Monday, September 29, 2008

Wk 39 Summary

- 129km in 7 run (affected by a typhoon mid week)
- 3 workouts
  • Monday: Long Run 33k. A disaster. Not fully recovered yet from Saturday's race; and it was very hot, humid and polluted. I asked E. to come with me for a final 13km section at MP (3'40"), but it was so hot that we decided immedialty to settle for a more modest 3'50" and we could not even keep it. I was so dead that I got dropped by him..
  • Thursday: progression run 10k easy + 10k medium + 10k MP effort. After the typhoon the air was much better, so the workout went very well. I can not swear on the actual pace because it was on unmarked roads, but feeling was good and also I recovered promptly
  • Sunday: race 10000m track. 1st place in 33'54". Temperature 27C/75%rh. Good sensations, I was at 95% effort (last year at the same meeting I did a 35'15"...)
Overall: the week did not start well, but the end was much better.
Because of the heat, I am still lacking some real good quality workout (kind of nailing the 3'40" pace for a long run..).
Now there are only 3 weeks of hard training before the tapering and I hope the weather could cooperate so that I can pile up some good long run and MP pace workout... finger cross. I feel much stronger compared to when I did 2h38' in Fukuoka, but this year I could not yet see any concrete evidence of it in long workouts.
Luckily last night the northern monsoon has brought cooler, dry air so this morning was like running in another country...

again 1st (incredible)

yes, It did happen... winning a 10000m track event. It would have been an impossible dream only 1 year ago...

going in order...

The race: it was Round #4 or 4 of the HK Track&Field Championship. Unfortunately the local Athletic Association does whatever possible to put off good distance runners from this Championship: to take part in the finals for a given discipline, you must have taken part to at least 3 meetings. The meetings are spread year round also in Summer, so not many are keen to run the 5000/10000m in June or July just to earn the presence.. so many runners take part in 1 or 2 preliminary rounds, but the finals for distance running are disputed mainly by keen track runners who just stick to taking part at every round.

The weather: to avoid getting psyched I did not check the weather before the race, but it was a 27C/80F with 75%Rh. Hot Hot, but it did not felt too bad coming from even worse.

The track: the WanChai stadium is crazily located right in the middle of the business district, with skyscrapers on 3 sides and the sea at the last side. (see the pics above...)

The starting field: decent, a bunch of 2nd tier runners like myself + nontheless than Chan K.O. This guy is, in my opinion, the most talented in Hong Kong. He holds several HK records. Unfortunately he has the disputable policy that training in Summer is not for him, so he trains very lightly for several months. In this part of the year I knew he was beatable even by myself

The shoes: I guess that my fellow pronator runners will feel upset, but I used a pair of ultra-light racing flat like the Mizuno Wave Ekiden.
They are maybe less than 180grams and with really minimum sole. There is anyway a minimal "wave" feature to provide some support...
I use them only for track and 5kroad races ... already a road 10k let me with strained muscles.

The race itself: we started very causiously and 1st Km was only 3'32". I did want to avoid to go slowly and let it become a 3000m sprint, so after 3 laps I took the lead and started to settle into a 1'20" lap pace that was more in line with my potential. Little by little I could not hear anymore the steps of other runners behind me and I also decided to be mentally strong, therefore:
- no more taking split at each lap
- do not turn back to see where they are...
So I started a kind of time trial alone, keeping the breathing at tolerably hard level but without overdoing. It was hot and the track was reflecting the heat even more...
I just checked the 5000m split at 17'06" and than went on at my own pace.
After 6000m it started to be tougher to keep the pace but also the lap counter was coming down to less than 10 to go...
at 8000m I gave a look back and I had at least 200m lead, so I started to believe that I could have won unless a collapse in the pace. I therefore focuesed on just keeping the same pace and keep some reserves for a fast last 800m if needed.
Also at 9000m no apparent opposition, so I cruised for the last 2 laps to close in 33'54"

split (I took them but did not look at them...)
- 1k: 3'32"
- 2k: 2'22"
- 5000m in 17'06"
- 8000m in 27'17"
- last km in 3'15"

