Monday, 21 October 2013

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Three weeks ago I completed the Berlin Marathon with mixed emotions. While my finish time was disappointing, I was able to look on the bright side in overcoming immense physical pain and being in an incredible environment. Upon my return to Toronto, I began to contemplate my participation in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I had run the Goodlife Toronto Marathon five times previously since the start line is by my house, but the Scotiabank Marathon I had reservations about running in. These two marathons used to be separated by only three weeks, which is pretty ridiculous, so they moved the Goodlife Marathon to the spring a few years back. The Goodlife Marathon covers many neighborhoods and went through Rosedale Valley, where the fall colors made that part of the course particularly beautiful. With the Scotiabank Marathon, about half the run is near the waterfront, including the Gardiner Expressway and the industrial parts, which is not exactly my favorite part of the city. I mean, the waterfront is nice for a few kms, but not 20. This year however, I found out that this race allowed for bib transfers and found someone who was injured selling their bib for $50, more than half the price of what it would cost me to register. This would be a great opportunity to get in one last marathon this year and redeem myself after Berlin.
Going in, I had little to no expectations. I had concerns that my previous injury would flare up again, but was feeling good physically. Wanting to avoid the same issues that arose in Berlin, I left my house super early to ensure I could get into my corral a good 20 minutes before the starting gun being fired. The Scotiabank Marathon and Half-Marathon start at the same time, so there were about 14,000 near city hall getting ready to run. Luckily my corral was spacious and had no problem finding the 3:05 pace rabbit and getting close to the starting line. We were soon introduced to the several elite marathoners participating, looking to win the minimum prize of $20,000 (If the men's winner was Canadian and ran the course in under 2:06, they would win $105,000). The national anthem was then sung and Councilor Doug Ford was introduced as the race ambassador to a chorus of boos. The gun was then fired and we were off.
The start of the run went pretty well and was quite scenic. We passed Queen's Park and the ROM in the first few kms. Running west along Bloor Street, crowd support was fairly strong and appreciated seeing it was about 5 degrees and 9 in the morning. Turning south on Bathurst, the crowd support waned but picked back up once we reached King Street and again at Exhibition Place. As I was approaching the waterfront, I felt good and was keeping up with the pace rabbit. Not bad. Along the way I saw a guy in a foam rubber beer bottle costume with a sign that read "You know you want me", which made me chuckle.
At the 12 km mark, we were handed energy gels, which is a high sugar syrup that serves as a quick digesting fuel. I took one, hoping to not "hit the wall" later on (hitting the wall is when you have exhausted your glycogen reserves and have to burn fat for energy, which is not an efficient method of fueling the body when running). However, at the 15 km mark I hit the dreaded Goo Punch, which is when a gel gives you a massive stomach cramp. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't. I started slowing down, but my pace rabbit was only a 100m or so ahead of me. Maybe I could recover and catch up.
Unfortunately, between the 17th and 18th km my foot pain started to act up again. It wasn't the same pain as before as this time my ankle started to flare up, which was more concerning than before. Slowly but surely, the pace rabbit starting fading in the distance. Disappointing, but I can't give up.
As I passed the half marathon mark, I could hear the spectators laughing and shouting "Cookie Monster!" and knew exactly what was happening. Before the race there was a guy in a giant Cookie Monster headgear, with a carrot on a stick attached to it, except instead of a carrot it was a box of cookies. This dude was fast! He was wearing a costume not conducive for running yet he was motoring past myself and the runners ahead of me. I wonder how fast he would be if he wasn't wearing the costume!
Even though the pain in my ankle persisted, I was finally able to shake the goo punch. I also had no need to take walk breaks like I did in Berlin. The crowds became very sparse between kms 22 and 27 as we entered Polson Pier and the industrial areas, but there were still some cools sights and sounds, like a large Chinese dragon costume with Chinese drums being played and a great steel drum band. Soon we reached the Beaches where the crowd support picked up again. A few kms later, I could see the Toronto skyline in the distance. Not much further to go!
At the 40km mark, I reached the St. Lawrence Market and the crowds from here on out were going to be their strongest making it incredibly encouraging. Once I turned north on Bay Street, the finish line was only 500m away. Time to dig deep and finish strong. Crowds were getting thicker and louder. Signs were telling me 400m to go, 300m, 200m, 100m. The finish line is now in sight. I finally cross with a final time of 3:15:52. Only a couple minutes off my personal best time and I'm pretty happy with that.
I found out soon after that at this marathon the Canadian women's record was set by Lanni Marchant and the men's course record was set by Deressa Chimsa of Ethiopia. For setting the course record, he took home $55,000. Also, and most amazingly, Canadian Ed Whitlock ran his marathon in 3:41 at the age of 82! (exclamation, not factorial)
I'm very glad that I participated in this marathon. It was a well organized event and the volunteers were helpful and top notch. Their efforts as well as the crowds were highly appreciated. Not sure whether or not this marathon or the Goodlife marathon is the better event, but it's safe to say that my perception of this run has changed for the better.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

