A few years back, me and my boyfriend was to participate in the Amsterdam Marathon. As usual I was the one making the travel arrangements, and as usual I searched for a hotel in close proximity of the start/finish area. The choice fell on CitizenM, which both had a great location marathon wise and was affordable.
When we first entered the hotel, we were impressed with the cozy atmosphere in the reseption area. It was buzzling with life and was obviously a popular hangout. It was first when we entered our room that we discovered a snag. In the middle of the floor was the toilet, with just the option of pulling a glass door around you when you were to do your business. The shower had the same arrangement, and it didn’t help that you had the option of changing the colourof the light. Call me old fashioned, but I was not at all comfortable with this setup. So, my boyfriend ended up using the toilet in the reseption and I used the one in the hotel room…
Finally Abbott WMM have released the photos they took right after we crossed the finish line and were handed our Six Star Finisher Medal. I was at that point so exhausted I didn’t even bother to ask the photographer to take the shot from a higher angle to avoid the double chin that inevitably occurs when taking a photo from a low angle. But, you know what? I don’t care, so here is my official pic, major double chin and all…
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..
Friday was the departure date from Japan and I left Tokyo with somehow ambivalent feelings. On the one side, there was still so much to see (and eat), but on the other (and definetely the most dominant one) side, I was longing to see Christer (junior) again, after 9 days of Skyping.
I hour train ride, almost 12 hour first leg flight, sprinting through the airport in Copenhagen, another 1 hour flight and a short taxi ride later, we were finally home. Our luggage, however, didn’t sprint as well in Copenhagen, so they never made it to Sandefjord.
It was so good to see Christer again and he actually took it well when I told him that the Japanese candy I had bought for him was in my suitcase. Something that was definetely not in my suitcase, but where lying safely in my hand luggage, were my 2 new medals and my first order of business (even before taking a shower after 20 hours of travelling) was to hang them in their rightfulky place on the Wall of Fame. There is something so right about this picture, right?
As earlier mentioned, the trip home was a bit bumpy and I did notice (while sprinting through the airport) that my feet were not fully pn my side. Granted I felt a bit flubby from before after binging on delicacies of the fabulous Japanese cuisine for the last 9 days, but this was somewhat unexpected. Check out the size on my legs after the long flight (from last night and from earlier this morning)!! Have you seen worse?
All in all it was OK to be back at home, but what I don’t appreciate is the weather goods already messing with me and in the form of MORE SNOW!!! Now thatwe were finally gotten rid og the old one (sigh…).
After a terrible night with hardly any sleep, I woke up at race day at 5 AM, not exactly in top shape for 42.2 km. One look at the rain ouside, and I was tempted to crawl back into bed and forget about the whole thing. But, we are after all doing this volunteerly, we have worked for it for several years an we have actually paid a small fortune to come here, so I managed to give myself a kick in the rear and get ready for breakfast.
When it came to transportation to the starting area, it was already timed perfectly by our group’s Tokyo-Transportation-system-whisperer, so we others really only had to meet up in the hotel lobby, walk to the next building (Tokyo Station), walk for a few more minutes without concerning ourselves with which direction to take and volià, there was our train and after a 15 min train ride we reached our destination.
Yhe bib-number control and baggage checked were done real quickly (have I mentioned how efficient the Japanese are?), so we had over an hour to kill before the run started. I choose to spend that time in a stair case, after a trip to one of the many outdoor toilets, which was quite an experience indeed. The most organized line ever, with a guy standing in the end of the line holding a sign saying the line starts here. There were also multiple persons actually telling which toilet to go to when it was our turn. Perfect system and no cutting in line..
Even if the lines seemed endless, I didn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn. On drawbavk, however, was the fact that these were squatting toilets and small, which made this. 1.78m, 40+ year old with bad knees struggle so much that I almost fell over at one point. I did make it though, but a repeat visit was out of the question, so I made myself hold it in until the race was over and more comfortable facilities could be located.
One our before my starting tine, I went to my starting block to get in an as good as possible position. Tokyo Marathon practices gun-shot timing when i comes to cutoff times, and they are strict on enforcing those times. My starting block not crossing the starting line before 30 minutes after the gun-shot, made it a real threat that I might struggle with some of the earliest cutoff times, which I incidentely also ended up doing. It did not help either that I wad, due to the heavy rain, both cold and soaking wet, so it wasn’t the most amusing hours of my life that marathon.
I must admit that the race itself was a struggle from Start to Finish and I wad really hurting from all the longruns I never took prior to it. But, I did manage to crawl over the finishing line in the end and was handed both the regular Tokyo Marathon medal and the big Six Star Finisher’s medal, the proof that I have made it through all the major marathons in the world (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo), something approx. 4000 have done before us, but only 36 Norwegians.
