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  • Three Weeks and Counting

    Posted on February 9th, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    Monday Feb 4th, the race packet for Tokyo Marathon arrived via postal mail, and I had very mixed feeling while holding it. I was standing in the post office mail box lobby, and feeling a little  bittersweet about this white envelope.  It certainly made the race more real now, but at the same time there was no major excitement like last year. I knew very well what’s   causing the lack of enthusiasm exactly, but I won’t go back and forth with self-debate and I am determined to stick to the plan and run the race. Backing out and giving up has never been my style, and it’s not going to be this time for sure.

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    Since I will be going to Tokyo alone, I should change the hotel reservation now to save money. Unfortunately there is no single room available and I am now stuck with a room for two, and I don’t know any girl that is going to run this race. All the hotels in Tokyo are sold out on the race weekend, and I am sure there are runners will love to stay at this great location that’s only minutes away from the Start, however I just don’t know any of them. Oh well, just need to bite the bullet I guess; what else can  I do?

    Tue Feb 5th, I ran with Michael this morning, whom I haven’t run together for a very long time already since we simply couldn’t sync our schedules. He is almost volunteering every weekends at races, and he is not a morning person which I have learned from last winter. Now his evenings are all tied-up and finally recognizes the value of this old running buddy (me) who wakes up crazy early to run :-p We started a little before 6:00am and he was complaining it’s too cold. But it’s 40 something degree, how is that cold,  Michael?? I was running at 34 – 37 degree couple weeks ago! It’s nice to run with my old buddy, and it reminded me again how great to have him as a reliable partner! It’s almost like the year of 2011 again, gosh.. where did time go?

    Lately I have been thinking about friendship that running has brought upon, especially I am getting all this moral support, positive vibe and advice from friends old and new, far and near. As much as I love running solo, nevertheless training for a marathon  is a long and sometimes lonely process. Especially this time it has been one very bumpy journey, emotionally and mentally, and that stress has some impact on my training and weakened my drive.  I really can use some encouragement from others, but I do not want to talk about how depressed I feel among closed running friends for a very simple reason — I don’t want anyone to criticize, pity or judge why I ended up doing this all alone without support. People can have opinion about anything, but not on the person that I care deeply. I reached out and verbalized about my frustration digitally, on my blog , and then amazing things happened!

    First, Davidson is going to  do a tapper run with me in Tokyo, and we will be doing that near the Imperial Palace . Yeh~ That’s awesome buddy support , and very unexpected!!  I envy that Google has an office in that awesome landmark  Mori Tower in  Roppongi Hills, so he can go into office outside of Mt. View 🙂 Then Dustin introduced his friend Natsuko to me, who is a beer expert and lives in Tokyo. I got in touch with Natsuko and we would meet up in Tokyo for my personal craft beers tour, totally exciting isn’t it? Ryan, Christophe,  Jenny and some followers from my blog and Twitter all are telling me to be strong and stick to my plan in this final three weeks, and their words are like pillars lifting and supporting me! I can’t thank you all enough. Keeping an active blog has allowed me to express, share, engage and dialog with runners all over the places, and I feel particular great occasionally  I can answer to their questions about training or destination races. It’s a nice feeling to be resourceful in runners’ world.

    Imperial Palace

    Wednesday night I couldn’t sleep again and was thinking “what was I doing last year at this time?” With my blog, Facebook timeline, messages and texts..etc, I could look back and see how excited I was last January. I was talking about my long runs mileage and pace, places I planned to visit in Japan, new Japanese phrases I had learned, finding Totoro and counting days to the race day…etc.   Max offered me all the mental supports that I needed during my training months, and when I got too nervous about approaching taper he kept telling me that I would be fine, I would do well, and I would have fun. And most importantly he would be there for me!!Twist of fate or act of  jester,  I am not having the same degree of excitement and anticipation this time and actually am going through pretty tough disappointments here.  So this has turned into a test to me!

    In course of life, we all have tests that we need to pass and I can’t be excluded either. There were times that I forced myself to accept and overcome very tough situations, therefore I convinced  myself  that  “if you can drive on I-10 in bumper to bumper traffics and howled with pain, then there is nothing you cannot overcome now.” Besides, I love running and racing in Tokyo; it has been a super well organized race and an awesome and unforgettable experience for me. I am lucky that I got into this race through lottery system again, and if anyone can make this trip geeky and fun that would be me.  I have confessed to Max that Tokyo Marathon will never be the same without him, but I can create another unique memory even though there will be no one waiting for me at the finisher line.

    Sat Feb 9th, today is my last 20ml long run, and I did it at my home base – Los Gatos Creek Trail. Today Venkat came to run with me for the entire 20ml, at my snail pace. It’s cold to begin with, about the same temperature as Tokyo now. I dressed in the exact outfit I would do for Tokyo Marathon. A lime green long sleeve dry weave T as  first layer, and a teal  short sleeve tech-T over it. I didn’t need the long sleeve first layer, but it’s a birthday present from Venkat, so I want to bring the support and friendship with me on the race day. And that teal color tech-T is from the New Year’s 6HR race which I did as a birthday run, and I placed 3rd for the very first time. That shirt has very special sentimental value to me, and I believe it will bring me good luck. Weather got warm fast and I was over-dressed a bit, and I even got sun burned. Yes, this is winter in California.

    The first mile  I ran at 10:50 pace as warm up run, then brought the pace to around 10 for the next two miles, and after that  I was running  between 9:30 to 10 from mile 4 to 11. Then we made a right turn toward the Lexington Reservoir and it became hilly and pace got messy. At the big hill I told Venkat to go ahead without waiting for me, so he charged up those hill with ease and grace. I took a two minutes break at John’s bench which was covered with frost this morning, and I offered Venkat one of my GU Roctane. I also explained to him who John was and why I always came here before each big race. Coming back we did under 10 and pushed to 9:30 at the last mile. 20.10 mile checked, now officially taper.

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    Something I don’t understand and will need to learn from other runners. My training has not gone well, even though I had a very solid  base from CIM‘s hard works, I thought adding a marathon two months afterward should be easy. But in fact, I am actually slower than Nov and Dec, and my 20ml pace today was even slower than last year around the same time. So why am I getting worse while I kept my training as planned? I can understand emotional stress could be a factor, but who doesn’t have life, work, relationships stress…? I wonder how runners who do multiple marathons an year do it??? How do you keep your training fresh,  productive and effective???

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