- Now I felt much more confident for the Marathon pace. Running in 33'54" in that heat means something in the low 33' in ideal conditions.
- Also very pleased about my actual effort: I was not really at 100%, becuase running alone ahead was not in the plans and I was always keeping something in reserve to avoid bonking for the heat
- Lastly, for a mid-age runner who was just running 35'30" 2 years ago, I felt this victory as a great accomplishment, becuase taking part in a Open Elite meeting (also some Olympians were there (in sprints)) and win my race is something unique for my running career. Being very much aware that 33'xx is ridiculous for Elite sport..
- About the heat from the track: I got a big blister under my toes because of the friction between the thin shoe and the boiling surface of the track !!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From WanChai to Berlin

My best wishes to all those running Berlin Marathon tomorrow.
There will be also a fast woman from Hong Kong who should do well (good luck JJ!!).
Also some of my favourite bloggers will run targeting the magic 2h35' that is also my dream.

I will be rather taking part in a track meeting for a challenging 10000m.
The track of WanChai is one of the most spectacular in the world... carved in the middle of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island. I will try to take some shots because the feeling is special (I also hope is not too hot and humid, because the reflection from the skyscrapers make the track feel like an oven..)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A thypoon makes a difference...

Tuesday night the typhoon "Hagupi" lashed Guangdong/Hong Kong. It was very sudden and hard-hitting, unfortunately causing several deaths (7 confirmed dead + 19 missing) in Guangdong.

It did cool down the air considerably and also the humidity is lower. So this morning it was quite pleasant at 5.30am when I went out for a progression run 10k easy + 10k moderate and 10k MP effort. Nevertheless it was 26C and running around the factories of this industrial town is not the dream of every runner.... but overall it was a workout that I would not be able to do before
- around 10k in 44'
- around 9.2km in 37'26" (around 4'00"/km, hilly course)
- last 37' on treadmill with HR around 165 (awful... I hated, but it was much cooler..)

with cool-down around 30km in 2h05'. Good feeling, but I was not satisfied about the running gait, need for sure some fast interval to improve the stride

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

endless summer

another rant about the weather. This year the summer is endless. We are already in Autumn, but the temperature are like in July (or worse).
Yesterday I got up at 4.30am to make a long run and it was already 28C(82F) with 87%rh !! during the day the temperature reached 37/38C with high humidity and high pollution.

Until now, I could make only 1 or 2 really good workouts while the remaining ones were only "surviving". Not a single good MP run; I did not even try to make a fast tempo run because it would be too tough. In short, I am putting miles but I am really not satisfied of the quality.
I hope for a temperature drop in the next 3 weeks, at least to make 5/6 good workouts before the marathon

Wk 37 Summary

- 96km with 7 workouts in 6 days. The work schedule has affected the organization of the week. Because of the Saturday's race that left me very tired, I had to postpone the Long Run to Monday, so the mileage "looks" low.

- quality workouts:
  • Tuesday: progression run 8km easy + 8km moderate + 8km @MP pace . It was the best run of the month ...
  • Saturday: race 5k. It left me totally exhausted also on Sunday. The heat was really brutal and these course in HK are too demanding. I felt leg pain until Monday, like after a weight lifting session..

Monday, September 22, 2008

technical report on Saturday's race

because I found that reading blogs is a very good way of exchanging experiences, here some technical information for my readers

- shoes used: New Balance RC750: racing flats suitable for pronators. I would dare to use them for a 15k race and maybe also a HM on the flat.

- HR profile: I wore the HR monitor on purpose to see my maximum HR rate during the race. Knowing that the profile of the course would have forced me to push very hard, it is good occasion to measure the real HRmax to use later to base our own training.
My last indication was 197bpm, and it has been confirmed also this time. So no need to change my training zones !!
The HR profile describes well the development of the action: decent pace until I reached the climb, flat-out for the 5 minutes uphill, take it more relaxed in the downhill return (I was hurting badly anyway) and than push what was left for the final flat stretch. I did not sprint that much, so it was surprising the I reached the max on the finish line

- I was feeling like a dead man during the race, but later I could see the pictures of those behind me and I got relieved ... they were looking not fresh either (from the top, myself, 2nd/3rd and 4th placed)

- the good news is that the runner who felt victim of heatstroke got discharged from hospital on the same day. He is a very valid canadian runner (1h14' HM PB), just arrived in HK, but I guess that in Canada 33C/90%rh is not the standard...

