translated by Brett Larner
At the Oct. 10 Izumo Ekiden, Tokai University long distance ace junior Akinobu Murasawa finished 2nd on the anchor stage. Five days later he went for the 27:45 Olympic 10000 m A-standard at the Shizuoka Time Trials meet but came up short as he ran only 28:19.67. Murasawa feels the impact of the double disappointment and talked to us about how it motivates him for the rest of the season.
This year was your first time running the Izumo Ekiden. You were 2nd on the anchor stage and put Tokai into 4th. How do you feel looking back on these results?
Murasawa: We didn't reach our goal of a top three finish because I couldn't run the way I should have. The fact that I was 2nd on the stage just proves that I wasn't 100%. As far as the rest of the ekiden season goes, that race taught me a lesson.
What lesson is that?
When I couldn't see the gap to the runner ahead of me closing in Izumo part of me gave up. Without that I think I would have placed better on the stage. I had the tasuki that everyone before me had done their best to get to me, and in that situation you have the responsibility to give it everything until the end.
When you got the tasuki, how much of a gap to the leaders did you think you could make up?
I was thinking that I could cover about a minute, but to put more pressure on myself and for the benefit of the team I told people that I could handle a two-minute gap.
What was your condition on race day itself?
Up until the race started I didn't think it was bad. Once I started running, though, my body felt disengaged. It felt like I wasn't moving forward. So, I can't say that my condition was very good.
I heard at some point that you felt that something was wrong with your knee. How was it at the Izumo Ekiden?
It wasn't anything to be worried about before the race, and when I ran on it was no problem either. Now there is absolutely no pain at all. But it did remind me not to be careless.
Looking at the rest of the team, do you think there is any work that still needs to be done?
At Izumo most of the guys were 5th or 6th on their stages, so I think it's still another step to reach our goal of top three as a team. The top three schools [Toyo Univ., Komazawa Univ. and Waseda Univ.] are strong enough to be able to run conservatively, and they all had a lot of their runners in the top three on their stages. Thinking about this point it's easy to see that there's still a gap in strength between us and the top schools, and I don't think we'll get there by being a team that relies on one guy.
For two Tokai first-years (Hiroyuki Ishikawa on 2nd Stage and Ryo Nakagawa on 4th Stage), Izumo was their first university ekiden experience. It must have been a big thing for them and for the team as well.
Yeah, that's right. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter whether the first-years run well or badly in the ekidens. It's more important that they get the experience of running and then figure out how they should progress after that. In that respect I think those two guys did a great job in their first ekidens.
Daiichi Motomura and Shuji Yoshikawa sat Izumo out.
If you start talking that way, things didn't go perfectly for a single team there. But I think it would have been pretty interesting if the other teams had all run the way they did and Tokai had been perfect.
Five days after Izumo you ran at the Shizuoka Time Trials. Did you feel tired or have any other problems?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any fatigue [from Izumo], but if you let yourself think that way it'll have an impact on your performance so I just said let's see what you can do running only five days after a hard effort. In Europe during the summer I had some good races with the same kind of span of time, so I wasn't worried about it.
The trip to Europe must have been a good experience.
Yeah, on the European trip I wasn't really sure at the time of the best way to approach all the different races, so personally that was one of the biggest things I learned on that trip.
What did you learn racing twice in five days this time?
That you should forget about the way you always do things before the race. You can't let yourself think, "This is the way I always do things, so I have to do it that way," but rather adjust the menu to match to your condition on that day and at that time.
What can you say about your race that day in Shizuoka?
I was shooting for the Olympic A-standard, so I can't be satisfied at all with my time. But, considering that it was hot that day and only 5 days after Izumo maybe it wasn't so bad. It made me think that my next race should be very interesting.
I would imagine you are focusing on the National University Ekiden Championships and December's Nittai University Time Trials.
Yes, that's the plan. I've been taking the time to recover from built-up fatigue, so I think I'll be in top shape for Nationals. I plan to focus the results of all my training over the summer into my run at Nationals. The stages at Nationals are longer, so I have to be careful in dealing with that. I've been training for that, but with the shape I'm in now I'll be able to push the pace even if I'm put on one of the short stages.
This will be your third time running Nationals. How are you approaching it mentally?
My first year I had a cold and my second year I was dealing with a sprain, so I've never had the experience of being in a condition that would let me be satisfied with my run at Nationals. This time, though, I'm in shape to be competitive and run my way on whatever stage I'm put on.
In closing, please tell us your goals at Nationals as a team and as an individual.
There's no change to our goal of a top three team finish. My main goal is to do what I can to help accomplish that. No matter which stage, it helps you get into the right flow of your running to know that it's all for the benefit of the team.