"The mind is willing, but the flesh is spongy an bruised" - running the berlin marathon

Earlier today I had the opportunity to run the berlin marathon. For the last few days I haven't gotten much sleep and last night was no exception. As usual, woke up at around 330, falling in and out of consciousness until 5, excited for the day ahead. I headed out to the marathon at around 730, hoping to get near the front of my corral by 815. When I arrived at the Brandenburg gate, near the starting line, I made a wrong turn for the baggage check. For about 10 minutes I continued on my path, increasingly noticing none of my fellow runners were carrying bags. When I found out where bag check was, I had to run if I were to make the start of the race, not a good way to begin. I ended up having to run about 2 km and weaving through many confused and lost participants. After dropping off my bag, I had to make another dash of a over a half km to make the start. Luckily I made to the the corral just as the gun went off. Unfortunately I was at the back of the corral, meaning I would have to weave through hundreds of people to reach my desired pace, burning more energy than I would have liked.
The race was somewhat difficult in the beginning as there were some bottle necking points, but I could tell that this race was going to be crazy as thousands of spectators cheered us on in the first few kms. While it was only 7 or 8 degrees outside, the sun was out and shining. It was going to warm up and be a beautiful day. Even though I had a rough start to the day, I felt pretty good, finding open gaps and weaving in and out of traffic. I decided not to run with an ipod for this marathon and try to take in and appreciate my surroundings. good thing too as there were supposedly 80 bands performing and plenty of entertainment. At around the 10km mark I saw a guy dressed as Mario for super Mario bros and thought it was pretty funny.
When I reached the 20km mark, I was only a few minutes off my desired time and thought that was pretty good seeing how the day started. It's funny how your body and mind can quickly turn on you, as only 1.1 km later, at the half way point, my body decided to quit on me. It started with very sharp pain in my right foot. For the first 20 km, I was passing people, now those behind me were starting to catch up and passing me. At the 25 km mark, my stomach started to cramp and it seemed that the number of runners passing increased exponentially by the minute. I had been constantly running up to this point but now I had to pull over hoping this gut punch would go away. It didn't. Every km or so I had to pull over for an 20-30 second breather. Plus, my foot was getting worse.
At 30 km I had to wonder what kind of damage I was inflicting upon myself. I had never felt a pain like this and it started to work its way up my calves and knees. My strides were getting much shorter and my breaks were longer and more frequent. Should I stop and tap out?
I soon started thinking of a Winston Churchill quote at this point. "Never ever, ever, ever, ever give up" (I read it on an inspirational card once, I'm not a historian or anything like that). I also saw a shirt that read "pain in inevitable, suffering is optional". These motivational words were much needed. Even if I was going to have to walk long stretches I would finish.
The crowd support was absolutely amazing. For all 42.195 km, there were large groups making noise and encouraging you. Every walk break I took, the crowd was there calling out my name and pushing me to keep going. At the 40km I looked like I was going to die. My running pace consisted of me dragging my feet. The crowds were getting more dense and louder. "Only two more kilometres!" an older man told me. I was able to keep running but with about 1.2 km left I had to hunch over with my hands on my knees. It couldn't have been for more than 5 seconds before another runner tapped me on the shoulder and while passing me said "Let's go!". There have been marathons I've run before where at the 40km mark I had to be careful with how much i pushed myself because of the possibility of heat exhaustion or dehydration. This was not one of those times. I had not sweat that much during the day, only physical pain was holding me back. I can push myself for 1 more km. I picked up my pace and could see the Brandenburg gate. I did my best sprint attempt and crossed the finish line. The time on the clock was about 3:40, I ended up with a chip time of 3:37 and some odd seconds. My second worst time, I felt some disappointment but did not feel defeated. The experience was absolutely incredible and was without a doubt the greatest marathon I had experienced.
After crossing the finish line I grabbed some food and drink. I then saw that Wilson Kipsang had set the world record for the marathon distance with a time of 2:03:23. I believe this is the second time he won this race and set the world record. (Correction: this is Wilson Kipsang's first win at berlin and first WR title)