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I did it !!! I won ! today eventually it was my day !!

was race #2 of the AVOHK 5k series. Weather was brutal: 32C/65%rh (makes 39C/102F heat index). I felt pretty sluggish before the race, not really in good feeling (I guess it was related to the strange starting time of 4PM).
The course is equally awful: a first Km flat, than a steep 900m hill that usually forces many to walk it, a small up/down loop at the top and return, with the downhill that shatters your legs before the last flat stretch.
Unfortunately the winner of the fist race, Stefano P., was absent due to a small injury, so I was the pre-race favorite, but today also my training partner E. joined the race and he can beat me.

I am a very poor downhill runner, so I placed all my hopes in charging fast from the start and opening enough gap on the top of the hill to take it easy downhill and have some reserve for the final km.
Well, i make it short saying that it all went to plan, I arrived to the botton of the hill with E. on tow and charged the hill hard, very hard.
It hurt a lot... it was brutally endless and steep and I could barely breath. I never turned my head until the top and just charged, charged, charged.
At the top I was almost dead, but I opened a real huge gap (I turned my head then). So it take the dowhill comfortably (slow) and it hurt anyway. The breath was not in sync with the legs, so I was really in pain.
After this torture, I eventually reached the flat; I thought for a moment that I was hurting so badly that is someone would have caught me, I would not able to react. So I pushed again but mainly in damage control... turning my head time to time to see if someone was getting close.

well, it was really a relief and a joy to see the finish arch and I was closing for the first time this year as a winner !!
Glad to see that, as expected, E. placed 2nd and he told me later that on the hill I did not even try to follow me because I was going up like a madman (actually, it was so steep that I was barely jogging...). I should have taken it easier and have more fuel for the second half of the race..
I am very happy, It is really a good morale booster.

Weather was so brutal that several runner felt sick after the race, I was really concerned for the 4th placed A.H., who collapsed after the finish and had to be taken to hospital
picture from SCMP newspaper about the poor runner.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

choosing my shoe

now it is 8 weeks to go to my marathon and I must pick up the shoe for the race.
Unfortunately my beloved NewBalance RC600 are too worn-out and totally our of stock in HK, otherwise I would not have doubts...

I happens that I have won 4 wonderful looking shoes at local races that could be suitable for the job (running 42km for a 70kg heel-striker...).
They are all brand new from the box and I do not want to go into testing each of them...
The drawback is that 3 of them are all models for Asian and Japanese market, so it is impossible to find a review for these models on our usual sources...
"Asian fit" models have usually a wider forefoot to accommodate the shape of Asian feet, and it is not a bad feeling also for my "caucasian foot" because gives some extra space when the foot is swollen...
said this, let's see the contestant


gorgeous looking black/yellow. 205 grams/7.2oz . I believe it is more suited for neutral runners, but the wave plate is quite solid. Sold only in Japan (Hong Kong is a bit particular market, where East meets West).

shining orange, 215gr/7.6oz. Sold also in USA, but I could not find a decent review on whether they are suitable for a marathon, even if they have a "air" unit also in foresole. Also it seems classified for neutral gait runner (and actually I can not see any specific anti pronation device)

pleasant red color, 220gr/7.8oz. They seems also the less "aggressive" of the bunch with a design very similar to the NB RC600. Listed as suitable for pronators (with medial post and stability web). This is also a Japan only model.

classic blue/white color. 220gr/7.8oz . They are also listed as marathon shoes for pronators, but a review on discourages the use for longer race over 15k. I need more double check on them. They also seems more common for US market (while absent from Mizuno European website...)

