tokyo running days

A marathoner / newbie triathlete's training blog.

Thursday, March 16

A full report on Nagoya.

Dear friends,

I ran Nagoya International Women's Marathon on Sunday, 12 March, as my 3rd marathon in this season, and finished with totally unexpected 3:10:58 PB. Pleased of course, but at the same time I have a complicated feeling about this race. Here is the story.

In this kind of elite races, I never think of racing with top runners because they are running in the totally different world even we start at the same time. But this time, we, especially slow runners like me, turned out to be racing against Yoko Shibui, one of Japan's top woman marathoner who has 2nd fastest Japanese women's record, 2:19:41.

It all started with a piece of paper enclosed in the envelope I received 2 weeks before the race. An announcement was written, saying that they set a new cut-off point at 18.4km. There is no certain time for that, but if you arrive this point later than the top group, you have to finish the race right away.

What? What do they mean by "arrive later than the top group"? Everyone does!

In Nagoya course, there is a loop, and at one certain crossing, slow runners interflow top runners at 18.4km for us, 24.2km for top runners. This year the police verdicted this is "dagerous" and told the organizer not to let runners interflow.

As Shibui, who was supposed to lead the race, proclaimed that she was going to run 16:50/5km pace to shoot a new course record, it turned out that we slow runners had to run with at least 4:15/km pace until 18.4km. This is sub-three marathon pace, but we have no choice. If we didn't do it, we would be just cut off, that's it. Jump or die situation. I got so pissed off about this unreasonable treatment. We might be slow compared to Shibui, but we are still qualified runners. How can they treat us like that? Most of runners were forced to change the race strategy by this.

So, I decided to jump. My goal was 18.4km point, and after that, I don't care! Once I decided it, I tried to eliminate all the negative thoughts, such as "I have never run that long with that pace", or "My half marathon PB is 1:34:00, how can I run the first half of a marathon with much faster pace" and so.

My first 1km lap was 4:07, and after that I tried hard to keep 4:15/km pace. I was breathing so hard, as if I was running 5000m time trial. Most of the runners running around me were in the same situation, some dropped out, some hung on, I even started feeling some kind of camaraderie in this group. And eventually, we reached the point, without being cut off! After pumping my both fists in the air with a big smile, I slowed down right away. Yes, I only passed a cut-off point and the race hasn't been over yet.

From that point, I tried to keep 4:30 to 4:35/km pace, but I was obviously slowing down especially after 30km. My slowest lap was 5:13 at 39km. As I was only focusing on reaching the finish line, I didn't realise that I was running for a PB until Taizo-san was shouting at me "You can make PB! Go on!" at 40km point. I woke up, and tried hard again. When I enter the stadium and saw the clock, I found I might make sub 3:11. At final 100m stretch, I rallied my last bit of strength and just made 2 seconds under 3:11, 3:10:58.

I am happy that I survived. I was lucky that I made a PB that I didn't expect at all. It's all because of the time I saved at the 18.4km TT part. I still might have made a PB when I had run with my original, conservative race plan (start slow and keep the pace till the end stuff), but perhaps not as good time as this. From this crazy marathon, I learnt that being sensible is not the only way to run a marathon. I saw a new dimention of a marathon.

BTW, I made 4 PBs in this marathon. 20km(1:25:26), 1/2M(1:30:29), 30km(2:11:28) and full marathon. Not bad for the last race for the season.

Splits and laps every 5km
5km 20:59
10km 42:16 / 21:17
15km 1:03:43 / 21:27
20km 1:25:26 / 21:43
half 1:30:29
25km 1:48:31 / 23:05
30km 2:11:28 / 22:57
35km 2:35:26 / 23:58
40km 3:00:35 / 25:09
42.195km 3:10:58 / 10:23

208 started, 142 finished. I was 114th.

Huge thanks to Kuri, who cheered me at roadside at 5 different points! and Taizo-san, who informed me at 40km point so that I could make the last kick for a PB. Arigato. And Yoshiko-san, otsukare sama! And to Brett, thanks for your great advise "jump or die". It really worked.

Mika T.


At March 17, 2006, Blogger Scooter said...

Congratulations on your PB! In the USA, we have an expression, "Putting it out there." It means to take a risk by doing something that wisdom says not to. Sometimes the results can be wonderful (as in this case) and sometimes you crash and burn. You put it out there and were rewarded. Now, you must learn to use the greater strength you now know you have to run another PR using a sensible plan. Congratulations again on your brave race!

At March 17, 2006, Blogger plu said...

What a great PB under such testing conditions for the first 18km of the race.

Cheers Plu

At March 17, 2006, Blogger mika t. said...

Mr Scooter and Mr Plu, thank you so much for your comments. Wow, this is the first time for me to have comments through blog. Please come and visit sometime again.

At March 17, 2006, Blogger 2P said...

Mika that is a fantastic and inspiring story - congratulations on such a hard won PB.

I guess we never know what we are capable of until we try.

At March 17, 2006, Blogger Clairie said...

Wow that is an amazing story. Makes me wonder if all the conservative talk about marathons is true or just helps us stop 'hitting the wall' early on.

Thanks so much for your honesty and race report. I had goose pimples reading it - especially when you realised you could go for PB. Truly you did an amazing thing just by making the decision to stay in the race and fight to get to the line before the cutoff at the 18km mark.

Well done to you

oi oi oi

At March 17, 2006, Blogger Robert Song said...

What a great story. Enjoyed reading about your unusual marathon race.
As you say not very good treatment for us middle of th epack runners.

At March 17, 2006, Anonymous shimo said...


At March 18, 2006, Blogger R2B said...

Well done! That is a fantastic story and is a testament to your strength,strength that im sure you didn't know you had in you.

Cheers R2B

At March 18, 2006, Blogger Jay said...

Mika - Thanks for this wonderful account of Nagoya Marathon.

Still wondering what lessons to draw from your superb performance. Research says it is most efficient to run a steady pace throughout the whole race. On the other hand, my old coach told me that sometimes to have a breakthrough race you need to go out faster than you think is possible to sustain.
Also it seems maybe there is something to having very firm interim goals during a race. Also there is something to be said for running angry.
In any case you ran great.

At March 29, 2006, Blogger mika t. said...

Jay, anger was the main factor.


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