Al Silvester still going strong for Arena internationally.

As Al & Cat continue their adventures in running land around the world, here is the latest instalment from their recent race in Hong Kong. A little warm up for the Tokyo Marathon.

China Coast Half Marathon – Hong Kong

It's not about the prize but the taking part isn't it guys?

It’s not about the prize but the taking part isn’t it guys?

Well then folks, it’s January 2016 (or at least it was when I first started writing this post!) and after no races in Vietnam we were long overdue a sharpener before February’s Tokyo marathon. Luckily we had planned for such an eventuality and scheduled in the China Coast Half Marathon in honkers!

To that end I’ll cut straight to the chase, here is our race report for the China Coast Half Marathon as told through the inner monologues of runner numbers, 1838 (Cat) and 1839 (Al)…

Mile 0

1838:

5,4,3,2,1!! Go! Ok….exciting. Though still walking…..ooo crossing the line, quick, start the watch -go.

1839:

Bloody hell, too far back in the pen again. Why do I always do this? Must remember to get in early to get as far forward as possible. What’s the mandarin for “excuse me”? Ah yes, Dway Boo Che. Or something like that. “Dway Boo Che”, “Dway Boo Che”, “Dway Boo Che”, “sorry”. Ah sod it, this is far enough forward. Why is there a taxi trying to drive through the crowd! Idiot. What’s idiot in mandarin? Oooh crap, we’re off.

Mile 0-1.5:
1838:

Hmm, bit congested. Crap, watch says 9:40 m/m. Gonna have to make that up. Oh god, it’s hilly. Well what goes up must come down so the next mile should be nice. Yeah but what about mile 4 and then 10 etc – oh shut up don’t think like that it’s only the start!

1839:

Right, need to get round some people asap. Get to the side. That’s a bit better. Nice downhill start actually, sweet. Ooo, but now a rather large uphill!… This is a really long hill! Must be a mile long? Ah, but there’s the summit. Wow the leaders have gone over already! Better speed up a bit.

Mile 1.5-2:

1838:

Oo, yay downhill. Watch check…..oh this is better. Maybe I’ll be OK. This might even be fun. Uh oh watch is vibrating…crap storage space is low. Thought it would last the race. How can I have run out space in a few months – I haven’t done that many runs surely!

1839:

Ooof, it’s windy up here. Cracking view though. Concentrate Al! Right lets put some solid sub 6:30 min miles in then.

Mile 2-3:

1838:

Wow what a view!! This is amazing. Look at that reservoir and the islands and the sea defences. Hey are you all seeing this? That first hill was so worth it. Hmm, would I run a whole race uphill for a view like this…hell yeah! Woah, a 30km marker, what the hell. They have messed up a bit there. Watch check…6:47 m/m?! Great, it is broken! I can’t even do that for more than a mile of a park run. Maybe I should slow down a bit anyway.

1839:

Ok, feeling comfortable, pace is good, no one overtaking and starting to close the gap in a few people in front… That chap looks like a bigger version of me, but with no beard. Should I tell him? No, that would be odd in any situation, let alone in the middle of a race. Just go past him. I wonder if he is thinking the same thing though?

Mile 3-4:

It beats Basin Road South.

It beats Basin Road South.

1838:

Would I run a whole race uphill for a great view – No I would not!! Urgh! Oo water stop, oh dear it’s cups. How do I do this without stopping? Ok it’s impossible, did I even get any of that in my mouth. Uh oh, watch is full – no more stats. Gonna have to go old school and use the actual time.

1839:

This route is really beautiful. Who woulda thought Hong Kong had such great countryside! I always thought it was just a big city…. Ah, here comes a water stop. Don’t need any, stay on the left. Looks like cups. Great, that’s gonna be fun when I do need water… There’s the turn off for the 10k. Maybe some of the people in front are doing that and will turn off. That’d be good. Oh, none did, oh well.

Mile 4-5:

1838:

This view is so amazing. This might be my favourite race ever. This is going down hill a lot, hope we don’t have to go back up. I like her leggings…have to get some skins at some point, when they aren’t ridiculously expensive anymore. Oo some of the front runners are coming back the other way. Where’s Al, why isn’t he first?! 😉 hold on, we turn round and go back…up this! Ouch that will hurt. Better slow down and conserve some fuel for that. No, don’t slow down that much stupid. Just do this until it hurts more.

