Note: Starting this week, I’m launching a regular column on TBR called “Wellness Wednesday.” As the name suggests, I’ll be posting articles on Wellness every Wednesday. As most of you know, I’ve just earned my certification as a Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach so it’s only natural that I share with you what I learn and know in the field of wellness.
“I am stressed!” I think I say that word at least once a month. I said it twice a day (while I was pulling all my hair out) when I was preparing for All Woman Race!
For most of us, the word “stress” always connotes something negative. We use it when we feel that there’s just too much on our plate, when we have little time for our endless to do list, or when we just can’t cope with the pressure around us.
Truth is, stress isn’t all that bad. According to Psychology Today, stress is “simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life.” Don’t try to escape it because you can’t. And, hey, sometimes a bit of stress can be good for you. (more…)
The Standard Chartered Hong Kong marathon started at 7:15 a.m. at Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. I was familiar with this area for shopping, but never did I imagine that I’d be standing there, among 8,000 marathoners and with fellow Pinoys, Dra. Lora and her husband, and Jinoe, waiting for the marathon gun to start.
– The view from our hotel room (HK side) –
The weather was cool in the start, but not as cold as I initially expected (so much for the arm and leg warmers I purchased in SM!) According to reports after the race, temperature was actually 24 centigrades with 92% humidity, which surprised me as I didn’t feel the heat except for a few times during the race.
The atmosphere was electrifying and exciting. I, on the other hand, was a lot more calmer than I expected. Don’t get me wrong: I was anxious over the unknown (what injuries or pains may come during the long, arduous road ahead) but I felt no pressure to beat a specific time or run at a certain pace. My only goals were 1) to avoid getting swept by the bus at the 5:30 cut off, and 2) to enjoy without injury.
BRIDGES & TUNNELS
As we made our way towards the Stonecutter’s Bridge, I got into a comfortable pace, kept my ipod off, and allowed myself to stay in the moment. I made a conscious decision to savor the experience of running in a new city and take in the sights around me.
The first thing that caught my attention was the sight of Tsing Ma bridge. From afar, I could see thousands of runners, like soldiers marching off to war trampling on the ground beneath them. I looked forward to reaching the bridge asap.
“Wow!” That was all I could say when I finally made it to the bridge. The view from the top was spectacular. I ran as close to the edge as possible seeing the water a hundred feet below me. Soon after, we made our way to another bridge, Ting Kau bridge.
– Check out this video I took on one of the bridges (I honestly don’t know which one). The view was breathtaking –
After the bridges came the tunnel. The first time I entered the Cheung Tsing Tunnel was an experience. It felt cooler insider the tunnel and it wasn’t as frightening as I had imagined. In fact, I enjoyed the change of scenery. The only problem was my Garmin lost all GPS signals so I was running blind all the way.
– Entering Cheung Tsing Tunnel –
UP, UP, AND UP
Running through Tsing Kwai highway felt like forever. I don’t recall exactly when all the ascents started, but I completely remember how I thought that they never seemed to end. (Actually, I believe they only ended at Km 41!)
One time we would climb half a kilometer, happily reach some flat ground for a few meters, only to find another ascent awaiting us. Despite the language barrier with other runners, it was pretty obvious that we were all tiring from the climbs with various moans and grunts heard before each hill climb.
The slanted roads of HK, particularly the on the highway, had caused some pain on my right ankle. I found it difficult to run without frequent stops to stretch, massage, or rest. With all my injuries in the past though, I had learned how to manage these little problems by changing my gait or distracting myself from the pain.
Somewhere on the highway as well, I felt a bit dizzy and, for a moment, I thought I was about to blackout. Thankfully, I munched on two chocolate bars and drank water and that was good enough to get me back on track.
GOOD ENOUGH TIME
Every now and then, I glanced at my Garmin to make sure I was far from the 5:30 cut off. Hong Kong is very strict with their implementation of cut offs, not just at the end of the race, but at various locations along the course. At specific points, there was a bus waiting to sweep runners who didn’t make the cut off. It was as if the grim reaper was running behind us! Early on, we heard horror stories of runners at 39km being forced to ride the bus…so I was hoping I wouldn’t be one of them!
For the first half, I ran at around 2:05. That’s just an estimate as I had fiddled around with my Garmin, turning it on and off, to capture a GPS signal. While I was fine throughout the first half, the second half was slower and a lot more challenging.
