Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hong Kong Marathon 2018

Third time to run this race and all three are for the Full Marathon distance!  What is wrong with me?!

But since I already booked tickets and hotel for the same dates for this race, why not make the most out of this trip?  It was the first time I joined any race via the charity entry, as didn't get in via the normal lottery entry.  Fee was more expensive at HKD 1,500 but they are all for good causes, and still a lot cheaper vs other Charity entry International Marathons (with minimum amount to collect from USD 2,000 - 5,000).

Nice medallion included in race pack!

Out of the three HK Marathons I have done, this will be the first time that I will be staying in Causeway Bay (Regal Hotel), which is where the finish line is located (Victoria Park).  For the other two Marathons I have done, our hotel of choice had always been Benito Hotel as it was near the Starting Line.

This was also my first Marathon outside the Philippines where I didn't have Per with me for this race, so it was kinda different this time around.

But Alvin and first timer John also got into this race (via the normal method of registering) so at least I had some company going to the starting line.  We were all checked in at the same hotel and on race day Sunday, we all met at the lobby around 5:45am to head to Tsim Sha Tsui via the MTR.  We all opted not to leave anything at the baggage counters and just had with us some cash (for Alvin at least), subway cards with enough load, and hotel room key cards.  As weather was cold early in the morning, both Alvin and I were wearing some fashionable garbage bags.  Haha!

Going to the starting line was quite easy and we were there by 6:20am, still quite early for the 7:00am gun start!  Bathroom is an issue due to the big crowds that day but we were able to manage it (via key card from nearby hotel).  Did some stretching before we all walked together to the starting line.

Race incline posted at Nike store, Causeway Bay

The route for this race was the same as that of last year.  I paid attention to the steep hills again.  First 19km should be taken slow as it was a climb most of the way, then just go faster (if possible) on second half.  There will be bridges and tunnels again just like in the previous years.

Getting ready for the race!
Weather was a little warmer at 16 -20 degrees vs the one I ran last year at just 7-8 degrees.  But weather was still nice and a lot colder than in the Philippines.

My weapon for this race are 6 GU gels, 8 salt tablets and Kinesio tape on my back (both upper and lower) and both knees.  (I ended up using 4 GU gels and 6 salt tablets by alternating them at the water stations).

For this race, I also took three bananas for fear of conking out.  My breakfast was lighter vs before as had only two slices of bread with peanut butter (vs three slices last year) and an UCC instant cold coffee, which I bought at 7-11 store the day before.

I also stopped for two toilet breaks during the race- one at Mcdonalds before 4km and along Nathan Road, and the second time at the halfway mark via one of the few portalets they had on the course that didn't have any lines on it.

Here are some of the shots taken on the route courtesy of John, who was doing his first full marathon:

There were some problems for me during this race - at 10km the Kinesio tape on my left knee unraveled so I kinda panicked that it was coming off.  I decided to just leave it hanging there like a half torn band-aid as figured at least some small part of the knee was still being protected!  Haha!

And my right foot was in pain as well at 15km.  That was too early!  And I had to do toe bends while running and land on my right foot differently.  When pain was gone, I would go back to my normal landing.

Shoulders were also tight but didn't pose that much of a problem for me.  I just had to loosen my arms and neck from time to time.

My initial goal for this race was just to finish it.  Haha!  But then they had a Progressive Award certificate given to runners who can beat their previous time record.  So that kinda drew me in and gave me a target - to beat my 2017 HK Marathon time!

Last year, my pace was at 7:31 average pace with a total time of 5:16:56.  So I should try for a below 7:30 pace and total time of below 5:16 to get this certificate.

My pace and time for the first half was quite good for this target at 7:33 average and time of around 2:41.   Given it was the hard part of this race and average pace wasn't that far from my target of 7:30, I was quite optimistic for it.

But it was hard maintaining a lower pace and then keeping it for the second half.  I kept praying throughout the race and hoped for a safe finish, never mind the goal.

Luckily through answered prayers, the sun never came out!  And I was happy for that.

Finally after more than 5 hours of running, I was near Causeway Bay area.  I looked at my pace and it was hovering at 7:30 pace but time wasn't enough to make it to below 5:16.  I kept looking at my Garmin as the time slowly moved towards 5:16, and I was no way near finish line.  I was exhausted, tired and drained and just wanted to sit down somewhere and rest.

As Per didn't join for me in my HK trip, I didn't expect to see anyone near the finish line.  But amazingly someone was jumping up and down and screaming my name!  It was my sister with her husband and daughter and they were all cheering for me.  Wow, that was awesome.  It gave me a big smile as I waved to them, forever thankful that they were there cheering and smiling at me.

It was just 1km to go or less but my Garmin had surpassed the 5:16 mark!  Oh well, I won't let this one thing ruin my race.  Given the boost in morale from seeing my sister, I ran faster all the way to the finish line and finally crossed it!

My final time was at 5:18:20 with an average pace of 7:29.  I have achieved target pace!  But unfortunately due to the bathroom break at Mcdonald's my total distance was longer from last year and I didn't beat last year's time!

I cried a bit after crossing finish line as I was emotionally drained and was just so happy to have finally finished the race.  It took everything from me but I was glad that I crossed the finish line with a good time.


I met Alvin at the finish line who said that he won't run this race again as it was just too hard!  Haha!

We went back to our hotel nearby to await for John to finish his race, and finish he did.

After a quick rest and shower, we all celebrated at Delicious Kitchen followed by a visit to Nike Store.

the coveted finisher medal!

all happy now that race is over (and eating our two meals each!)

The next day, with my legs still quite sore, I went back to the Nike Store in Causeway Bay and got the finisher shirt there.  Nice thing about this shirt is that it comes with a bag and you can put your gun time on both shirt and bag with a marker that also comes with the price.

What a nice souvenir of the race!

Thank YOU LORD for YOUR strength!  Thank YOU family and friends for your prayers! :)

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