Tuesday, November 25, 2008

crumbles (briciole)

yeah... Italians in HK are really leaving the crumbles to local opponents....
I already spoken about my race, but colliding on the calendar there was also the 10K Championship (I bite my fingers to have missed it... ) and my fellow Italian Stefano has destroyed the field with a 31'20" that got very close to the HK record.
He left behind all the best runners in HK, including the 2-times Triathlon Olympian D. Lee (who is an outstanding runner, also holder of HK record).
Stefano. really my sincere congratulations because you had worked very hard with this race in mind since last spring.
Also his story is an incredible transformation from "Alsorun" to good runner in 1 year.
Below his profile as featured in the last number of the local runner magazine and also a gorgeous view of the field during the 10K race

ormai in HK per i nostri competitori rimangono solo le briciole...
gia' sapete del mio secondo posto alla Mezza Maratona (dietro solo ad un Kenyano in visita), ma in contemporanea c'era anche il campionato di Hong Kong dei 10K e il caro amico Stefano ha demolito gli avversari con una gara perfetta, con un tempo di 31'20" che lo pone molto vicino al record locale.
La competizione era molto agguerrita, incluso anche l'Olimpionico di Triathlon Daniel Li (un fortissimo runner... detentore del record nazionale).
Personalemente sono molto contento perche' Stefano meritava realmente questa vittoria avendo lavorato duramente dalla Primavera per arrivare nella migliore condizione a questa gara.
Tra l'altro anche la sua e' la storia di una trasformazione fulminante da "mezzo tapascione" a dominatore delle gare locali.
Il running magazine locale gli ha dedicato un profilo e poi una super inquadratura del gruppone della gara Nike (mi mangio le mani per non esserci stato... ma avevo fatto la scelta sentimentale di correre la Mezza sul "mio" percorso)

Monday, November 24, 2008

home run

Half Marathon, 2nd place Overall, 1st master, new PB in 1h14'27"

these are yesterday's data...

- for a crazy dispute between organizers, 2 major races (this half-marathon and the extremely popular "big swoosh sponsored" 10k championship) were colliding on the same date. Really too bad. It was a pity that our Half Marathon was with a very thin field of good runners.

- Why did I choose to run the HM? the course is my usual training ground, so I was on my home field, but most of all I wanted to go back to the same race where 2 years ago I understood that my running needed to changed direction. I finished with a very poor 1h23' and I was crawling in the lasts miles.
After that race, I did a deep search on wherever possible (books, Internet) on what could have been a better way to train and how is really the right formula to achieve results from your running.
After 2/3 weeks of little running and many searches and readings, I come up with the move to a more endurance based training and leaving aside the too frequent sessions of interval training.
At the time, I decided that running the Boston Marathon using the new approach would have been a good way to motivate myself. So I started the journey that brings me here today, same race, same course, but 9 minutes faster...

- The Kenyan runner (Thomas) did show up (he is also a very nice person, very friendly), so the race was for the 2nd place... He was so kind to offer us to go along with him, so that he could pace us at 3'15"/km pace and reach sub-70 minutes.... I had to pass the offer...

A quick race report:
* Pre-race conditions: barely acceptable. I was rested, but the achilles were painful all week and only a good dose of Voltaren did bring some benefit. I was also pretty sure that my stride is not yet 100% because of the tightness on the right tight
The physiotherapist did made some manipulation on Friday to release the tensions, but the muscles were so tight that his massage left me with bruises !! (it was incredibly painful, I was screaming and asking myself why to pay that deal of money to be beaten so hard...)

* Temperature suddenly rose after few chilly days, so it was already a good 20C at the start and quickly rose to 23C (the last 5k were really under a hot baking sun...)

* Starting field of around 500 runners, but the race for the 2nd place was basically to be settled between myself and my team mate G. (a very valid runner, 3 times winner of CC Marathon)

* I did not wear any HR Monitor for the first time in my life for a Half Marathon. I just wanted to run on the feeling and go head to head with G. Honestly sometimes it is distracting to watch your HR close to "heart stroke" level and you still have 5k to go...

* After the start, we followed Thomas (the Kenyan) and I was amazed from his effortless stride. We were running fast, but he looked like jogging. The 1k went in 3'15" (!!!!), so I decided that it was crazy to keep that pace and settled on my own pace. G. was more brave and kept going for another km, so he opened a decent gap.

I kept going at my pace, chipping aways seconds to G, until I got him at K9. He must have been struggling, because at the turn-around point I simply kept the pace, but I felt he was slipping behind. We passed the 10k still together in 34'59".

