Tokyo Marathon 2014: Marissa Explains it All
by Marissa Trierweiler
My name is Marissa. I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’m a first year JET living in the outer parts of Hiroshima city. And I like to run. I mean, I REALLY like to run. I like to run so much that I will run almost 5 hours non-stop. I have fallen in love with marathons.
This relationship started last winter, before JET, when I decided on a whim that I would join a training program that would have me running my first marathon by May. Snowy 6am runs every Saturday for 12 or so weeks dominated my life. I had blisters on my blisters. I was perpetually cold. I’ve never told anyone this until now, but I ate by myself at Old Country Buffet after an 18 mile run. It was a disgusting sight to see. And I loved it.
I enjoyed every run. I met so many crazy and amazing people on these runs. Some had been running for ages, others brand new. Some were young, most were killing it at 60 years old. A few had even fought cancer. So it made me think. The best part was seeing places I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Snowy back-trails, icy rivers, a huge pile of dead fish. There was never a dull moment. Finally, race time came, and I exceeded my expectations. I was proud and ready to celebrate…and then it hit me. I wanted more. I wanted to do it again. I was addicted.
I calmed down from running and prepared myself for JET. I did however immediately research potential running routes and races around Hiroshima. I then found out that the Tokyo Marathon was accepting applications. I will quickly outline some facts about this marathon, since in all honesty, even I didn’t anticipate what I was getting myself into:
– The Tokyo Marathon (as of 2013) is one of the six Marathon Majors, meaning the top runners of the world come to these races to compete.
– Application for the Tokyo Marathon is based on a random lottery system. The total number of applicants this year was 304,508. The actual number of applications that were accepted was 36,000. I happened to be one of them.
– That is just the numbers of runners. The estimated amount of spectators was said to be 1.6 million. That’s quite a lot.
– I literally had no idea what to expect.
Upon arriving in Tokyo, I had to go to pick up my bib number. I was surrounded by thousands of people, all preparing for the next day. I started feeling extreme pressure. There were some SERIOUS runners here, and last time I checked, I had eaten a Big Mac a week ago. Why was I even here? In fact, why am I crazy enough to feel not the want, but the need to do this?
I could barely sleep. I couldn’t think of anything else but the fear of not finishing the marathon. Being abroad and being stressed enhanced this sense of worry. Little did I realize what was about to happen.
I have never seen so many people in my life. The amount of spandex was ungodly, and the people with costumes went all out. I tallied about 20 Doraemon, 15 Power Rangers, 2 Sailor Moons, and 1 Jesus with a wooden cross on his back (he ran barefoot for our sins). I was in a sea of people the entire time I was running. We passed Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Shrine, the Imperial Palace and more. The best part was, everyone was smiling and having a great time. Runners were extremely attentive and respectful of space and cutting in. One runner fell and was immediately helped by three others. There were local businesses handing out snacks, there were taiko drummers, and there were singers. Everyone was hopeful and happy. This gave me so much energy, and I truly believe it’s the reason I was not only able to finish, but to reach my goal of under 5 hours.
So I reflect back again, why am I crazy and feel the need to run 42 kilometers? The Tokyo Marathon allowed me to answer that. For me, it’s the positive spirit you develop both as an individual and as a group. You run to promote your well-being as well as to meet others with similar motivations. Each factor pushes you to work that much harder, and as a result, that determination can transfer into other aspects of your life in both a physical and a psychological way. It has boosted my confidence, and my general sense of self.
I will certainly run more marathons, and I will hopefully have another amazing chance to do Tokyo. But in the meantime, I will just keep on running. Next time you see me, I’ll be passing Usain Bolt with a Big Mac in hand.