Tokyo Recap – part 2

So to carry on with my Tokyo recap… (read part one HERE and the marathon recap HERE).

Warning: this is rather long post sorry!

The day before the marathon was really jam-packed. Because Chris (my new friend from the tour group) and I were thinking of running the marathon together we thought we’d better test out actually running together before fully committing. Basically to ensure neither of us were “Phoebe runners“. We met up in the hotel lobby in the morning and literally bumped into Wilson Kipsang and a bunch of other elite runners. I had a total fan girl moment by going up to him and asking for a photo.I did feel bad though as I didn’t recognise any of the other elites… so it was just Kipsang I had the photo or spoke with (he was lovely, more than happy to have his photo taken). They were then all herded off to a van with a guy who I assume was their coach/organiser where they were going for their own run.

Our run wasn’t quite as glamorous but still good. I was glad to have Chris with me as, let’s be honest, I could easily have gotten lost on my own or would have ended up doing a really boring out-and-back (with some cheeky undulations). Chris has a good sense of direction so I left the route to him! We were well matched in our pace and kept it nice and comfortable and chatted as we ran. We survived the run and decided we’d run together the next day – with the proviso that either us could ditch the other if the situation arose.

After the run and breakfast we headed out for the day. We started with going up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It’s a super tall high-rise and has a tourist observatory floor (202m high!) that you can go up for free. There are two towers so you can choose either North or South. I actually can’t remember the one we chose but it had a longer queue (as we got there just before it opened) so we figured we’d go with the most popular one.

Photos from Chris’ camera as it was better quality!

The views were amazing. You were behind glass so it wasn’t like the New York Empire State building but it was pretty good regardless. Each window had an explanation of what you could see which was cool. And on a more clear day you could apparently see Mount Fuji (actually on the last day I saw it from my own hotel room).

Then we headed out to walk to Yoyogi Park which is one of Tokyo’s largest parks. It was a really lovely walk and it’s where you can find Meiji Shrine, which we wanted to see.It was really beautiful. I think there was a wedding happening (though to be honest I have no idea I’m that culturally inept). Basically there were people all dressed fancily and there was a woman having her photo taken in a white dress. Though not a typical Western dress…but it was white. Who knows.Then from there we walked to the Shibuya area. I got swindled by a fake Buddhist Monk who gave me a bracelet and then demanded money from me. I gave him some change and then a Japanese woman ran up to us and basically explained that we were being swindled by a fake. It was nice of her to intervene. I got a bracelet out of it and lost some petty change so wasn’t too bad – the bracelet now reminds me to not be so stupid (probably need more than a bracelet tho…).

On the tour the day before we’d heard about cat cafes in Japan. Actually I’d heard about these before from Lily’s blog (always a good read for travel tips and London adventures). So I really wanted to find one. As we came out of the park we saw one straight away. Well we just had to go.It wasn’t really a cafe per se. You could get a drink but it wasn’t the main thing. You pay for the time you’ll spend in there (we paid for 30 minutes) and then you’re given a bit of cat food to entice the cats over and you sit and play with them. Rather odd… but fun! The cats were beautifully groomed and basically queens of their kingdom. They really were living the life.
You got some slippers and cat ears to wear while you were there. Very fun! Though we met a super intelligent American scientist working on the Juno project and I sat there chatting looking like a twat in a pair of fluffy cat ears.

After the cat cafe we were nicely placed to walk around Shibuya, where there were lots of shops. There were Japanese brands but also Western brands like Next, Laura Ashley, Body Shop, Nike, etc. It was great. After doing some shopping we found the nicest Starbucks I’ve ever been to.It was right at the top of one of the smaller high-rise department store and it opened out onto this beautiful roof-top terrace overlooking the city. Beautiful!I also enjoyed their blossom cup, which is apparently unique to Japan during the blossom season, though I found it amusing that I had to pay extra for milk!

