Monday, February 21, 2011

2h39’…and 1500USD

So I eventually did my debut in our local marathon….
It is difficult to decide where to start from, if from an aseptic narration of the race or from the deep emotions that every marathon leaves in a runner….
So I start from the 32K mark….
Until that moment, I had run the whole race shoulder to shoulder with Wioleta Kryza (a Polish Pro woman … after the race a google search revealed that in 2002 she was suspended for doping…). In few words she told me that she was quitting there because she was out of the money prizes.
I was alone with 10k to go and I could only see maybe 400m ahead 2 local runners who were directly competing for me for the “local runner special classification”.
b1120729_CI2E1085_SimonWI hit the split button ….2h01’19” into the race. Even with the mind fogged by the effort, I realized that I could arrive below 2h40’ , but at the price to clock a 38’ last 10K, with all the hills and the tunnel still ahead…
so go for it (sub 2h40’ and 3rd place) or just cruise to the finish and be content with 2h41’ and a 5th place?
I went….
I felt my body refusing the idea of pushing even harder, but my mind was really focused and little by little the 2 got read and blue spots ahead got bigger and bigger.
Once I reach the western tunnel, the red spot become just few steps ahead …. while climbing out of the tunnel (from –40 to +20 on sea level) I felt my legs like stones, but also the blue spot was nearer and nearer and I left it behind at the top of the climb…
b1114765_IMG_1353_belinda_6_0834Now I had only 4k left, and my right leg was setting tighter and tighter… every downhill was a real pain… I was not more able to extend the stride and just cruise down… every flyover felt like a mountain. My right hamstring was just a piece of wood and I was somehow surprised myself on how the Km splits were anyway still 3’4x
I stayed focused to my stride, just pushing my pain away. A last climb, the last Km banner and I hear Bill P. shouting “good job, Roberto, push, you can stay under 2h40’ ”…
Last turn, I see the finish line with the clock ticking away 2h39’30”…40”…45”…but is done…I crossed the line in 2h39”52”, around 15-20th overall but most important 3rd local runner….
It was all much beyond my expectations and a huge payback for all the sacrifices and early wake-ups…
The gratification was also “material” when I realized that I won 1500USD for the 3rd place in the special classification for local runners… the first time I ever win a cent running.

I can give myself a 10/10 marks because I really executed a perfect marathon strategy… not to sounds overconfident, but It was right from the books…
The course of HK marathon can be divided into 3 main sections…
the first half is a lot of hills, going from sea level to the top of the StoneCutter Bridge at over 100m altitude.. it might sound ridiculous, but climbing 100m in 4k, with strong sea winds is really tough…
My idea was to start VERY easy and keep my HR in the low 160s until the mid race. After 4-5k in the long climb my pack disintegrated and I was left with the mentioned Wioleta…
We exchanged pacing duties until the 15k turn-around point, and then I realized that somehow I was 5th of the local runners and not really far from the 4th/5th place… it was still a long way to go , but I was feeling strong
That sentiment did not last long… at the U-turn, on TsingMa bridge, I felt my feet losing grip and soon after I was on the ground with blood coming out from the right leg and my hands…
nothing terrible, but it was a huge discharge of adrenalin !! I could not finish my marathon for a stupid tumble…
My HR rate soared to 175-180bpm and I had to control my breathing, resume running and wait for the next water stop to sponge my bleedings..
The race was not compromised, I got back gradually to my “pacemaker” and we reached the half marathon mark in 1h20’50”.
Perfect to plans and it was time now to take advantage of the gradual descent down till the 37k…
I was happy that my HR was still low and we started to clock several 3’30” and 3’40” Kms… until she dropped off…
My HR was by then already around 175 (87%HRmax), but it was like I expected…
then.. the last part.. the last 5k are really brutal: you are under the underwater tunnel…40m below sea level and you have to go out.. with a climb which seem endless….then is all a succession of overpasses, flyovers, ups/downs until your legs can not take it anymore…


I run many marathons, but Hong Kong is really the toughest of the “city marathon” in the worlds…

Exhibit : IAAF race report (which made it as quote of the day in letsrun.com..)

END PART 1...tomorrow something more

4 comments:

RICK'S RUNNING said...

Holly Molly INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE!!!
I can see from the photo's you worked really hard for that.
I'm very impressed how you have come back from serious injury and achieved your goal, Fantastic.
Very inspiring!
Savour the moment, sit back and enjoy your victory and rest well:]

Thomas said...

Brilliant! Huge congratulations!! That's one heck of a comeback after your long time out with an injury!

Scott Brown said...

Yes, you are an inspiration for sure. We all know the feeling of a tough last 5K but few have the talent and guts to overcome it like you Roberto!

Well done!!

Take it easy this week.

Ewen said...

Roberto, came here via Rick's blog. Excellent marathon and a fast last 10k. Enjoyed reading about it. Congratulations!