On the week leading up to the marathon I started entertaining the idea of just going for it, what if I could aim for my goal time in Tokyo, how cool would that be?! I really was considering it right up until the morning of the marathon itself.
I got up in the morning having slept pretty well, showered and got changed into my kit which I had laid out the night before. Still thinking, do I just go for it… I had a quick look at my phone and saw messages from our group Tokyo marathon chat, some of the others were already in the start area and they were pretty layered up as it was already raining outside. I hadn’t really considered waterproofs when I packed, now I look back that was one of my more stupid decisions on Sunday (only one, there are more). So I shoved on a jumper and headed towards the start area.
There is pretty tight security to get into the start area, you had to show your wrist band from the expo, have your bag checked and go through the metal detectors. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself then apart from attempting to stay out of then rain, I went to queue for the toilets and bumped into some of the girls from our group. We were all in different start areas so when the girls went to put their bags in the bag drop I started heading to the start pen. Going there was pretty much a big loop back to outside our hotel, in the rain. This was the part I found hardest of the whole day, I could see our hotel, I was standing shivering and soaking wet and still had another 45 mins until the start of the race. I’m pretty positive and focused when it comes to running by this really tested me, I genuinely considered dropping out at this stage cause I just couldn’t even contemplate running 2 miles feeling like this, let alone 26.2 (little did I know I’d actually end up running 27.5…).
Anyway…finally the start gun went off. I made a quick decision to nip to the toilet just before the start line and that was one of the best decisions I made. Although there are lots of toilets along the course, which are all well signposted, some of them are 500m off course.
This was it, I was running the Tokyo marathon!
As soon as I started I began to warm up, the fog lifted and I don’t think I stopped smiling for the first 18 miles. Everything felt so comfortable and easy, although I was soaking wet I didn’t care. The volunteers were absolutely brilliant, smiling and clapping every time you passed one. And then spectators were the same, I was just bobbing along, dodging in and out of people enjoying the race. I don’t know how to put into words how incredible the atmosphere was but I just couldn’t have been happier to be there.
I mentioned earlier that I made a few stupid decisions on race day, number one as I said was wearing a woolly jumper to the start line and not having waterproofs. Number two was taking gels I had never tried before…I feel like an idiot admitting to this one as I have run 5 marathons now and know not to do this. What was I thinking?! The appeal of the different flavours got me, the packets are smaller than the gels I usually take so I went with them. I will definitely be going back to my usual as the new ones were far too sweet and they didn’t help maintain my energy as much as what I’m used to, I felt a definite dip that I wouldn’t usually. They didn’t really agree with my stomach but I’m lucky really cause it could have gone so much worse. This along with my brand new compression socks that kept falling down (stupid decision #3) meant that it wasn’t the day for me to try for a PB, I think I could have pushed and taken a couple of minutes off but I really didn’t want to sabotage Manchester. I really absolutely loved the race and felt so comfortable until mile 20, I mean it’s 26 miles, that’s never going to be easy.
When I finished I soon heard that a couple of my friends had absolutely smashed PB’s, I was absolutely delighted for them but I’m not going to lie, a little bit disappointed in myself, why hadn’t I just gone for it?
I’ve spent a lot of this week reflecting on the race and on what’s ahead. On reflection I am really glad I made the decision I did, I’ve seen the race pictures and I am smiling in almost all of them, I have got brilliant memories of an incredible day. My legs didn’t hurt at all on the days following the marathon and it’s given me the opportunity to make some tweaks for the Manchester marathon to make sure I am as ready as I’ll ever be for that big PB attempt.
Now home from Japan after a brilliant two weeks, I’ve loved eating lots of different foods and recovering from the marathon but now I’m ready to get my head down. In preparation for the Manchester marathon I am going to be sticking to my nutrition plan, strength training, completing the running schedule, foam rolling, Epsom salt baths and wearing my Oofos at every given opportunity. Hopefully…all of these things will mean I hit my target, and you know what even if they don’t I’ll know I’ve given it my all and enjoyed it. In 2017 I ran my first marathon and pretty much constantly had sore feet, as well as plantar fasciitis. Last year I discovered Oofos and can’t believe how much of a difference they have made, they are the first thing I put on after getting back from a long run and most definitely after a race. They give my feet the much needed support and comfort, stopping them ever getting tight like they did when I started marathon training.
The Tokyo marathon was a great reminder for me that this sport isn’t all about times and PBs, I’ve run 5 marathons now and each one has taught me something. I’m in a place where I can’t remember who the me is that doesn’t run marathons, I might not always be able to run the longer distances but I know that running will always be a big part of my life and I love what it’s given me.