We then found the very busy Shibuya crossing (next to the Shibuya Station) and watched the madness of one of the busiest crossings in the world happen over and over. Apparently it’s even more busy at night.Then it was time to hunt out some food. As I mentioned in a previous post we found a very small and cheap pizza/pasta place in the area and got our carbs sorted for the next day. The pizza was cooked just behind the counter in a proper pizza oven and it was delicious.

After more walking around we passed through Harajuku where we found two very brightly dressed girls…Then we meandered back to our hotel. As it was about 5 o’clock it was too early for dinner and we were fed up of walking so we decided to head to a bar in our hotel that we’d heard about. It was on the 45th floor and though rather expensive a lovely place to grab a green tea (mine was infused with apple!) and watch the sunset.Bliss! After 36,000 steps this was definitely a nice way to chill. We’d booked for dinner in the hotel restaurant for that evening so that was nice and easy too.

Then the marathon happened…go check out the recap!

After the marathon it was time to fully relax and enjoy ourselves. Chris and I headed out to find some food and had a meal in a tiny little restaurant in Shinjuku. The only problem was we had no idea really what we were ordering…

There was a salad bar buffet with unlimited miso soup which was nice (below photo). But I ordered chicken and it came raw. The waiter then turned on the grill in the centre of the table (we were wondering what that was…) and with comical sign language directed us to cook the food on there.Though the meal was very tasty (we also had rice with a raw egg on top that the waiter quickly mixed into the rice in front of us to cook it), it didn’t quite hit the spot. Bare in mind we’d only had breakfast, run a marathon and it was now about 5pm (and I have a bottomless pit of a stomach). So we went on the hunt for some more crepes.

Instead of crepes we found a fabulous little pudding cafe in Shinjuku (seemingly the only one in Tokyo, they really don’t go for their sweet stuff!). We saw two girls sharing this epic looking bread-pudding thing and immediately knew that was for us. We ordered a chocolate banana one to share and I had a Royal Milk Tea. The tea was basically super milky tea but it was delicious! I’m going to try and recreate at home…so comforting.The pudding looked AMAZING. I mean it was massive. Basically very slightly sweet bread (kind of like iced bun bread? In fact I’m not entirely sure it was sweet…) filled with chunks of toasted bread, a scoop of ice cream, a bit of custard sauce, cream and banana slices.If I’m honest, it looked a lot better than it actually was. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty and we enjoyed pulling it apart but it wasn’t that sweet – one scoop of vanilla ice cream, a tiny bit of custard and cream… it was more bread than anything. We left most of the sides because it was just bread at that point as we’d eaten the more tasty elements. It was nice to try it but it didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth or the marathon runger within.

[Also, random note, but I love that they give you a warm cloth before meals so you can clean your hands!]

Then we headed back to meet up with others on the tour group to go to an Irish bar for a few drinks. It was nice being on the tour because you instantly had a connection with the other people: everyone loved running, had similar goals of completing the Majors and basically were just nice people. It was nice because you could all chat about how the marathon went. Normally at this point I’d be home and my family would be fed up of talking about it. But everyone wanted to talk about it!

I enjoyed quite a few Coroners and had a really good evening. We stayed until closing and as we walked back, Chris, another guy and me decided to needed a bit more sustenance. McDonald’s it was!

Now I haven’t had a McDonald’s since I was about 14. They’re not really my thing, but honestly it was absolutely necessary. And it absolutely hit the spot.I ordered a chicken burger and fries with a Diet Coke (DIET COKE! I missed this!) and after seeing the other guy (for the life of me I can’t remember his name) eating a Chocolate Triangle Pie I ordered one of those too (“premium cocoa and almond in the crust with a chocolate cream filling” Source). Flaky, warm, deliciousness.

The next morning I woke up at 4am not being able to sleep (I actually sent in my Marathon Talk submission for their Listener Podium, which was probably unwise after hearing my jumbled submission on the show last week…. Though I happily came second on the podium – the first lady was the lady I shared a cabin with at the Run Camp, by the way she’s over 60!).

