Monday, February 12, 2018

Nagoya Women's Marathon training: Running Circles around the Emperor

I ran circles around the Emperor.

Not literally of course. Because I would be arrested and thrown into a Japanese prison where I would probably treated quite well. Anyway, back to the story at point. What I meant was, I finally dragged my lazy ass out of bed and took to the well-known running route of the Imperial Palace right in the middle of Tokyo.

A PB I think
The Tokyo Imperial Palace was iconic, being the place of residence for the Emperor and the heart of Tokyo itself. But to runners, the landmark was something else entirely. The finishing line of the one of the World Major Marathon series - the Tokyo Marathon. It was also a popular running circuit for runners as it was one of the few major parks with a traffic-light less route ie not having to stop every 500 meters for a traffic light or people to cross. Uninterrupted, it was a 5km route of flat road with 230 meter ascent. In other words, it was just the place I needed to get some training in for the Nagoya Women's Marathon next month.

Sunrise at 7am
I had accidentally ran an 15km from Ueno Park to Sumida river two days before. Accidentally because I hadn't planned for it and got carried away. 15km because I ended stopping a lot at traffic lights between the two locations and that had infuriated me to no end.

Sumida river
So I decided to give the Imperial Palace a try and took the Chiyoda subway to one of the three stations in front of the park. I ditched my jacket and bag in one of the lockers between Otemachi and Nijubashi stations and exited the subway to find myself a short walk from the park.

Y300 lockers near D3 and D2 exit 
A few stretches and I took off running. It felt good. After two weeks of dangerous running on snow and ice for fear of slipping and falling and one week off to nurse several foot injuries, it felt great to be on dry solid pavement. The route was relaxing and with the city on one side and the park and moat on the other side, it was an interesting scenic run.

Downhill route
The urge to go fast was tempting especially when every kilometer, a Japanese would blitz past me. Boy, they are fast. The only time I overtook someone was if they were walking. The women runners were just so light on their feet as they bounded past me like gazelle while I cruised on at a sloth pace of 7:15 pace.

Views around the park
In the first lap, I felt my small toe acting up from when a horse had stepped on it followed by a tight pull in the ligament behind my right knee. I held my pace and shook it out in the second lap. I took pictures along the way and remembering what my trainer said about emptying out the tanks in the last kilometers, I picked up speed in the last three kilometers and hit a 6:17 - 6:35 pace. I haven't been able to do that speed in a long time and wondered if my work on the ranch and training in snow and ice had helped. Or it was just plain glee to run uninterrupted.

Running through the park entrance
After my run, I realised I had ended near the finishing line of the Tokyo Marathon and a short walk away was the Tokyo Station building front. Despite finishing the marathon last year, I never saw the building simply because who looks behind when the finish line was right in front?

Tokyo Station 
As my body started to cool down, I scurried on back to my belongings and headed on back to my hostel. Now, I am wondering if my mental strength could take six laps around the Imperial Palace for my 30km run.

Probably not.

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