The proper summer training does not start until the first insane Saturday summer run. Astronomically it is still spring but weather is summer style already. This week insanity was designed by Vince. Start from Yau Tong, follow Wilson Trail via No Name Hill all the way to Shatin Pass – pause for some noodles there and continue on Wilson to Shing Mun. There turn to MacLehose Trail for some Needle and Grassy Hill adventures followed by dash to Tai Po on Wilson Trail again. Estimated distance about 40km with about 2,500m elevation gain.
Four of us met at Yau Tong MTR. It was warm and humid but still rather OK at 9am. We wasted no time and went for it. The pace was sensible and I thoroughly enjoyed the first approx 7km ling bit all the way to Clear Water Bay Road. There I guess for the first time ever on a run I actually bought an ice cream (and for zillionth time some Pocari). I was wondering what my stomach would think about that but no complains.
After short feeding and refuelling break we continued on Wilson Trail. I was still feeling OK. I kept falling a bit behind Vince and Brendan on the downhill sections – but that was due to my not so great downhill skills on slippery surface. Once the we were on a flat or mild uphill I managed to catch up with them without too much extra effort. All good.
Soon we were through the forest and short catchwater section and the naughty climb up the “No Name Hill” begun. It is not a particularly tough climb but it tends to be pretty nasty on a hot day. And this was slowly becoming a hot day … I decided to take it a bit easier on this hill and not push myself to the limit. Plan was 40km and it made no sense to finish myself off on the first proper climb. I let Brendan and Vince disappear ahead, Steven dropped back behind me a bit. The views were great so I took a short photo break but otherwise it was just a steady climb up. Luckily the clouds decided to block the sun for a while so it wasn’t too bad. Pace OK, exhaustion level – acceptable.
All four of us regrouped at the road and we went on towards the Shatin Pass noodle shop. Fast hike on the uphill and what I would call fast jog downhill to the shop. I started to feel hot by now, so the first thing I did after reaching the “shop” was quick face shower in the toilets. Quick “bowl of noodles + drinks refill” followed and off we went towards the “lovely” Wilson Trail catchwater.
Vince and Brendan left me in their dust on the downhill but I slowly caught up with them on the catchwater. When we arrived at lovely Amah Rock view point we paused for few photos. Steven who felt a bit behind caught up with us quickly too.
After the short photo break we continued on the catchwater. I started to struggle in the heat. I made use of tiny water source to cool down a bit but that only worked for a short while. The proper hot struggle was on. Vince and Brendan pulled away, Steven dropped back a bit and I was for the time being running on my own.
Then came the monkeys … I usually ignore them, pass by and they ignore me. For some reason this time it was different. First two mean buggers started to charge at me, hiss and display their nasty fangs, stopping barely a step from me. Rewind and play back few times. I had nothing in hands so all I could do was to try to be loud. My angry loud shouts did a trick after a while and the beasts stepped aside. I passed them and went on with my running.
Maybe a kilometer later after passing several other monkeys I somehow managed to get myself in between a little one and a female who might have been the little ones mother. And she was a mean one that meant business. This one was scarier than the other two few minutes earlier. My shouts were only making things worse and the monkey was charging closer and closer. I did not dare to turn my back to it but forward I could not go. I was not really sure how to get out of this messy stand off with an aggressive monkey. Then two hikers that I passed earlier arrived. And once the monkey saw three people instead of one it sat down at the side of the path and pretended that it isn’t there … The path through was clear …
I ran pass few more monkeys before reaching the road but there were no more scary moments. All the other monkeys behaved like they usually do – minding their own business.
At the Tai Po Road we regrouped again. Steven decided to stop here, so it was only three of us from now on. About 24km done.
I was hot and I needed to cool down. And there was nowhere to cool down… I tried my best to keep up with Vince and Brendan but the heat was killing me (as usual). Vince suggested some short cuts and route alterations to make sure we arrive in Shing Mun from the correct side (where water is) so we turned to MacLehose Trail a bit earlier then originally planned. I was feeling exhausted and I thought that the most sensible thing would be to stop at Shing Mun.
There was one stream before Shing Mun where I cooled down a bit. The rest of the run was not bad but I was not sure if it will be wise for me to continue. After all I haven’t done this long run for some time and there were no more exit point on the route.
I went straight for the water pipes at Shing Mun BBQ site and gave my head a proper 5 minutes cold shower. I also filled one empty Pocari bottle with these tap water for future shower. After some talking to myself, Vince and Brendan and few cold drinks and one water bladder refill later I was ready to continue.
The clouds were slowly thickening, wind picking up and climbing up Needle Hill did not feel bad at all. It is amazing how few degrees down and little less sun affect our bodies. All of a sudden I was feeling totally fine. The clouds over Shing Mun were creating some amazing views so after a hint from Vince a quick photo was a must.It was starting to drizzle a bit, then a bit more, then a bit less, but overall it was raining. There were some people coming down in opposite direction holding umbrellas – a fact that I found seriously weird. I had to make quick “pit stop” at the top of Needle Hill and then started the descent from the top. Vince and Brendan took advantage of my pit stop and their better downhill skills so again they left me behind but I caught up with them soon after reaching the concrete road leading up to Grassy Hill.
It was raining on and off. I was thinking how nice it is to finally enjoy run in the rain with no lightnings around. And then I heard a thunder somewhere in the distance. We kept pushing up the hill and I heard more thunder. I was hoping that we are not too far from the end of the climb. Once there I planned to run down like crazy before the thunderstorm comes our way.
We met few hikers at the top – they seemed not to care about storm at all. I did care. I did not stop. I went straight downhill. I knew that Vince and Brendan are much faster than me running down so I had no bad feelings at all 🙂 . The wind and rain picked up and by the time we reached Leadmine Pass it was seriously pissing down.
It was good fun running in that torrential rain down to Tai Po. The trail turned into a stream, we kept splashing around. Vince had some difficulties to see well through his glasses in all that rain so he slowed down a bit but it still pretty pace downhill dash. Brendan was a bit ahead. I ran over something that was either some snake swimming across the flooded trail or few frogs in a row – I have no idea. But running was fun, I totally did not feel like I am on 37-38th km of my first longish training run in months …
Brendan waited for us at the end of trail beginning of the road. From there we ran together down to Tai Po looking for the cool vegetarian restaurant that Brendan was planning to take us to. Somewhere near Tai Po Market MTR there was a lightning strike that was quite close – I was really glad we were not on any hill or ridge at that moment. We jogged a bit more to clock 40km (real 40km, not 40km according to Vince’s watch) and then we landed in that promised restaurant for a great late lunch (if you can still call 5pm meal lunch).
This was my first 40km training run in several months, probably first this year. I felt definitely better than 2 weeks ago during the Country of Origin race. I am glad I decided to continue rather than to bail out at Shing Mun. I am glad to see that even after only few weeks of resuming the training I am able to do some good distance. At the same time I am well aware that I am close to hopeless in the heat and I need favourable weather to be able to do this sort of distances during summer.
Note to myself – you dumb ass should know by now to clip those toe nails before long run. Two gone this time purely because of my own stupidity…