1839:

It’s very undulating. I wonder if there are any flat parts? Ah yer, looks like a flat bit along the reservoir. Can’t wait for the turn, this wind is ridico… There’s another chap slowing down on the hill… This is good, not slowing down too much on the uphill… Shit, a cow! Three cows! They’re not moooooving! Ha, good joke. Weave through them.

Mile 5-6:

1838:

Oh there’s Al!! Hey! Shall I do a high five? Nah better not ruin his stride, he seems comfy, ha and he shouted to me so he is fine. What position is he then, 6th?, 7th? Nice one…he won’t be happy though. Wow the sea defence is windy! I can’t actually run straight. Oops lost an earphone, oh and a safety pin, I think my number bib might come off. Quick memorise the number incase…1838, 1838, 18-38. There’s the turning so must be half way ish. That’s good I feel alright. Quick water decision??? Yes do it. Eek there’s so many cups on the ground in this wind they will be blown into the sea. I hope they pick them up quickly. Oh, there’s a bin there, dammit I should have put mine in there. Sorry!!
Whaa…was that the 10k marker?? I thought we cleared that ages ago when we turned back. Boo. Ok well don’t panic, definitely half way by now.

1839:

Ah there’s the leader coming back, the turn must be near. He’s got a healthy lead. Must be 30 or 40 seconds at least. Yep, there’s 2nd. Oh, and there’s the turn up ahead. And a water station. Right, take the hairpin wide then throw some water in the direction of your open mouth. Go!… Hhhmmm, maybe got an eighth of a cup in the mouth, rest in my eyes. Great. Still it’s cool enough to not need it.

Mile 6-7:

1838:

‘I know you don’t get a chance to take a break this often, I know your life is speeding and it isn’t stoppin’, here take my shirt and just go ahead and wipe off all the….sweat, sweat, sweat; lose yourself to dance’. God I love daft punk – should put more on the running playlist next time. Legs have loosened up now, this is fun! Ooo rock the casbah – yes!! Just in time for the heavy hill. Reckon I can take some of these guys…don’t push it though you know that right butt cheek is starting to twinge..oh f**k it I’ll be alright. Last race of the trip.

1839:

Think I’m closing in on another chap, he seems to be getting nearer…. Pace is speeding up a bit now, that’s good. Having a tail wind really helps… Lots of runners coming the opposite way now. Wonder where Cat is? She must be coming through soon. I wonder if she really is gonna take it easy like she said. Probably not.

Mile 7-8:

1838:

That guys thigh muscles are HUGE! I wonder if that’s a good thing…power for hills but he would need more energy and be heavier. I wonder if other runners are thinking stuff like this. Maybe someone is looking at me and thinking my legs are too muscly for efficient long distance. Maybe I’ll write about it for Al’s race report. What have I’ve been thinking about all this time…

1839:

There she is! “Go on babes!”. Ah, head phones are in, probably didn’t hear me. She’s looking comfortable though. That must be 5 or 6 miles for her. Reckon she may be on for sub 1:50 then. Obviously not taking it that easy. Would be nice if she got some pics though, this place is amazing… Anyway, focus, keep the pace up.

Mile 8-9:

1838:

Uh oh, Moby! Great tune but too sad and too slow. Good job we are going downhill again now. This is great though – heading back to the reservoir, are we here already, must only have about 6k to go, woop. Maybe this will be a good time. I’m not even in pain really, that much.

1839:

Wonder where I am in the field? Deffo top 10. Maybe 7th? Can see one guy ahead. Think I can catch him… Yep, he’s deffo getting nearer…. Reckon anything around 1:24 would be fine for this course. Maybe Tokyo will be ok after all. Need to get some longer runs in though in the next couple of weeks. Must stay off the Tsing Taos. And the Oreos. I’d love an Oreo now. Or a creamo. Less cream in a creamo than an Oreo I reckon though. Takes the biscuit really! Ha, good joke.

Mile 9:

1838:

The view from the reservoir bridge is soo good. We must be joining up with the 10k race, where have all these people come from..beep beep! That means only 5k max to go surely, time check…ok looking like a sub 1:45 maybe even 1:40 that would be good. Definitely can’t stop to take piccies now.

1839:

Ah crap, here’s the merge with the 10kers again. Why do all Asian races do this? Bloody hell, and the corporate challenge lot as well. Half of them are taking selfies! What is it with the Chinese and taking selfies? Hhhhmm, I suppose I too have a selfie stick. Probably shouldn’t judge. Still at least they are moving aside as we come through… That chap in the blue is really close now. Should have him soon.

