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Posted: December 11, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Shimahara To Conclude Rigorous Year With Honolulu Marathon On Sunday

From David Monti
© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved RaceResultsWeekly.com

HONOLULU (10-Dec) -- Kiyoko Shimahara has a smile that isn't easily forgotten. She shows it generously with friends and strangers alike, always leaving the impression that life is good, even easy.

That smile, on display most recently in the lobby of the Outrigger Reef Hotel on Waikiki Beach where Shimahara addressed a small group of journalists, betrayed nothing of the hard months of racing she's endured this year. She already has three marathons under her tiny belt since February, and will do another here on Sunday when she attempts to defend her Honolulu Marathon title.

"I would like to be a champion again for a second time," she said through an interpreter as her Second Wind AC coach, Manabu Kawagoe, looked on. "It's a challenge to try different races in one year. I don't have any soreness in my legs."

Shimahara, who weighs only 43kg (95 lbs) and stands just 154cm (5'-1") tall, has to be at least a little tired, despite that unwavering smile. After placing sixth at the Tokyo Marathon last February, she won the Hokkaido Marathon in Sapporo on August 30, setting a personal best and course record 2:25:10. Seventy-seven days later, she ran the inaugural Yokohama Women's Marathon, finishing second in 2:28:51, beating Olympic medallists Constantina Dita and Catherine Ndereba. That performance provided a big boost for her Second Wind club which is financially supported by its 800 members instead of a big corporate sponsor like most Japanese teams.

"I had a good practice before the marathon," she said of her Yokohama race. "Everything was perfect. I wanted to be in the first place. As a first time running in the Yokohama Marathon, it was good."

On Sunday, 29 days after her Yokohama race, she will ask her legs to carry her 42 kilometers one more time this year. To get her ready, Coach Kawagoe focused on recovery then high quality training with relatively low total mileage.

"The program is to relax her tiredness from the Yokohama Marathon," said Kawagoe, "for her speed of running to improve. We don't really calculate the kilometers. If I count in a week it's 140 (87 miles)."

Shimahara, who turns 33 later this month, will be facing several formidable challengers on Sunday. Most notably, she'll have to beat a resurgent Margaret Okayo of Kenya, who holds the course records for both the Boston and New York City marathons. Shimahara knows that it will be tough to win again, but said she had a few advantages, including the participation of 40 Second Wind runners who can cheer for her after the race makes its turnaround in the second half.

"Now that I ran last year, I know about the course," she offered. "It's a small advantage, but I think it's a big advantage that members of Second Wind will join the Honolulu Marathon."

PHOTO: Kiyoko Shimahara (photo by Jane Monti)


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