This is my race report for the Seoul Marathon held on March 18th 2017 (not to be confused with the other Seoul Marathon held in November). I’ll try to break this experience down and provide some useful information for anyone considering this event.
Registration: Even though this is an ‘international’ event (and has the IAAF gold rating), the website is painfully inadequate if you don’t read Korean. Basic information is in English but registration is a nightmare. First of all, the registration opens relatively late. This year it opened on Dec. 12th and I registered promptly on that day. To my knowledge, the race did not fill up quickly so no need to stress too much about doing it very quickly. However, be prepared to spend some time trying to figure out how to get through. The website did offer some English for the main page, but once you go into the registration area it’s all Korean. It helps if you can use google chrome which will offer an English translation (you’ll probably also need to cut and paste into google translate). But even with that, you’ll find some parts unclear. At some point I even needed to enter an address with a postal code in Korea, so I put in something random. Continue reading
It was a long run, so I’m afraid this is going to be a long post…. Let’s start with the morning of the race. There I was on the start line at 4:45 AM. The sun was coming up and all I could think about was the 100km of road in front of me. It was the fifth edition of the Hida Takayama Ultramarathon, held annually in Takayama, Japan. As a non-Japanese visitor, I felt a bit like a stranger in a strange land. But it didn’t matter. We are all equal on the starting line when stripped down to the bare essentials.
This Sunday will be my first experience running 100k (assuming I finish). I’ve done several full marathons but nothing further than that. No matter how you cut it, I’m going to suffer and will need to find some new skills to get through this one.
But I’m ready for it, or at least I’m sort of telling myself that I’m ready. Takayama is apparently a beautiful area of Japan, rich in history and culture. It’s all on the road which makes it unique as far as 100k races go. There is a lot of climbing so it’s a bit like Comrades marathon but with a bit of extra fun. In some ways it will be easier than a trail ultra but then I think the road presents its own challenges. The biggest challenge, I think, is mental. A trail slows you down and you don’t have much choice; on the road, there is nothing stopping you from self destructing. Pacing will be key.
So that’s it. I’ve put in the miles. Lots of slow training on hills. Two 50k runs. A few 85 mile weeks. Consistent running. Could have done more and should have done more but whatever. Can I crack 10 hours? Should I care? I think this time I’ll let the race decide and just go with it.
There are two full marathons offered in Hong Kong. The big one is the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon and the other, smaller affair, is the China Coast Marathon. For most people, it’s a matter of choosing one or the other since they are usually only a few weeks apart. This morning I ran in the China Coast half marathon, my third time taking part in this event.
I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.
In my last post I mentioned that I was suffering from a strained hamstring. I mentioned that I might not be able to run in Macau or that I might not be able to run as quickly as I had hoped. But a weird thing happened. Three days before the marathon I had to do a fair bit of walking around work and by the end of the day I noticed that my left knee was sore. No big deal, I thought, but then I woke up during the night with some fairly noticeable pain! A day later, two days before the marathon, I could not walk without feeling sharp pains coming from my inner knee area. WTF??? How did that happen? After running 70 mile weeks, how did I get injured from just walking around? I searched the internet and figured that I was suffering from an inflamed bursa (I still don’t know what it was for sure). My theory is that after I injured my hamstring, my muscles tightened up considerably and that put some strain on the knee (you can read about the chain reaction effect of hamstring and knee injuries if you check around). So I iced it like crazy and that seemed to help, but as time ticked by I was fairly certain that I was not going to be running on Sunday.
I suppose that all adventures must have their moments of crisis. For me that was last week when I managed to tweak my hamstring. Nothing serious. No dramatic popping sound and searing pain. Just a niggle and the feeling that something was definitely not right. With only two weeks to go until the marathon, this was definitely a worry.