Something very uplifting during the race and which really made my day, was of course our anazing cheerleader, running through town to cheer for us at three different locations. ❤️
So to sum up: rain and windy, soaking wet, painful race, but two more medals in the bag. Now it’s time for celebrations.
We arrived Tokyo a rainy and windy Thursday afternoon, dead beat after only a couple of hours sleep on the plane. Since we expected to slide into a coma the minute we reached our hotel room, we decided to go directly to the expo to pick up our bib number.
The expo was about a 30 minutes drive away, so we had the reseption call us two taxies. Neither of the drivers knew any English but we thought we were safe since we had written down both the address and the name of the place. Turned out we were not. The taxis took us to two different places and fir our part we had to search for the place for a while before we found it, and on the way we even fell into a history garage, with a display of vintage cars.
When we finally reached the expo, we managed to meet up with the rest of the group, who had to climb a hedge to get there.
When it comes to the expo… On the positive side, going there the first day was a strike of luck, since there were hardly anyone there and collecting the bib number and free T-shirts did not take any time at all. The volunteers were also so enthusiastic, friendly and helpful through the whole process.
So to the sub-par parts, where the poor weather must take its fair share of the blame. The expo consisted of multiple tents about 20 meter apart and it wasn’t that much fun running back and forth between them. In addition there were deep puddles of water on the ground inside the tents due to the heavy rain, so we where soaking wet by the time we reached the exit. It wasn’ exactly tempting to shop anything in these conditions, but luckily the main shopping stand was both dry and warm, so I was able to purchase a couple of running T-shirts (in size XL I might add, due to the bloody small Japanese sizes).
Since all four runners in our group are also eligable for the big, fat Six Star Finisher medal we had hoped to buy som Abbott merch on the expo (they had a huge stand in Chicago), but bo such luck. We’ll have to wait until the online store opens. But, it was great to see the Wall of Fame with the name of all about 4000 before us who have achieved this goal (running marathons in Berlin, Boston, New York, Chicago, London and Tokyo that is..), where only 36 are from Norway and only 14 are women (hey, when you suck too much to compete on time, you’ll have to find something else to compete in….)
It was so relieving being done with the bib collecting and on our way back to the hotel we got a crash course in the metro system of Tokyo. I wouldn’t say we nailed it, but at least we got home without too much hassle.
Fast forward to Saturday and the day before the race. No turning back now, so I am aiming for a good nights sleep and hope for the best tomorrow.
Sometimes life throw you a curve ball that takes you totally by surprise and forces you to re-evaluate all plans…. 1 week ago, with only 1 month to go before Tokyo Marathon, my biggest concern was whether I will be able to complete at all and get my big, fat six-star-finisher medal. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly Tokyo seemed inconsequential. After 10 days back and forth to the hospital for MRI, CT, colonoscopy and you name it, we finally got the good news yesterday that the tumor seems operable and that the cancer seems not to have spread to any other organs. Safe to say we cried of relief of that message.
So, given the good news, my trip to Tokyo is back on. But, of course, having used all my energy on worrying, my immune system was quite beat, so no I am out cold with fever, sore throat and an aching body… In other words, I think it will take a few more days before I am wearing my jogging shoes again.
Even being quite unprepared (but then again, what else is new?), I am starting to look forward to my trip to Tokyo. My knowledge of the city is quite below par, and what springs first to mind is sumo wrestling, sake, supporters who actually pick up their own litter after world cup football games (even when loosing big), and of course the a bit too close proximity to a sometimes trigger-happy Kim Jong Un. After reading “The Runner Handbook” that arrived last week, I must also found some of the warnings to be quite interesting and new: First was a list of what was prohibited to bring to the starting area. I mean bottles and cans, unless for commercial unopened container for less than 500ml are prohibited. A bit strange, but OK. Then to the a bit more bizarre: it is not allowed to bring advertising, boom boxes, animals (!) and plants…. But, what really got me freaked was the necessity of actually having to specify the prohibition of bringing pepper spray, knives, poison, fire works and explosives!
A couple of other warnings in the handbook are also new to me in marathon settings.
» If the Japanese Government’s nationwide warning system J-Alert sends an alarm related to ballistic missile launches, follow the instructions.»
»If an upper 5 or greater earthquake strikes Tokyo, the race will be discontinued immediately»
Not very comforting, I must admit, but hopefully it will be OK. At least I feel my lack of preparation is not my biggest concern at the moment…