Easter Staycation

With the sun shining from a clear blue sky and with temperatures close to 20 degrees celcius, there is really no plasce like home to spend Easter, especially if you are not that in to skiing. To day I managed to drag junior away from Fortnite for a few hours, so that we could join his grandmother and her dog to Tangen beach, about 15 minutes of driving from Sandefjord city center. Tangen is a popular place for families during the summer months. It i small and cozy, with good bathroom facilities and (maybe the best of all) no outlets to cause money-naging.

But, even in the spring Tangen is a great place to go for a picnic or a barbeque. We did lunch the simple way and only brought hot dogs in a thermos and soda on ice. Perfect…

While you were sleeping…

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This morning (or rather last night..) I had to get up at 4 AM to drive someone to the airport, which is way too early even for me. After mission was accomplished I strugglee for a bit between the choices of either go back to bed or to go for a jog in the park. I am so giving my back an imaginary pat for choosing the latter option and it felt really good to be done with the jog-of-the day before 7 AM.

For the first couple of rounds of the 1.2 km course, it was completely dark and not at all that fun being in the park alone, with only a few ducks to keep me company. After a while, however, the sun started to appear, and so did other earlybirds, and the powerful sunrise made the rest of my run rather magical.

SPRING AT LAST!

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of pure happiness I get by seeing the final remains of snow rapidly melting away. Nothing beats waking up to sun and temperatures above the freezing level; not having to shovel snow or scraping the car windows for ice. Spring is FINALLY here, and I LOVE it!

But, let us not get totally crazy yet… The sun still has a job to do. It’s not like I am going to shed any of my three layers lf clothing quite yet, but despite the cold wind, today was a pretty good start. I even left my hat and gloves in the car when I went for my morning-jog, so how crazy am I?

  

The resurrection of a wogger

OK, so the plan after Tokyo Marathon was to just throw in the towel, call it a quits and just burn my running shoes and start fresh with another sport where I at least have a trace of talent. But, during the maaaany hours, soaking wet, in the rainy streets of Tokyo got me thinking…

I mean, wouldn’t it be nice for once being a bit mote prepared than a lousy 15 km before a marathon? That would be new, right? To have time for more longruns, not to be in incruciating pain for the last 30 Km, being dragged half unconcious away from the finishing line (clutching my medal, of course…). So, from nearly raising the white flag I have done a 360 and am now not only aiming for my 14th marathon, but I am also aiming for a personal best within the next 2 years.

Whether I’ll make it or not is still uncertain, but after reading about 70 year old  Gene Dykes  who rushed through a marathon in 2:54:23, I am at least not concerned about age being a risk factor. I should still have a few good years left before the decay engulfs me completely.

After finalizing my goal, I started with a couple of days with rest. To my defence, it was due to me having to paint an apartment and assemble junior’s gaming chair and desk (which is quite time consuming when you ate all thumbs). Tomorrow, however, I will start my journey towards a personal best, so wish me luck..

5 Marathons on my Bucket List

Alas, so the great Abbott World Marathon Majors-adventure has come to an end. Or, at least to a pause; the rumor is that they are actually expanding from 6 to 8 or 9 marathons within short. When decided, we of course will need to run these, so that we can maintain or status as Abbott 6/8/9 Star Finishers.

But while waiting for this, I have made a bucket list of the marathon I would really like to wog/run. Prior to Tokyo Marathon I had more or less decided to just complete there and then burn my running shoes in firm belief that I would never be a runner. Now, however, I am not that sure… Or, I am quite sure I will never be a runner, but maybe I should aspire for being the best wogger I can be? I have completed 13 marathons, but I have never really been prepared (meaning enough long runs before the race). When you are aiming for a 42,2 km, it isn’t sufficient with 30-45 minute sessions. I was, for not foreseeable reasons, not able to do any long runs prior to our travel to Tokyo, so I was only able to do a 15km. Since I lasted about 18 km, I feel that I have some improvement potential if I can only get some more long-runs.

To boost my motivation to become a better runner/wogger, I have created a bucket list of marathons I would like to participate in.

1. Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu Marathon is scheduled for December each year, which brings a temperature equal to a wonderful Norwegian summer. A bit too hot for some, maybe, but for a frozen wogger, is just perfect. Ever since I spent a few weeks on Honolulu 12 years ago, I have wanted to return, so why not kill 2 birds with one stone and do a marathon while I am there?