I clearly remember when we entered the second tunnel: the Western Harbour Tunnel, which was so cool inside I was tempted to run fast. It would’ve been another favorite part of my race if I had been able to run, but my ankle started acting up again at this point.
THE TOUGHEST MARATHON IN THE WORLD?
Soon, I found myself on the other side of HK, which was mind-blowing really! As we neared Victoria Park, where the finish line was, spectators lined both sides of the roads cheering all of us runners.
– Less than a kilometer to the finish. Go go go! –
By this time, I was already walking due to the pain on my ankle and I didn’t mind at all. From out of the blue, I heard a woman yell “Go Bull Runner!” and I spotted three Filipinos cheering for me. I stopped to tell them something like “I couldn’t go any further” but ironically it was that instant when I regained the energy to run. (Thanks Khun and friends!)
I finished the the marathon with a gun start time of 4:54, the same time as my first unofficial QC International Marathon. It wasn’t my best time, but considering my trip to Disneyland the night before plus Condura Marathon 3 weeks before, I was all too happy to just finish what I heard was one of the toughest marathons in the world.
– The finish line. This was as far as my hubby was allowed to go –
– New Balance shoe mascots –
– New Balance VIP Tent where we were served with food and drinks –
* Thank you once again to New Balance for sponsoring this trip, especially Anton Gonzales and Bing Buenaventura of Planet Sports!
Good morning! I’m back in Manila and I’m glad to report that I survived Hong Kong: the hills, tunnel, and bridges of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2010, the technical and comprehensive 2-day New Balance Asia Pacific Tech Summit…as well as the amusement park and shopping marathon with the kids. It was a completely exhausting but immensely satisfying and fun-filled experience that I’m excited to post about. Thing is, clients await and I must finish my work to pay for the expenses of the trip!
So, while I find time to write my full race report, I shall leave you with three videos I took during the marathon. Oh yes, I carried my cam with me (told you it wasn’t race mode for me!) and I took more than a handful of videos during the race:
The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon started at Nathan Road at 7:15 a.m. I stood at the start with Dra. Lora and her husband and Jinoe.
RUNNING TOWARDS TING KAU BRIDGE
Here’s one good way to injure yourself during a marathon. Get too excited over the bridge up ahead and you don’t watch where you’re going…
I finished my 2nd marathon this February (and the 4th in 5 months) with an unofficial time of 4 hours 54 minutes, a time I was happy with considering how unprepared I was and how awfully difficult the course was; it was the exact time of my first unofficial marathon at QC International Marathon.
Here I was all alone after the marathon, resting my dead tired legs before heading over to the New Balance VIP tent…
– Full race report on Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon
– New Balance Tech Summit
I was so busy chasing after work deadlines and packing for the entire family that I failed to bid you goodbye last night. I am now in Hong Kong thanks to the wonderful people of Planet Sports, especially Anton Gonzales and Bing Buenaventura, who sponsored my trip and registration for the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon tomorrow.
I wish I could sit down and chat with you more, but, after a long day at Disneyland with the kids…
– Forget rest for now. Disneyland beckoned. Tomorrow we attack Ocean Park (after the marathon, that is!) –
Plus the fun-filled New Balance Regional Running Event held this evening…
– with Team Fatbird of Singapore and Jinoe of takbo.ph –
…I am pooped. It’s a terrible way to spend the eve of my marathon, but, at least, I have a good excuse already if I bonk…heehee. Don’t worry, I promise to share all the details after the marathon.
Please say a prayer for me tonight. That I don’t get fished out of the marathon tomorrow with a net and thrown into a bus if I don’t make the cut off at each point. That my ITB doesn’t get cranky the way it did at Km40 in Condura. That I don’t die of thirst as I didn’t bring my hydration belt only to find out that hydration stations are only at every 5km (panic I tell you!) And, last but not the least, that I stop worrying aready, get some sleep despite the anxiety, and enjoy my 4th marathon experience!
Hong Kong wasn’t my ideal running course but I was thrilled with the opportunity to run in new, unfamiliar territory nonetheless. I ran twice on mornings despite the tired, stiff legs from the non-stop shopping and commuting (and carrying my 42 lb. 3-year old daughter half the time!) As for swimming, the pools at both hotels we stayed in where tempting, but I chose to rest my weary legs for a good run instead. There was no way I was missing out on runs in HK!