Mile 10-11:

1838:

Water stop decision time…do I don’t I. Quick, do the super fast cost-benefit analysis…nah you’ve blown it it’s gone. Didn’t need water anyway, sure I’ll make it fine without.
That girl is tiny…she’s destroying this hill. Ok I might just be able to overtake her but only cause my legs are longer..seems kind of unfair. Must be getting close to the super downhill finale from mile 1 – come on Cat move it. You can overtake those 2 Hong Kong Runners, yeah! Oh…maybe not. Suppose I could try to play the cat and mouse chase with these guys for a bit to see if I can keep the pace. They look like they are running together to get a good time and help each other out. Where is Drew!!
Lot of traffic here, it’s those taxis the race official warned us of, the ones that will probably just run us over. That guy in front is in the middle of the road. Hmm he has earphones in and don’t think he knows – I better tell him, it’s gonna take a speed spurt .. this might hurt.

1839:

Yes, taken him! And there’s another chap up ahead. That’s a good sign, it’s normally me dying at this point. I’m still feeling good and we have a big downhill coming soon!… What shall I eat later? Deffo some dumplings I reckon. Maybe the bbq pork ones, they rock. Pretty hungry now actually. There must be bananas at the end. That would be aPEALling. Ha, good joke.

Mile 11-12:

1838:

Whaaaa, why are we going this way? That’s not fair I want to go where the 10k runners are going. That’s away from the finish line people!! Balls – I knew I wasn’t tired enough for it to be too close to the end. No, I’m slowing down..boo! And there’s more incline, boo. Oh well, just keep running. Wish I knew how fast I was going. Wish Drew was here, he’d make me not slow down and he’d give me updated stats for some morale boosting. He would also love this race, but not the flight.
Oh man, half marathon runners are coming back the same way, I can’t see the turn around point, another corner and no turn, argh!! How long will this go on for.

1839:

Ah, here’s the extra bit they add on to make up the full 13.1. I was wondering where that was gonna be added. Must be an out and back stretch. Well marshalled actually, plenty of warning and great use of cones there. Must be in their CONEtract. Ha, good joke…. Yep, here’s the leader again. Looks to be even further ahead… There’s 2nd… There’s 3rd and 4th, they look pretty close… Ah and there’s the turn, and 5th only just going around the cone… What’s that guy saying? Oh, step on the mat. No probs mate. Right chase down 5th, he looks like he’s blowing.

Mile 12-13:

1838:

Thank god, we are here! Just a little more back to the 10k route and then it’s downhill finish – only 2k left. Hey that looks like Al coming the other way, why is he behind me? It is him! Arrr, he’s come to run the last bit with me. That’s nice, hi Al.
Hmm, actually kind of wish he wasn’t running with me….he looks so comfortable, I feel super slow now! Oh stop being such a wimp, it’s good, he’s trying to help you do your best – just try and keep up, lengthen those strides. Not long now.
Yay last downhill bit, woop. Not long now. My breathing is laboured, it is so loud!! I wonder how Al got on, I should ask him….can’t though, can’t talk. Need to conserve all oxygen. Maybe I should tell him I want to ask but can’t right now. No, stupid that would be more effort than actually asking!! Ah, what’s that Al? Oh he’s gone, must mean the finish line is near.

1839:

Right on him now. Try and get him on the downhill, you’re gonna slow on the steep incline… Crikey, my pace says 5 min mileing! This downhill is steep. My legs are wobbling a bit!… Yes, taken him at last. Now keep pushing! One last bit of effort.

Mile 13 – 13.1

1838:

What! There’s an incline to the finish line! You are kidding, no fair! Ok fine. Don’t slow down, don’t slow down. Yaaaaay! Ooo medal.

1839:

Oooo, nasty little finish! Push on up to the top. Aaaarrrgghhhh, this is horrible, I’m gonna be sick…. Phew, finished. Jesus that was a horrible finish… Ooo, they do have bananas.

Postscript:Al & Cat conquer Hong Kong

After getting our breath back and chatting to some lovely runners from AVOHK we made our way over to the results board and checked out our performances. Surprisingly I had managed to finish in 5th overall and 2nd in the senior category with a gun time of 1:22:49. Happy with that on a course like that.

Good luck on your next crazy adventure and we all wish you well and best of luck for Tokyo.