Monday, March 05, 2007

Hong Kong Marathon 2007: The Race Report

Met the SAFRA MF group (20+ people) at Changi Terminal 1 at 4.45am. Our Jetstar Airways flight landed in HK on Friday afternoon. After we checked into Kimberley Hotel, we did a long walk around the Mongkok and Tsim Tsar Chui area. My legs were sore from the walking. I took lots of food to begin the carbo-loading process...sweet potato, smelly tofu, dessert, lots of other local favourites porridge, noodles, beef hor fun. Managed to get the casio watch we have been looking.

More Carbo Loading
Went with Alan and cm on Saturday for more food near the Times Square area...Sampan porridge, butterfly bun. Also bought a pair of adiZero KAHA (Singapore doesn't seem to have this model) at a good sale price. Ricci, Elaine, DO and I decided to do a 'traditional' pre-race carbo-load dinner at The Spaghetti House. It was a 'first' for me...having pasta for carbo-loading. I had a cream-sauced linguine, which I thought was not too bad. The others enjoyed their pasta meal thoroughly. I was so stuffed that night. I ate so much over the past 2 days that I weighed in at 67kg, another kg piled on, my heaviest for the past one year *sweat* haha

Race Day
Woke up at 5.30am on Sunday..had 4-5 hours sleep. Washed up, and had breakfast of raisin bun, meusli bar and a coffee. A check with the weather on TV showed some light rain and high humidity... hmm, hoped it won't rain bad. Went down to the Hotel Lobby at 6.50am and met up with the SAFRA MF gang. We proceeded to the start point just a street up near to Miramar Hotel along Nathan Road, and they were just about to flag off the 10km social runners. The 10km and 21km competitive were flagged off much earlier to avoid having them crash into the full marathoners. We took some photos, and bumped into a few familiar faces. The atmosphere in HK is markedly different from that at the Singapore loud music, no 'get-them-up' chants from professional MCs.. pretty quiet, despite the much larger turnout than in Singapore. There were 43,000 runners this year at HK Marathon...gosh!

The Race
From those who went last year, we were advised that all runners will rush on the start, and may push slower runners if they do not get out of the way. So, we decided to queue about 100m from the start point. The race started without any gun nor horn, and we didn't even know other than for the shuffle up front. We walked slowly for quite a while...heh, the race had actually started...the runners cheered... but why were the people walking? Where was the 'rush'. I decided to start my own time after about a min of walking. I crossed the Championchip mat, and the race began for me. I was unable to move fast, and decided to be patient and jog slowly. I could see Derrick, DO, Bug, Alan moving ahead...Kumaran, Ong, Jimmy must have been further upfront.

After shuffling for what seemed like eternity, I caught a glimpse of the 2km marker...looked at my watch, and it showed 14min+...WTF, 7min+ per km? and I was still not moving in that sea of runners...Cham! I decided to weave around a bit, and tried to recover. We hit the highway after about another 500m, and it got slightly better. I was able to move on to 5:45min/km pace, and this went on for up to the 6km time was like 35min. Waah! so slow man! I saw some of the impatient runners running outside the boundaty, and I followed suit. That allowed me to increase pace...ok...time for me to catch up. The waether was rather humid, and many runners were complaining. It was ok for me, coming from humid Singapore. I hit the 10km mark in, lots more to go. More breathing room along that stretch of boring highway, as I made my way towards the First Bridge (Cheung Tsing Bridge)...ahhh, some scenery of the massive sea and mountain/tall buildings backdrop.

A light drizzle had started. Along the Bridge, some of the front runners were spotted. Kumaran was on the return as I reached the 13km mark. Ong and Bug were about 1km behind, then followed by Derrick, and Jimmy Chow. Wow, I was real far back, as I was still running towards the Bridge U-turn. Then I saw DO...he must have been at least 1km in front. Then only I realized that I must have been stuck behind the crowd for too long. I increased my pace, and it was full throttle from then on. I reached the 15km mark at about 1hr22min... Then it was onto the Second Bridge (Ting Kau Bridge). I was maintaining a 5:20min/km pace. Saw Ong and Ricci on the return, then Derrick. Reached the 21km point (U-turn at TK Bridge) in 1hr56min.

