Monthly Archives: June 2016

UTMB Training No 33 – Thursday Parker No 9

OK, this was a crappy one… My Wednesday ended with suffering the consequence of some food poisoning probably from lunch. I did not have much sleep and by morning my body was quite dehydrated and not exactly in tip top condition. I still decided to go for my Thursday Mt Parker routine. But I knew that my pace and form will be dictated by my bowels and stomach.

I started jogging slowly towards Mt Parker Rd. All was quite OK so I continued my slow run up the hill. I managed to keep on running for a bit more than 1km up the hill. After that all I could do was to walk up. I could handle quite fast power hiking pace but there was no way I could run. I made it all the way up. I skipped the radar to radar dash this time and started the jog back to Quarry Bay. The moment I started the downhill run my stomach and stuff began to protest. I worked out some pace and stride that kept my bowels relatively calm and kept on going. Eventually I safely made it back down to the city.

With the benefit of hindsight I probably should have skipped this one or perhaps go in the evening instead. Not the best running experience…

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 32 – Post rain morning snake dance on Sir Cecil’s Ride

Normally Tuesday is my evening road run day. But as I couldn’t do the evening run tonight I went for early morning run on Cecil’s Ride. I woke up early to see a mayhem outside of the window. Heavy rain and thunderstorm. I would not mind a run in the rain after the weeklong heatwave but I decided to wait for a while for the thunderstorm to pass.

It was nice and cool at first so I pushed a bit up the road. I slowed down a bit after while once I realized that it is still quite hot and very stuffy. After reaching the end of the road I switched to walk up the steps towards the trail. I was not sure where I am going to run but once I reached Cecil’s Ride I decide to first run to the right towards Mt Butler Road, then turn and run back towards Mt Parker Road and then back.

I was on the trail for maybe 2 minutes when pretty sizeable specimen of Red Necked Keelback slithered down the slope and crossed the trail not more than 3 meters ahead of me. The snake was moving smoothly and quickly and it was gone before I covered those 3 meters. I thought to myself “cool, a redneck!” and kept on running. I have encountered couple of redneck keelbacks on this trail in past two summers but this was the first time this year.

I kept on running trying to keep reasonable pace while watching out for more snakes. My legs felt quite heavy. The uphill bit towards Mt Butler Road was not easy. It was much better once I turned around all those uphill bits became downhills. For some reason I had this weird feeling that I will run into more snakes this morning.

I ran back towards Mt Parker without any incident though. My legs still felt quite heavy and I switched to walk here and there but for few meters only. I also managed to knock my big toe somewhere during the long run on Saturday. I did not feel it then but the bugger was hurting this morning. Before Mt Parker I paused for a while to cool down at the water pipe. At the junction with Mt Parker Road I was for a while negotiating with myself whether to run down the road or return back the same way. The same way option won and I was running back. Quick cool down at the same pipe and then quickly back.

I was feeling a bit better, legs were lighter so I maintained a decent pace. Then just before I reached the junction where few trails meet (and where a shortcut home is available) I had what looked like deja vu. Again no more than 3 meters ahead something slithered down the slope and smoothly crossed the trail. This time not a redneck but clearly well fed and pretty long Chinese Cobra – definitely the largest one I met in the wild. Luckily thanks to my trail speed the snake disappeared in the bushes before I covered those 3 meters. But this one freaked me out. I have encountered cobras before but never like this – coming down out of nowhere from the slope. From that moment I totally forgot how my legs feel. I just wanted to get back to the civilisation without crossing paths with another serpent.

I can’t really remember how I ran the reminder of the run. But sure it was good and interesting workout.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 31 – Easy recovery jog

I took Martin with me for this recovery jog. The heat was again brutal so we simply hiked up the road then jogged hiked jogged on Cecil’s toward Mt Parker Road. We took nice cooling head shower at the usual pipe, finished the last bit to road and turned back.

We cooled down again at the same pipe and tried to jog as much as we could handle. At the trail junction we decided to take the short cut. Martin decided to gun it down the steps on the final downhill towards Po Luen Path. I let him go ahead and have fun, I just followed in my easy jog pace.

Nice relaxed but very hot Sunday morning out. Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 30 – Reverse HK Trail (from Shek O) on insanely hot day

I haven’t done a proper long run this training season yet. It was about the time to rectify this. But in this scorching heat it is not easy to survive out there. So I needed to pick some route that is not too exposed and has plenty of streams and water pipes to cool down. The reverse HK Trail sounded like a reasonable idea. It is harder in reverse as it goes uphill. But the advantage is that the exposed Dragon’s Back and the never ending catchwater are done and dusted quickly. And on the stages 6 to 1 there is lots of train cover and water (well except the stage 5…).

I recruited Stuart and Martijn for this run although Martijn still in post flu recovery did not plan to do the whole trail. Martijn had this awesome idea to stash on the way to Shek O a bottle of water at the end Dragon’s Back section for us to pick up once we get there (about an our and something later).