 When trying to sit down I resembled Frankenstein's monster. My knees did not want to cooperate and bend. Trying to leave the finishers area was crazy as there was an entire field of people laying on the grass resting and recovering as seen here
I decided this would be a great chance to go to the finish line area and be a spectator. With the size of this field there were still many runners to cross the finish line, and I never really got the chance In previous runs to cheer runners on. the support from the people of berlin definitely made me want to spend a couple hours doing this. 
The finishing area had an amazing atmosphere with a large beer garden, reasonably priced food and grandstands. The crowd definitely saw this event as a celebration. I think the reason why berliners embrace this event is because after the fall of the wall, it was decided that the marathon would pass through the Brandenburg gate, so this event is a symbol and reminder of the unification of Germany.  I tried to take some pictures of people crossing the Brandenburg gate, but there were too many people to get quality pictures and a good look at the runners
I moved closer to the finish line and got a much better view. To see the expression on everyone's faces was amazing and put a  smile on my face. People were smiling, laughing, crying and pumping up the crowd. They had pushed themselves to the limit and in moments were going to celebrate. A lot of runners were showing their national pride, wearing their flag as they crossed (the Danish especially).
I want to thank the city of Berlin for putting on such an amazing event. I hope to run another marathon in Germany and would love to run Berlin again. I definitely recommend this marathon to any runner. No matter your speed, you will never be alone and have the time of your life.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Berlin marathon

It's been a while since I last wrote about running and now seems like as good a time as any to start again. I apologize in advance for poor spelling and grammar as I am doing all my writing on a phone.
About three weeks ago I bought a ticket to Berlin so I could participate in the Berlin marathon. The berlin marathon is part of world marathon masters, making it one of the six biggest marathons in the world. This run will have 40,000 participants, with over 300 from Canada. It takes place on September 29 and there is also an inline skating marathon the day before as well. It is estimated that there are 1 million spectators for this marathon as well. Because of the increased popularity of running, demand for this marathon has increased greatly. In the last few years this marathon has gone from taking a few weeks to sell out to selling out in a few hours this year. I guess it was a good idea to make it out this year.
The first thing I did after getting settled was go to the marathon expo to pick up my racing bib. On my way over I was expecting the expo to be fairly large like it was in Tokyo, but this one was dwarfed it. The expo was held at an old airport that looks like its only used for private flights and filled up a couple of airplane hangars. Definitely there wouldn't have been an expo like this 25 years ago. Hundreds of vendors it seemed. Representation from just about every shoe company. Marathon representatives from other races advertising their runs and hoping to capture a piece of the Berlin frenzy. There was even a guy selling shake weights, though he wasn't selling too much it seemed. It was easy to get lost in this maze of people and merchandise. It probably took me 30 minutes just to get my bib because of the number of people and the size of the hangars. The pictures below may give you a sense of how many people were in front of me and the size of the hangars.

