Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hong Kong Marathon 2017 - Part 3

This is the first International Marathon that I will be doing a second time around.  The first time I did this race was five years ago.  At that time Per also joined me for the Hong Kong trip but opted to be a spectator.  This time she will run the 21km challenge as well (and hopefully we both make it to the cut-off time).

I am registered for the Marathon 2 wave, which is basically everyone who runs slower than 4:00 hours time.  Gun start time was at 7:00am for my race while for Per's 21km, it was at 8:30am.  

We booked the same hotel (Benito Hotel) as we did five years ago and it was because of its convenience to the starting line (one stress factor removed - travelling to starting line).

On Sunday morning, we were at the start area around 6:30am and were there in time to see the fast runners go off. My arsenal for this race consists of 6 GU gels and 6 salt tablets.  

Weather wasn't as cold as our first day in Hong Kong and that was a good thing as I could revert to wearing just my running shirt and shorts.  Shades, cap and Spi-belt with attached bib, completed my running outfit.  We took some pictures around the area and separated thereafter as my race started while Per went back to the hotel to rest a bit.  In an hour or so, she has her own race to run for!

One thing that benefits me during a road race is proper studying of race route.  To know where the turns are, the climbs and the water stations.

As it was a new route for HK (they changed it last year for their 20th anniversary), I had to look at it again.  And it was all uphill till 19th km!  And three bridges, two tunnels and multiple cut off points throughout the race course.  Definitely not easy!  Luckily weather was cooperating for this year's marathon edition (I read last year was horrible because of the hard rain).

Given the steep climb, I had to take it easy for the first part.  By 2km, I was winded already and took a 1-minute walk break before resuming again.  Next walk was 3km away.  But I enjoyed the weather and the scenery.  There were no specific time goals for me for this race. I was just here to enjoy it and savor the moment of running it among thousands of like minded people.

I may sound a little preachy but I knew that I couldn't do this race alone and needed His strength all throughout.  I usually burn out from 32-42km and hoped this won't happen here.  I quietly recited the Lord's prayer every time I reach a new kilometer and lifted this race up to HIM.  I also prayed for Per that she will do well in her own race.  I did what I can but confident that He will be there to protect me to the end.

The nice thing now is that they have released a live tracking App so friends and family can track your performance back at home. Example of this is the picture above which came from Alvin's phone while he is all the way in Manila, and tracking our progess.  Not that accurate at start of race (my status was saying that I was running at 5 min pace!  And Per was destined to finish her half marathon at 2 hours 15 minutes.) but it all re-adjusted at the finish line.

My goal was to reach 19km mark as that would be the hardest in the course given its ascend. Incidentally it was where the first cut-off was located too at 2 hours 50 minutes.  The bus was there, waiting patiently for any runner who will not make it to the cut off time.  I switched my Garmin screen to that of the time of the day.  From this moment on, I won't see current pace but just base it on the time of day.  This helps me see how far I am from the next cut off as they are spaced about 1 hour apart.  It seems organizers forgot to mention as to which distance cut offs will be imposed and choosing instead to put it in location points.  With the route map, it wasn't clear where said locations or cut off points were.  Given the 6 hour cut off of the race, I knew I had to run below 8:30 pace, and that was achieveable for me.

I was more worried for Per and hoped and prayed that she made it for the first cut-off for the 21km, which was at the 10km mark (1 hour 30 minutes). 

I monitored to when it will be her 1 hour 30 minutes and said a quiet prayer for her.  I kept going.

During this race, I took 2 salt tablets at a time instead of 1.  And did this twice in the race.  GU gels I took at various parts of race along with banana at one point and even a small chocolate bar.  (I ended up taking only two GU gels which was smallest amount that I took in a race.  For salt tablets, I ended up with four pieces.)

From 25km onwards, I split distance to 3-5km segment target goals so that it won't be too daunting. 30km to 32km (20-miler! Woo hoo!) to 35km (back in Hong Kong Island after running inside a tunnel).

This is the hard part.  When you are exhausted after running so long, you have to dig deep and keep going.  Once in Hong Kong Island, runners would go to Central and to Wan Chai and finally Causeway Bay.  In between, there is another flyover that we had to run (or walk) on.  

Then I was at 40km.  Only 2km to go.  My feet are sore.  My body is hurting.  But just a few more minutes and I can finally sit down to rest.

I saw Per in Causeway Bay and felt nice to see her again.  But wondered how she did in her own race.

