Tokyo Marathon 2017

It’s been almost 3 years since I left the country. For 8 years I traveled the world almost monthly. I’m lucky to have been on every continent except Antarctica. More than that it’s running that has taken me to 90% of my world travel destinations. More to the point, running shoes. For those trips I was employed and traveled on the company dime. I was never the kind of employee who took advantage of my company. I almost always came in under budget for every trip. Even so I lived well while on the road.

This trip the first of many out of the USA this year is all on me. It’s the job I’ve created for myself but in doing so like any good entrepreneur I’m watching the budget closely.

I set my budget at $25 a day. I’m traveling to the most expensive cities in the world this year and $25 a day is rather short on comforts. You can bet I did not having any Kobe beef or high end Sushi. Luckily I view food as fuel and as long as I’m not hungry I’m fine.

The actual travel is done like this:

  1. I fly a large US carrier all over the world. I may pay slightly more but I’m certain of getting to my destination with few stops. I use all the miles to travel for pleasure or to give to family members for their travel.
  2. Hotel selection is important. I’m not a huge fan of treadmills and I want to run where the runners are. I select a hotel that is close to the largest park in the city because I know that’s where the runners go.
  3. Generally around the world outside the USA you get free breakfast. I bring snacks for every day that way I’m only paying for dinner.
  4. I use public transportation (trains or buses) to get around. It’s by far the cheapest way to get around other than simply walking.
  5. My running philosophy is this: You can’t get fit while traveling but you can stay fit. I simply have no zero days while on the road.

Traveling to Tokyo for business or the marathon.

I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriot, Tokyo Station. From the airport you take the Nurita Express to Tokyo station then it’s 3-4 blocks to the hotel.

Running is great from the hotel. Roughly 1K from the hotel is the Imperial Palace and Gardens. It’s also where the finish line for the marathon is located. There is a running path around the grounds that is roughly a 2.5 mile loop. It has one long hill with roughly the same going down. You can do a workout of running the hill hard and coming down the other side easy. Do that a few times and you’ve done a good workout.

Traveling on the metro in Tokyo is easy. It took me 20 minutes to get to the race expo. Although I didn’t have to go to the start it’s an easy ride from the hotel. The 9 am start makes this a much better event.

The marathon this year had perfect conditions. They changed the course making it flatter especially at the finish and it made for a very fast race. Championship records dropped. The start of the race was 43 degrees and it was 50 at the finish. There was a very light wind and it was sunny. Your issue in conditions like this is planning for the start. 43 is cold enough to get to your bones. The start is 9am. You have to get to the race early because there are 35,000 runners. You have to be in your corral at 8am I believe. You have to plan your clothing. You have to stay warm at the start. If you don’t do it will be disaster.

I met a girl getting off the plane from San Francisco. Her brand new Saucony Guide running shoes tipped her off to me. She was running Tokyo for the first time. She ran London last year and Boston the year before. She qualified for Boston and based on her age I’m guessing her qualifying time is 3:30. I saw her during the race. It was the shoes that tipped her off to me. She was running behind not pacing off the 4:30 group. She was lightly dressed in shorts and ultra light top. She looked frozen to the bone. You know how you see someone really cold and their shoulders and arms are pulled in tight to try to stay warm. That was her. I felt so bad for her. Here she was running in a race where English is a rarely spoken. Nobody on the side of the road is cheering in English. Probably nobody running beside you speaks English. You are frozen and every foot step hurts. She clearly ran into something she wasn’t expecting, a cold weather marathon. She should have planned that more carefully. I hope she finished. I really wanted to run down along side her and give her my puffy vest. I unfortunately had all  my expensive camera equipment and then there was the fact that I was really cold. I dressed warm but standing in the shade for 5 hours was wearing on me too.


My run around the park

I spent one day in an old neighborhood. It’s one of the places to visit in Tokyo if you go. It’s called Askusa and it’s super easy to get to.

If you are traveling somewhere in the world send me a note. I can probably give you a good tip on where to stay and where to run.