We started around 8am from Shek O and headed towards Big Way Bay in rather mellow pace. Surprisingly out of nowhere came a quick rain shower accompanied by some distant sounds of thunder. Interesting… All good though – the rain cooled the air, the clouds protected us from the morning sun and the thunderstorm never came anywhere close…

The Section 8 was quite OK. We climbed up the first hill in easy pace, then jogged the road bit and the contour till the Dragon’s Back climb. The pace was comfortable at that time but I was sure that totally unsustainable on such a hot day if we were to survive the distance…

The Dragon’s Back ridge passed very quickly in this reverse direction and after the quick downhill were down at the end of Section 8 where our bottle of water refill was awaiting us. We made a quick stop there, refilled our water container and went on forward on Section 7.

Those 700 hundred steps are definitely easier going down than up. It did not take long a we were on that dreaded catchwater. Martijn was setting a pace. It probably was not the best idea as doing 50km and following pace of someone planning to do roughly 20km may not end well, especially on super hot day :-) . Anyway, as long as the pace was comfy we jogged, when I felt it is time to slow down and hike I made the call. My only goal for the day was to finish the trail and that required serious discipline when it came to pacing and energy preservation.

We survived the catchwater and then quickly proceeded on Section 6 to reach the nice cold stream for first “ice bath” of the day. At the stream Martijn left us – taking a different route to Parkview. Me and Stuart spent some time cooling down. I also proceeded with Life Straw field test having a nice refreshing filtered drink from the stream. The water tasted surprisingly nice, totally unlike the tap water I tried with the same straw.

At this time it was getting very hot, our pace dropped but we kept on going. Speed was not important today. Soon we were on the concrete road at Tai Tam reservoirs. The long climb up to to Quarry Gap was on. Good thing is that most of that road is covered by trees and there are few water pipes along the road. It was not difficult to keep our heads cool and my “head shower” water bottle always full.

At the Quarry gap we took a short break – I needed to clean the debris from my shoes and short break with proper head shower at the bathroom before Butler and Jardines Lookout could not hurt.

The Section 5 was always going to be critical. Except the first part of Mt Butler climb the whole section is exposed and there is no water around to cool down with. I took Butler easy letting Stuart to go ahead. We took it easy down and towards Jardines hoping that the big cloud casting nice shadow over Jardines Lookout would remain there while we are climbing. It did not. The climb was exposed and hot like hell… I realized I made a mistake not mixing another bottle of VFUEL before starting this section. I was hot and running low on energy. It was quite a struggle up the Jardines Lookout. Knowing that there is a supermarket with cold drinks on the other side of the hill helped a lot though. I made it up eventually and started easy jog down towards Parkview.

We took a bit longer break at Parkview, the half way point. We opted for shopping at cool airconditioned supermarket rather than the kiosk on the side of the road. I refilled both my bottles and also the water bladder – all almost empty. I finished a bottle of Coke and mixed a pack of VFUEL in of my water bottles. Topped it all with one almond croissant and I was ready to continue.

We had the mostly covered sections 4 to 1 ahead. I was confident we can make it all the way as long as we control the pace. We jogged down the road to Wong Nai Chung Gap and then walked up on Black’s Link. It was mostly fast walk on this uphill. We jogged a bit on the “jungle” section then all the way down the concrete road and the steps. Once on the catchwater and the trail it was jog – walk – jog – walk mix, mostly fast walk. We took every opportunity to dip our heads under cold water. Such a big difference compared with the wet run two weeks ago …

We crossed the Wanchai Gap Road without any pause on continued on the nice undulating trail on the section 3. It is lovely runable trail but going the other way in this head one realizes that it actually is not that flat… By now I was totally focused on getting the job done with no worries at all about our pace. In my head I was telling myself to imagine I am at the late stages of 100 miler when everything hurts, legs barely move so just focus on the next step…

The last part was actually quite OK. I had ahead of me the vision of the fresh water pipe 10km from the finish. When we could we jogged (mostly on downhills) otherwise just fresh fast walk walking pace. When we reached that pipe we made good use of it, cooled down and went on. I was wondering how the next bit will feel as we had to climb up to the Peak. It did hurt but it was not as bad as it could be thanks to being in the shadow of the mountain.

We had some nice views of High West from the other side before we reached that 007 marker. From there only short climb up the road to the playground at the junction of Harlech and Lugard Roads. We took our final break there filling up our bottles from the water fountain there and went on to complete the final 2km of the round the Peak loop. We only fast walked the uphill bit but switched to proper run on the last 1km or so. Finally after 8+ hours of relentless forwards motion, heat, sweat, brutal sunshine and many cool down breaks we made it.

This was first time I completed the Hk Trail in the opposite direction. And I must say that although it is the more difficult direction it is a great summer training route. Really happy we survived that.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 29 – Thursday Parker No 8

The moment I started the run up the hill in that morning heat I knew there is no chance for me to keep running all the way to the top. Clearly it is time to practice the power hiking for UTMB climbs …

I jogged in easy steady pace the first 2km or so up the hill. Then I had to switch to power hiking mode. It was really hot. However once I got under the tree cover the temperatures became rather bearable. But once I started walking it was really tough to switch back to running. So I continued walking but in quite fresh pace.