I felt relieved to be already on the way back home (and to the finish line) and clocked several Kms in around 3'30".
With 5km to go I did the silly mistake to start turning my head to see my advantage... the result was a clear evidence of the power of mind and the theory of central governor (see the Noake's book "lore or running" for details).
Being ahead with a sizable margin, with no reason to push hard, simply sent my brain in cut off and I started to feel tired all of a sudden. I was self-dooming myself to slow down to conserve energies.
My stride was pretty awkward. I felt the tension on the right muscles and I had several times to correct the gait and turn to a very strange shuffling stride. I did not feel capable to open the stride and really push at full throttle even if I had been fresh.

* the last 2k were pretty slower (around 3'38"), but the ankles were now painful and the sun was baking my head, so I cruised to the finish line without any sprinting attempt...

* for the records, the winner jogged to the win in 1h09' (if you have a PB of 64', then 69' must be a easy jog...). That's 5 minutes ahead of myself (2nd...).

If you wonder what to modify in your stride to run like a Kenyan Elite Runner, then give a look at these pictures (the 2 models are Thomas and myself )
Did you notice the extension of the rear leg ??

Here I am more relaxed, cruising in the last km. Good view of Shatin cycle path, Shing Mun river at the right, while the green fence on the left delimits the area used for the Olympic Games

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20/November - my "first workout"

I am still a little beaten up from last Sunday's long run. Honestly speaking, 38km "fast" are too much of a workout.I would say that either 35k at easy pace or 30/31k with MP sections are already an excellent workout.
I read that many Japanese or Kenyan runners have 1 or 2 super-long runs in their training cycle (i read of about 38/40km), but their recovery capability is much superior to ours...
So in the future I will stick to maximum 34/35k o even less if there are faster sections within.


This morning the temperature in Dongguan was a gorgeous 12C (the lowest this year) because of the northern monsoon so I did my first serious tempo run of the year...
On the outer ring of Qx town I clocked around 12.3-12.7 km in 46'00", with an average HR right on my MP effort (168bpm).
The Google Earth gave me 12.4km, but my Polar was for 12.7k . So the pace was around 3'38"-3'43"/km, which is not bad considering that is my serious workout in 6 weeks.
It was really a good effort. I felt some tightness in the right hip, but is going much better than 1 week ago. It was good that I was in control of the pace and effort and I manages the small undulations without seeing the HR skyrocketing.

The negative point is that I lost a lot of flexibility in my feet with all these achilles problem and I was really "slamming the feet" heavily... need to work on the stride..


Lastly, I got to know that next Sunday's race might see also a Kenyan runner at the start. There are some 2nd tier Kenyans based in Malaysia who take part in races around Asia.
The Half Marathon has a first prize award of a 100USD shoes voucher, so not real money...
Said that, that will remove a lot of passion in the battle for the 1st place and a lot of pressure also on my performance. I was keen to race hard for the victory, but 2nd or 5th makes little change, so I might decide to go out at Marathon pace as training session.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just got the latest copy of the local running magazine and I am almost embarrassed by a flattering compliment from another good runner, who was interviewed in a nice personal profile.
(the gentlemen is a very prolific runner, very solid performance and many victories. In my personal opinion his too many races go to detriment to giving his real best in some top races, but at the end he must follow what he feels best for himself)Dear Choi, thank you very much for labeling me a "talented runner" and remarking the event (almost one year ago) ... it is a compliment totally undeserved.
(I remember well that race... as mentioned, we were in a big pack and he started to push his own pace and drop one runner after the other, I was the last to be dropped...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wk 46 Summary

Training for a marathon in 3 weeks...

Wk 44: 25km
Wk 45: 64 km (4 runs)
Wk 46: 6 workouts, with 120km
I would not have expect to run so easily 120km, even missing a day. I think it all goes down to the temperature drop. Last week was fantastic with morning temperature between 15C and 20C and running was so easy...

Friday: 5x2km in 6'45"-6'50" on the track, to savour again some hard effort. I was almost ok, but the right leg is not working in the right way

Sunday: 38.2km long run with mixed speed, in 2h33' (that was like running a FM in 2h49'), so not really a easy pace. I felt really good and the Km went run fast. Time by time I was picking up the pace but I felt the tightness in the right leg and I had to slow down.
Basically I am ok when I run at 4'/km, but below 3'50" I start to feel tightness...
Also the ankles were hurting...
In the last 5km I opened the throttle and clocked 3'30"/km pace with hard, but comfortable effort.

My overall feeling is that I am aerobically fit, but it all goes down on how I can recover fully from all my pains/ailments.