The advantage of Honolulu Marathon is that it is not that difficult to secure a start number, meaning the cost will mostly be just air fare and hotel. If you don’t want the hazzle of booking by yourself, you can book a complete package from a travel agent. The course is mostly flat, but with some rough places between 10 and 15 km and between 35 and 40 km.

2. Great Wall Marathon

The Great wall has an amazing and I have been quite fascinated with it since I was a kid. The Great Wall Marathon is considered a tought course and you will have to conquer over 5000 steps along the way! Fortunately you have an 8 hours time limit, but you need to have passed 34 km in 6 hours in order to be allowed to complete. Step practice anyone?

The race is in May each year and I have seen that e.g. Albatros Adventure Marathons sells complete travel packages that includes a start number.

3. Paris Marathon

I know nothing about Paris Marathon other than that it is in April each year and that the finishing line is on top of Champs Elysses . That is all the reasons I need in order to include this marathon on my bucket list (hey, we are talking about “The City of Love” here!). It should be fairly easy to secure a start number on your own, but you can also do it through a travel agent.

The course looks a bit scruffy and ends with a slow slope up Champs Elysses.

4. Praha Marathon

Prague is an amazing city I never grow tired of; fantastic architecture, a rich cultural life, delicious foods and cheap beer. I mean, what is not to like, so why not go “all in” and throw a marathon into the mix as well?

Prague Marathon is in May every year and the course takes you through both the old and new parts of the city, including crossing the Charles Bridge. The time limit is cosy 7 hours, so here you can really combine easy jog with sightseeing. I am not sure if any of the Norwegian travel agents are offering Prague Marathon, but it should be fairy easy to secure a start number on your own.

5. Medoc Marathon

So, last but not least, Medoc Marathon. This marathon is known for its runners’ costumes (this year’s theme is: Super Heros) and the fact that you run through vines and that all drinking stations supply wine. Official time limit is 6:30, but sometimes they extend this limit since many of the runners are starting to get wine happy.

The program is set and shuttles will bring you to and front the start/finisher area, so it should be OK to arrange everything on your own. Me, however, think I would like to prefer to book the trip through e.g. Springtime.

So, this was my bucket list. Do you guys have any suggestions that should be included in the list? If so, feel free to comment below..

Tokyo Marathon – 8 things you should know

It has already been a week sine I crawled over the finishing line in Tokyo Marathon and was awarded both the Tokyo Marathon finisher medal and the fabulous Six Star Finisher medal. A fantastic experience! In this post I have collected some valuable information worth knowing about if you consider running in the Tokyo Marathon.

1. Registering

The qualifying time for Tokyo Marathon is quite difficult to achieve, but no need to worry if you are not in that exclusive group, sine there are alternative means to secure a spot. One way is to enter the lottery, but with over 300.000 applicants (2018 numbers) the chances of winning a start place is quite slim. The results from the ballot are not published before September, meaning if you don’t succeed, chances of securing a spot are small.

One alternative to qualifying or succeed in the ballot is to buy a spot through a travel agent. Usually their program is quite professionally put together, but the disadvantage is that it is expensive.

What we did was to secure our spots through charity. The charity registering opened last year in early July, meaning a couple of months before we get the ballot results, and already a couple of days later, all the spots were taken. What you have to do is enter the homepage of Tokyo Marathon and enter as a charity runner (in 2019 they had 4000 charity spots), choose your charity, pay in the minimum donation of 100.000 JPY (approx. USD 800). It is important that you both enter as a charity runner and pay the specified JPY at once, or else your registration is invalid. If you have done it correctly, you will get a mail confirming your spot. Just to be safe, make sure you read ALL the information before entering as a charity runner.

2. Pre-Race Information

After entering as a charity runner in the beginning of July, we did not hear anything from Tokyo Marathon until the beginning of February, where we got the bib-number registration and the runner handbook. After that we received regular update mails up until race day. It is important that you read the runner handbook really thoroughly, since it contains information about what is allowed into the starting area, as well as an overview of cutoff-times.

3. Expo

We did struggle a bit with founding the expo, much due to us taking a taxi since it was raining heavily that day. The taxi driver, however, didn’t speak a word of English and managed to drop us off at the wrong place. Guess we would have been better off taking the metro instead. The expo was split between several big tents, which was not very practical in the rain. It was quick to register and get our bib number and then we were ready for some shopping. The main shopping stand for Asics were fortunately in a warm tent with a dry floor, but the rest of the stands were either in tents with watery floors or outside. In other words, not very tempting to shop, so I ended up just with a couple of T-shirts. One tip when it comes to buying clothes both at the expo or else in Japan, is to always try them on, since they are operating in Japanese sizes that are considerably smaller than ours. I ended up buying size XL instead of my regular M/L.