RUN NO. 1: KOWLOON PARK
Date & Time: April 6, Sunday, 6:30 a.m.
Length of Time: 40 mins
Distance: 5 km
Oh, the hubby wasn’t too happy about this run. He expressed his hesitation about me going out on my own the night before, but I tried my best to appease him by promising I’d run back in a snap if at any time I didn’t feel secure. Anyway, I was planning to run in a happy little place called Kowloon Park just a stone’s throw away from our hotel.
Fortunately, I was right. Kowloon Park was indeed a peaceful, relaxing, and undeniably a safe area for me amid the octogenarians who were practicing Tai Chi early that morning. They were all over the place; it was almost like the movie Cocoon asian version! No muggers or creepy people here, hubby!
– Kowloon Park, a safe haven amid the hustle and bustle of Tsim Shat Sui –
The park had clean, wide paths which led to different areas within the park such as the aviary, playground, duck pond, public swimming pool (with nearby McDonalds), and even a fitness trail. Running from end to end was more or less a kilometer (I couldn’t trust my Garmin here as the GPS signal was intermittent due to the buildings in the surrounding area) so I decided to just enjoy the scenery and run where my feet would take me.
The course was mostly flat with small hills to break the monotony but not enough for a good challenge. I even headed for the fitness trail expecting a great hill workout, but found myself surrounded by lolas and lolos strolling up and down slight inclines.
I ran about 4.5 km at an easy pace with long walking breaks when I’d stop to check out the playground for the kids or stare in awe at the beauty of Tai Chi. Despite the lack of a challenge, it was a fun run for me. Just what I needed to reenergize for the long day ahead in Ocean Park.
RUN NO. 2: DISNEY HK
Date & Time: April 9, 6:45 a.m.
Length of Time: 36 mins
Distance: 4.5 km
On our 4th night, we stayed at Disney Hotel in Lantau Island. I was ecstatic over the fact that they had a Jogging Map and promptly studied one to plan my route for the following morning. I chose the scenic Waterfront Promenade route which would take me from our hotel, Disneyland Hotel, to Hollywood Hotel through the jogging paths by the sea. I planned on extending that route to reach Inspiration Lake, which would give me more or less 5km.
That morning, our last day in HK, I dragged myself out of bed feeling sluggish and tired. You would too had you spent a full day at Disneyland Park with two kids who insisted on riding each and every ride—except for Dumbo and Orbitron twice and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups thrice!
As soon as I stepped out of the hotel’s back door, however, all aches and pains disappeared. Was this where I was going to run? I was in heaven!
– My first view of my running path that morning –
After some stretching by the Mickey Mouse maze, I followed the red jogging path (mostly running on the grass though for less impact) and enjoyed the cool wind and cloudy sky. After a few meters, however, I didn’t find myself at Hollywood Hotel as the jogging map had shown, but I was in the delivery parking lot! I ran through this and exited the hotel running instead on Magic Road, the main road surrounded by mountains and trees on both ends, and decided to follow this straight course to Inspiration Lake.
– Everyone is asleep at Disneyland except for The Bull Runner –
Running on the empty streets was pretty cool, but after a while my imagination started running wild. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park and I expected a velociraptor to pounce on me anytime. (So much for running in the happiest place on earth eh?!) I was 200m shy of Inspiration Lake when I decided to turn back. I couldn’t muster up the courage to pass the pedestrian tunnel alone and I was feeling some discomfort on my left knee. Peeved at this sign of injury, I walked a few meters and entered Hollywood Hotel. After passing its back door, I discovered the jogging path! The real jogging path I was supposed to run! It was close to the water’s edge and not the red path I had ran through earlier!
– I had the jogging path, and the amazing view, all to myself –
As I entered the secure jogging area (where you must use your hotel room’s card), I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was alone with the sea with a full view of Hong Kong before me. It was beautiful! I tried brisk walking… then jogging slowly… then a little faster to reach a steady 6:30 pace feeling no pain this time. I guess all I needed was some inspiration!
– Running back to Disneyland Hotel. I didn’t want this run to end! –
I ended the run hoping that I could stay just one day longer at this beatiful hotel. Just one more day to run, please? But alas, all things must come to an end, so I’m thinking maybe next year instead? Hmm maybe…