Tune in Tokyo
Asia 2012 Tour has almost come to a conclusion. I’m in Tokyo tonight and fly directly to Toronto tomorrow afternoon. All in all it was a good trip with many positive points and lots of learning. First off I’ll recap the last race, the Zhuhai half marathon.
I really didn’t know how I was going to feel going into this race. On one hand my workouts all went well, the 31km of the Fukuoka marathon felt great (but… I also ran fairly hard for 31km…) and my last race, Chiba Ekiden 10km, went well (28:58). On the other hand I had been living out of hotels for a month in countries where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t eat my normal foods. You could say I was out of my comfort zone. The positive part is that I feel after this trip all future travel to races should be relatively easy. I was also walking around a ton everyday because there was just so much new stuff to see, I absolutely love exploring different places and I was not in Kansas anymore. Travelling to new parts of the world was one of the reasons for this trip anyways.
After a few strides before the gun I knew my legs felt good, it was just one of those feelings. I wanted to run fast but given that it was already 22C (but feeling more like 30C with humidity) I knew it would be pretty tough. I figured I was going to try and ignore the weather, it’s not like this was a full marathon.
Off the gun I didn’t feel that the pace was too fast and found myself in the lead. Sure enough we went through the first km in 3:06, much slower than I thought these guys would run. I ended up leading quite a bit of the first 5km (15:22) because I didn’t come all the way out to China to run conservatively. I also knew that these guys would start surging and if the pace was more honest than the surges would be a little more controlled.
At 5km one of the Kenyans started to push the pace a little more aggressively, which meant I could ease into the pack. I looked around a few times once I got swallowed up in the pack and counted 11 other guys, all African. By 10km (30:24) I was starting to feel the heat and was looking forward to the bottle I had out on the course. Sure enough one of the other athletes picked up my bottle. I yelled “hey pink that’s my bottle” (he was wearing a pink singlet) with perhaps another word inserted there. I sprinted up to him and grabbed it out of his hands, showed him my name on the bottle and took my drink. I purposely skipped drinking from the previous stations knowing my bottle was coming up.
After 10km the surges became more frequent and faster. One km was around 2:50, which gapped me a little but I caught back up to the pack, which was now starting to dwindle. Another surge close to 14km put some distance on me and the leaders and also put the hurt in me. At 15km (45:28) I was sitting in 9th and was pretty sure I could catch 1 or 2 guys to get in the money if I kept a hard effort. I probably needed a top 5 to make money on the trip but 6-8 would be about the break even point. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about money during a race but once I lost the pack I had to motivate myself to keep pushing in the heat.
I was about to catch a Kenyan and right before I got to him he dropped out, probably figuring he was going to be on the wrong side of the top 8. A little later I caught an Ethiopian. I then started to set my sights on my roommate, Merkebu Ayele. Every minute or so I would look at my watch as he ran over a crosswalk and calculate the time gap once I reached the same point. When I started doing this the gap was 13 seconds and I was chipping away bit by bit. I ended up catching him right after 20km (1:01:08) and tried to bury him then and there. I thought I put enough distance on him but he came back at me with 300m to go. I responded right before he caught up to me but I couldn’t quite hold him off and fell back to seventh place.
I have mixed feelings about the race. I’m glad I went because I like competing against good competition and this was one of the deepest half marathons happening at this time of the year. Unfortunately it was unseasonably hot and therefor I was not able to get a time that matched my fitness. Right when I finished I was pretty down on myself because I got beat handily. That’s when I start asking myself why can’t I be tougher, there is no sense in sulking but I’ll use it for motivation. When I started to write this blog I looked up some of the stats of the guys. I figured if I got beat by guys who have run under 60 minutes then it would take the sting away. I’m happy to what I found.
Top three 1/2 marathon stats: Abdellah Falil has run 60:43. Limo Kiprop ran 59:55 this year. Ezekiel Chebii ran 59:05 this September. My roommate was convinced that under good conditions the leaders would have been under 60 minutes Sunday, whatever that is worth.
Here is something strange…when I was looking up the stats on some of these guys after the race I noticed that the ninth place finisher, Eliud Cheptei, (who runs a lot of races in China) is presently under a doping ban. The ban isn’t up until Feb 2013 and yet he continues to race?
Morocco, Kenya, Kenya, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Canada, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Kenya
A very interesting trip indeed. For those that are curious about how this all works out with finances here is the breakdown. All of my flights were covered by the races. When I was at a race the hotels/food was covered for 3-6 nights each time (I had 13 of the 28 nights covered by races). If there was a per-diem I made it last twice as long. I’m not even sure if we get prize money from Chiba, we have in the past. I figured I would have needed to place 5th in Zhuhai to cover all of my extra hotel nights and food costs. I finished 7th which means all my extra hotel nights will be covered but not quite all my food. And eating out twice a day adds up (I usually had oatmeal, cereal and fruit in the hotel room for breakfast).
5 flights. 7 airports. 1 boat. 3 trains. Many buses and many taxis. 6 border crossings. Too many hours of Angry Birds.
8 hotel rooms and 1 capsule
Four different types of currency