Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon is my 5th marathon so far.
As with all my other marathons, I train for it not wanting to suffer or get injured during the 42.195km run. Running marathon is not something that I will take lightly. Even with 2 months training, I still find it very tough to complete, it will always always involved some sort of pain...no matter how hard you train. (I am saying this as a normal human being, Kenyans are super human...they seems to be born to run so 42km is nothing to them)
Anyway, 2 months prior to event day I have started training. Bought a new pair of running shoes on the New Year (new year gift to meself) and from then I started my marathon training in it. I actually do not have that many weekends to train for LSD (Long Slow Distance), juz 6 weekends. So I started my first weekend with 21km LSD, the next one 23km, 25km, 21km, 30km
, 25km...and that's it, 6 weeks homework done! I felt really tortured during that 6 weeks...I dreaded weekend during those times. I was so glad when it was all over.
Huge SCHKM poster on the wall in one of the MTR station in HK
And so, CNY week flew past and it is time for Hong Kong. Time to get the marathon over and done with. I was expecting HK weather to be colder but the few days before the marathon when I was there, temperature hover around 19C to 22C. It was cool but wasn't cold.
I was traveling with Chin Chin, both of us running the full marathon. Our race bib collection date is on Saturday and collection is in Victoria Park in HK Island. Few months before today, we received a letter that state our registration information and collection date and time.
Banner directing us to the collection tent
Victoria Park is quite a big park. Many people were running around the park that morning. I was also tempted to do a short run to warm up the legs, but I didn't have running clothes with me at that time. Bummer...should have pack it in my bag :(
On top of that, I was having problem with my legs on Sat because walk too much the day before. We joined Gim May and gang for makanthon
on Fri evening. Because we wanted to makan
along the way, we walked 3 MTR stations instead of riding it. Bad decision. Woke up feeling some sort of pain on my left hamstring. I am quite sure it is not phantom aches or imaginary pain.
Got my runners pack and happy! The bag will also be use as a check-in baggage during marathon day
We were looking out for other familiar faces at collection area but didn't bump into anyone else. Whatsapp Gim May and gang and nobody responded to us (there's free wifi in Victoria Park provided by HK Gov). So we left the collection place headed for a carbo load lunch, and the plan is to go back to rest early and hope my poor leg will feel better the next day.
Here's what's in the bag for a marathon that cost HKD300; a bib, a baggage plastic bag, a technical T-shirt, a runner's guidebook, a statistic book showing you information about SCHKM (price money, number of runners for past few years, sponsors, etc etc)
We were all staying in Tsim Sha Tsui where the marathon start point is located. Gim May and gang manage to book a guesthouse closer to the startline, where as our guesthouse is one MTR station away.
On race day, I woke up feeling nervous (as like all other race day). Get ready, had breakfast, unload waste (hehe) and took the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui station. It was cold and windy that morning. I had my disposable raincoat on to keep warm.
Tey always has his camera handy
We walk towards baggage deposit area, there was a long row of trucks waiting for us. My truck was no. 47, so I actually had to walk quite a bit to the last few trucks. Submitted baggage, we slowly make our way towards the start line. There's so many people everywhere. From the brochure, it mention that there were 72,000 runners sign up in total. 13,000 people signed up for full marathon category alone. Organizer even have to split full marathon runners into 2 different group, the faster group started at 6:40am, while the slower group starts at 7:10am. Well, me, of course, belongs to the 7:10am group :-)
I was quite far back from the start line because I had to go queue up for toilet. It was so cold that morning that I had to go more often than usual. Before the start, 2 MC were talking in Cantonese...poor angmoh
-s would be so lost don't know what they are talking about. Throughout the race, all announcements and cheering were in Cantonese. Not very foreigner friendly lor...
We were let off on the dot at 7:10am (according to my watch which were sync to GPS time). One or two km after the start, we leave behind Tsim Sha Tsui's concrete forest and reach an open area, both side of the road were slope with little trees. That little piece of green slope becomes peeing ground for many guys. So many of them started running to the side of the road and mark their territory, LOL. It's a sight to behold.
Km4 is the first water station. I was quite thirsty at that point so I ran towards the water station. There were really so many people that I had to stop completely not able to move forward at all. I learnt later that actually, water station in HK Marathon stretches 500m or more (about 10 tables) so there's no worries about missing water stops. After the first water station, I got smarter. For the following water station, I usually skip the first few tables and let the crowd thin out a bit then only I run to the table to grab water.
Full marathon runners run across 3 bridges and 3 tunnels; Stonecutters Bridge, Tsing Ma Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge, Nam Wan Tunnel, Cheung Tsing Tunnel and Harbour Tunnel.