My roomie also couldn’t sleep so we sat chatting for a bit. I idly checked the BA app to see if I could check in to the flight (we were flying that morning) and spotted that it said the flight was delayed. BY A DAY! What?? Panic and a mad FaceTime conversation with my dad ensued (dad’s always know what to do, Anna’s never do).

After a song and dance we had breakfast, headed to the airport as normal and had BA tell us we were delayed by a day. We were given food vouchers for lunch at the airport, a room at a nearby hotel (with free bus shuttles) and dinner and breakfast taken care of. Not too shabby!

A group of us, led by a very savvy and chirpy American, quickly organised a trip to Tokyo Disney which was about an hour away. About seven us made a mad dash to grab the next bus to the hotel to drop our bags off, to then come back to the airport to grab the Disney shuttle.Whew! We got to Disney just before midday.We were like little kids when we got into the park (we went to Disney Sea as it had more rides and attractions for adults).All the females in the group bought Disney ears and we giggled our way round the place.Tokyo Disney is good fun. It was fairly busy – literally full of kids in school uniform everywhere. Most of the rides had an hour plus to queue for them. But we mastered this by doing the Single Rider queues and managed to get on a fair number of rides. The one ride was couldn’t single riders for was queuing inside which I didn’t mind at all because it was VERY cold outside. It was actually quite fun to be amongst so many Japanese kids – so many cultural differences! So fascinating. And we’d only have been waiting around at the airport anyway so really it didn’t matter to me.However as the day got later and the sun started to disappear, I just got too cold to stay for much longer. Chris kindly said he’d leave with me so we headed back to the hotel together. I fell asleep on the bus back – it had been a long day!

The meals (both dinner and breakfast) were amaaaazing. So much food to choose from. I honestly had about three plates each time. At dinner the pudding was pretty cool – the pink fountain was kind of like strawberry sauce?? There were waffles, pancakes, mousses and cakes as well as Japanese sweets such as Daifukus (I had to google…”a glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko, sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans” [Source] – oooh er.).

And another interesting thing in my hotel room (I now had my very own room, thank you British Airways) were a pair of pyjamas left on my bed, apparently complimentary for me to use. How very strange!

The only thing to add is that on the plane back most of us had done the marathon and everyone recognised or knew each other. A super friendly flight 🙂

After that VERY lengthy recap (apologies), I have to say I enjoyed Tokyo far more than I thought I would. I saw far more than I thought I would! I thoroughly enjoyed both the marathon and the trip.

Have you ever been to Tokyo?

What cultural differences have surprised you in different countries? If I thought people in America went Disney-mad it was NOTHING compared to the Japanese. Everyone, literally everyone, was wearing something Disney.

Has your flight ever got delayed? This was my first ever delay. It’s nice to know I should get just over £500 in compensation from BA for it.

Putting it into practice

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to up the calories and fuel myself better for running (and life). This is important obviously not only to my overall health but also because I’m still marathon training and want to continue to run healthily.

** Just to add: if putting on weight fails to do anything, then I’m heading to the doctor again and making my case fully heard, and to check there isn’t anything else wrong. I also know stopping running might be the easiest way to get things going again but I really hope it doesn’t come to that 🙁 **

The thoughts from my previous post haven’t just happened, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and have already been upping my nutrition. This was really important after my latest marathon as refuelling and recovering effectively would hopefully mean I could jump ease back into marathon training for Bournemouth (October 4th) without major tiredness, issues or injuries. So far so good, finger’s crossed.

Straight after a marathon is a really tricky time because, like most people I’ve spoken to, I really don’t fancy anything to eat. You’ve just run for a ridiculously long time and your body is in a bit of shock and probably feeling a bit dodgy. But this is a critical time to refuel and maximise your recovery, and if you leave it too long you can end up doing your body no favours.

