Sunday, February 17, 2019

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2019 -- running Full Marathon under adversity


When the registration for the marathon was opened, I just had a new job, and was concerned whether I had free time to practice before the marathon. However, I succumbed to the peer pressure and signed up for the full. I felt that I should run the full marathon in Hong Kong at least once. I knew about how boring the route was, but I should at least try it.

As expected, I could not even find time to run due to work and dance. My first half-marathon run was only a week before the race, which I could complete. Yet, it was just like my last full marathon -- well under-trained.

Then, I started coughing since Monday, and did not stop even on the race day. I got some Chinese herbal medicine, and it only soothed my coughing at times. I was really not sure whether I could even complete the race this time.

The day before the race, I bought 2 packs of power gel. I also had a lot of noodles in that evening to stock up a lot of carbohydrates. The weather forecast showed some conditions that were favorable to the runners, and some were not. The good things were that it was going to be cloudy with a few patches of rain, and stayed at around 19C, making the weather a bit cooler. Also, it was a bit windy, which may cool down people, although energy may be spent to withstand the wind. The bad things were that it was humid (RH 85%-95%).

During the race

Hong Kong marathon is notorious to be tough. The following shows the height profile of Chicago Marathon, one of the six Marathon Majors in the world. The height difference between the max and the min is only 10 m.

Near my school in Illinois, I ran the Illinois Marathon, which is also flat (height difference between the max and the min is 26 m.

In Hong Kong, the height difference between the max and the min is 120 m. This already makes Hong Kong a bad place to do PB (personal best) or PR (personal record).

Being sick while being under-trained, and tackling a hilly marathon course was something that did not happen to me before. I thought I would be conservative with my pacing. Yet, in the first half, I was running fast while controlled (at <5 min/km). This included the time when I climbed the ramps of the bridges.

I think I also did the following:
- I ate one gel at 10k mark and another one at 20k mark.
- I went to the portable toilet once, at about 25k mark. This wasted me in about 1.5 minutes.
- I only drank sport drinks at supply station, and only drank it when I felt dry on my mouth.

In the end, I finished it with a time that I was satisfied (3:43:34). Certainly not my PB (it was the last Illinois Marathon, 3:34:XX), but at least I could manage to finish it. I did "hit the wall" near 30k mark, and my muscles almost cramped in the last 2k.

GPS data:


Besides a finisher medal, I think what I could get after the race was little. There was only a banana, a bar of chocolate, and a bottle of distilled water. This was opposite to the other 2 marathons that I did in the US, where unlimited pizza and pasta were provided, and some might even provide locally-brewed beers.

Even though my legs were sore after the race, I could still dance in the afternoon. The structure of my body must be really strange!

In the end, I still think that the Hong Kong marathon course has too long motorway sections, so the cheering people could not be seen in my of the places. Adding that the course is steep and food is provided only at later points of the course, I don't think I will do a full marathon in Hong Kong again. After all, I don't think I will have time to train for marathon anymore, so I could not think about running a marathon in the near future.

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