Oh, and on top of that, once I finally got my bib, there was another line to leave the bib area as we have to wear a wristband leading up to and during the marathon.

Even though the expo was exhausting in itself, it was still pretty cool to see how they operated it and to see the all the displays and exhibits. For example, at this marathon your bib is printed for you when you get to the front of the line as opposed to it sitting in a bin and having a volunteer look for it when you arrive.
I'm also very excited for this marathon. Usually with these larger races, I don't do very well as there is a large crowd density and it becomes very tiring trying to pass runners and groups. However, this summer I logged a lot of hours and kms which will help my endurance and prevent me from hitting the wall.
I've also decided to run this marathon without an iPod so I can fully appreciate my surroundings. While running without music can be boring at times, there are about 80 bands performing on Sunday, so one band every 500m to keep us entertained.
Hopefully tomorrow I can carb load in the morning and catch the inline skating marathon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Harry Rosen Spring Run Off

Tomorrow morning will be the Harry Rosen Spring Run Off, a 5 or 8 km run that goes through High Park, and what I believe to be the start of racing season. There will be about 2400 runners doing the 8km and 2000 runners doing the 5km. Being sponsored by Harry Rosen, there will be a few runners at the park dressed in clothes not conducive for running, like dressed in suits.

The purpose of this run is to raise awareness and funding to find a cure for prostate cancer, a cause that is important to me. About 4 years ago my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which has since spread throughout his body. When he told me that he had cancer I was struck with fear. However, his attitude has been a source of inspiration. He continues to fight his disease and keep a positive outlook. His diagnosis was also a reality check. At the time I wasn't care of myself physically, but soon learnt that I was also likely to develop the disease. Shortly after I started taking better care of myself with diet and exercise.

I remember 2 years ago, when I ran this race for the first time, Jack Layton was present, wishing those running good luck. Sadly Jack Layton passed away last year, but he brought so much awareness to the cause. Now, because of events like this run and Movember, awareness of prostate cancer continues to grow as does the money for research. I look forward to kicking off the running season with over 4000 other runners, some of whom may be fighting cancer, have survived cancer or who know somebody to has fought cancer or fighting cancer. Good luck to all those participating tomorrow!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Tokyo Marathon - The run itself

Ok, so where was I...I was at the start line of the Tokyo Marathon, had to pee but couldn't and saw many runners in humorous costumes. So, 9:10, the official race start time is quickly approaching. Around me, I hear the constant beeping of GPS watches being activated.  The weather was fairly cool that morning and we are all cramped like sardines. It's difficult to stretch and stay warm. I look around me and am I awe of the skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Ever since I participated at the Chicago Marathon in October, I have been fascinated by the shape and design of these enormous buildings. Although we have plenty of tall buildings in Toronto, it seems that a lot of them lack the character and style that I see in Tokyo, such as the Metropolitan Government Building. Despite a large, powerful speaker being about 10 feet from me, there is little music being played prior to the race as most races usually do. That's no problem because I have my trusty iPod with me. I want this marathon to be my best time ever so I have created an playlist that will motivate and push me, something with a steady beat and awesome guitar solos. I reach into my pocket and put my headphones into my ears. I press play. My iPod (it's a shuffle, so there is no display screen) tells me to load music into the player. WTF?!? There must be a mistake, so I turn it off an put it back into the "on" position. Again, my iPod tells me to load music. This is bullshit. I clearly remember last night that I created a playlist for this run. It was going to end with Born to Run being played while I crossed the finish line, it was going to be epic. I remember deleting the songs I had previously loaded from my iPod and loading...f-uhhhhhhhhhhh-ck. I must have forgotten to load my playlist prior to disconnecting the iPod. Great, it’s going to be 3+ hours of running without music.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Start Line

