Sunday, 16 February 2014

Another Pre-Dawn Run

On the way to the starting line many runners take souvenir pictures...
After a night of very light sleeping I woke up at 3.20am to get ready for the 10K run that is part of the 2014 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.

I've been running regularly and in the last few months increased my distances on the treadmill and added a few interval training sessions in the hopes of improving my time last year of 1:07:30.

But 3.20am is too early to do anything and though I'm going through the motions, my eyes aren't quite wide open -- and don't even open throughout the race either!

Learning from last year, panicking because there were no buses or taxis in Kennedy Town in the late hours, I booked a taxi ahead of time and he was there at 4.30am on the dot.

When I got in he kept asking me if the license plate number was the one I'd been given and I said yes over and over. Apparently if a taxi driver picks up the wrong person, they are punished by not being allowed to take reserved taxi requests for a week.

Still dark out but many people getting ready for the 10K
He told me that he'd just been to Shau Kei Wan and the highway was closed off for the marathon so he had to take the regular streets and then rushed all the way to Kennedy Town to pick me up.

We got there in less than 15 minutes, though with the hefty surcharge of HK$30 the fare came to HK$95. I was too groggy and anxious to argue about the extra charge and just paid the fare and got out.

I'd arrived a bit too early at Tin Hau MTR station, but I guess it was a way to get acclimatized. It was cold and I was dressed in a running jacket, the race T-shirt, shorts and leggings. I was shocked to see some people (mostly men) just dressed in singlets and shorts. Others were either like me or bundled up even more.

At around 5.20am (and after three trips to the loo) I made my way up to the on ramp to the starting line. It was definitely cold with the wind and I tried to keep my legs moving. Many people were taking selfies or group pictures with friends which made the event more fun for them.

Finally we counted down the seconds and at 6am sharp we were off. The head winds were bearing down on us and I was so glad I had a jacket on. Like last year people constantly passed me and I decided to just keep pace; though I tried to keep pace with people in front of me and they either went faster or I passed them. As a result it was kind of hard to know who to follow.

Last year there was a sign indicating 1km but this year there wasn't and I was wondering how far we'd gone when the 2km sign was on my right. We headed east past North Point, Quarry Bay, and in front of me a sea of black heads bobbing up and down towards Shau Kei Wan.

At the start, checking out construction nearby
We passed the Hong Kong Film Archives building several hundred metres before we made a sharp U-turn onto the stretch of highway heading towards Causeway Bay. There wasn't much cheering at the water stations, oh well, perhaps the residents in the area complained... but it's only for one morning!

Nevertheless we were buoyed by university students who cheered us on from the overpass. On the whole everyone was quiet, focusing on their runs or already walking. At the halfway point I took off my jacket and wrapped it around my waist. At 6km I was still feeling good, although I was already breathing heavily. I tried not to push myself too much on the inclines and then take advantage of the downhill areas.

On the way back the sky got lighter and lighter and soon we were at 7km and then the 8km point. The run was almost over already! Another water station and I tried to run and drink at the same time which is a really bad idea and spilled water onto my shoe which soaked into my sock...

All this time more people are passing me and I'm wondering what's going on because last year those who had passed me were lagging behind and I passed them. But then I remembered that I was in the first heat where runners had to finish the race in 1:10 -- they were around the same ability as me or much better.

The last stretch is a sharp turn onto the on ramp which has a pretty steep incline so there wasn't much point in trying to accelerate here, but when I go to the top and started heading down towards Victoria Park it was time to kick in and use up the rest of the reserve energy I had left.

I didn't pass many more people but ran as fast as my legs could carry me to the finish!

It was a good run for me, feeling more confident having done it before and the training paid off in terms of being used to the long distance.

I just checked the website and my official time is 1:06:38, net time 1:05:57, so I shaved just under a minute from last year's time. Whoo hoo!


  1. Congrats on completing your 2nd HK 10km run -- and doing it quicker than last year!

    Why do you get given such early starts (6:30am last year, 6am this year)? What's the latest start time for the 10km race?

  2. HI YTSL -- The heats are determined in terms of how fast people can complete them, so for the heat I was in you have to finish in one hour, 10 mins, the next heat between 1:10 and 1:20 and so on. The last heat is Run 5 at 8am. Interested?!

  3. Er... no! I'll stick to my hiking (with starts way later than 8am), thank you. BTW, had a good one -- and post-hike dinner -- today! ;b

  4. Hi YTSL -- Glad you did make up your mind to go hiking! Weird weather!

  5. Well done! I don't think I could run 10k, especially so early in the morning!

    1. Hi littlekoo -- Yes! It was too early but pretty neat to be able to run on roads usually reserved for cars... and to see so many others taking part too!