Injury list:
Hip pain: diagnosed as hip bursitis. Is gone, but the physiotherapist told me that I have high risk of recurrence because of the poor biomechanics of my body
Hip Tightness: still there, whenever I increase the speed. I am working on it with stretching
Achilles pain: increasing, very negative. According to the PT, it is related to the unbalance in the legs, leg discrepancy, etc, etc. For this one, I am going on with streching, ice and Ipubrufen (by the way, the PT told me to take 1200mg daily to be effective).
Plantar fascitis: almost disappeared (at least a good news). I suspect that using the Asics Kayano only did provide more support to the foot and helped the healing.

So now 21 days to go... and I am like an old worn-out shoe...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Singapore, I am coming...

the things are:
- HK Athletics pushed me again to run in Singapore

- my wife got excited of the idea that I was running representing HK and that was really a special opportunity, likely unrepeatable. We did a contingency plan in case of an early delivery (the due date would be December 18th) and, at the end, she was the one pushing me to go (incredible... my wife supportive to my running mania must be a sign of serious hormonal unbalance)

- I might not be at 100% condition, but running in Singapore removes a lot of pressure because it will be hot, so a slow race. My hip pain is affecting especially at higher speed where the range of motion is wider, but very likely in Singapore it will be enough to run around 3'55"/km.

Overall, I felt it like something unconceivable only until 1 year ago and a realization of a "kid's dream" (which athlete does not dream of representing his country in international competition ?).
I have been living in China and Hong Kong for 9 years, so it is almost like my own country (well, in other countries I would have already got citizenship...).

All said, I give it a try... If I can run well, the better, otherwise it will be anyway a great feeling just to wear the "Hong Kong, China" singlet and start in the elite sector.

now, the basic is: how to get ready for a marathon in 22 days ???? that would be a good title for some article on running magazines, but honestly I was already in tapering phase for a while...
I will try to make a long run this week end, run anyway the half marathon on 23rd to make a "solid" workout and keep the mileage higher until 4 days to the marathon day.
HKA is really weird in their approach, selecting the team with only 4 weeks to go (I know that they also contacted other male and female runners with the same timing).

Singapore's course

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

update 12/Nov

  • I am back to running. The hip is not 100% ok, I feel still tightness in the area and my stride is not yet fully normal. I can not "carry" the right leg in the best way to have a smooth stride.
  • I also got a bout of tendinitis to the achilles because I maybe resumed running too suddently. That complicates the equation...
  • I lost a bit of aerobic endurance, but most of all I am really "flat" whenever I try to rump up the speed.
  • The temperature dropped dramatically in 1 day... from 24C to 14C in 24 hours... now it is a paradise for running... Running at 27C compared to running in cool weather is like 2 different sports... now I understand again the meaning of "easy run" or "tempo run"... now the usual "crawling..."
  • Next race: I will take the start line of a Half Marathon in 10 days. The start is 1km from my home and the course is basically my usual training route... so I play at home... I hope that at least I can last the whole distance
  • Lastly, it is not really my lucky period. I got a call from HK Athletic to be invited to represent Hong Kong at the Singapore Marathon, as part of the HK team... that would be really a great honour and the maximum level of self-achievement for an "alsorun" like myself. Well, I had to decline because I might be more likely in delivery room in those days... what a difficult trade-off between such a family joy and this maybe unrepeatable opportunity...

Monday, November 3, 2008

3/Nov random thoughts

- October 2008 has been the warmest October in HK recorded history, with an average mean temperature of 26.5C (that is 80F as average....). Honestly, I did not need to read the official notice... I felt that the only difference vs July was much less rain and a bit less humidity.. otherwise was really ugly

- glad to see that yesterday in Seoul the 2 HK "official" representative (sent by National team) did very well for their records: Ms ADA a good PB in 2h56' and broke the 3hrs barrier. Mr Lau KM end up in 2h36' (also a PB for him), that projects him at the 2nd place of the HK ranking...
My regret is that I left Lau 1 minute behind at our last race before this marathon (the track meeting...), but I better quit regretting about what could have happened.

- lasty, it is time now to explain why I did chose Seoul and why so much regret about not running. Next month (December) I will become father again and therefore running has to take a back seat for a while. It is a great positive event that takes 100% of your life for a while...
Combined to my advancing age, I guess that yesterday might have been really my last good "shot" to a great run...
said that, I will try to do my best and if the training goes ok, I will take the line at the local HK marathon, hoping to make a decent race.
Our first daughter helped to come back to running and it was a driver to running better, now let's see what happened.
I overcome my depressing thought of quitting running for good, but I will race only if my fitness is ok and capable to fight for a good race like now.