And there it was - the big mat to the finish line!  Praise God!  The last 100 meters!

Fisted hands raised to the air!  Yes, I did it!!

And then it was over!  Two- time Hong Kong Marathoner!

Per made it too!  Close to cut off time with a time of 2:58 ++ but still sub 3!  

We are both ecstatic with our finish time. Per's bestfriend even called her race NAILBITING as it was too close to the cut-off time.

My race was my fastest marathon since 2012.  That was 15 marathons ago!  Ironically the most recent race that was only faster this one was my first Hong Kong Marathon! And yes, that was 5 year ago.

I got my finisher medal and loot bag and went to find Per at our meeting place in Starbucks Fashion Walk.  This was only 500 meters from the finish line but because they closed off roads for the race, it took me more than 30 minutes to get to her!  A benefit I guess if your hotel is near finish line (like that of Regal Hotel) so can rest right after running!

We were both tired but happy.  And had late lunch of crab congee and wonton noodles near our hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Race results came out that same night.  Talk about efficiency!

We did it!  To HIM ALL THE GLORY!


It was now time to celebrate!

Hong Kong Marathon 2017 Part 2

Here are some of the things that we did in Hong Kong prior to the big race:

Day 02 - Friday:
Woke up late and skipped breakfast for the two of us, which was awesome as it shows that we really are on holiday!  No work, no kids to worry about (they are in good hands under my parents care) and no plans for the day except to do one short 5km run in the city.  Reason for run is threefold: to loosen our legs for the race, to remove any anxiety we may have by running in Hong Kong cold weather and to help us to plan on the right attire and gear for the race.  Because of the cold weather, I was thinking of buying a light windbreaker for the race but as I didn't want to spend for it, I figured I would wear two (worn out but super comfy) running shirts and just throw one away when I felt that I didn't need it anymore.  I bought two shoes with me but with some pain in the soles of my feet during the short run, I opted to use the cushioned (read: heavy) New Balance shoes as hoping that it would make me last longer in the race.  My last decision on attire was whether to wear standard running shorts (which I have been doing for the past two years) or CWX compression pants to protect me from the cold weather (shorts won out on this).  With the short run, it helped me with the decision making- I would go to original plan of one running shirt, shorts and change my light running shoes to that of the heavier ones.  For Per, she vetoed her original plan of wearing her pink Soleus singlet in favor of running shirt and with light jacket over it.

Our running route was supposed to be just inside Kowloon Park but it was hilly there so we left the park and ran around Tsim Sha Tsui - from Nathan Road (where  race start will be on Sunday), we did a small loop that took us to the Cultural Center and Space Museum and back to the hotel. As we ran with my cellphone with me, our run became mostly a run walk as we stopped in a lot of places
just to take some pictures!  Tourist mode on! :(

Here are some photos taken from our "run":

Cheap dimsum after the run at One Dimsum in Prince Edward where we met some Cebuanos who are also doing the Marathon.

Day 03 - Saturday

Carbo loading day and I ordered two cheap but big meals at Cafe de Coral.

We also collected our race packs at Kowloon Park, which took about 10 minutes only.

Surprised to find out that Nike is now the sponsor of the race shirts!  Dry tech material! Yahoo!

Some more shopping at Harbour City before heading back to the hotel around 4pm so that we could rest our legs.

Slept a little, fixed our gear, had dinner and rested again.

Finally, race would start in 8 hours time!

To be concluded...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hong Kong Marathon 2017 part 1

For this year's edition, the organizers have changed the registration process.  Whereas for previous years, registration is on a first come first serve basis, this year it is based on lottery draw.  So regardless if you registered early or late, your odds are still the same.

This race wasn't part of my plans.  It was Tokyo Marathon, but since I didn't get in that race (via lottery method too!  And third time trying!), this race became a secondary option.  What luck that I got in.  And so did Per for her Half Marathon.

The one hard thing about this race aside from its infamous hilly route was the strict  cut off time it imposes for Half Marathon and Full Marathon runners.  For Half Marathon, it had a 3 hour official time (gun start) cut off with 1.5 hour cut off at 10km mark.  For Full Marathon, aside from the 6 hour course cut off, there were 4-5 other cut offs in the course, with the first cut off at 19km mark (2:50 time).  This was a race so strict that marshals will put up a net to block runners from continuing the race!  Runners will then be boarded to the sweeper bus and taken to the finish line.  Those who refuse will be barred from joining future Hong Kong marathon events!  Wow, strictness!

