translated by Brett Larner
Long before Yuki Kawauchi came on the scene, Kobe-based amateur Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC) was one of the great originals of Japanese marathoning. The winner of the 1997 Hokkaido Marathon, Tanaka returned from giving birth to her first daughter to run a PB of 2:29:30 for 4th at the 2002 Nagoya International Women's Marathon, for years the Japanese national record for a mother, and another Hokkaido win in 2003. Now in her 40's and with a second daughter, Tanaka continues to run 5~6 marathons a year reliably at the 2:38~2:42 level. Her record for 2012 so far includes a 2:38:07 win at February's Senshu International Marathon, her third-staight Senshu win, and a 2:41:14 win at August's City-to-Surf Marathon in Perth, Australia. On Nov. 11 she ran the Athens Classic Marathon on an invite through Athens' ties with the Nagano Marathon, finishing just out of the official IAAF race report in 7th. On the 12th Tanaka wrote about her race on her blog.
Yesterday's Athens Classic Marathon....2:47:30.....7th.
Right from the start my legs felt heavy and the pace I was actually running didn't match up with what it felt like I was running, and I had to push on through heat I wasn't used to. I was exhausted by the time it started undulating around 10 km, and the hills just kept coming until 32 km.....Right at the end of the last climb I hit my limit.
With stiff and feeble legs my movement was getting shaky and I started having muscle spasms over and over, so even though there was a nice 10 km downhill before me I couldn't take advantage of it at all and it took everything I had just to make it to the finish line. Today my whole body hurts. I'm worried about what that means for the Kobe Marathon in two weeks, but I think this will end up having been great training for Kobe. How many people get the luxury of training on an Olympic Marathon course?
By coincidence, this morning I bumped into the vice-chairman of the Japanese Federation, Keisuke Sawaki, and people from the Nagano Marathon office who were all in Athens for an AIMS symposium. When Sawaki saw me he asked, "Did you run too?" "Yes....." "How fast?" "It took me 47 minutes....." "Oh, well, that's because that course has more than 200 m elevation change, you know. It's tough when your muscles don't hold up to the challenge, isn't it?" he said.....I guess I should at least be sort of honored that he recognized me.
Maybe it's more accurate to say getting old is tough. No doubt about that....As I was running yesterday I kept thinking that five years ago I ran 41 minutes here. I've held up pretty well but even I can feel it catching with me. But yeah, I don't want to blame yesterday on age, so in Kobe I'm going to run the absolute best I can.