Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tokyo Marathon, Take 2

“Never tell me the odds!”
--Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back

The Tokyo Marathon is an incredibly popular event. This year, 294,469 people applied to run the full marathon. 32,000 were accepted. And I was one of them!

This will be my second time to enter the marathon. The first time was in 2007, at the first Tokyo marathon. I had signed up for it in the summer of 2006, when I was doing relatively well, and running relatively often. But as the winter of 2006 came, I gradually fell into the first of my three major bouts of depression. Among other things, this pretty much stopped any exercising.

By the time the marathon came around in March 2007, I was very out of shape, and still very depressed. But I couldn’t bear to give up. So I went ahead and ran the race anyway. The first ten kilometers were okay. The next ten were increasingly difficult and painful. And the last twenty were hell. Actually, I walked the second half of the race, and took six and a half hours to finish. Even walking was incredibly painful. But I ran the last few hundred meters to the finish line. I was in agony for weeks afterwards, but I finished it.

I had no interest in ever doing a marathon again. But this year I started running again, and gradually I have been getting fitter. I am still out of shape, but I am gradually getting better. This week I ran 15 kilometers for the first time since that day back in March 2007. Slowly but surely, my body is getting in shape. It is not all improvement – yesterday I went for a run and felt I had to stop after 4 kilometers. I still have a lot to learn about fitness, about my body and how to treat it well. But I’m getting there.

I have no intentions of repeating the self-imposed death march that was the 2007 marathon. I am running two or three times a week, and gradually extending my distances. I am trying to eat well and will also be doing a number of shorter races in the next few months to build up my stamina.

I completed the 2007 marathon, but I still feel I was defeated by it. In 2010 I want to make a success of the race. It will be hard, it will be painful. But I want to be able to run it at my pace, and run the whole way, not have to drag myself across the finish line. I’d like to finish it in 5 hours. And I’d like to finish it with a smile on my face!


  1. You once called me "a man of taste and discernment" for quoting Gaiman and Pratchett, and now I'm returning the compliment to you for quoting Star Wars so cleverly. If I were ever to run a marathon, I sure as hell wouldn't want to know the odds, either! You seem bound and determined to do this, and I'm sure you'll do awesomely. Let us know how your progress goes. Hell, you might even inspire a lazy bum like me to start exercising.

  2. Hi there! I found your blog through Christine's. I've heard about the Tokyo Marathon, but I never knew it was that popular. I hear exercise is very good for you, especially when you're depressed. I haven't been well enough to do any exercise for a long time, but I would like to once I get healthier. I'm glad that I could find your blog, and I will check it out regularly. I look forward to reading your future posts!

  3. I know that "runner's high" can kick off some pretty good endorphins and so I'm really happy that you're "easing the cure" of depression. I'm really proud of you D.R. that you're taking on the challenge and know that I'll be your running companion here on your blog right beside you urging you on. "The Force is Strong in this One" ;)

  4. I don't know how you runners do it. I used to do five mile runs daily several years ago, but the boredom eventually did me in, I was waiting for the runners high but it never happened. Running a full marathon is definitely an inspiring thing though. Think you can do the whole thing without walking?

    My father used to do a bunch of marathons back in the 80's. There are a bunch of old trophies in the garage, victories for age brackets and such. His tip, always gorge yourself on pasta the night before to stock up on the carbs.

  5. Hello all,
    It is a cold rainy night in Tokyo, and I can hear the rain bouncing off the roof. I have food and shelter. I have a roof over my head for the rain to bounce off. Life is always a challenge, but for once it is one I am happy to face. As usual, thanks for swinging by and commenting!

    CID - Thanks for returning the compliment! When I thought about the marathon numbers, that quote of Han's just popped into my head right away. And I recommend exercise - even just walking regularly is a lot better than nothing.

    Takashi - Thanks for coming by! I am glad that your blog is going well, and all of us are capable of some type of exercise - even if it is just walking around our neighborhood a little each day. Getting out and using our bodies really helps us mentally.

    Wendy - Last night I went out late and did a 5 or 6 kilometer run. When I finished running, I was feeling pretty good. I looked up into the sky, saw the full moon through the clouds, the empty Tokyo streets, and heard the sounds of Judas Priest raging in my ears from my iPod. That was a nice moment.

    Ticket Stub - I'm not sure if I've experienced runners high, but I know I have felt very good after running sometimes. It doesn't always happen, but when it does it is a great feeling.

    As for how we do it, I put it down to having a high tolerance for tedious activities and a large amount of masochism...