Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week ending October 28th, 2012

87K over 4 runs, with 9:27 in time and 7,920ft in gain. Highlights were the MSIG 50K and the trail tempo on Chi Ma Wan, in which I did the 3 mile outer loop in roughly 27:30 (which matched previous PR).

Overall, 309K in October. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lantau 100

This morning when I woke up, I could not have been happier to see that there is going to be a Lantau 100!

Just a week or two ago, I talked with Lantau 50 race director, Clement Dumont, about the possibility of creating a 100 miler, or 50 miler on Lantau. We discussed possible routes, and I mentioned that if I were making a route in Lantau, I'd certainly try to hit the plateau area between Tai O and Kueng Shan, which has beautiful rolling hills that reminds one of the rolling green hills in the northern UK.

Then there is the wonderful mountain bike trail that goes down from the Big Buddha towards Shek Pik, with lots of mossy rocks and strange mushrooms, somewhat the opposite of its sun-soaked sister trail the Nei Lak Shan.

I'm glad it looks like a few of these sections made the cut, and will be in the race.

Overall, I'm really happy for Clement, and it'll be great to have another 100K in Hong Kong. This course will be ridiculously steep, technical, and demanding: probably more challenging that many 100 milers. Clement could not have designed a better route!

I'll go ahead and make a prediction that it'll sell out with 24 hours too!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

MSIG Hong Kong 50 Race Recap

Quick recap: Somewhat miserable and a bit disappointing, but I can't wait to do it again next year!

That about sums up my feeling of this race, which I was mainly treating as a training running for my true fall "A" race: the Macau Marathon on December 2nd. Nonetheless, I still tried to pick a reasonable goal and race strategy, and after looking at the previous year's results, I figured hitting 5:30 would be in the general ballpark. As always, I had the mental goal not to take it out too fast in the first half, especially in the first hour.

On race morning, I left the house fairly late and couldn't find my bike keys, which meant that I had to take my wife's bike and sprint to catch the morning ferry. After making the ferry by 20 seconds, I was later shocked to find that my race number had fallen out on the mad dash to the pier. After taking a taxi up to the Peak and having my friend Marvin help out, I was able to get an extra race bid.

The race started out with a fast road section on the little loop the goes around the Peak. I had competing thoughts in my brain, with one voice telling me to slow down and run 50K pace, and the other voice, driven by competition and energy, not wanting to take run slower than all these people around me.  I've dubbed this problem the "King of the Hills" syndrome  because this always happens in King of the hills races in which I run the full but stupidly compete with the people in the half (since we both go off at the same time), thus sowing the seeds for a miserable positive split effort. 

I got to the first check point at roughly one hour --yes, I'd forgotten my Garmin too -- and reaching CP1 at one hour was a good 5-10 minutes ahead of goal time, further giving me confirmation that I'd taken it out too fast. Nonetheless, I was happy to do the next section up to Wan Chai Gap, which is one of my favorite trail sections in HK Island. 

Coming down towards Wang Nai Chung, I could feel my hips tighten, and my calves and quads had started to weaken a bit. This was clearly not a good sign going into the 23K mark, which I reached at 2:21. 

After reaching WNC, and seeing Marvin (who ran an impressive 2:07, getting 14th place in the half), I set off towards CP3, and even though this was in many ways the most runnable section of the course, I was reduced to run/walk/shuffle. This was the proverbial low point. I thought of dropping (although never seriously), and I tried to do the math of how long it would take me to finish if I had to walk in the last 20-25K.  

To my credit, I didn't get too down on myself, I resigned myself to the idea of walking it in, and just having a nice scenic day out hiking on the beautiful Hong Kong trails, even if my ego would be bruised by having a shockingly slow time associated with my name.

Luckily, as I got down to the Tai Tam area, my legs started to come back a bit. Although my hips were tight and my right calf kind of stopped working, i found that I could still lift my legs upward from the abs/upper thigh to get a bit of a stride.  So, I actually felt a bit better and ran most of the last 15K.