Like in any beauty contest, the line-up of the finalists (Mizuno Wave Revolver was unfortunately stored elsewhere)

Needless to say, they are all "made in China" and most likely made here in Dongguan (Adidas, Asics, Mizuno has their subcontractors in Dongguan, I can not swear for NewBalance, Nike are made most likely in factories in Guangzhou (50km away)). So I support the local economy...

still hot and humid

From Mara Yamauchi's blog (overall very boring... not worthy to read), a good sentence about the toughness of the Asian summer

Autumn in Tokyo
The summer here is so hot and sticky, that the Japanese have a whole set of special words, food, clothes etc for it.
“Natsu-bate” means endless fatigue brought on by hot, humid days, poor sleep, dehydration and other heat-induced menaces

Autumn is here too on the calendar, but is still so hot and humid...

Yesterday, 12 hours meeting at work, followed by a business dinner... a poor sleep because the air was so sticky and heavy in the bedroom (even with air-con...).
As soon as I hit the road this morning, I felt that it was not the best day ... much more humid than the past days and the air was so hazy that looked liked British fog (but 30C warmer).

I really struggled to make a decent 17km at easy pace, the last 20 minutes were endless...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

good feel

this morning I had my best workout in months...
- 27C(78F)/80% rh
- Shoes Mizuno Elixir 3 (a great model, good for both longhish runs and fast pace)
- slept too little, but felt ok anyway.
The program was to run 24km in progression at 8k steps: 8k at 70-75% HRmax, 8k at 78%-60% and the final 8k at MP pace/effort (target is 3'40"/km and 85/86%HRmax).

It was really magic night (still) , the moon was perfectly round and shining on the west, while the sun was ready to rise from the East...
I hit these paces:
- 8k at about 4'10"/km . I felt incredibly easy and the HR was really low, even lower than 140...
- 8k at 3'50"/km pace: it felt amazingly easy. The HR was steady at 155-156 (78%/79% of HRmax) and I could have gone on forever... I was guessing that I could be capable to run a marathon in 2h45' as "easy" effort...
-last 8k at 3'40"/km: I hit the pace perfectly and the HR was in target until the last 2km. I guess the HR drift was due to the sun already shining on my already half tired legs, but overall the pace felt quite comfortable. Never felt the "2h35m marathon" as likely as today. I have it in my legs, I need to tune up the feeling at 3'40" speed in order to find the best stride (today I made some experiments with faster stride versus lower cadence but longer stride...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wk 36 Summary

- 110km in 7 workouts (well, in 6 days)

- main workouts:

Thursday: after a fairly trouble night because of my daughter, I got up too late with little time to spare for a workout. So I felt like doing a time trial to see what is my effective fitness after 2 weeks so so: on 6km I hit 20'19" (3'23"/km pace). The effort was pretty hard, similar to a 10k/15k race. Temperature was an awful 27C/78F. I take it as a decent indication that my 10k shape is around 33'40/33'50", not bad considering the temperature.
Sunday: I got up at 4.30am (!!) and checked the current temperature from HKO: I was shocked to see that we were already at 29C/82F, with 60%Rh (low for the region..). My planned long run was going to be a survival affair.
Kayano shoes because I wanted to save the feet from additional beating (left still painful)
Easy pace for 15k, than it was time for a 4x3k @MP.
11'08"(hot front wind)
11'02" (hot tail wind)
in the last 2 I was way out outside my target HR pace (173 average, while I was supposed to stay under 170), but I do not know how much was also due to the temperature.
To survive, I pick up a shaded strecht and placed water at the 2 ends: my mantra during the 3k interval was thinking about "only xxx meters to the water".
In total 33km, not bad

Overall comment: I started the week pretty easy, feeling still tired and with foot pain. Missed a day on purpose. I guess that it did paid off because I rebounded by the weekend and Sunday's workout was by long the best long run I have had this cycle.

Now I just hope the temperature begins to cool down a bit, as to make at least some decent MP run nailing both the pace and HR before marathon day.
The problem in training with 28C/80F for a marathon held at 10C/50F is that until race day you can not test the real conditions in terms of temperature and feelings... let's see

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wk 35 Summary

- 8 runs for 110km (one double because one evening, I watched a movie while jogging on treadmill)

- 1 5km race: 2nd OE and 32 seconds faster then 1 year ago on the same course. Must be something beyond my comprehension because I felt sick after 3k, stopped and walked for a while...

