Monday, December 8, 2008

a review on the marathon

back to HK, here a more relaxed review of the race.

The organizers were very "supportive" to the sport, by inviting not only the usual Pro runners, but also asking to most of the Athletic Federation of South East Asia to send a couple of athletes.
For athletes from poor countries, it was a fantastic opportunity to race abroad, something that maybe that would not be able to repeat in their whole life: so I was very pleased to see a couple runners from Myanmar, from Sri Lanka, from Nepal, India, China and Indonesia (with a very kind and young female runner) and so on... at the start I also noted a barefoot (!!) female runner from India.
Said that, we are treated with fantastic hospitality and it was very interesting to see the working of the "Elite" section of a mass marathon.
There was a "technical meeting" to explain the course and other pedantic details (kind of "put your bib in the front" ... speaking to a audience of Pro runners..) + a course recognition by bus.
During the meal times, the big round tables were usually clustered by runners grouping by language: so a big Kenyan table, a big Ethiopian table, Russian table and so on... at the end, we were almost naturally forced to create a "greater China table" with our colleagues from mainland China, Macau and ourself (honestly to speak about running in Mandarin was not easy for me, a specific vocabulary to be learnt...).

Saturday evening, light dinner and than in bed by 9pm for a 2.50am wake-up call.
I took some Melatonin to sleep, so I was sleeping like a baby when I heard the bell ringing...
dressed, breakfast and short walk to the start point.

I felt incredibly excited, but I was sincerely quite anxious on how the right calf would have managed.
The Voltaren did have effect on the achilles and they were almost painless, but the calf was very tight, even if I did massage it in continously during the week.
A side effect of the Voltaren was that my intestine was blocked since 24 hours, so I felt weight down there, but there was nothing to do, just hope for the best.

5.30am.. gun goes (I was in the first line)
The weather was almost "pleasant". It was around 24/25C, with 80%rh and some breeze. The air is much cleaner than in Hong Kong, so I did not feel the same level of disconfort that it have been usual at those high temperatures. With sunrise, 1 hours later, the temperature went up to around 28C/29C.
It is totally dark outside, empty streets, no spectators.

the Elite Male all run off like rockets, while the Woman started in a different fashion: the Africans started like hell, while a pack of Japanese and Russian took it very easy and I hang up with them for a while.
My expectation was to run slightly below 2h50' pace (hence 4'00'/km) until the very few last kms and then maybe place a "sprint" to gain some 30" somehow.
I was conscious that my limiting factor would not have been the cardio-vascular system or general fatigue, but how much stress the right leg could have supported.

I was running with an abnormal stride, because I could not flex the food completely. But I run quite easily at my target pace of 4'/km until the Half (passed in 1h23'46") and I started to pick up many runners who were completely blown up by the heat.

but around 29.5k I felt that my intestine was in rebellion to the side effects of Voltaren and it was imploring for relief... so I made a long pit stop right at 30k mark and felt much better, with not that heavy sensation on the guts.
In spite of the stop (1-2 minutes), I felt still ok and decently confident, but not more than 500m later, the calf completely locked.
I was no more able to run at all, unless using one leg only and crowling back the right leg.
Stop? quit ? I thought about it, but it have not fair for those who selected me to race.
So I crawled at around 4'30" pace for 11km more... stopping time by time for a strech of the calf or for massaging it...
it was brutally endless... and I was not alone: I overtook 3 Russian women struggling and even last year Woman winner (an Ethiopian) crawled with me for several kms.
At the end I was done in 2h57'00" and I could "peacefully" succumb to cramps 20 meters after the finish line.

My team mates fared quite well:
Mr Lai (Man) 2h43' (well, 14' minutes off his PB but a solid race considering the weather)
Ms Fan SP (Woman) 2h58'58"... she is a stud, steady splits around 4'15" from start to end... no wonder she is the best woman marathoner in HK...
Ms Ross (Woman) something around 3h15', also slowing down for the heat in the end.

my take from this experience:
- if you are injured, take care of the injury first. Keep running makes the things only worse (my hip bursitis mutated into a achilles tendinitis... and I am already struggling for 2 months)
- pain killers pills have side effects and anyway you are somehow intoxicated.
- I have "balls" to make 12k in that conditions...

It was overall a fantastic experience and we made a great bond with our teammates.
I can put the national team singlet in a frame as souvening for this event !!

- rest until I am cleared of all problems (achilles, calf, whatever...). I will need to strecht, massage and do stenghening excercise, and refrain from running.
- do the husband/father for a while and focus on the birth of my child.
- maybe after Christmas, I will decide of what to do for the 2nd part of the season

PHOTO GALLERY(with Osaka World Champion Luke Kibet, before boarding the bus for the Pasta Party)
(4.45am Elite Tent)

(I look good in the uniform... this picture looks unreal..)(done... 42km can be soooo long...)


Daniel Weston said...

Congratulations. Enjoy a little rest then come back stronger.

Pantheon said...

nice one. congrats!

Anonymous said...

Back on the marathon theme, there is a good article on (a very good website) on the best performances in 2008. One of their picks in Sammy Wanjiro's Beijing marathon win. It describes how he started at a world class pace despite the temperature being 10 degrees higher than most fast marathons. Their theory is that the lighter runners cope with the heat better - their stats back this up as the lighter runners finished well up the field. An interesting read.
On a related note, I heard a few people predict Wanjiro as the marathon winner in advance of Beijing - Kenya had a great team, but as Wanjiro was based in Japan he was the only one who had trained in humid conditions and he was the predicted winner.
I prefer the weight reason myself, and, for readers in HK, just look how many "expats" (heavier runners) win Summer races (SP excepted, light weight!)