It was always great to meet my friend Kevin, who met up with me at around 5K to go on the last technical trail section. He helpfully gave me some coconut water (a great drink for a weary stomach) and engaging with him in lively conversation helped give me a mental boost. 

I was able to run it in, clocking in at 5:48. This was good enough for 43rd out of 189, and 20th out of 65 in category. Not great, but not a direly terrible as I had thought at the halfway mark. 

In general, I was pretty happy with the day in general (if not my performance). The race was also well organized, clearly marked, and with good check points.After doing the race I met my wife and son, and we had a nice family day too.

This race, although on trail for about 2/3 of the race, is still very runnable, and the beauty of the Hong Kong Trail never ceases to amaze me. I'd estimate that there are only about 15-30 minutes of it that need to be hiked, except for the most hardcore. Thus, in many ways, this race presents a nice alternative to crazy technical and/or steep trail races in HK (such as the 2 Peaks, some of the K.O.T.H., or the  Lantau 100). Those races are wonderful in their own right, but I think this race, as well as the RTI fill a nice niche.

With that in mind, I think that next year I'll be back, but with a smarter race strategy that focuses on more recon runs, and taking the first section out easily, while running hard from WNC to CP4, where the race is at it's most runnable and potentially the fastest. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week Ending Oct. 21st, 2012

86K, in 5 runs, in 9:06, and 7068ft in elevation.

Overall, this was one of my best weeks in training in 2012. The run commute and run around MW were fairly high quality. I did a tough MP run (2K Easy; 8K MP (my goal is 4:22, I used the treadmill setting of 4:20); 1K Threshold (4:07K pace for me); 4K MP; 1K T; 2K MP; 2K Easy), a good run with Kevin from Gold Coast to Yuean Long, and a run from Big Buddha to Lantau and back.

This week will be easier, as I rest up for weekend 50K!


Friday, October 19, 2012

My Training Schizophrenia

A quick note on some of the contradictory impulses that I have right now. Basically, as I head out the door each day, I have a strong desire to do three different types of runs:

1) Marathon Pace (MP) runs. As I've mentioned, I'm trying to get in a good number of MP runs before the December 2nd Macau Marathon. These are difficult, but always satisfying when done. Yesterday I did a modified workout from Jack Daniel's Running Forumla (he had this in his Elite Marathon plans with miles as the distance, but I changed it to kilometers): 2K Easy; 8K MP (my goal is 4:22, I used the treadmill setting of 4:20); 1K Threshold (4:07K pace for me); 4K MP; 1K T; 2K MP; 2K Easy. Very tough, but satisfying. I've also been struck by one of Running Times's recent articles on Renato Canova, trainer of champion Kenyans, who advocates doing a lot of slightly faster than goal MP running. I'm fairly convinced that, over the long run, doing lots of MP-based workouts is one of the best ways to boost running economy at MP speeds, and hit realistic time goals.

Of course, there's a limit to how often one can do MP runs, but I generally try to get in either an MP or a Daniel's style Threshold run each week.

2) Easy runs. This is basically like my daily commute runs. If I had more time, I'd probably do more easy miles, just for the joy of it.

3) Trail runs with lots of steep ascents. I've basically fallen in love with steep ascents, especially after training for the Lantau 2 Peaks, and especially since I've been using my Black Diamond poles more. Doing steep climbs with poles gives me a chance to use my arms and lats a bit more, and for whatever reason, it's really changed my attitude towards steep climbs, whereas before, I'd generally prefer more runable trail routes. Perhaps, subconsciously, I feel that using poles gives me a chance to utilize all the muscles and efficiency gained over decades of swimming, and in a strange sense, going up a steep hill can have the feel of doing butterfly in swimming.

Thoughts? What types of running do my readers (if there are any) prefer to do these days?

Week ending Oct 14, 2012

Only 36K of running, 10K of biking, and over 5 workouts, total time of 4:59.

The main issue was that my calves were sore/strained, so I used this as a rest week. On the plus side, I avoided injury, ran a good 5K (20:32 at South Bay course), and did the hike from Mui Wo to Sunny Bay, which was actually overgrown and not fun. Nonetheless, 3,284ft in elevation.

