that one bite and then held on to the rest until the next trash can. There were also spectators passing out every variety of food along the course.

spectators passing out food. Photo credit:

I didn't feel good the entire race, but time went by fairly quickly until 35k. My Garmin died at 14 miles (I think it's time for a new one) so I switched over to my gym boss. I lost track of my overall time, but thought I was still pretty well on pace for a 4:30, so I kept pushing it. Around 37k we hit the bridges that took us up over Tokyo Bay. After a flat course up until this point, the hills threw my legs into a tizzy. My right quad especially starting twinging on the uphill and then locked up on the downhill. It continued contracting painfully and then locking up for the rest of the day. I was counting down the kilometers and just pushing to the finish.

Finally, we rounded a corner and I saw the 42 k mark- almost done. I ran across the finish. I'd done it! Time to relax. Or not.

So began a long, silent, terrible march. First we walked to get our finishers towels, then walked until we came to the medals, then we walked until we came to bottles of Amino Value, then some more until we came to bottles of water, then some more until we got some bags of food. Then we finally reached the end of that stretch and I figured we would turn the corner and head into the meeting area. So wrong. First we had to walk back the entire length of the stretch we'd covered since the finish, this time on the other side of the barrier. Then we headed inside to the giant room for baggage. Even if we weren't getting bags, we still had to walk the entire length of that room. As we entered the next room, the men's changing area, I started to feel really bad. I inherited my mother's family's propensity for passing out easily so I know the symptoms well. I started feeling nauseous, sweaty, and seeing black spots. I plunked myself down in the middle of the changing men and laid there for a couple minutes. I didn't want to get up, but I just wanted to get to Rory, and I didn't see any other way to get to him than to get up and walk. I slowly snaked my way through that room and came into a long hall. On the moving walkway, I started getting dizzy again, but made myself hold on until the end of it. On the other side, I made it halfway to the medics before I hit the ground.

I woke up to two panicked, and very young looking, medics hovering over me. One of them had to run all the way back to the finish to get a doctor. When the doctor finally arrived he took my vitals and then sat me up and made me drink a whole glass of a liquid rehydration solution. My stomach was not impressed and roiled with every sip. But I finally finished it and they got me in a wheelchair and started me toward the family meeting area. I still had 15 minutes before our agreed upon drop dead time when Rory figured he'd missed me and would head back to the hotel.

I figured I was good until we got to the elevator. About 25 mothers with strollers were in line and I was not given priority. We waited and waited, but finally got in the elevator and then finally made it to the family reunion area. I lost it when I finally saw Rory. I sobbed into his arms for a few minutes about how awful I'd felt the whole race and then finally composed myself. We slowly made our way out to bus, stopping one time for me to lie on the floor so I didn't pass out again.

On the bus on the way back to the hotel (which thankfully they had for the first time this year- I couldn't have made it to the metro), I concentrated on not passing out or throwing up. Back at the hotel, we ended up in a packed elevator heading back to the room. I stood in the back, really working not to throw up. As we got out, I warned Rory that he needed to run ahead and open the door. Naturally, the key wasn't working the first few times, but finally the door opened and I rushed into the room and threw up.

I've since taken a heavenly bath and then a short nap. I'm okay if I don't stand up, but as soon as I stand, I get dizzy again.

On the bus I heard  people talking and all of their watches measured the course as long,  with many of them measuring over 27 miles. Add in the miles I walked to get to my coral, to get to the starting line, and then the death march to the family waiting area, and I covered over 30 miles.

I just checked my time and finally, there is something to be happy about. They have me with a chip time of 4:35, which includes the 5+minutes for the bathroom stop. That is my second fastest marathon to date!