So there were a lot of pressure for me and also for Per, who hasn't done any running  in almost two years.  She has to cover the distance and the right pace to be able to be a finisher.  And she had 7 weeks to train for it, with zero mileage prior to it.  Gulp!

For Per, our initial plan was for her to still do the race and do her best.  If she couldn't get the pace done, then she could enjoy the sights of Hong Kong city and at worst case scenario she will still be able to run 10km (and get shuttle bus to finish line).  But she was still
committed to train and do her best for it. So will see how that goes.

For me hopefully a 5:30 finish time, and try to beat my Milo Marathon 2017 of 5:46.  With this target, less pressure as well for the cut off time.  

We paid for our fees and booked our plane tickets (via Cathay Pacific promo) and hotel room (direct booking at Hotel Benito as cheaper than through  

This would be my second time for me
to run the Hong Kong race so wanted to book at the same hotel as we did before (5 years ago!!).  Hotel was super near the race start at around 200m distance only so that was helpful.  Got bigger room this time for us!

I didn't mind doing this race again as organizers changed the route last year for its 20th Anniversary so at least it would be different from the one i ran in 2012.  This also marks the first international marathon that I would do more than once.  A new milestone!

We arrived in Hong Kong thursday afternoon and took airport bus to hotel.  Some shopping and eating and Day 01 in Hong Kong was done!

Three days left before the actual race!

To be continued..

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Race Review: PSE Bull Run 2017

This is the first race for 2017 and similar to last year's edition, I joined the Half Marathon race.  My goal was to beat last year's pace of 7:37. It helps that I was able to blog about it last time so that it will be easy to track down my performance and results.

So I am writing this again in case I need it for reference for PSE Bull Run 2018.  Haha!

Anyway, this would be part of my 32km long run for the weekend but rather run it at LSD average pace of 7:30 per kilometer, I decided to race it just to see how fit I am (and if I can sustain the distance at the pace I wanted).

My goal is to not only beat last year's race but hopefully to do an average pace of 7 minutes per kilometer so I can finish the Half Marathon at below 2:30 time.   But I wasn't sure I could do it as haven't been doing any speed runs lately. 

My legs though felt good, having it rested since Thursday.  And I was sure I could finish this race in terms of distance.

The gun start for the Half Marathon was at an early time of 4:00am which is something I can never get used to!  I was still dazed, sleepy and had a minor headache when Alvin came to the house at 3:15am.  Blame it on the two hour sleep the night before from
doing... nothing!  Just aimlessly flipping TV channels.  Zombie TV time!

We got to the race early, well early for us with about 10 minutes to go.  And saw Jaymie "TheBullRunner" there with her son, who seemed to have inherited her running genes.

Saw my sister and brother in law and some friends too.  All were doing the 21km distance.

Alvin had his own goal of sub 2 hours so he went to the front of the wave as our race started.  I was comfortable running at the back end of the pack.

Like in previous editions, the route was a hilly workout as it took us to Kalayaan Bridge and Lawton Avenue/ Bayani Road or as Alvin and I call it, "the Old School route".

As part of my own training, I would try and drink at every 5 kilometers to try and emulate the hydration stations in Hong Kong Marathon which I shall be doing a second time in three weeks time.  And every time I stop to drink, I would be conscious and spend one minute walking in that area, nothing shorter (so legs can recover from fatigue) or longer (so pace won't slow too significantly).

I had 3 GU gels with me as safety measures but ended up not taking a single one.  I also skipped the banana
station as figured it would take more
than a minute to consume that.

Surprisingly my pace was below 7 minutes even with the hills.  I kept muttering to myself ,"You are going too fast.  You are going to burn out."  But I felt strong and couldn't really slow down. In fact I was going faster.  But cautiously fearing that that won't last long for me.

I honestly missed running the races (except for super early gun time) and this was one I wanted to try my best in it.  Nevermind the fact that I had to run 11 km more after it.  I will just cross the bridge when I get there. GULP! 

I was good all the way, then we headed to Lawton Avenue and there was a curve ball which I didn't expect: a right turn into steep Mckinley West.  A short burst of profanity to myself (sorry!) as I realized where the route was taking us but I had no choice but keep on going.  Took a water/walk break there before resuming the run again.

I should study the race map better next time! Grrrr!  Don't like surprises!