The next stretch was just back along the boring highway, and into the tunnel. Bug had told us that he cramped last year at the 28km mark, just coming out of the tunnel. I was watching out for that section. Drinks were ample along the way. Bananas and Kit Kat were given at various points starting from 23km. The road on the highway were quite uneven, and not so nice for running. It was a lot better in the tunnel. The bus (to pick up injured runners and those that could not make the cutoff at various points were moving along the leftmost lane). I saw a familiar SAFRA running top at about the 26km closer, it was Alan. I urged him to keep going in spite of his not too good 'throat'. I came out of the tunnel (28km mark) and saw the upslope that Bug spoke about. It was ok, but quite a few people were slowing down. I overtook lots of people from that stretch onwards. 30km was reached in 2hr43min. The numerous downslopes were straining my hamstrings, and I was fearing for cramps from that point.

It was boring and pretty 'mental' running this route, though the weather was ok for me. There were many runners aound me thoughout the run to provide some distractions, else my mind could have drifted away easily. It was another tunnel around the 33km mark. I tried to increase speed further to attempt to finish below 3hr50min. It was good going along that long tunnel stretch, and I was quite happy I managed to hold off the cramps thus far. Came out of the tunnel at the 38km mark, and was met with quite a huge and curvy slope. I had to slow down as it was quite hard to run. 2 gal runners overtook me strongly at that point. I tried to follow them, and they just got further away. From then on, more challenges, more steep slopes laid ahead...I was surprised with the large numbers of runners walking up the slopes at that point... they were all on time for sub-4hr, so I wasn't sure why they were not pushing for the final leg... maybe they knew better that more slopes await them ahead?

Final km & Finish
The final 2.5km was all slopes, both up and down. My calves and hamstrings were 'beaten' to death. I could feel my claves trembling, threatening to erupt into cramps. I slowed down many times, and it was just fortunate the calves were cool enough not to seize up from the heat generated...Phew. With 1km to go, I decided to give it a burst...The remaining slopes had taken whatever time I have made up in the earlier stretches...I knew I could not make my PB of 3hr48min at that point. I was just happy to finish the run without any cramps, within my target of sub-4hr for this race. Someone shouted at the final 200m for a photo shot...I turned, and gave a smile. At the finish, I made sure there weren't anyone as I crossed with my arms raised. Alvin captured a nice photo of me with the Clock Time of 3hr51min. Chairman and Jaime were positioned just after the finishing line to get another pose from me...nice work of them to get themselves into such a strategic spot. I stopped my watch, and it showed 3hr50min40sec. I estimate that the Chip Time to be 3hr49min+...will see the official results later.

I could see DO walking towards the water point. Derrick who finished just a min behind came up to give me a Kit Kat...haha. Yah, time for a break! We walked together to get water, and met up with Kumaran, Ong, Ricci and Jimmy to cool down. Kumaran did 3hr30min, Ricci 3hr37min, Ong 3hr38min, Jimmy 3hr44min, David 3hr48min, Derrick 3hr50min, Wong 4hr4min, Alan 4hr8min, Phei Sun 4hr20min. All did very well, especially for Jimmy and Ricci. However Ricci's knees really took a beating and he was limping very badly after the race...hope he will now rest and recover well. Desmond (sci) came to join us...he did 3hr51min, very good too. We all took some nice group photos, returned out chips, and took the Star Ferry back to Hotel for a nice wash up. By 2.30pm, we were out of the Hotel and went on to Times Square, Causeway Bay for yummy wanton noodles, dessert and the famous Hui Lao San dessert. In the evening, we went up The Peak and visited the Wax Museum. This is the first time I did not suffer any cramp in a full marathon, and due to our good conditioning at training, I did not suffer much aches at all. It was as if I just did a normal weekend, I hope all my future runs would be like this.

I took the morning flight back to Singapore the next day (Monday). The rest of the SAFRA gang stayed on for another day to visit Macau, Disneyland and do more shopping.

Gun Time: 3hr51min22sec Nett Chip Time: 3hr49min52sec
Distance: 42.195km Pace: 5:25min/km
Age Group Position: 247 Overall Position: 705

Full Results (Men Master I) HERE!

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At 11:27 PM, Blogger weishan said...

Congrats for a race well-ran!!! :)

At 1:59 PM, Blogger run to live said...

congrats...BTW, i think Singapore has kaha...belongs to the last season shoes..that's y not on the shelf anymore....the one in singapore is Black in colour....i dun find it any diff from the yellow breeze except for the colour


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