Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)

Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)

It has taken me quite awhile to finally get these first two days published from our trip back at the end of March-early April.  Will hopefully get the rest up in a timely manner.

Day 1 was a short day due to travel.  We landed at Narita airport in the late afternoon around 4:30 pm.  However, there was a crazy wait at customs/immigration.  The line for Japanese citizens was crazy short and those of foreign passports had a long wait.  They even had two separate customs areas and it still took somewhere around 1-1.5 hours of wait time to get through.  And then we needed to exchange our vouchers for the Japan Rail Pass, which came in handy throughout the trip but it was another 1 hour wait to get this pass.  As you can imagine, after an almost 11 hour flight, we were quite tired.  Thankfully once we received our rail pass, they also booked us on the train that would take us into Tokyo (about a 90 minute train ride).

Initially on approach to Japan I thought we’d have time to get to our hotel, put our stuff away and then head out for some dinner.  I realized after all the aforementioned wait times, we’d be lucky to find anywhere open for food.  Add onto that we were just bone tired and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do about foodstuffs.

After arriving at Shinjuku station (the one closest to our hotel for the night), I looked on the map and decided that it wasn’t too far of a walk from the train station to the hotel.  The wife had mentioned there was a courtesy hotel shuttle from Shinjuku station though we couldn’t be exactly sure where the pickup point was.  So after about a 15 minute walk, we arrived at our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.  It has quite an impressive entrance with these very large low hanging chandeliers.  We  checked in and immediately headed upstairs to offload our stuff.  When we first arrived, I noticed that there appeared to be some restaurants and stores in the basement level (which becomes a theme in Japan).  We initially looked at some of the hotel restaurants (they have a handful of them situated in the hotel itself) but it looked like most places closed at 9 pm and we had arrived just after 9 pm.

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So it was off the convenience store in the basement for food. Luckily they actually stock some food that is edible and not extremely bad for you.  The wife and I both picked up a pre-made sandwich and I also got a hot dog and some snacks (chips).  After eating some food and cleaning up a little, it was off to bed for us. Continue reading “Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)”

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2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap

I did it!  Successfully (mostly) completed my fourth full marathon.  I am currently recovering from a hard effort.  I’ll have a separate post about our time in Carmel that is unrelated to the actual marathon itself.

Let’s start with the race expo.  We drove down from Sac on Friday late morning and went straight to the Portola Hotel, where the race expo was being held.  We had the dog with us so I didn’t get to explore the expo too much on Friday but went back Saturday morning to get a better idea.  I had read on other blogs that the expo is typically fairly small for a major marathon and they were correct.  Packet pickup was very smooth.  The organizers were great in sending out emails prior to the weekend letting me know my bib number since that was what you needed to get your bib.  Because there is only one way to get to the race start, I also had to pick up a bus ticket (free) from my pickup location (which was in the heart of Carmel).  There were about 4-5 different areas of pickup for the full marathon.  After grabbing my bib and bus ticket, I got my shirt and gear check bag and the helpful volunteer put everything into the bag for me.  The following morning I walked through the expo.  There were a few of the usual booths for various races as well as a few gear booths selling everything from gels to water bottles to clothes.  The largest merchandise area belonged to Asics, who is one of the big sponsors.  Overall it was a nice little expo area but nothing to write home about.  I did find my name on the Big Sur poster that is comprised of every runner.

I had all intentions of a breakout run on Saturday morning but that fell threw just because I was doing enough walking around with the wife.  The day before the race, we did drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur because my wife had never been.  Essentially we drove the course backwards on our way down and then in the proper direction on our return trip back to Carmel.  The drive really showed me just how non-flat the course actually is.  When you look at the elevation chart of the race, you go “okay, there are a few major hills and few minor ones,” but when you’re actually driving the course you realize the entire thing is essentially either “up” or “down.”  There aren’t actually many flat spots to the course.

Elevation

The drive is when I really did start to worry about my race and my training.  I knew that my trip to Japan as well as my illness didn’t hep matters but I wasn’t that worried about it.  After driving the course, I started to wonder a bit.  I had an “A” and “B” goal for this race.  The “A” goal was to PR the race, which I know is a challenge given the above regarding elevation changes.  My “B” goal was to finish under the 6 hour course time limit, which given that I was overall physically okay I figured I should be able to do.  Honestly I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt but knew that I had signed up, gotten in the lottery, and trained for it so I might as well give it a shot.  Outwardly of course I didn’t reveal my concerns to my wife. Continue reading “2017 Big Sur International Marathon Race Recap”