- Workouts: very poor outcome. I felt pretty much tired all week long and all the workouts were either aborted or shortened.
-- Interval training @HMpace: cut short after 4km because I felt a crap
-- Long run: dragged the feet for 26km and cut short because I also felt pain in my right foot (I need some cushioning..)

Comment: I shall consider it a "recovery" week for the total absence of a good single workout and lower overall mileage. The race itself was amazing, I got a good lesson and in a more relaxed perspective, It shows that my form is better then expected.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Italian sweep

Saturday was the first round of the local 5K races series.
Being organized by my club, I could not miss it, even if I hate running in the afternoon:
I always have digestive issues and it is pretty "painful" to wait all day, juggling among family pleasures and the thought of the race...
Anyway, the field was pretty much loaded, with many of the best local runners lining up for suffering on a scenic, hilly, tough course, mixed road and trail (slippery).

Few posts ago (see below) I praised my fellow italian Stefano for having the best potential and attidute among us.
Well, at no surprise, he charged the hill very hard from the start, but with much surprise, I was capable to follow him a few steps back...

After 1km I stopped hearing any breath behind me but we were entering into the single track, so not a moment to lift off the pedal. On the trail, I did not want to force too much because there were more hills waiting, so I lost a good 10" to Stefano, but still no one coming from behind.
By the 3rd km I begun to feel very hard breathing and difficult to push even at "relaxed" pace, the ventilation was stuck becuase of stiches coming from the belly...
I was not really dead becuase of pushing too hard, but I could not breath... And another hill was coming..
Well.... I stopped, then walk for some meters hoping that someone could catch me asap and avoid me to push my body further in such torture...
I guess it was a complete shutdown of the central governor...
I turned back and still nobody in sight!!!
So I forced myself to run somehow up the last hill and cruise down for the last km to the finish line...

Needless to say, I almost collapsed after the line and 5 minutes later I was throwing up lunch, breakfast and maybe also some remaining from friday...

In all that, I still arrived 2nd overall and 1st "senior", improving last year time by 16 seconds ... (AMENDMENT, I CHECKED LAST YEAR RESULT AND I AM DOWN BY 32 SECONDS !!!!! AMAZING!!)

Stefano was far ahead but I am pleasantly surprised for my overall performance despite all...

So it was for sure the first italian one-two in the modest history of road running in Hong Kong...
very singular event being our national community here not very large

P.S.: for the next afternoon race, complete fast for 8 hours before the race....

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wk 34 Summary

- 127km in 7 workout. The maximum up to now for this training cycle

- 3 workouts:

Wednesday: 25km with 6x2km @ MP, short recovery. This time I nailed the target of 7'20" each, but I was a bit over the target of my HR in the last 2 (reminder: my marathon HR should be around 168-170)

Friday: 20km with fast farltek, many short intervals 1on-1off, good leg cadence, 92/94.

Sunday: 33k. I got up at 4.30am, slept very poorly only maybe 3 hours, back pain. Outside was already 28C/85%rh ... in practice, I felt like S... and was very close to call off for the day... but I could not miss my long run !! Legs felt ok for 20k+ with 2 climbs,than I run out of steam. I felt the back tightening and low overall energy. The last 5km were really long.
It is the second long run in a row that I screw up... definetely I need to make my hard workout on Thursday and have some extra-recovery before the long run.

Saturday I jog around the track and also found time for a Conconi Test (400m protocol). Actually I read many articles about the low reliability of the test in picking up the actual AT level, but I want to use it mainly to monitor the change of the HR profile over time, as sign of good/poor training.
Good: from my first test, right after start of the training, I definitely improved a lot. The curved moved to the right in a dramatic fashion, almost 2.5 kmh faster at the same HR
Bad: I was for sure tired while doing the test, the HR did not climb over 175 even if I felt pushing fast in the last laps. Only 181 bpm as max HR during the test. I must take care of recovery and doing easy runs, very easy