9:05 comes and the gun goes off for the wheelchair racers. Once the wheelchair marathoners leave, an announcement comes through the speakers and we hear about all the elite racers who are participating in this marathon. The Tokyo Marathon also serves as the qualifying race to determine which runners would be representing Japan at the London Olympics. Each time a Japanese runner was announced, there was considerable clapping. It's pretty exciting to be in an event with such elite athletes I think to myself. If you told me five years ago that I would be running in the Tokyo Marathon, one of the biggest runs in the world, I would have laughed. I think about how fortunate I am to be competing in such an event. The Tokyo Marathon is a lottery based system by the way, where entry is not guaranteed by registration, and you do have to be randomly selected to participate.

Shoes, Timing Chip and Bib

9:10 finally comes and the starting gun goes off. When I say gun, it was more like several cannons, blasting thousands of pieces of white pieces of confetti into the air shaped as hearts. It looked really cool. Being in starting corral B, we slowly approach the starting line as the runners ahead of us start to move. The runners behind us start pushing their way forward, and the amount of space between us is much less than before. After two minutes we finally pass the starting line, and a familiar bleeping sound is going off, this time because our timing chips attached to our shoes are being activated. Although I have passed the starting line, I am not yet running, nor are those around me because of the amount of people. It takes a good 15 seconds for me to even get a jog going. Hopefully in a couple of minutes the running lanes will widen and the group will spread out.

Me prior to the run
The spectator crowds are large here. Without any music to listen to, I can focus and hear the excitement and encouragement of the thousands of spectators that I pass. There are no dead spots what so ever, just thousands of people cheering. However, I still can't seem to get a decent pace going. I know I can run faster than this, but some of the people wearing large costumes are holding up the runner behind them because they are difficult to get around. Also, some runners are already slowing down significantly. As a sidenote, when you register for this marathon you were asked what time you expect to finish. I am thinking a lot of the runners ahead of me were overzealous with the times they provided, because there are quite a few runners in Corral A who I can clearly see will not finish a marathon in 4 hours, and they are creating a lot of traffic. It can create a dangerous environment whererunners who have to weave in and out of traffic can get injured or injure the runners around them.

I get to the 3 km point, and I can’t hold it any longer, I have to use the washroom. However, because of the large crowds I passed the sign directing me to the first set of toilets. Also, because of the large crowds, I can’t just relieve myself on the side of the road either. It takes about another km for me to reach the next washroom, but there is a line of about 8 runners ahead of me, so I have to wait. This adds a couple of minutes to my time. My first 5km takes me 26 minutes to finish, about 5 minutes more than I would like, so now I have to play catch up. At the 8km mark we start passing the Imperial Palace, the home of the Emperor of Japan. Since it was the home of the emperor almost 150 years ago, it is surrounded by a moat, stone walls and giant gates.

At around the 9 km mark, I notice that the road splits, and that the Marathoners are to go left and the 10km runners are to go right. I didn’t realize that the 10km runners started the race at the same time as the marathoners. This causes a problem as there are about 35,000 marathoners and only about 3,000 ten km runners. This causes bottleneck for the marathoners, and again, it becomes difficult to pass runners.

At around the 12 km mark we pass the Tokyo Tower, not my favourite part of Tokyo, but at this time I also see Haile Gebrselassie, former world record holder going the opposite direction, neck and neck with eventual winner Michael Kipyego. It was good to see Haile competing for a first place finish. Just a few months ago he was mulling retirement, and had a few DNFs in his past races due to knee issues. He would eventually finish 4th. I also saw some faces that I saw on TV the day before on a press conference, such Arata Fujiwara, who finished in second by 11 seconds and Japanese favourite Yuki Kawauchi, who appeared to be labouring and was behind the pack of elite runners. He would not end up finishing amongst the top 3 Japanese runners, and I assume failed to qualify for the Olympic team. While I do not enjoy runs that are back and forths because you see the same sites twice, it was really cool to see such great runners in person with so much on the line.

