translated and edited by Brett Larner
2008 World Half Marathon national team member and local native Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon) will be among the runners lining up for the May 10 Sendai International Half Marathon. Machida finished 3rd in Sendai the last two years. This time she is aiming to break 1 hour 11 minutes for the first time and to finish "even one place higher."
At last October's World Half Marathon in Brazil Machida placed 22nd, an improvement of four places over her showing two years ago in Udine, Italy. "Even though it was hot," Machida recalls, "I was able to pick it up in the second half and start chasing down people ahead of me." She was also 3rd in this year's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, an excellent result which gives her great confidence as she says, "I'm not afraid of breaking down partway through the race or of losing my concentration."
With a good stamina base behind her from her training for Nagoya, Machida's main task as she looked toward Sendai was to sharpen her speed. She prepared for this year's race by relocating to a high-altitude training camp at Mt. Ontake in Gifu Prefecture in mid-April. Her training at the camp included a set of eight 1000 m repeats at 3:15 pace. "There were days when it snowed so much I couldn't do the planned workouts, but overall it was a success and I'm feeling fit," she says. With a toughened body the ebb and flow of her inner strength has changed to a tide of courage.
She will need it as she faces off against the likes of Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Julia Mombi (Team Aruze) and Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC). Team Nihon ChemiCon head coach Toshiharu Izumida is confident in Machida's condition, commenting, "She is fast enough now to run against the other leaders." For Machida, she is desperate to smash through the 3rd place wall. "If I can break my PB [of 1:11:03] I think I'll be in position to be up front," she predicts.