Japan was just a little too hot to handle....
Hi everybody, I’ve made it back to the UK after my Japanese adventure. Apologies for not being able to send my blog from across the world; the wifi in our hotel was pretty hit and miss and when I did manage to access a computer it was set in Japanese so I didn’t have a hope in hell! Lots of tales to tell from Japan so my blog this week will be a two part special. I said back in August that my quest to make the Olympic Marathon team would inevitably be a rollercoaster ride and I wasn’t far wrong. Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan for me at last weekend’s Yokohama Marathon. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that the marathon can be a cruel mistress.
You spend months training hard and racking up the miles and then if you get ill, injured or the weather conspires against you then that’s it, there’s rarely a second chance. Everything about the event is brutal, but in a strange kind of way that’s what makes it appealing. When things go well you get a buzz that can last for days or even weeks, but when things don’t go to plan you’re left frustrated and disappointed. The bigger the lows, the bigger the highs I guess. Chris and I flew from London to Tokyo five days before the race, giving us enough time to adjust to the nine hour time difference. The race organisers did a fantastic job of looking after us from start to finish. We were even assigned our own personal interpreter, a lovely lady called Izumi.
She came in pretty handy when I had to do an interview with the Japanese media that’s for sure! The race hotel was in a great location, just 200m from the start and I could see the finish line from my bedroom window. Everything was set and I felt great during my last few training runs. The weather however seemed to have a mind of its own and the day before the race saw torrential, monsoon-like rain that lasted for the entire day. At the technical meeting we learnt that it wasn’t the rain we needed to worry about, it was the temperature, 25c with a nice dose of humidity thanks to all the rain. Hearing the forecast was a big shock and with a race start time of 12.10pm I knew this was going to make running hard and tough.
Race day arrived and I was soon trying to poke porridge down my throat. A combination of nerves and carbo loading meant that I wasn’t massively hungry but I knew I had to fuel up well as the race wouldn’t finish until mid afternoon. After handing in my drinks bottles it was time to warm up. Just five minutes of jogging turned into a full on sweat fest and I tried to stay as cool as possible before the start of the race by dousing my head in cold water. After just 5k I was starting to struggle with the heat & humidity. The first 20k of the course was out and back along a dual carriageway and with very little shade the sun was beating down.
Trying to run hard in the heat when you haven’t been able to acclimatise is really tough and after really struggling, my race ended at just short of 15k. Flaked out at the side of the road, I had to wait until the sweep bus arrived to pick me up. Disappointing, humiliating and not a journey I want to remember. The most frustrating thing was that had I known it was going to be hot and humid, I would have prepared for it by training in a tracksuit or a heat chamber and adjusting my drinks so they contained more electrolytes.
However the weather was a complete surprise and to make matters worse the temperature dropped back down to 12c the day after the race. I’m trying not to think about that too much! On a positive note I’ve got a good block of training in the bank and the fitness is there which should give me a great base for racing this winter. I’m determined to bounce back at the Virgin London Marathon in the spring and produce a performance that I know I’m capable of. Next time, downtown in Tokyo and an amazing run around the Imperial Palace. Have a great week.
- See latest blog post