Tokyo Tower

By now the heard is starting to thin out and it’s pretty easy to keep a solid pace going. I’m passing the occasional runner. Through km 20-25 I feel really good and strong. I pass a few bakeries and the smells coming from them are so good (During this trip I rediscovered my love for Japanese pastries and sweets that I had as a child and had since outgrown). At around the 22 to 23 km mark I see the elite women passing in the other direction. I know that at the 28 km mark, there is a hairpin turn that has to be made in Asakusa, where the Senso-ji Temple and the Kaminarimon Gate are located, but the course from km 25 to 28 seems so dead. There are spectators still, but there is not much to see except for a cheerleading squad. It seems like an eternity to reach the turn, but I finally reach get there, knowing that the lack of interest from 25-28 is going to be revisited immediately.

Kaminarimon Gate: the 28 km landmark. Behind this gate are the tastiest  snacks money can buy
Up until the 31km mark I had been continuously running, taking no walking breaks but my body finally gives out. I need to take a walking break. I look at the other side of the road and I see the runners who are at the 25km mark. Recall how I said in my previous post how much it would suck to be placed at the back of the pack if you missed the cut-off time for entering your corral? Well from km 31 to 34 all I saw on the other side of the road was basically a conga line of marathoners, except not as fun as a conga line. I could not imagine being able to pass anyone amongst that throng of people. I did see the guy who was dressed as a whiskey bottle again. He was 10 feet behind me at the start of the run, now he was labouring, realizing the difficulty of running in such a costume.

With my legs refusing to co-operate, my split times were getting progressively worse. I had been running my 5km splits in about 22-23 minutes from kms 5-25. Kms 25-30 took about 24 minutes, but km 30-35 took 26 minutes and 35-40 took nearly 30 minutes. Never had I felt such pain in a run. I thought I was going to pass out at certain points. I was able to push through the last 2 kms and finished with a time of 3:28:01, not one of my best times, but I found that in these Gold level races, it is pretty difficult to get a great time because of the amount of participants.

At the finish line they had provided us with our medal, a towel and some food. I was disappointed that there was not much festivities after the run, and additional food/drinks for purchase.

Front of medal

Back of medal
For the next 10 minutes or so I was trying to walk off the pain in my legs and not barf. I had never thrown up after a race and am proud to say that is still the case, but this one was definitely close. While it was disappointing that I did not achieve the time I wanted, I was still very happy about participating in this run. The costumes, spectators and the friendliness of the volunteers was absolutely amazing. While there were some definite flaws with the organization, the course was flat and fun. The popularity of the marathon is very high in Japan, and can be seen in the spectators and media coverage. This was also a major event as it was the first Tokyo Marathon since the deadly earthquake and tsunami last year. There were many runners doing this run for friends and family who were affected by the disaster. Unity and friendships were major themes at this marathon, and I believe the spirit of the Japanese runners greatly displayed these values. I can’t wait to do another marathon in Japan sometime. Next time I may even bring a camera to take pictures during the race.

Resting my legs post-race
Me with a mascot for an AED manufacturing company

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tokyo Marathon - A review

As mentioned in previous posts, today I participated in the Tokyo Marathon, my 1st marathon in Asia and 8th overall. The atmosphere for today's run was unlike that I had ever experienced in any of my previous runs. The experience at yesterday's expo did not prepare my for what I was going to see today.

The day started off with me waking up at 5 to get an early breakfast at my hotel. There was only one other person in the cafe at the time by the name of Brian. He was also running the marathon that morning and we exchanged stories of different races we had run. He was from Taiwan and let me know about a couple of races to check out. After a brief chat, we went our separate ways to prepare for the run which was now about 3 hours away. I got into my gear and was out the door by 7:20. On my way to train that was going to take me to Shinjuku Station, where the starting line was, I passed a young fellow sitting in an alley barfing his guts out. Rough night I suppose, but since the trains stop running at around midnight here, I guess you have little option but to keep partying all night.