Last week I had to skip the Mt Butler extra and the return trip to the radar. Today with the easier pace it seemed doable again. I struggled a bit on the run up to the next radar, I only made it only 2/3 up and then walked up the rest.

Jog back down to the foot of Butler was fine. I climbed up rather easy in a decent pace. I felt like I have enough energy to go back up to the radars. Unfortunately I did not have time as work was calling and the slower pace meant that I simply had to run back down to the city. The other issue was that I did not have enough water for the extra 3km up and down the hill. So note to myself – while it this hot have to pack either extra water or carry the LifeStraw.

While this was tough workout I definitely felt better than last week.

Link to Strava here.

UTMB Training No 28 – Tuesday road roast

The heatwave continues. After all the experiences from last week I decided not to force it and run at easier pace from the beginning. I already accepted the fact that my pace now on this 12km route is about 10 mins slower than during the cooler winter months but with much more effort.

The whole run was very similar to the one the week ago. Except for some reason there was much more traffic and I had to stop at almost every road crossing. To tell the truth I did not really mind – those short breaks were quite nice actually…

I made one important change – I carried sports drink instead of plain water – to help me deal with the tougher conditions. Hard to tell how much it helped. It still was a mental challenge to keep on running. While these hot runs are tough I am quite grateful for having to deal with this – pushing through rough times is something I will sure need during UTMB…

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No 27 – Sunday run

Sunday is my recovery run day. After all the struggles and shortened runs earlier this week I decided to make this one a bit longer than usual. I was thinking about 15km on Cecil’s Ride and Hong Pak Country trail. I changed my plans by the time I finished Cecil’s Ride. It was too hot and I knew that if I continue I would be mostly walking. So knowing that walking it is going to be I decided it will better to walk uphill.

So when I reached Mt Parker Road I switched from running to walking and walked all the way up to the radar. The benefit of this was that I had ahead of me 4.5km of downhill – and that is much easier to run than walk. And some easy run is what I needed at the end.

So at the end a bit of jog, bit of work out up the hill and than easy jog down the hill. Felt better than walking on flat trail. The only thing that did not feel too good were all those bruises from Saturday – they do hurt more the day after…

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No 26 – Mr Bump on Lantau

I ventured to Lantau after few weeks to join one these infamous Vince’s insane summer runs. Plan was to to do Lantau Trail from Mui Wo to Tai O and then the coastal trail to Tung Chung.

The weather hot and sunny so the heat was always going to be a challenge. I had some stomach issues the night before. Lack of sleep and some dehydration meant that I was not starting this run in the sharpest shape.

We were quite big group but after short break in Nam Shan we split into several smaller groups. Soon I was all on my own climbing up Sunset Peak. It was brutally hot at first but as I climbed higher I made it into the clouds. That made Sunset Peak section rather pleasant (or as pleasant as one can hope on 30+C day).

The rather pleasant weather continued also on the way up to Lantau Peak (thanks to the cloud covering both peaks). I was going in steady pace – strong enough to feel some effort but easy enough to keep some energy for later on.

The descent from Lantau Peak was a nightmare… I have done this so many times but this time for some reason I just kept slipping and falling. Sure the steps were wet and slippery but I had navigated them in this condition before without any troubles. This time I just could not avoid slips and few falls. One fall resulted in nice bruise on right ankle. Another one was full on landing on my left side. While falling my main thought was not to land on my ribs – I could not face another cracker… So I landed on my arm and my hip and thigh. Everything was sore but overall OK. I could continue. Later on when I had chance to inspect that thigh I could see large bruise in many colours…

After few more slips and stumbles I finally made it down to the sticks. From there I opted for the proper Lantau Trail option – the longer way to Ngong Ping 7/11. Here there was no cloud cover to cool me down. This was serious suffer fest in the heat. I walked most of this loop…

When I reached the 7/11 I saw Vic and Paul (they took shortcut) and a bit later also Vince (another one taking the shortcut). After refuelling and refilling our drink reservoirs we continued. Vic went a bit ahead, me and Vince followed him. We ran the road section. But then when we started the trail climb Vince started to complain about overheating. I also started to have doubts I would be able to push through those exposed section that were ahead in my weakened condition. We took a short break considering our options. After a while (after seeing few runners running some illegal race in opposite direction) we decided to turn back and take the road to Shek Pik.

This still was a solid 20+km outing with good hill training but I did miss that extra distance that was originally planned. But turning around was probably the smart option under the circumstances.

Link to Strava here

UTMB Training No 25 – Thursday Parker No 7

Everything comes to an end someday. This was the day my series of uninterrupted runs up all the way radar ended. I started well, slowish pace worked OK at first but soon the heat prevailed. After Quarry Gap though I could not keep on running up any more. Had to switch to walking… When I made it to the radar I was totally spent. I jogged down planning to run up to the other radar. I had to walk that uphill too, I had no legs to run…

Doing the extended version was clearly out of the question today. I had to give up on the Mt Butler climb and the return trip back up to radar. All that was left was the jog down to Quarry Bay.

Really tough day out there today…

Link to Strava here.