Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Race Reviews: Feb 6th - Green Power 50km hike @ Hong Kong).

Writing a blog review for a 50km race is tough. I have only put down the small nuggets that I remember here.

The Green Power 50km hike was something that I signed up on a whim after hearing about it from my friend in HK. While he was running in the teams category, i decided to go it alone as I couldnt have managed getting a team from Singapore to HK.

The prospect was as exciting as it was daunting. I had never covered more than 25kms on foot before and several times before the race, i was occupied by thoughts of having bitten off more than I can chew. And to boot, the course is reasonably hilly with climbs and descents of several hundred steps on more than one occasion. However as a compensation, the weather in Feb (in HK) is chilly and therefore makes things a wee bit easier than if the race had to be run in blazing sun. Based on past information, i thought it would be good to target a time of 9:00 to 9:30 hours because of the both the distance and the terrain.

The run started off at the Peak where I found out that until the buzzer goes off, I am going to be freezing in the wind. In hindsight, being dressed in a singlet was the best thing that could have happened as after the first few kms, i had warmed up enough to start running at a even pace and be breathing comfortably. Even before I got to the venue though, i had a very challenging time getting ready cos i couldnt figure out where the switches to the lights in the living room were and got ready in extremely dim light! (It was 5.30am or so when I left Amberish's house and I didnt want to wake others up in trying to get ready so was pretty much tip-toeing all the time!).

Having reached the Peak and with about 15 minutes left for the race to start (6.45am), I took my Garmin 305 out of my bag, downed a powergel, took my 2xu running cap and gave my bag in for deposit. After my bag had been securely sealed in the luggage cage (which wouldnt be opened until the end of the race), i realized that i had forgotten to take my iphone out!! That was supposed to have been my companion for the next 9 off hours in the outdoors but brilliant me just forgot all about it. Dreading the hours of monotony ahead, i crossed the start line in windy, cold but otherwise 'excitable' conditions.

In the first 500 metres, my laces came undone and this can be totally frustrating, especially when you are running down a narrow path which is jammed with people as it is. I stopped to do them tightly, let several people through and then continued on my run. The first 10km were wonderful, with great views along the run including several panaromas of the HK bay area. I was chugging along at a 8.5k pace, running slightly faster on the flats and slowing down on the climbs and descents. The first water point was at 10km (1:20) but I decided to not stop as I had my hydration bag with me and was feeling good about the run. The next 9 kms ran through trees and over small rivulets which made for equally great trail runs, the end of which was the 2nd water point. I had originally planned to take my powergel packet here but was feeling strong and decided to plod on. I reached the 25km point in 3:20 which was surprising considering the fact that i hadnt really tried going fast or anything. Twice enroute, i had to stop at public loos and took my own time in waiting in the queue, using the facility and then getting back on the road. I had even stopped on the run to give some heat balm to another runner who was cramping severely. So despite all these delays, i still had managed good time.

At the 30km, I had to stop as my laces had come undone again and some small stones were troubling me inside the shoe. When i stopped here, it was the first signs of cramps coming on. I gingerly tried trotting but my legs wouldnt let up so had to walk until the cramps subsided and i could start a gentle run again. The 2nd half of the race was significantly more difficult than the 1st half with several long and steep climbs which made me stop and catch my breath on atleast 5 or 6 occasions. And to make things more painful, i realized that my Garmin 305 had lost satellite signal and i had not idea of how much more i had to go. As i kept up with a run/walk strategy, i saw the Garmin come back to life and showed i had another 14kms left which was in my mind doable. Trudging along until I reached the next checkpoint (which was 2 kms down), i found that the water stations had run out of cups and had to drink electrolytes straight out of a 2L bottle! At this point, i thought it would be good to check the remaining distance and was stunned to find out i had only 6kms left. This completely deflated me cos I thought that when I cross the 42.2km mark, i would remember the place for the rest of my life (my first marathon distance on foot) but i had already crossed it and was at the 44km mark! Continuing my way over the Dragon's back, and with a little less than a couple of kms to go, I figured that if I ran really fast, i could make the 50km mark in under 8 hours!! Miraculously my cramps disappeared, and i hit a 10kph speed from 48.5 until 50km which i crossed in a time of 8:02, much faster than what i had originally targetted!

In all, the race was fantastic because the terrain was lovely, the views awesome and other runners seemed to be enjoying the run as much as i did. If i come back to do the run again next year, i will be more ambitious and try running the race in 7:30 !! :)

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