On the first bridge, Stonecutters Bridge is where the port is located, I think. Because there were a lot of those containers and those metal thingy I see near Penang Port. This is where I saw the first accident. Opposite the road where runners coming back, saw this old man lying by the side of the road with blood on his face and he seems unconscious. I am guessing he fall face first on the road. There were people helping him.
After the first bridge we went into a tunnel to pass this hill very similar to the Ipoh tunnel. It suddenly felt very warm but nothing too uncomfortable. My pace automatically increased to 6 mins/km pace because of the sudden absence of wind and I was running at the same effort. Never underestimate the power of wind, it can tires you down. The wind had been strong that day, running on the bridges was tough...so I am quite happy to be in the tunnel away from wind.
Coming out from the tunnel, we continue on to Tsing Ma Bridge and u-turn at one point. We get to see who's ahead of us and say hi to familiar faces; only if they heard me calling them, sigh, runners with earbuds stuck in their ears. Back to the start of the Tsing Ma Bridge we make a sharp turn onto the last bridge called Ting Kau Bridge. As we were reaching the sharp turn, I saw a 2nd accident happen just in front of me. This guy, I believe having tired legs, just trip and fell knee first on the rough tar road. Ouch! I heard the sound of skins scraping the road...it sounds really really painful. As it was downhill that time, we had a bit of momentum on us so with a fall, for sure the scrap would be real bad.
It was about 18km at this point. I wasn't enjoying the view anymore because it is just bridge, water and a lot of roads. I started to feel the pain on my skin at underarm (brushing of skin on arm with jersey) and my chest (brushing of skin with sports bra). No thanks to the new bottle of Body Glide that doesn't prevent chaffing. My old bottle works really well for me but this new one doesn't work :(
I stop at the First Aid tent to get a plaster from them. Stick it to where it pains and continue on. Plaster helps on the chest, but the underarm one wouldn't stick. It was really uncomfortable and painful. Ran into the 2nd Tunnel and again, my pace improve to low 6 mins/km pace. It was around km26 coming out of the tunnel. I am looking forward to the Harbour Tunnel linking Kowloon to Hong Kong Island as I remember that it will be km 31 when we enter it, which is also very close to finish line. At this point, I can't wait for the marathon to be over. Everywhere is in pain!
Doing some calculations in my head along this boring 6km, it seems that I will still meet my target finish time of 4hr 40mins. I am pretty happy with the thought of that. Boring...until came the Harbour Tunnel. Steep down into the tunnel (~20m below sea level), 2km in the tunnel and 500m very very steep climb back up. 500m to climb from 25m below sea level to 5m above sea level, after been running 34km. That is like a super duper tough feat. If that is not tough enough, after coming out from the tunnel, we have to run up a ramp, some sort like a flyover some more. Arghhh, I slow to almost a walking pace.
Coming down the ramp, we ran along Victoria Harbour towards Victoria Park where the finishing line awaits. At this point, the marathon and half marathon route were already joined together so there were really a lot of people. At some parts, it was really tough to run as there were many people slowed down to walk already. I was really tired and in pain. I saw my 4:40 goal slowly slipping away. I wanted to run faster, push harder but there's just no more energy in me to do so. Pain and tired is the only thing in mind, and of course the disappointment of not meeting my targeted goal. Regardless, I still have hope to better my previous Personal Best.
I kept running (or what it seems like running to me) with a very heavy feet, dodging people along the way.
And there it was, the sign that says last km to the finishing line. Wow, that must have been the longest ever 1km I have ever ran...
Zoom! and I did it. I cross the finish line at 4hr 45mins. 2 mins better than my previous Marathon time. Yay!
Boo! that I missed my goal by 5mins :-(
We were urge to keep moving forward as not to block the finishing line. Walk along...and just right ahead, I saw Chin Chin. She finished a min ahead of me. As we continue walking, this guy standing beside us suddenly collapse on the floor. He had some sort of seizure. First aid-er quickly rushed to his help. As we walk along we were passed goody bag and finisher medal. In the end, reached our baggage collection area. Collection was fast, I just need to go back to my truck number and they can find my bag very quickly.
Look at the amount of people; Background: skyline of Hong Kong
Overall, it was a very well organize event seeing that there are 72,000 runners. Volunteers are cheerful and helpful. Temperature was cooling at around 20C. The problem is the overwhelm amount of people, the many 'hills' that I have to climb (bridges and flyovers), the windy condition and the crowded road.
I ran from 7am to 12pm. Got a very clear tan line of my running jersey on my shoulders. I didn't put sunblock.
Look dry right? If in Malaysia, I sure wet from head to toe (still can manage a little smile although I am very much in pain)
And that ends a very long story of my fifth marathon experience.
p/s: sorry no photo from the run. I am serious runner, no carry camera to run
Labels: All about ME, Healthy living