Tokyo Marathon: Concerns and Optimism Together

One thing I’ve learned when writing is to avoid cliches because…well…they’re so cliche. But I’ll do it anyway–The hay is in the barn. I have one week (technically less if you factor in the time change) until the Tokyo Marathon. As long as I can cross the finish line, I’ll finally collect the coveted Six Star Medal handed out to those who complete all six World Marathon Majors. This is a goal I’ve had for the past four years and it’s finally close to happening which is beyond exciting. However, I come into the race with more uncertainty than normal.

It’s now week two of taper time which is the best part of marathon training up until the actual race and crossing the finish line. This is the time when mileage and intensity of workouts are reduced to give the legs rest and allow them to repair themselves leading up to the race. The idea is for the body to recover and lock in fitness and strength gains. The cliche about the hay in the barn rings true in this situation because there are no more fitness gains to be made that will impact marathon performance. All the gains I’ve made that will help me are done. The only thing to do now is to run to at least maintain fitness and keep the body sharp and in tune before the race.

Yet, I feel this uncertainty with how I’ll perform. This is for a few reasons. First, I haven’t gained back all the fitness lost from last year’s nagging injuries. I haven’t been able to train properly over the past few months. I only had two weeks of 60+ miles and one week at 57 miles. The rest were in the 30s, 40s and around 50. Usually, I’d have four to six weeks of 60+ miles and several in the 50s. Plus, my legs seem a little more fatigued than normal since they went so long last year without several consecutive weeks of intense running. Second, I’m about 7 to 10 pounds heavier than I was before the Berlin Marathon in 2017. The extra pounds will slow me down some. Third, after my performance at the London Marathon, I’m unsure if my body will hold up on me. That race certainly didn’t go as planned for several reasons which you can read about in my race recap in the hyperlink above. I feel like there’s part of me that is wondering if I’ll have a repeat performance. Maybe I’ll have extreme exhaustion again. Maybe my current training wasn’t sufficient and it’ll show in the second half. Usually, I’m much more confident heading into a race, especially with my training. But I never experienced what I did in London.

The flip side is that I have reasons to be optimistic. My race at the Pasadena Half Marathon went better than I thought and I held up just fine physically. My last interval/speed workout before the upcoming race was at the end of my first taper week. It’s what I usually do before a marathon which is 6 x 800 meter repeats. I had a good workout and my splits were faster than I had thought and they were consistent, ranging from 2:46 to 2:48. My legs seemed to be healing from the fatigue too. This gives me reason to think I can do better than what I think.

I ran better than I thought here which gives me reason to think I can do the same in Tokyo

So, how do I think I’ll do when it comes to time? This is a good question. Honestly, I don’t know. I would like to run under three hours and feel it’s within reason, especially after my 1:23:50 half marathon in late January. I also think I can do it if I run a smart race and start at a comfortable pace. The temperature is going to be ideal for a marathon as it’ll be in the upper 40s to mid-50s during the race. However, it might rain. That’s no good. But I’ve been running in the rain lately so I’m getting used to it.

Basically, I’m going to take it as I feel on race day but start conservative. After the 10-mile mark, I’ll reassess based on how I feel. If things go well, sub-3 is there for me. I’m not going to worry about specific time range though. If I do that right now, I might make a tactical mistake that could leave me exhausted. The best course of action at this stage is to just take it as it comes and that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m looking forward to another marathon journey and I can’t wait to share my thoughts when it’s all done. This will be my second visit to Japan. I had a great time on my first trip in 2006 which was not related to running. The people are fantastic and the country is beautiful. I’m looking forward to the entire experience and, of course, wearing that amazing Six Star Medal around my neck at the finish line. My Six Star journey is almost complete but my marathon adventures are just beginning.

Running With You,

Donald

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