Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yamanote Line Marathon - The Preparation

"Tokyo's ring of steel"

Yamanote Line
since 1885


This is one of my targets for this year. It has always been inside my wish-list to run around the Yamanote Line. To those who are unfamiliar with this intimidating but exceptionally thorough and efficient train line in Tokyo, the Yamanote Line is a railway loop line, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It is one of Tokyo's busiest and most important lines, connecting most of Tokyo's major stations and urban centers. Here are some quick facts about the Yamanote Line.
  • There are 29 stations on the Yamanote Line.
  • 27 of the 29 stations connect to other lines
  • An average of 3.68 million passengers ride the Yamanote Line every day, and it can surge up to 5 million passengers during peak seasons.
  • The Yamanote Line's origins go back to 1885. It is one of the oldest urban trains in the world.
  • There are approximately 34.5 km of track on the Yamanote Line.
  • A complete loop takes 59 to 65 minutes.
  • The first trains start at 04:26 a.m. and the last trains stop at 01:18 a.m. the next day.
  • The trains runs at intervals as short as 2.5 minutes during peak periods and four minutes at other times.
  • The busiest stations on the Yamanote Line are Shinjuku station and Ikebukuro station.
  • The maximum fare for a complete loop of the Yamanote Line is 260 yen, though 130 yen will take you one stop short or one stop past your destination on the ticket.
  • Yamanote trains have 11 cars. Some of the cars, nicknamed "cattle cars" features 6 doors and some have 8 doors. So, in total, these trains have 88 doors.
  • On top of each door there are two LCD screens. That means that there are 176 screens per train.
  • The maximum speed a Yamanote train can travel is 90 kilometers per hour.
  • There are video games only about Yamanote Line.

Ever since I ran my first marathon at the Tokyo Aqua Bay Marathon in October 2012, I have never been running on a constant basis. This year, I did not participate in any official runs or marathon and that prompted me to come out with my own running plan. Running a distance almost equivalent to a full marathon certainly requires some simple preparation, and here is what I have prepared before-hand, based on my previous experience running a marathon.
  • Starting point and finishing point
    It was not a hard decision to pick a station out of the 29 stations to be the starting point. Tokyo station was the obvious choice. And furthermore, there will be an extra reason for celebration after the recent announcement of Tokyo being chosen as the host for the 2020 Olympics. To avoid the weekend crowd, I will start my run as early as possible. The target starting time is 5 a.m. and I hope to finish the run by noon, the latest.
  • Course
    Even though the distance of the Yamanote Line is approximately 34.5 kilometers, this is the distance when the train runs on the track. When we actually run on the road, the final distance will end up close to 40 kilometers or more. Basically, I will be relying mainly on Google Maps on my iPhone while I run from one station to the next one. This will cause some time lost along the way, but I thought this method is much better than relying on the traditional method of printed maps.

  • Training
    Just three sessions on run for the past three months, totaling only 18.5 kilometers was all I did going into this run. This is not the best preparation but I will give it a try to complete the run.
  • Preparation
    ※ Drinks: There will be plenty of convenience stores along the way. Therefore, I will just bring along my fully charged Suica card to minimize the weight-load I carry while I run.
    ※ Supplements: Weider in Jelly drinks as supplementary meal before the run. Sweets to boast my energy and motivation during the run, especially at the final quarter of the run.
    ※ Wear: A basic running wear should be fine. As it will be a long-distance run, a pair of comfortable shoe is important that will determine whether I will last the whole run until the end. A pair of running sunglasses will come handy, especially when the sun is out.
    ※ Misc: iPhone charger, digital camera, Suica card, some cash, ATM card.
  • Target
    ※ To be on running mode as much as possible, excluding the short breaks taken along the way.
    ※ To run anti-clockwise around the the Yamanote Line, just like how they do it in athletics
    ※ To have photo taken in front of every station.
    ※ To have the running course recorded on several applications (RunKeeper, Nike+ Running, JogNote for iPhone) in the iPhone.
    ※ To complete the run under six hours.
This sums up the preparation I did for the run. I will talk about my experience in the next entry. Did I finish the race? Was the target time achieved? Did I give up halfway? All will be revealed very soon. So, stay tuned!

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