Running Tokyo, Jun 2014

Posted: 12th June 2014 by mockjogger in Running Away, Training Runs
Tags: , , , , , , ,

As the saying goes, when you want to go running in Tokyo, find a river. So on the third day of a two-week sojourn to my favourite away venue, I ventured outside my base to make my way to the Arakawa river. Thirty degrees and 80% humidity met me at the door to escort me on my way. About 5 strides in I was sweating up like a suckling porker, and it got hotter and sweatier from there.

Red wine furoThis was my second visit to Tokyo this year. This time, however, the family/work balance was tilted in favour of family. Kiyoe and the Junior Mockjoggers were in the middle of a four month stay, and for my two weeks I would be staying with in-laws. After arriving in Tokyo the whole family took off to an onsen (hot spring) hotel in Hakone, south-west of Tokyo. Usually very traditional, this one had coffee, red wine and sake-infused baths. As far as antidotes to jetlag go, this was up there with the best.

Back to the run. It took a couple of sets of traffic lights and a bit of hunting to find my way to the river embankment. I ran alongside the river southeast for about a mile before encountering a set of “roadworks” which forced my back up and on to the road 200m. I got back on the bank only to be stopped after another mile by a building, functioning as a dead end. I turned back and retraced my steps, passing the point at which I had joined the river and heading on northwest. Not much more joy here however, my path was soon blocked again. Heading back home, I resolved to find another river.

other riverAnd so I did, two days later. I ran the bridge over the Arakawa river this time, heading roughly in the direction of Tokyo’s latest landmark – the Skytree. I had been thinking to stick to main roads, but by chance came across a tributary river, the Kyunoko. Here some thought had clearly been put in to landscaping the riverbanks with some attractive footpaths and adjacent parks. This was more like it. I ran on until I clocked about 3.5 miles, then crossed a bridge and retraced my steps on the other side. 7 miles all in all, and a new regular route initiated.

A couple of days later, bored with rivers, I decided to give *the* iconic Tokyo run a go. Right in the middle of the city, the Imperial Palace, residence of the Emperor, is surrounded by a footpath measuring 5km, with no stops for traffic. I made my way to Tokyo station and headed for the luggage lockers to store a change of clothes. Fortunately the lockers were intuitive enough for a monkey to use. As I exited through the up-market Marunouchi building, the Japan weather gods decided that they had had enough of this humid hot weather and powered-up the rainy season. I set off counter-clockwise in light rain, clutching my iphone to use as a camera. As I passed the British Embassy on my right, the rain powered-up another notch. The views of the park I was circumnavigating, juxtaposed with the skyscrapers on the outside, were great though. The presence of police at every entrance served as a reminder that entry to the park was forbidden. Fair enough, the Emporer’s rules apply.

Imperial palace entranceImperial palace route 2Imperial palace routeImperial palace runners

At the end of the first lap the rain powered up yet again. I was completely drenched now. My Paris Marathon T-shirt was stuck to my torso like a second skin, but that wasn’t the problem. I looked down to find my baggy Slazenger shorts had gone completely translucent. I have had these for a while and I wonder why this never happened before. Anyway, it was difficult to concentrate on running when my mind was bouncing between (1) expecting the police to jump out and arrest me for indecency (2) wondering how the hell my iPhone was going to survive the trauma of all this precipitation; and (3) worrying about whether the emergency 1000 yen note in my pocket was waterproof.

imperial palace garmin 2

I was joined on the second lap by two Japanese guys out for a jog. They had rain jackets on and appeared somewhat bemused by my choice of kit. But that is OK, I am a gaijin, so I can get away with that kind of thing. When I thought it couldn’t rain any harder, it did. Strangely it was not that uncomfortable, as it was still quite warm. Post run, I squeaked my way back to the station, changed and trained it back to base.

I had some help with this, honest.

I had some help with this, honest.

That evening we headed to a kaiten-zushi (conveyer-belt sushi) restaurant at the Tokyo Skytree, where we queued for ages to get a seat. After the wait, I proceeded to demonstrate marathon-training-food-intake-and-carb-loading for professionals. I forgot that I do not actually have a marathon in the plan at present. Oops.

So after showing Tokyo how not to dress for rainy run and how not to eat when you don’t have a marathon tomorrow, its time to head back to the (hopefully) sun-drenched streets of home, and some new shorts.

  1. Paula says:

    My husband and I were in Tokyo last year and this year and even though I had the best intentions to run, I never did as there was too much sightseeing (and maybe fair bit of eating) to do! The route around the palace looked amazing though 🙂

    • mockjogger says:

      The route around the palace was great. I would just like to organise some sun for the next occasion!