Chasing Tokyo: One Dan’s Journey to the Tokyo Marathon
One Dan's Journey to the Tokyo Marathon
TELL US YOUR RUNNING STORY
I played soccer in my youth, but I think my running ability allowed me to excel more than my actual technical skills. I started running cross country in high school and ran my first marathon in college during spring break with minimal training or prior experience (my previous longest race was a 5K in high school). I ran this marathon in 3:43 and while I was in an extraordinary amount of pain, I didn’t die, so I thought I would run another one.
I kept improving and over a 6 year period, I shaved off over an hour from my first marathon. I really enjoyed the satisfaction of finishing and have been very durable that I made it a goal of mine to run one in every U.S. state.
In 2018, I ran a PR of 2:38 in Ottawa, Canada (my first international marathon). I was able to use this time to qualify for the 2019 Tokyo, London, and Berlin Marathons which are the remaining races I need to complete the World Marathon Majors Challenge.
TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE RACES
I’ve never ran an official ultra, but I have made my own ultra-challenge. I ran 2 marathons in 2 different states in less than 24 hours on 3 separate occasions (an efficient way to complete the 50 states).
There is nothing more satisfying than passing other runners in a marathon after already having completed one the day before. Last year, I ran a marathon in Kentucky in 2:40 then flew west to complete another marathon the next morning in Oklahoma in 2:52.
TELL US ABOUT THE SEMI-ELITE REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR THE TOKYO MARATHON
I started looking into alternative ways to get into the international WMMs after repeatedly getting rejected from their respective lottery systems. I am not the best at raising money for charity, nor wanted to spend the money for expensive travel packages. I first learned about Tokyo’s semi-elite registration after getting rejected in 2016. I was qualified in 2017 to run the race in 2018…or so I thought.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In the past, the qualifying time for the Tokyo Marathon had been 2:55. With my then-2:49 PR, I had my eyes set for the 2018 Tokyo Marathon. I booked my flight to Tokyo and waited very patiently for registration for the 2018 race to open up. Turns out, nope! The qualifying standards were changed to a more difficult 2:45 time. So, that was frustrating, but at the same time it motivated me to run harder and have a goal to chase.
Registration opens up at the beginning of July and you are notified at the end of August if you’ve been selected. I was a little nervous only because the semi-elite pool is limited to 300 runners. Nevertheless, it worked out and I am finally running it!
Qualifying Full Marathon Times
Men: 2:21 to 2:45
Women: 2:25 to 3:30
＊Achieving the qualifying standard does not guarantee the entry into the event, but simply the opportunity to submit for registration. In recent years, not all qualifiers who submit an entry have been accepted due to field size restrictions.
All semi-elite runners start in Block A. Limited to 300 runners who reside outside of Japan, regardless of nationality.
THOUGHTS ON THE TOKYO MARATHON SO FAR?
The Tokyo Marathon is very active on Facebook which is great for updates, but it doesn’t really seem to have any presence on Instagram which is disappointing since they are so easily compatible.
Regardless, Tokyo has a much more active social media presence and sophisticated website than Seoul (also a gold standard race), which was much more challenging to plan for. I’ve only done one international race and that was just in Canada, which is much easier to coordinate from an American perspective.
I am nervous and excited, but I tried to control what I could and have a hotel near the starting line. I also need to do some last minute studying on the metric system, haha!
WHAT'S A PEAK DAY OF SEMI-ELITE TRAINING LIKE FOR THE TOKYO MARATHON?
I got injured a few weeks ago and it’s been hard to get a lot of mileage in. I’ve maxed out at about 40-50 miles a week, typically I like to get up to about 70-80 miles.
I like to do longer runs at goal pace and progressively increase my mileage each week, so it’s fairly consistent for each day. I also mix in some minor core and strength training in-between the running.
PLANNED PACE AND GOAL(S) FOR THE TOKYO MARATHON?
I set an ambitious goal coming into the race looking to run a sub-2:30 or at least a PR, but my whole training season has not been the best. I got sick a few times and injured half way. This is an earlier race for the year and it’s been tough training in the cold (I am no Yuki Kawauchi).Nevertheless, I am still excited to run.
Japanese people are so friendly and such passionate race supporters. I am very eager to run after having such a good experience with the Honolulu Marathon. I feel like I have the speed to run fast, but not the adequate mileage under my belt and I am still a bit tentative recovering my injury.
I think I will try to go out a bit slow around a 6:30 min pace per mile and I think I’m capable of at least a sub-3 hour marathon with room for improvement depending on how the first half goes.
A huge thanks to Dan for taking his time to talk with us! Samurai Sports has been in touch with Dan since he first reached out to us in August last year with questions about the 2019 Tokyo Marathon.
We wish Dan the very best – negative splits, no injuries, and maybe even a PR!