This being a rest day, and the fact that it hasn’t stopped pouring down rain for the past few hours, I figured now would be a pretty good time to pen some thoughts about my weekend mileage.
In stark contrast to the cool and dry temperatures of last week that had me bombing trails and breaking PB’s left, right and center, I awoke on Saturday to the most humid, despicably hot day we’ve had for weeks. My masochistic training plan had me committed to 35km - even before the slow death march up to the Peak I knew that was going to be a big ask, and true enough, I simply couldn’t lock in to any kind of pace whatsoever. Maybe it was running with other people after so many solitary sojourns, or just the heat, or the fact I don’t ever run in the mornings, or not eating enough breakfast, or my wearing black compression tights in the sun and heat for the first time in weeks, or a combination of it all, but I never felt comfortable out there and I don’t remember enjoying much of it, if anything at all.
I had to pull up at Wan Chai Gap around the 15km mark - out of water, out of will and seemingly out of hope - to sit in the shade and refill my 2L water bladder from the shop. 2 bananas, 2 pocaris, an ice lolly and 15 minutes later I was good to go.
The next 15km were a blur of sweat, cursing, and pushing myself to the very limits of my endurance. I had to stop and walk for several minutes at a time, in fact I fell into a 10-3-8-2 cycle pattern - run for 10, walk for 3, run for 8, walk for 2 - and it really seemed to help - well that and the sandwich I stopped to eat at the Parkview Park n’Shop under the air-con. I arrived at Stubbs Rd roundabout via Sir Cecil’s having just hit 30km, with every intention of hitting Bowen for the final 5km. However, as I stood waiting to cross the road my will wavered, and instead I sat down on a bus stop bench, half of me committed to the task at hand, the other half trying to talk that half down. Well, the short of it is that the latter half won that battle, and I’m still smarting about it.
Honestly thinking about it now, I could have run that extra damn 5km along Bowen, so why didn’t I? Why did I give up? I haven’t been training 5 days a week for the past 7 weeks to just stop because I felt a little uncomfortable. I’m really still disappointed in myself, but have resigned myself to be OK with simply having a bad running day. We all have them, and I haven’t had one for quite a while, so I’m at peace with not feeling it on the day. What I’m not OK with is quitting the way I did.
Takeaways are thus: (1) Get more morning runs in - few, if any, of the upcoming races this season will be starting in the afternoon so I need to get used to getting up early, preparing and eating properly, and running before the afternoon. (2) Run your own race, face your own fears, beat your own demons. (3) DO NOT FUCKING QUIT WHEN IT GETS TOUGH. This is when you will learn the most about yourself.
(click map for route details)
I don’t normally gush about sporting products, but I’m convinced that wearing compression socks for a few hours (I even sleep in mine) after a long run really does aid recovery. I slapped on a thick layer of tiger balm after the horror run, had a good stretch, refuelled with a couple of beers and a ton of thai fried rice, and got some good sleep. I was supposed to meet some friends on the Sunday at 8am to do ‘Triple Twins’ over in Stanley (elevation gain/loss of 528m/-657m) - needless to say that didn’t happen. Instead, for the first time in a while, I slept in, and boy did it feel good. I took my dog out for an hours hike to stretch my legs out a bit and then made some chipotle refried bean burritos for lunch. I was feeling so good after eating those that I worked on some free weights at home for 30mins, and finally at around 4:30pm I started off for 16km and as much vertical as I could get in.
Right from the start I couldn’t believe how much better I felt in contrast to the previous days run. Smooth strikes, stronger legs, my mind was focused and I was sticking to a great pace. Even managed to catch a pretty sweet sunset along the way:
I was back to Hammer Perpetuem on this one (in place of Sustained Energy, which I was using yesterday for the first time and don’t rate. I know - there’s not much between them and it’s probably more psychosomatic than anything else, but there you go.) and instead of a half pack I bumped up to 3/4. Seemed to make a difference, but I also popped a couple of delicious Apple Cinnamon gels along the way and those definitely helped my climb up The Twins. I was tearing down the contour path from Wong Nei Chung Reservoir to the saddle above Repulse Bay, and even though half of it is catchment (concrete), when you get on to the trail it’s such a joy, and mostly downhill, that you can just cruise.
I was feeling pretty good when I arrived at the base of The Twins just as twilight was settling in, but even the gel I’d popped 15 minutes previously didn’t manage to take the edge off. The 1,000 steps up to the first peak is just a grind and I’m not sure we’ll ever be friends, but I think we have a truce going on at the moment and that’s just fine with me. I didn’t pass a solitary person coming up or going down and it was pretty great having it all to myself. As the evening drew in tighter it reminded me that I need to get more night running in before the Moontrekker.
My knees took a real pounding coming down the steps to Stanley Rd and the bus stop home and continue to be a source of some concern for me at the moment, but that really was the only gripe of the evening’s run - a run that put a serious smile back on my face after the previous days disappointments and made me remember why I’m sacrificing so much of my time and life for this.
(click map for route details)