Hong Kong Marathon 2011!
I know, I know. Some may have noticed that on my previous blog (how to run a marathon...by not running it), I had mentioned that I would not run this one. However, over the course of the few weeks leading to the race, my ITB and knees actually improved. Therefore, I thought it would be a terrible waste of time and money to go all the way there and be a "pom-pom boy". So, I ran. But I promised myself that if I got any hint of pain, I would take it really easy.
On race day, the weather was about 12-15 degrees Celsius. Humidity 92%. There was the odd slightest drizzle at the start but it didn't bother anyone. It was the perfect weather. Well, at least to me it was.
This was my revenge race. I did a 4 hour flat on the same route last year because of a number of issues leading to severe cramps at 37km onwards. Had to shuffle all the way to finish. It was PAINFUL! But this year was different. I have a little more experience now with cramps and ways to avoid it.Yes, No Pain, no gain.
HK marathon is a nice race. The elevations are quite challenging. So, to do a PB here is quite difficult. But if you are just looking for a fun run with lots of picture taking along the way, then the elevations should not bother you too much. But if you are trying for PB, I suggest perhaps some flatter terrain like Beijing or Gold Coast would be ideal.
HOWEVER, that didn't stop some of my team mates from setting PBs. Amongst our Seremban runners were Dr. Foo (4:20 PB!), Dr. Lim (4:24 PB!), TC Lau (4:34 PB!) and Ah Heng. Steve was supposed to join us but due to some unforeseen circumstances, he had to cancel this trip. Very disappointing but unavoidable.
The route is the same as last year. But last year's weather was much warmer. It was about 20-25 degrees and humidity was 98%. As a result literally thousands ended up with cramps. I was one of them. The elevations were mainly through out the 3 bridges. But the nicer stretch was beyond 22km to 35km where there was a down hill slope. Most sped up in the second half. At least I did.
I was very cautious because I was not sure if my injuries would act up. Running like this was a new experience for me. Being careful every step of the way. But it was overall a comfortable enough race for me. Didn't exert myself too much. Took it easy on the first half with an average 5min/km pace. Later on, I increased my pace during the second half where there was less elevation.
Along the way, of course it was very entertaining to see an assortment of runners. But what caught my attention was mainly the Hong Kong runners. Most are from local running clubs and HK U etc. I noticed that they are overall very fast runners! I mean 3:30 and sub 3 was consider very normal for these runners. Some were "Ah Pak/Uncles" who are well in their 50-60s. Yet they were chit-chatting as they passed me by along the bridge. Very impressive runners indeed! I hope I could run like them when I am at that age. I wonder if their super stamina is attributed to training in this kind of temperate climate? Hmm...
Funny thing about this race was, it went by so fast. Weird feeling. It was not because I ran fast or anything. It just felt like a fast race. Some days when you are training, even 30km seemed like an eternity. Before you know it, we passed through the tunnels, and eventually the last km stretch where spectators lined the road sides cheering you on. This was a very strategic ending. Well thought and planned out. Because most would have reached their final ounce of reserve and this was just timely to boost their morale and give the runners a final lift. It was a feel good finish.
I finished not with any PB but a decent enough time of 3:28. In fact, it was a perfect race for me. I knew that I wouldn't do any PB on that day. Not in HK anyway. At the same time, I didn't want to jeopardize my Tokyo race on 27 Feb by going all out. So, it was just nice for me.
After the race, while waiting for the rest of my group, I had a chat with a gentle Ah Pak at the meeting point. He's probably in his 60s. I casually asked him how he did. I initially thought he did a half. But he answered me as-a-matter-of-factly, "Well, I did the full. Not so good this year. I did a 3:27." Then he said something that hit me and gave me a healthy perspective about marathon running. He said: 比上不足,比下有余.
I was glad I had a chat with that man. I could now go away with something learned from this HK Marathon experience: Be humble. Be fast, but be humble. After all, everywhere we go, there will always be someone faster and better than you. Marathon is a discipline. It's more than just a race. It's very much like a race of life. Every race and every experience that we accumulate inadvertently expands you. I can safely say that it gives me a healthier perspective on life.
Enough about philosophies. I am glad I did HK. Now, I'll literally put up my feet and rest for the week. Tokyo Marathon beckons!