Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tokyo Marathon 2009

I ran Tokyo Marathon on Sunday 22nd March as a pacer/supporter for Satohi (in front of me in the photo). Her previous PB was 3:19:54 and we felt she was in significantly better shape than that effort. She had been training well and finding 4:30/km pace fairly easy in training. We did a 25 km pace-run three weeks ago at a target of 4:30/km, but many splits were in the 4:20s and she felt capable of carrying on. So we had every reason to be optimistic and set a strategy of starting a little conservatively, around 4:40/km, gradually increasing to 4:35/km, then if everything was going well, moving up to 4:30/km from around 20k.

The day dawned cool but with a blustery wind. This wasn't too much of a factor until the turn from Ginza (around 34 km) out towards the finish at Odaiba, after which we were often running into a strong head wind and also having to contend with the several nasty little rises at flyovers.

The first half went perfectly to plan and we hit the half only a few seconds outside the target. The planned inrease in pace just didn't feel like the right thing to do. More patience was necessary I believed, knowing that even if we kept 4:35 to the end it would still be a strong result for her. The 10k from half to 31k was also fine, but fatigue was obviously setting in and suddently I felt she was struggling to hold pace. Sure enough, the 31-32 split was 4:42, followed by 4:44, 4:52, and 4:54. The next 6 km were very tough going as she had hit the wall and was struggling with the wind, the rain that had started to fall, and those dreaded flyovers. But the supporters were really vocal through this desolute section and she dug deep and did not give in to grind out a new PB of exactly 1 minute, only one of a very small handful to be had by our group under these tough conditions.

The splits:

5km 0:23:49
10km 0:22:57
15km 0:22:51
20km 0:22:46
(Half - 1:37:29 vs target 1:37:17)
25km 0:22:55
30km 0:22:57 (2:18:15 vs target: 2:17:20)
35km 0:23:40
40km 0:25:57
Finish 0:11:02 (3:18:54)

For me personally, I could have kept going at the target pace, at least for some period longer. And once Satohi conked I was always having to contain my pace, which was a new and slightly strange experience. I was hurting of course, but could have run faster and had to resist the temptation to put in as hard as I could to take the pain to another level over those last few km -- you know, the way the end of a marathon is supposed to feel. As a result it was a relatively relaxed marathon for me and actually I really got to enjoy the atmosphere and crowd like never before. Running over the final 5 km brought back vivid memories of last year when I was hurting but maintaining a good pace over this section, racing the clock to sneak in under 3 hours.

Going into the run I was not sure how I was going to handle the distance given I hadn't done any runs over 25 km until February 8. I was even a bit worried that if Satohi went really well that she would have to leave me behind in the final 10 km. But I handled it well and I think if anything it has re-kindled my desire to keep up the training and build strength and endurance through he summer for maybe another crack at sub-three in November.


Ewen said...

Excellent long tempo run Steve! Although I bet you would have rather been racing Scott on the Big Island for a place on the podium.

Great effort from your protégé to run a PB, but you lucked out on the course and weather. So next time, seriously, do yourself a favour and choose a nice flat course in Japan in late autumn. One that doesn't have thousands of runners, huge head-winds and predictably bad weather ;)

Jon in Tokyo said...

Well done. It is not as easy as it sounds to help a slower runner through a race as hard as a Marathon.
Good effort.

plu said...


Good to hear from you again - always someting of interest - this time a marathon.


Cheers Plu

Luckylegs said...

Ewen always tells me how painful it is to run with me! It's only happened once or twice but he still talks about the pain of running with a slower runner. Personally, I never get to discover the experience!

Congratulations on your pacing & enjoying the run as well.

zihuatanejo said...

Thank you so much for your support to achieve my PB!
You never made me beeing bored during the race, sang ABBA and YMCA, introducing your boy on the course and many Namban supporters.
It was a my wonderful Tokyo Marathon. How can I say thank you...

Tesso said...

What ... you were singing ABBA and YMCA :) Come and pace me and sing and in an effort to get away from you I too will run a PB!

Great work Steve. I heard the conditions were pretty tough.

So how are you recovering from it? Are the legs as sore as they are after a 'normal' marathon?

Scott Brown said...

Let me know what marathon you are thinking about in November Stephen, I might join you.

Enjoying this spring weather?