To combat not fancying food I bought a recovery shake from Tesco to drink straight afterwards. Drinking something is far easier than eating something. It’s also easier to put in your bag and carry with you.

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I’d planned to take just regular chocolate milk but I liked the sound of this one with it’s added nutrients (vitamins, calcium, magnesium, etc.) and high protein (40g). Plus it was on offer in Tesco. It’s fairly low in carbs (10g) which was a bit annoying but I knew I’d get that sorted soon so I wasn’t concerned (looking at their website I probably should have chosen the Recovery version but this one wasn’t on offer…). And it tasted nice.

I’d drunk a bit more water immediately after finishing and actually wasn’t thirsty at all when my dad and me were back in the car. And I needed to pee about an hour later. Usually after a marathon it takes a fair few hours to need the loo (sorry, here I go again with my bathroom habits!). I think this is a great sign that I hydrated well, despite it being a very warm day.

We knew that we’d have trouble finding a place to eat driving back home because it would be late afternoon on a Sunday and most places would be closed. The day before when we were planning I suggested to my dad something I have never suggested before to him. How about a KFC? They’re always open!

I’m not a big fast food eater. I don’t like McDonalds or Burger Kings (why have a teeny plastic burger when you can have a delicious proper burger from a pub?) and fast food in general isn’t really my scene. However, you all know my love for a cheeky Nando’s and chicken in general and the thought of a dirty KFC after a hard run just sounded dreamy to me.

We did have to make a detour off our route home but we found one eventually. My dad was pleased to be allowed to legitimately have a KFC without me moaning at him. To be fair he hadn’t had lunch and had walked a fair distance, plus it seemed only fair considering how much of a help he was to me in supporting me.

IMG_3340 Not my finest look I must admit

I haven’t actually had a KFC since I was about 12 so I stood gawping at the menu for a bit having no idea what to choose. Eventually I went for a Mighty Bucket for One. Normally I might have been a bit dissuaded by the 1,200 calories listed next to this meal (which probably doesn’t include the fries) but hell I’d just run for 4.5 hours and needed it! I will just add, there are far better and more nutritionally sound ways to refuel after a marathon or workout – but for convenience, high calories and sheer god damn tastiness this was the ticket.

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It took me a while though to actually eat the damn thing though. My stomach was cramping and I felt sick. After taking a breather I dove straight in though. I couldn’t eat it all (pretty much all the chicken disappeared but the chips were just too much for my delicate stomach – I prioritised with what I love of course!).

After arriving home and having the best shower of my life (I think I always say this after a race), I was a bit hungry again but the thought of cooking something was beyond me as I was so tired. Instead I went for the easy and tasty option of a lemon and blueberry slice of cake (thank you, Freezer Stock).

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I also had some fruit and called it a night. Not a sound day of nutrition I grant you, but easy calories into the system nonetheless. The days after the marathon I made sure to keep my calories up (and of better quality). My favourite current meal is a monster salad of tinned salmon with avocado, butternut squash roasted in lots of coconut oil (heaven), and lots of veg. That might not sound that good but I made sure to have a lot of avocado in there and use a big blob of coconut oil.

And on the Tuesday after the marathon, a Nando’s before seeing Inside Out at the cinema after work worked wonders.IMG_3361I think I did pretty well last week on refuelling and I’ve continued this going forward. Some days I do feel stuffed though and that I’ve eaten loads, but at the same time I know it’s doing my body good. My mindset is that this is part of running well. It’s like my strength training. Most of the time I find it quite hard to feel the same enjoyment as I get from running when I go to the gym, but at the same time I know it’s important to do so I can run. The same goes with increasing my weight. I might not enjoy my clothes feeling tighter going forward, but I’d hate to not be able to run a whole lot more.

Going forward I’ll be posting about how things are going, what I’m eating and the changes I’m making alongside my usual mumbo jumbo!

How do you recover after a marathon/hard workout?

What do you eat immediately after you work out/race?

What’s your favourite fast food if you had to pick one?