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!