The Story Behind The Run

We always have self-doubt if you are a high achiever because when we try to go to the next level and there is thought we are not good enough, but that’s okay because that means we are hungry and we are committed to elevating ourselves..

By Eugene

​Osaka maraton 2019

Just last week, I had ran the Fujisan 12km charity race and I go into this race confident that I could do well. Though my feet are facing some issues with aches and pain, I was pretty certain I could do a good time despite having a new course. I ran the Osaka Marathon 2018 edition and finished in 3:41.

The race pack collection for Osaka Marathon is easily one of the biggest marathon expos in Japan. In fact, only Tokyo Marathon trumps it in terms of prestige and shopping goodies. We spent a good 2 hours at the expo excluding the makan, so prepare to spend some time navigating every area! It’ll be well worth your time.

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The medal and marathon towel this year were designed by a renowned Japanese designer, and I thought it looked really good. Simple and yet elegant. I use the towel all the time, so yea, it reminds me of the effort out there on the roads.

Collected my race pack off the volunteer! When you collect the bibs, you know the marathon is happening. All the months of trainings is done and all you need now is to pin on the bib and race!

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Finding your name too seem like a popular thingy to do, and as a tourist, why not? Furthermore, its easier to locate your name; just skip all the Japanese ones!

Last but not least, the targeted time. 3:25 is a relatively acceptable goal to set despite having that lil injury in me. I was fairly confident I could do it in Osaka with the experience I had with the old route.

 

Fast forward to race day, we had a train delay at Kyobashi station and had to really dash to deposit our baggage. I deposited my baggage with 10mins left and chiong to the toilet to relieve myself. The queue was horrible and by the time I hit the starting pen, the pen was already full. Worried I might be pushed to the back, I joined a fellow runner in climbing over the barricade to be IN the pen, rather than queuing to god know where.

All this panic did not help as I don’t have the usual warmup done. The dynamic warmups, the stretches, the sprints, nothing. HR was elevated and I tried to calm myself down within the pen. It didn’t really help.

But off we go! I could vaguely recall the first few km being relatively simple, we were going on a descending route despite getting jammed in the first couple of km. I was kind of surprised there was a jam, in pen B but just took it in my stride and didn’t want to make up for loss time so early in the race. I picked up the pace from km3 and evidently the route just kept going upwards. While there were some descends, my impression was the route had way more ascends than descend.

While the temperature increases with each passing minute, the locals seemed to enjoy it more with the amount of crowd support they had. They actually respond to them while running! How awesome is that. Locals would hi-fived as many kids and elderly they see. I too did that and it was really energizing for the soul.

Unfortunately, I develop a cramp at 15km, particularly in my right hip flexor and I was like this is bad. Tried to run it off and it was still there at 20km, and I still have 2 hours of running to do. Knowing that Jasmine will be at 25km, I shifted myself to the right in anticipation of her cheers. With each passing km, the pain got worse and I actually thought I should just drop out when I see Jasmine. Thoughts were running through my head on how I would survive after I drop out, with no warm clothing with Jasmine and how to collect the race pack at the end if I dropped out. I decided that was not to be and I need to finish the race in such cold conditions.

And I found Jasmine!! Screaming for my name and I ran the fastest km split at 25km, 4:47 pace hahaha. And then the downhill slide in my pace happened. As much as I tried to maintain my form and cadence, the terrain was getting worse as the uphills just keep coming. Told myself to pull towards the 30km mark and I did. Tried to psych myself as usual that its only 10km and it seemed to work. Knowing that 35km-40km was a single long stretch of unfamiliar road in Osaka (we had earlier gone through the race route), I knew giving up here was not an option. At the 37km mark, my timing was off 3:30 and I decided to just stop at the water point. It was a horrible decision on hindsight as my pace suffered with 500m walk + 500m jog for the next 4 km.

Qi Feng passed me and lend me some encouragement to keep going. I tried to run as much as I can but would still stop. Finally, at the 40km mark, I knew the turn was coming and we will run straight and up this damn hill into Osaka Castle. Told myself there’s no more stopping after 40km and true enough I ran as hard as I can, pushing my heart rate till I see the damn slope. Swing my elbows like nobody business and got over the hill. And there’s still 1.295km more to go and I give it all I’ve, finishing the race in 3:39.

That is really everything I have got. Posed for a final smile to the familiar allsports.jp camera man and hey, the guy at the back had an A bib, not too bad at all =D

The route to collection of medals, drinks and changing area was smooth as silk. My legs though aren’t. I trot along till I see Jasmine, receiving me at the public waiting area. Was extremely hungry and nom-ed down a bowl of ramen with extra cha-shu immediately. Jasmine went to get the ramen for me, I was extremely thankful as I sat on the cold concrete waiting for her to get our food.

Trotted back to the hotel where I had some warm water soak in the bathtub, and some 40mins nap.

And I am back to normal, walked throughout Namba area thereafter.

In summary, I think the new route is more challenging than the previous route. Support is definitely more, and water stations were pretty much standard in major japan races. The water stations spanned 100m EASILY, but runner’s etiquette wasn’t anywhere better off compared to Singapore. When they are tired, all they care is themselves, take one, walk to next, take another again.

As the dust settles, question is will I do Osaka again? By choosing Osaka, one will be forgo-ing a few alternatives, Shonan, Kobe, Fujisan, Saitama just to mention a few. But for me, unfinished business and being one of the best races in the world, why not?

There you go, my double medals on double weekend!

My Mt.Fuji international marathon story

Eugene  (@runningcomposer)

Runner, Singapore

November 2019

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