The opening times for the expo was:

4. Metro-card

Along with the bib-number we got a metro card, valid for 24 hours; a really nice touch. We chose to take the JR line (train) to the start line instead of the metro, so we saved our cards for them to be valid at another date instead.

5. Starting area

Then we have reached the race day. The starting area for 2019 was at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, and the nearest station was Shinjuku station. This is actually the worlds most buzziest station with over 3,5 millioner daily passengers and has 200+ exits. We were a bit concerned that we would get lost in there, but it turned out that it was nothing to worry about. From the moment we stepped out of the train, we were met by volunteers with signs showing us which way to go and they continued until we reached our gate (we were to enter through gate 3). At the gate we had to have our wristband scanned to verify identity and then our bags were manually checked for prohibited items. Luckily all this happened while we were still inside the station, so that we weren’t getting wet, at least not yet.

The first group of toilets were under roof and the lines were endless. But, it turned out that the lines were quickly executed and volunteers made sure the lines were in perfect order. One guy stood in the back of the line with a sign saying that the line started there. In the beginning of the line there were additional volunteers telling you when it was your turn and also which toilet to use. Unfortunately the toilets were of the squatting kind, so I managed with just that one visit to the bathroom.

Turning in my baggage went also OK. A smart detail was that our bib number was marked with which car to deliver your luggage to.

The Runner’s handbook contains a list of all the timings for the starting area. Make sure that you read and keep these limits or else you will not be allowed to start:

6. The Course

The course starts with about 5 km downhill before it flattens out and remain flat for the rest of the run. It takes the runners through both old and modern Tokyo and in multiple parts, you will see the quicker runners running in the opposite direction. A lot of interesting sights to view along the course, not that I would know since yours truly was more occupied with looking down in the ground and yelling at my legs to keep on going.

7. The Run

Then we are finally at the run itself. I started in the last corral (L), so it took about 30 minutes from gun time at 09:10 for me to cross the starting line. One major difference from other marathons is that Tokyo Marathon practices a course time limit of 7 hours from gun time and not from when you cross the starting area, meaning my real time limit was 06:30. They also have cutoff points approx. every 5 km and they are strongly enfored due to the need to open the roads for traffic again. To try to get as many runners to finish the race, the run had Finish Support-runners, dressed in golden colors and with gold balloons and if they ran passed you better speed up, because if your are behind them at the cutoff checkpoint, then you are out of the race. A lot of runners didn’t know about the mid-course cutoff places and some acted with rage when forced to leave the run (example). The link shows an American that doesn’t exactly take the defeat in an honorable way, but choose to yell at the volunteers and the whole thing is really embarrasing.

As mentioned, the gun time is at 09:10 and below you can view the cutoff times, which are to be found in the Runner’s handbook:

I have never taken a toilet break during my 13 completed marathons, much due to me running so slow that I have no time to spare. I did, however, hear about runners spending 10-15 minutes in line for the toilets along the course, so the best advice is to try to keep it in as long as possible.

From about 5 km you will find drinking station about every 3 km. All of these have water and every second has sports drink. At the various stations also gel, bananas, and other types of energy are offered. A complete list of what you will get at the different stations can be found in the Runner’s handbook.

The Japanese are from childhood trained in not throwing garbage but to bring it home with them and in Tokyo the streets are so clean you can practically eat off them. At each drinking station there were lots of boxes for discarding your drinking cups. In addition you had volunteers every 100m or so, holding up bags for us to discard our garbage. Even with these precautions, a disappointed number of runners managed to just throw their cups and gels on the street. I mean, I do understand the elite group not doing this, but it should be that hard for the rest of the runners.

8. Finishing Area

The finishing area was just as organized as the rest of the marathon and when we finally crossed the finishing line, we were promptly met by a water station and a goodie bag station, a station for aluminum blankets, one for the finisher medal and also a separate station for those receiving the Six Star Finisher medal (meaning you have completed marathons in Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin, London and Tokyo). A huge moment!

Further on we were led to our baggage and then to a separate building for charity runners where we could change our clothes and warm ourselves.

I also heard rumors that those having registered at the expo that they were not to bring any baggage to the starting line, got a poncho and a fleece jacket. I did not, however, see any of those, since I had more than enough looking out for my self.

These are some of the reflections I made before, during and after the run and I hope they can be of help to others who are to participate in Tokyo Marathon, an adventure I would really recommend. 🙂