Wednesday, November 10, 2010

33rd HKDRC Half Marathon “Hong Kong Half Marathon” – Race Report

I’m finding it quite difficult to put words down to summarize a road running race as opposed to a multi-sport event.  There’s just the starting line, the run and the finish line—ooh la la, so exciting.  After switching to triathlon focus in May of this year, my passion for pursuing PRs in pure distance running races is deteriorating. In 2009 I finished 18 running races.  We are nearing the end of 2010 and I have only completed 5—marathon, 2 half marathons, 5K and 10K.  I don’t, however, harbor any regrets.  After 6 months of training in swimming, cycling and running I feel much more fit than when I was in marathon shape at the beginning of the year.  I’m guessing that a year from now I should have no problem breaking PRs in pure running races despite not devoting all of my training to that discipline.

33rd HKDRC Half Marathon “Hong Kong Half Marathon”

 “The racecourse is a demanding out-and-back route encompassing the scenic Plover Cover Reservoir, Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po, New Territories. The race stars at Bradbury Jockey Club Youth Hostel next to Plover Cove, heads along Bride’s Pool Road to Wu Kau Tang Road and proceeds to Luk Keng…” – HKDRC

Pre-Race:  I wasn’t taking this race very seriously as the course is so hilly that it eliminates any half marathon PR attempt.  I considered this rather to be a perfect tune-up for the upcoming IM 70.3 in Phuket.  I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I was hoping to at least come around with a faster finish than the year before.  In 2009 I slogged across the finish at 1:54:08 (pretty sad considering I PR’d at 1:43:39 in the UK just 2 months earlier).

 I arrived an hour before the 7:30am start and saw that most of the other runners were already "bibbed" and running strides.  I decided to take it easy and relax by the water front sipping Lucozade. 

I had missed breakfast due to a rushed experiment at splicing an old iPhone USB cable to recharge my Garmin 310XT (left my proper charger at the office).  The experiment worked!  In case anyone ever tries the same, inside the white cable housing you will find, among other things, a red and black cable.  The red is the “+” and the black of course is the “-“.  Plug the USB cable into your PC, Mac or other power source then hold the red cable to the charging ring on the watch adjacent to the mode button and the black cable should be held to the charging ring adjacent to the power button.  I’m sure there is some way to rig up a solution for holding the wires in place while the watch charges but in the interests of time I decided to just hold them in place by hand.  I think it took about 1 minute per 1% increase in charge.  Lesson learned:  check your gear (including watch) the night before training or racing. 

Back to the race.  I managed to get a nice spot very near the front of the starting line.  As I’m standing there waiting for the gun to go off I’m looking around and see nothing but serious facial expressions.  Everyone seems to be in the zone and ready for their performances of a lifetime and here I am feeling like I’m standing in line at the grocery store—la dee da.  I was half tempted to ask the guy next to me why everyone was wearing running shoes.  I think another reason I was über relaxed could be explained by the organizer’s interesting choice of music.  The precious minutes before the start are supposed to be for getting pumped up right?  How could I do that to the sounds of 80s slow jams?

The Run:  I kept the throttle low over the first 6 or 7 kilometers in order to save some gas for the bigger hill to come.  To be clear, there are hills from start to finish on this course but there is one monster decent and climb smack dab in the middle that can suck the life out of your legs very quickly.  Starting slow turned out to be a bit depressing as I was getting passed and “chicked” left and right.  I had to tell myself to ignore it and stick to my pace plan as I’d have plenty of time to catch up to this lot with the energy reserved for the climb. 10K mark: downed a chocolate Gu just before the aid station so I could follow it with some water.  At about 11K the monster climb began.  Sweet revenge time!  Although I’m famously slow on hills, I managed to pass a great deal of runners that, judging by the expressions on their faces, had no idea what the course was like before the start.  After about 13K, all of the course’s major obstacles were now behind me.  I had 8K to go and my HR was hanging steady at 156bpm.  Systems check.  Legs okay, lungs okay, energy okay.  I figured it was now time to start racing.  I didn’t want to finish feeling like I hadn’t spent everything. 

I upped the pace and tried to stay mindful of form and turnover (two factors that tend to slip in the latter portions of most of my races).  The final 5K to the finish went by in a flash—at least as I perceived it.  I came through the line at 165bpm, salt stained and out of breath.

Hit stop on the Garmin: 1:47:02.  Not an overall PR but at least a 7min course PR.  I can live with that!

Overall I was happy with this year’s performance and race experience.  The weather was perfect for running.  Partially cloudy, 26˚C and slightly breezy.  Congrat’s to HKDRC for a successful 33rd running of this event!

I have a small announcement to make that I really should give an entire blog entry to but have yet to synthesize my thoughts on the matter.  I am now officially paid and registered to race IRONMAN FRANCE in Nice on June 26, 2011.  SWIM: 3.86 kilometers (2.4 miles), BIKE: 180.25 kilometers (112 miles) RUN: 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles a.k.a marathon).  This is either really awesome, really insane or insanely awesome, really.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I’ve got myself into and what it will take over the coming 8 months to get in the right condition to finish.  qu'est-ce que tu deviens?


  1. Nice work Danny! You have so far surpassed what we were doing when I was in HK, there is pretty much no way I can catch up.

  2. never say never bro! one leg in front of the other!!

  3. Congrats on the race! I still haven't heard back about my official time, something around 1:59 I suppose. Love the blog, i'll be following your next race!

  4. Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

    - David

  5. Thanks for the heads up David. The platform is more or less beyond my control as I am relying on the infrastructure of; nevertheless, it works fine on iphone, blackberry and android devices. Time to upgrade your Ericsson flip phone!