A year ago while looking up at Mt. Blanc from our chalet just before leaving Chamonix I more less decided to come back. What I did not want was to return and do the same race again. The 100 mile UTMB was still something I was not too sure about. And so I signed up for the 119km long TDS. Longer than CCC, shorter than UTMB – it seemed to be the ideal next step. For some yet unknown to me reasons the organizers ranked TDS as more difficult than UTMB.
TDS – Difficult
My preparations for this race started unofficially with the Translantau 100. Although I was far from fit for that race it was a good self assessment on a difficult course at the end of previous racing season. A six week break with very little running followed. Then from May 1st a preparation proper and booze free diet begun (all the training notes are filled under TDS tag). In general I followed a similar Tue-Thu-Sat-Sun training routine as a year ago with few changes:
a) I added few Wednesday track sessions early on into the training
b) I decided to alternate trail and road on my Tuesday runs to add some pace to my training
c) I stuck with my Thursday morning Mt. Parker routine but I shortened the overall distance of those runs by about 10km.
d) During my training after studying few TDS race reports and realizing what that “Difficult” rating meant I made an adjustment to my training plan – I focused more on climbing and descent rather than overall distance on my long Saturday runs.
After all the issues I had early this year I was lucky to have injury free preparation for TDS. However just about 2 weeks ahead of the race some strange feeling around the right knee appeared. There was no pain, it did not bother me at all while running but I felt something was weird. I could only hope that it won’t bother me during the race.
The final run of my summer training in Hong Kong. And as it happened it felt on Thursday. I could run up to say bye to my summer buddies Mt. Parker and Mt. Butler.
It was a thundery morning. One seriously powerful rain shower passed just as I was getting out of the house. But by the time I made it downstairs the rain was over. I was testing my new Fenix 3 watch (last minute pre-departure purchase after the sudden failure of my trusted 910XT). I was impressed how quickly it picked up the satellites… I still have a lot to learn about this gadget but at least today I figured out how to press “START”.
I am more less in a taper mode already so today was not about pushing. It was about getting up to Parker and Butler before leaving Hong Kong for over 2 weeks.
After longer than planned break (I skipped Sunday run due to pollution) I went for the final evening road run of my summer training. I have a funny feeling around my right knee (no pain, just feels a bit weird). And with my race now only 2 weeks away I decided to take it easy.
Relaxed jog run all the way to Bowen Road then a bit faster pace on Bowen itself and “no risks” run down to Admiralty.
It was a rather pleasant run in relatively fresh air – a welcome change after the hot and polluted weekend. And even this was slower than usual run it felt like I finished it in no time.
Link to Strava here.
This was the last weekend of my TDS summer training. Plan was for 30 something km with lots of elevation on Lantau – starting from Tung Chung up Wong Lung Hang trail towards Lantau Trail – from there to follow KOTH Lantau route.
It was super hot day (that ended up being the hottest day in Hong Kong, ever) but worse it was also a seriously polluted day. Both heat and humidity as a result of typhoon battering Taiwan.
Five of us met in Tung Chung. I thought I am well prepared for the heat. I also hoped that once we climb up to the higher trails we will above the worse of the pollution…
I was fine for about a kilometer. We jogged on the road towards the start of the trail. If it was only me I would not have started this fast in these conditions. But knowing we only have a short distance before the climb begins I followed the group. Soon I knew this will not be my day. I had to pause and cool down at the very first stream (still along the road). That moment I got separated from the others. And while I had them within sight I had no mental power to close the gap. This is how people normally feel after 50-60% of ultra race. I felt like this barely a kilometer into the training run.
We regrouped before the climb. I somehow hoped that climbing under the cover of the trees will be better. It was not. Gradually I dropped back a soon I was too far back to even hear Vince talking. As I was climbing up it felt like every single person on that trail on that day is passing me …
The penultimate Parker run of this summer training season… It was quite unpleasantly hot and bright down at the street level. But once on the tree covered Mt. Parker Road it was not that bad. Hot but bearable.
I jogged at steady pace all the way up to Tai Fung Au as usual. There I took short cool down break before continuing towards the top.
