Today I faced my destiny, which is to say that I ran the Tokyo Marathon. A good night’s sleep seemed to have done nothing to quell the unease that was building in my bowels, and I am pretty certain that it was more than just pre-race nerves. Upon arrival in Shinjuku I queued patiently for the men’s toilets, then lost said patience and nipped into the ladies to relieve myself, which thankfully was empty. After this brief jaunt I somehow managed to find my way to the correct starting block, with a little over 20 minutes to kill. Thankfully the weather wasn’t too cold, just a little I overcast, and the two pairs of gloves that I was wearing kept the expected circulation problems at bay. At shortly after 09:00 someone gave a speech, someone else fired what sounded to me like several cannons, and we were off: in a cloud of ticket tape that made me feel like I was Mario Kempes at the 1978 world cup, but sadly without any of the sporting prowess or rugged good looks.
Now the biggest dilemma that I faced throughout the race was the intake of water and/or isotonic drinks. During training my pathetic excuse for a bladder meant that I purposefully took no liquids on board whilst running, but I knew that this would be an idiotic decision to make today, and so came up with the strategy of taking on (free) sports drinks every 10 km or so, at one of the designated hydration centres. All was going well up until about 35km (at the halfway mark I was well on course for a sub three hour run), where my dicky tummy decided that it wasn’t at all a fan of these fancy electrolyte-replacing beverages, and so decided that it would be a good idea to vomit up the majority of what I had drunk in the past two hours or so. After this unbelievably poor show of etiquette by my gag reflex the remaining 7 km were hell; I knew that I had to keep drinking fluids but I was fighting a loosing battle with the ability to move my legs at anything above a slow walk. I somehow managed to keep alternating between running and walking, crossing the line in a highly respectable (or at least I thought so) 3:28:22, which I celebrated by promptly vomiting again. After collecting my medal, forcing myself to drink yet more electrolytes and eat some fruit, I spent the best part of an hour sat in a nearby restaurant with Yuko (after having met Richard and Emily, and thanked them for their support with the conversational prowess of a dying slug) getting warm, before a long shower, a couple of hours sleep and lots of water returned me to something approaching normality. I fear that tomorrow my body is going to be mighty sore, but I am very proud of my achievement, and just wish that the fat kid in Mr.Holdsworth’s cross-country class could see me now!