Monday, December 31, 2007

Close the 2007 in the best possible way: Shek Kong 30k race

the 2007 has been a fabulous year for my running: I started it as "mid-pack runner" and it all went in crescendo up to yesterday morning, with a victory in one of the hardest road races of the Hong Kong calendar, the 30k Shek Kong "Pre Marathon" race (the race is a sort of tune up for the incoming Hong Kong Marathon in February).

The race is held on a out and back course along a catch water road and around a reservoir in the TaiLam Country park. The course is really scenic, with great views of the New Territories, but also extremely tough. There are probably only 4km of flat, and some climbs were so steep that I judged more reasonable to walk for 20/30 meters rather than making a all out effort just to run. I definitely recommend this race if you happen to come to Hong Kong for the end-year holidays.
A rough sketch of the course. The number of twist and turns is uncountable...
The weather was excellent, the best of 2007: 14C/60F, dry, chilly wind from North. 450 Runners at the start.

Graciously of the organizer, I was given the #1 bib due to my new status of "2nd best marathon runner" in Hong Kong (this is outrageous ... there should be something going wrong in Hong Kong if a middle-age grey-haired beginner can claim any similar status").
I settled in the leading pack with other pre-race favourite and let them do the pace. My HR had ups-and-down like a rollercoaster following the ondulations of the course and the splits were ranging wildly into the 3'20"/4'30" range. So I just impose myself to: a) stick with the first pack b) slow down only if the HR would have stayed too long over 170 in the flat sections.
Some climbs were so tough that our speed was probably close to 10 Min/Mile but I enjoyed the scenery and I was very resolute to stay calm until 7/8km to go and later place surges either in the flat on a very steep hill with 6km to go.

It all went to plan: I did manage to keep the effort into a "marathon pace" until the 23km/14Mile and on a flat section, I placed a surge, finding not much resistance from the others. The last 7k were like making a tempo run, even if a long climb at 25k mark really made me struggle (the other behind were probably struggling even more ... I later found out that I had already gained 1 minute at the top of the climb).
that's it ... 1h56' as finishing time, brought home 200USD value of vouchers and this race marks really a personal achievement for myself and my running life.
I can still remember like yesterday when I did my first race in Hong Kong back in 2002, after having quit running for 3 years. It was a miserable 1h35' in a HM, 100th overall....
And another strong memory is dated only 13 months, for another failed HM, where I eventually realized that my training philosophy was completely wrong...


One note: the lady on the right is the female winner, Joe Joe Fan, who was subject of a previous post on her incredible endurance and recovery. I guess that a 30k was for her only a "tune-up for a couple of marathon in the next weeks...


Andrew said...

Congratulations! You deserved that bib #.

Mark said...

Very sweet indeed. That #1 is good for the memories and framing. Nice!