Once I got to Ikebukuro station, the station closest to my hotel I met another runner from Poland by the name of Boygan. We both noticed that there were very few runners on the subway that morning, as it is customary for public transportation to be full of runners on race morning. Once we got to Shinjuku station and got off the subway, we then realized that there were several lines that led to Shinjuku and human traffic greatly increased.  Walking to the starting line was absolute pandemonium as not only were we weaving through all the runners, but also through they're family members.

An idea of what we had to go through. The picture doesn't do it justice.
After dropping off my bag of clothes at my baggage truck, nature came calling. It was now about 8:25 and there were warnings on the PA system stating that if we weren't at our starting corral by 8:45, we would be denied entrance to our corral and would have to start the race from the very back of the crowd. Starting the race from the back of the crowd sucks so hard because that's where all the slower runners are, and when you have to pass some 20,000 runners that are slower than you, well, that's an uphill battle your never going to win. It was also at this time that nature came calling, so I decide to head to one of the port-o-johns. When I got there though the lines were absolutely insane, like 50 people deep. Fearing that I would miss the 8:45 cut off, I decided to hold it.

Once I got to my corral I noticed that this run would be unlike any run I had experienced before. There were so many runners in costumes that you could easily have thrown a halloween party after the run. In my corral alone, there was a guy wearing a 20 pound plastic box dressed as a bottle of whiskey, a guy dressed as the Tokyo tower, two Hello Kitty Ninjas, and characters from the cartoon Anpanman. Along the way I also saw some pokemon, Peter Pan, Super Saiyan Goku from Dragon Ball Z, Snow White, Santa Claus and a dude who I guess was late for work because he was in a full suit and carrying a briefcase. I also passed a guy at the 4km mark who was juggling. I wish I was carrying a camera with me to capture all the insanity.

A 40 year old man dressed like this.
As I type this, I realize it's getting late and I won't be able to complete my thoughts on the marathon at this time. In my next post I will write about how the run itself went.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Tokyo Marathon - 12 hours away

As I sit in my hotel room digesting my pasta dinner and typing this blog entry, I look at my last post and believe that it has been almost a month since I wrote something. My training and preparation for the Tokyo Marathon has consumed a large amount of my time in the last month, but I'm here now and that's all that matters. In 12 hours, I will be at the start line with approximately 35,000 other runners to run 42 kms. Weather conditions say its going to be fairly cold (below 10 C) and cloudy. 

The day before a marathon is when I usually attend the Expo to pick up my bib for the race. At the Expo, there are numerous vendors selling products and offering free samples. The Miami Marathon in 2011 was probably my favorite Expo. There were many products available at great prices, good crowd control and I walked out with tons of free shit. Today's Expo in two words can be described as fucking crazy. The Expo was held at the Tokyo Big Sight, an enormous convention center. You could definitely feel and hear the excitement upon entering. I estimate that there was at least 4000 people at the convention center when I was there. While I'm no expert at these matters, it was insanely crowded.

The Big Sight

Entering the Big Sight

Nike, New Balance, Adidas and Asics all had their own booths to start with, each having a podium with guest speakers. When you have a guest speaker, there comes a crowd and with that crowd comes cameras. This is Japan after all (I can say this as I am part Japanese). Figuring that I did not want to add the the already ridiculous crowd control issues, I limited the number of pictures I took. Below are some of the pics that I did take. I would like to elaborate more on the Expo experience, but I have to get to sleep.

The Asics Stage 
That's one way to sell shoes. I think this was taken from one of Al Bundy's daydreams.

This is not practical.

Nike still makes the coolest stuff around. This the the Japan Exclusive LunarGlide 3.

Left: Official Tokyo Marathon Entrant Shirt
Right: Nike Run TYO shirt