Hal Higdon marathon training
Final weeks of Tokyo Marathon Training: Weeks 11 to 18

Final weeks of Tokyo Marathon Training: Weeks 11 to 18

Final training weeks 11 to 18 in a nutshell

  • Half-marathon race
  • More long runs and endurance training
  • Nutrition and hydration
  • Finalizing my travel plans: I’m going to Tokyo!
  • Worst of all: getting sick 🙁

Week 11: back in training after a holiday/travel break

Runing in Makati
I didn’t do the short runs or the mid-week long run while we were out traveling in Nepal (went to Nepal for two weeks to do the Annapurna Basecamp Trek!). I went on to run the 25.7 KM long run that was scheduled on the weekend of my arrival back in Manila. My thinking was staying active in the mountains shouldn’t cause my body to forget any of the running that I’ve been doing. I was wrong! Going for the long distance without a warm-up run almost shocked my body. I truly didn’t realize how totally different running was from hiking. There were obvious differences, but I thought maybe because I was using my legs a lot while hiking, there would be some sort of continuity and it wouldn’t feel as if I didn’t stop training for two weeks.

Running in BGC, TaguigThat 25.7 KM long run was so hard it almost felt like running on 25.7 KM trail, which is exponentially harder. I got tired very early and my lower body cramped multiple times. Before starting the run I started to experience sharp pains between my right neck down to the back of my shoulder. I couldn’t even look to my left or right. My other long runs were very enjoyable and the fatigue was manageable. But this one was just too hard.

Week 12: PSE Bull Run 21k (Race)

2019 PSE Bull Run 21k

As per my training plan, I continued with my 2 short runs during the week and 1 mid-week longer distance run. I could feel the weather changing dramatically. January wind is much colder, thus it’s much more enjoyable doing longer runs. The colder temperature attributed to my getting sick, though. This was the week I started feeling the sniffles coming. I tried to fight it with multi-vitamins and trying to get more sleep. It seemed to work at first.

2019 PSE Bull Run 21k

For Week 12’s 19.7 KM long run,  I decided to join a local race called the PSE Bull Run 21 KM. It was my first ever road race! I couldn’t help but compare the past trail races I’ve joined. Road races are more supported than trail runs. I wasn’t used to seeing so many aid stations. Anyway, the PSE Bull Run half-marathon was a good dry run for race day. It helped set the expectation before, at the starting line, during, and after the race.


I could say with conviction that I felt strong during the half-marathon, finishing with a PR of 2:19:00. My hydration plan was to take 1 Gu for every 40 minutes and take small cups of Gatorade at every aid station that had it. I was happy with a 6:30/km pace. No pain or discomfort. I felt the workout but I was just happy to push myself. 

<screenshot of runrio time>

Week 13 and 14: Getting sick 🙁

My body finally gave up on me 2 days after the PSE Bull Run 21 KM. I started feeling cold, sluggish, and weak. I went to work, did my usual thing, and went on with training in an attempt to overcome it. Wrong move! Always, always listen to your body. Being out in the Himalayas for long periods and the sudden change in temperature back in Manila just collectively took a toll on my body. The next thing I knew, I was down with a fever and was bedridden for 3 straight days.

Running in BGC, Taguig

Hydration, rest, and additional vitamins and fruits usually scares away my mild fevers. I decided to go to the doctor this time, also after friends’ advice. The barrage of news reports on flu outbreak in nearby cities didn’t help either. 

I apparently had upper respiratory tract infection and was put on antibiotics for a week (along with prescribed cough and cold medications!). With two additional weeks of training missed because of the flu, I now have missed 4 training weeks in total. I felt I could already go out and run a few days after getting better. I recalculated and it was just not worth the risk. It was time to take it easy. Going to the doctor gave me some peace of mind and I’m glad I did go. The sooner I felt better, the soon I could get back to training.

Weeks 15 to 18: Longest run then tapering!

Hectic travel planning and daily chores that never seemed to end marked the days following the longest 32 KM run on week 15. Life does not stop while training, after all.

Running in Nuvali, Laguna

My longest run was incidentally set on Cali’s birthday week. We decided to hit up Nuvali (1 hr drive south of Manila) to do a little weekend staycation.

Running in Nuvali, Laguna. Laguna de Bay is seen in the distance.

Running in Nuvali, Laguna

Running in Nuvali, LagunaIt was TOUGH but the very cloudy weather, rolling hills, and the view of nearby Laguna de Bay made for an interesting morning. I started at 5:00 AM and finished 3:59 hours later. I felt empowered after that run. There was now a solid validation that I could not only finish my first marathon, but that I’d also enjoy it. Breakfast buffet c/o the hotel followed. Reward collected!

Nuvali is also home to some good sporting outlet shops. Found nice picks at Adidas and Nike outlets – a half-zip long sleeves, printed leggings, and running cap. I decided that I’d wear them on race day. I’ll be writing a separate post about what I’ll wear on race day. It is actually a big deal to me.

On weeks 16 to 18, the distance I had to cover had continuously decreased. Tapering at last! But it didn’t mean the work stopped. I kept on with my scheduled runs while trying my best to stay at my target 6:30/km pace with every run. Visualizing what it would be like to run the race at this pace, I paid attention to my breathing and what my thoughts were. I knew my body was ready for the beating, but the mind is more powerful. It can take you to all these strange place.

Running in Baguio, Philippines

Running in Baguio, Philippines

I was pretty satisfied with how I concluded my training for Tokyo Marathon. One last thing, though.

I thought a lot about how I would physically and mentally handle my monthly period on race day. Yes, we are talking about my period. My menstrual cycle has been pretty regular and predictable (thank you, body!). Tokyo Marathon 2019 happens on March 3 and it is supposedly the first day of my period. Guys, sit down and hear this: the first two days of a woman’s period are the absolute worst. I thought about the menstrual cramps that might creep in, and the other muscular cramps that could wound its way with every mile.

There is just no going around these things. I am just going to have to listen to my body better. I am just going to have to face it like how I’ve been doing for the past 20+ years: like a woman! Show up, smile, run, and cross the finish line with grit and grace.

Running in BGC, Taguig

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