Just under 2 years ago, I set myself a challenge of completing all the 6 major marathons; London, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin, Boston and New York, in a 3 year period. This was just after completing Belfast marathon in a time that gave me the good for age qualifying time for London, which at the time was sub 3:05.
Tokyo marked the halfway point of this challenge and journey I had set myself. Following my PB in Chicago, October 2018, of 2:58:23 the grand plan for the next 12 months was to shoot at a PB in Berlin in September 2019 using Tokyo and the training for this as an opportunity to build my endurance and reduce the intensity of training a little and enjoy the run when in Japan.
The group from sports tours international set off to Tokyo on the last Wednesday of February in order to eventually arrive in a cold and very wet Tokyo on the Thursday. After a fairly miserable visit to the Expo, we had our numbers and race day instructions and could spend the next couple of days soaking in the atmosphere of Japan and Tokyo, which by the way I would highly recommend if anybody ever has the opportunity to go. A great city, country and the people are so friendly and vibrant.
Sunday arrives and the much anticipated race awaits, I wake up early and draw back the curtains to see a wet and grey day outside, only for this to get wetter and colder over the next couple of hours. As with most majors you have to be in the pen very early and we were standing there in the wet and cold for a good 45-60 minutes, trying to keep warm and as dry as possible. Rapidly rethinking race plans and altering my expectations as my body temperature continued to drop.
The race starts my race expectations and plans continue to be revised as I go through the first mile and then 5km 60-90 seconds behind pace due to the crowds and winding in the first few miles. Luckily I had met a lad before the race in the sports tours group who was aiming at a similar time, so we were able to keep each other calm and plot our way through the race.
We planned to get the time back over the next 10km and managed to do this in only 5km, having passed the 3-hour pacers at 11-12km we then decided to sit in and run fairly easy until halfway.
The rain continued, but the support of the Japanese was outstanding. We went through halfway almost bang on pace in 1:27:32 and confidence was building. Only for me to start feeling nauseas a couple of miles later, luckily this settled after taking my gel and some water around mile 17 and I was then able to push on.
So into the final 7-8km, I was feeling strong myself and my running buddy decided to run our own races from this point on. I felt I could push on, so I did and felt great passing hundreds of people who had overcooked the early parts of their races. I eventually managed to cross the finish line in a net time of 2:54:27, a PB of nearly 4 minutes and my first ever marathon negative split.
Absolutely delighted with my race and my confidence is building for my preparation going into Berlin later in the year. This was a great race, course and city. Highly recommended if you can ever afford to go or fancy trying to complete the 6 majors like me.