It helps that the weather was chilly and sun wasn't out yet.  Pretty soon I made the U Turn at Bayani road and started to go back to BGC.

That was when the 2:30 pacers overtook me!  What the!  I checked my Garmin watch and I was running at 6:40 average pace.  That meant that they were even going faster than my pace!  For a 2:30 pace that would roughly covert to a 7:00-7:05 average pace so why were they going at below 6:40 average?  That wasn't right and I felt sorry for the runners who joined these pacers and got burned out for running at a fast pace.  Not sure if pacers knew what they were doing in this.

Either way, I never caught up with them but focused on my own pace.  There was a part at 18-19km wherein my right arm had excruciating pain.  I didn't know where that came from but kept going using my legs for running and rotating my arms in clockwise and counter clockwise directions to lossen it up.  Praise God that after 1 km, the pain subsided and I could focus back to the running.

Finally, the end of the race was near. It was a final push to...the stoplight!  Yep, marshals made us stop and wait for traffic to cross before allowing us to run again.  "So bitin", I thought to myself but used that time to catch my breath.

And finally the real final push to the finish line!

With this being first half marathon for the year, it was an automatic PR for 2017.  But what was awesome was how it beat all my 21.1km times from 2016!  Even better news was when I dug deeper in my own running history and found out that last time I ran a half marathon that had a faster time than this race was back in 2010! A 7-year record!  PRAISE GOD for this!!!

After resting a bit and getting high from the good time in the race, Alvin and I resumed our 10.5km additional mileage so I can complete my 32km day requirement.  Of course at a much much much slower time!

Thank YOU GOD for an awesome race
time and for keeping me safe the entire time.

In terms of race organization, it was well handled again by Runrio team.  Easy to claim loot bags, finisher medals at the finish line, ample water and Gatorade stations, good loot, and banana stations.  They probably need to improve runners doing the pacer duties but since I didn't run with them, I wasn't affected by them either.  Hopefully marshals won't stop us too when we are so near the finish line but I guess that's part of how they manage the race and the traffic in that area.  Congrats to the race organizers for a job well done!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Race Review: Gatorade Run 2016

This was my first time to not only join a Gatorade race but also a 22-km distanced road race.  The big come on for this race (at least from my perspective) are the Adidas singlet and finisher shirts.  They even have price tags on them for P995 each so that more than makes up for the P1,700 registration fees.

The route for this race goes around Mall of Asia area before doing a long stretch along Buendia Avenue all the way till the end and make a U Turn right before Kalayaan bridge (phew as didn't want to climb the bridge).  From the U Turn back to Mall of Asia area, there were two more turns before the finish line.  

It was nice how they had a special thing at the 21km mark as if to say that you have just done a half marathon but your race isn't finished yet. Haha!

School bands at the last 2km of the race also helped boost energy, which at that time I really needed as tired and shoulders were aching!  This is due to the back to back race I did this weekend: 10km Mcdonalds Stripes run and then this one.  So started this race with tired legs!

But by God's grace I was able to finish this race.  Thank YOU LORD!  

This was a good race and one I recommend to runners who can afford to pay a little more due to how they managed the race and the shirts that come with it.  I hope I get a chance to join next year's event.  

Thanks to ADIDAS Ph for the free race kit. :)  A good year ender race

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Race Review: Mcdonalds Stripe Run 10km

I was fortunate enough to receive a complimentary 10km race kit for this event (thanks Joanne of EON) and I was excited for this race as it has been a while since I was able to join a 10km race (about 6-7 months ago!!!).

I joined past events of this race from a 10km solo run to 3km family run with my two kids (one in stroller) and wife.  And in all these events, the race was well organized.

For this year's events, proceeds from the registration fees will go to one of their charities:  Ronald McDonald Read to Learn Program.  So not only do you get to run a nice race and burn some calories but you are also contributing to lessening the country's illiterate population.

For the race itself, I have no target. Haha!  No speed or time trial but just to have a good run!  Route took us to Kalayaan Avenue and to BGC area.  There were only a few runners doing the 10km category as most were in the shorter distance with their families.

My legs were tight in the beginning and pace of 6:30 wasn't easy for me.  But I made it a point to run through the entire race and just stopping to drink or tie loose shoelaces.

All in all, a good and quick race and got a breakfast sandwich at the finish line.  Congrats to the race organizers!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

New Balance 25k pics and results

Race photos are available at pinoy fitness and facebook.

Race results are available as well