Logging this one somewhat late.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Race recap for Lantau 2 Peaks

The Lantau Two Peaks is one of the premier trail events in Hong Kong, with over 800 participants running, hiking, panting, and crawling up a course that ascends and descends about a mile of elevation in less than a half-marathon. About 80% of the course is on trails, much of which consists of the large stones that comprise the stairs that make up the trails to the peaks.

Every year the course changes directions. Last year, it did the steep ascent up to Sunset Peak from Tung Chong first, and I took out that section too fast. Then, feeling overly-confident in my downhill running prowess, I took out the downhill from Sunset way too fast too (or at least as fast as I’d normally do it in one training run up and down Sunset, which is right near my home). I over exerted myself going up Lantau Peak, and by the time that I had 3,000ft of desending to do, much of it simply running down stairs, my quads were shot. To make matters worse, I was still in the ball park of hitting a 3:30 finish, only having to do around a 5k in 30 minutes, most of it on the last flat section going to the mall in Tung Chong, City Gate. But by then I was suffering heat stroke, and I miserably walked it in, and near collapsed at the finish. Luckily my wife Rhea and friends Sabrina and Clement (the winner of the race) were there to dump water on me, and cool me off.

This year, I was determined not to run such a disastrous race. Based on the past experience and three recon runs, I decided on the following:

1)      Don’t take out the first section too hard. In some ways, the first uphill section up Nei Lak Shan to the Big Buddha is one of the hardest assents of the course, and it comes right away. The path goes up from the flat section near Tung Chong up to the base of Nei Lak Shan, which is actually the eighth highest peak in Hong Kong. (Note: they could easily call this two and a half peaks!)  Simialrly, just as in the marathon, if you run the first part too fast, you are not “banking time”, you are sowing the seeds for your demise.
2)      The heat could be a factor. In my training runs, which were often done at 30 C, I often noted that I felt about done when hitting Pak Au Gou, after Lantau Peak. If it were hot, it would be vital to rein it in.
3)      Don’t overstride on the downhills.
4)      Use poles. Luckily, I bought the Black Dimaond polls for the HK 100. In a few training runs up Lantau Peak, which comparable to an assent up a skyscraper, I noticed that polls could relive 20-40% of the burden from my legs, and by using my tris/lats, I could spare some of the energy in my legs.
5)      I divided the race into sections, and had a strategy for each. Flat area at start of race: don’t take out too fast, but run comfortably hard. Stairs up to Nei Lak and Nei Lak trail: again, don’t go too hard, stay within one’s ability. In training, I’d hit the part of the Nei Lak wooden stairs with the warning signs at an hour, in the race hit it at 53. Up to Lantau Peak: again, don’t go too hard, but use arms and poles to do the heavy lifting. Down Lantau: take advantage of this scenic downhill section, a relative comparative advantage for me, but don’t overstride. Up Sunset: again, use what’s left in the arms. Down Sunset: run fast and confidently (knowing I had done this section a few times, prepping the quads for the soreness in the process), but keep enough in the legs for last section of flats. Flat last 2K: give all that there is left.

The endresult is that I implemented this outline of a plan very well, and I ran just about as good of a race as I could expect on the day, given my fitness and training. I was also happy that I was able to do this in my Altra Lone Peaks, which performed very well on this terrain. 

With a time of 3:26, I took off around 20 minutes from last year. When the results come out, we’ll see how I placed, but hopefully it’s near the front side of the mid-pack, so to speak!

UPDATE: 57th overall (out of 441 finishers), and 30 out of 148 in category (male 30-39).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week Ending Oct. 7th, 2012

79KM in 5 workouts, with 13:19 in time, and 12,908ft in elevation. I was extremely happy with my performance at he Lantau 2 Peaks, a race with about 5,200ft in elevation over 20.6K. I got a 3:26, beating my sub-3:30 goal, and taking 20 minutes off last year's time. I also raced it just about perfectly, breaking the race into sections, and having and hitting my goal for each section. Also, this is a record in elevation for me in one week. thus, rest day today, and maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012