The rest of the climb to the radar was just a fast hike. I pause for a bit watching and amazing workflow of a large community of ants crossing the road. Unfortunately before I could take a photo of that a truck passed squashing some of them. Once their line was disturbed they regrouped into 2 groups – one on each side of the road. I left them doing whatever they were doing and kept on going up.
Thursday view from the top
After short photo break at radar no. 1 I ran down and up to the radar no. 2. After that quick run down to Tai Fung Au and climb up to Mt. Butler. The Butler climb was fine but I felt a bit steamy under the trees there.
No time wasting at the top – quick water reshuffle between bottles and down the hill back to Tai Fung Au and Quarry Bay.
It started hot but at the end it was quite comfortable run given the weather.
link to Strava here.
I decided to stick with the night road version of Tuesday runs till the end of my summer training.
It is getting close to the TDS race. Not a good time to do anything silly. I went for this run with the plan to run reasonably fast but without pushing too hard.
For the entire run I haven’t looked at my watch. I ran to feel. I could hear the beeps after every kilometer. And knowing this route so well I did not need to look at the watch to find out how many kms I have done already.
I started easy on the uphill. After the first 1km going up I could speed up a bit while still keeping it relatively easy. Once on Bowen Road I pushed a bit more keeping the pace around and slightly below 5mins/km. Nothing silly on the final downhill from Bowen to Pacific Place.
The GPS was all over the place for some reason. Weird as the skies were clear… The distance shown was more less as it should be. But the start is totally messed up on the GPS map. And the elevation works funny recently. Before correcting the elevation on Strava the record was showing over 7000 metres of elevation gain 🙂
Here is the link to Strava (elevation corrected).
I decided to join Sean and his group for part of their Sunday morning run. They started from Parkview. I came from the other side of the hill over Siu Ma Shan. I started early as I did not want to be late. And I took it easy. I had a lots of ballast on my back and my legs really felt the 30K from previous day. Still even with slow jog hike pace I reached the meeting place a bit too early. So I just sat down and enjoyed the awesome view:
The view of Tai Tam
After few weekends training solo it was time for another insane summer training run with Vince. Plan was to follow the KOTH Saikung route or something like that. With Vince as a navigator the “something like that” option is always more likely. But just in case we really wanted to complete the original route I printed out a map…
The plan was probably too insane so we ended up running just 2 of us. The course was not too hilly. I have never done the KOTH Saikung race. But most of the route was familiar although in opposite direction. We started from Pak Tam Chung, turned left to Pak Tam Au and soon left again against the flow of the MSIG Saikung route. Once I saw where we are going I knew soon we will have some loud welcome. The route passes through some village full of dog kennels – and those dogs don’t sound too friendly. Lucky for me everytime I passed through here all the dogs were safely in their shelters…
The weather was hot but not too humid – quite bearable. We were not pushing too hard, pace was reasonable, soon we reached Yung Shue O. This was first time I came from the other direction and with Vince’s famous navigational skills it took us a bit of time to find out way out of the village following the HK100 route (in the opposite direction). We were now heading towards Hoi Ha.
It was around 30C as is usual on a Hong Kong summer day. But somehow today even with the sun shining it did not feel that hot.
My legs felt a bit week after the cold or whatever I have been struggling with since the Saturday Tai Mo Shan adventure but otherwise I felt good to go.
As usual I jogged my way up to Tai Fung Au. After a short bathroom break there I continued up towards Mt. Parker. I had no intentions to push too hard today so it was mostly power hike till the top. I stopped for a while at the top enjoying the views that were quite interesting thanks to all the scattered clouds.
This week view from Mt. Parker
This should have been morning trail run Tuesday. But after spending whole Monday trying to get rid of cold I decide to move my Tuesday run to the evening.
I was feeling much better than on Monday but I was not in the shape to push too hard.
I made an exception and chose to run with music for a change – something to keep my mind away from sore throat, runny nose and itchy teary eyes. Fleetwood Mac felt just about right.
Surprisingly I did not feel too bad. I was not pushing too much but I kept a steady pace. I guess the first half of the run was not that much slower than last week. This time however I kept the easy pace also on the Bowen Road, no pushing there. Overall it was an OK run given how bad I felt the day before.
Link to Strava here.