Sunday, 1 February 2015

Hong Kong Race report -18 Jan race - lessons learnt

I raced the Hong Kong 100 on 18 January 2014. I went over there to be competitive. The race did not go to plan and I ran 97km in a lot of pain, albeit subsided. I have had a solid recovery.
(In addition to what I noted I ate during the race, I also consumed 2 bags of cashews & some almond butter I bought from NZ

I wished this report flowed albeit I have't been able to get it to, a bit like the race. The important thing is I have learnt a valuable lesson and moved on.

Was it an injury ??

I have taken a few days to reflect and feel that the logical conclusion is that the quad pain was not an injury. My intuition tells me this and my intuition is backed up with tests revealing a low level of magnesium. I take magnesium regulalry, albeit I also have high calcium intake and this can stop magnesium being absorbed. I get these tests regularly (see my subsequent face book post)

I have run enough 100km’s to know that continuing on with an injury isn’t going to get you any points. You are doing yourself more damage and should DNF. Trust me on this one.  Running on a broken leg or something serious isn’t going to help long term!  I did it once and will never do it again. Life is for learning.

Experience told me that this wasn’t an injury. I have a feel for things now with the races I have run. You will find when you have run a few ultras you will get a feel of what could be wrong. There is nothing wrong with not finishing if circumstances warrant it.

Let me tell you firstly about my training and then a bit about my nutrition and perhaps shed some light on why this happened. I will then tell you about how this felt and how I managed it.

Training leading into Hong Kong

My training leading into the Hong Kong was very specific in that I focussed on stairs in a large proportion of my training. Climbing hills with poles was a huge feature It was necessary to use poles in the race given the climbs. They actually help in races like Hong Kong.  I had focused on the race for quite some time and I needed to make a decision between Tararewa 100 and Hong Kong which race I would focus on and I chose Hong Kong. They are both very different races, so I focused on hills and stairs. . It is impossible to train specifically for each race. I wanted to train specifically for HK because I like stairs, having started stair running up tall buildings for fun when I worked in a city office

The race – what happened & how I managed it


I arrived at the race two hours early.  I had been up already for a couple of hours as I was still slightly jet lagged having arrived two days before the race. I was feeling in good spirits at the start of the race.

Prior to the race, I was waiting in line in the toilet and one of the other competitors said I looked really cold, even though I had a survival blanket wrapped around me. I was shivering albeit it was difficult being objective about myself at that point. It wasn’t overly cold though in terms of temperature.

It was a lot colder at 6 am in the morning in Hong Kong and suffice to say I had been training the last few months in the heat having raced the Blakhall 100 km in Mapleton (November) and the Duncans 103km race in December in Australia.

I started the race with the lead bunch on the first Km of road. When we hit the single track I sat around 20 metres behind the eventual winner of the women's race, who I had met at the lunch and had advised me to use poles from 50km. This confirmed this was the right decision. All the training on long climbs with poles helped.

At 3 km I felt a sharp sore pain on my left quad, I then stopped and could not walk. I have never felt such pain before in a race. I stopped and walked it out. You have to keep moving. I walked and ran. It hurt going down the hills and stairs. I managed to loosen it a bit though it still hurt down the hill. I went through the first aid station 5 mins slower than my goal split. My mother text me to say the top runners were 7 mins in front at the first split.   Then after the first sid station it happened again albeit worse, I walked or tried to. In fact I could not walk. I wanted to cry because I knew at that point I could not be competitive. The goal was how to manage this.

I stopped by a beautiful beach, I could have stopped though I wanted to keep going to see if I could manage it. It improved at around 70km. Through most of the race I was sore, albeit it gradually got better.

Nutrition – change of diet slightly & how this came about

In terms of nutrition before the HK100 I had changed my diet in that from 20 December I started to eat a higher fat diet with protein and low carbohydrate. I don’t eat grains, bread, of any sort anyway usually so what I was doing wasn’t a radical departure.

The only carbohydrate I eat are from things such as beetroot, pumpkin, potatoes, kumara. I ate a lot of vegetables, protein in terms of fish and chicken and dairy.  I was concerned about osteoporosis especially after falling over running fast downhill at the Tararewa 50km and breaking my hand. 

 This wasn’t a radical change in my diet as I have always eaten reasonably healthy. What I have cut out is protein bars, lollies, gels, anything really out of a packet. I make my own cashew butter/almond butter and china seed shots. (All low sugar), I avoid things such as dried fruit as they spike my blood sugar I find. I haven’t resiled from that position since the Hong Kong race and have maintained only eating whole foods with no or little sugar. Of course it sugar is difficult to avoid as bananas are around 30grams of carbs with 12 grams of sugar. I increased my proportion of fat and ate a lot of avocados, and nuts. Breakfast was usually 6 eggs scrambled, spinach, cheese, cooked and tomatoes, no toast.

Dinner would be roast veges, and some form of meat usually. I keep things quite simple. I would have a couple of smoothies through the day with fruit, albeit I would add things like almond butter to slow digestion and stop blood sugar spiking.

I had a marked increase in calcium in my diet since the Tararewa 50km. I remember a few years ago I was given some articles on the effect of the absorption of magnesium and that too much calcium inhibits absorption. I couldn’t help but think that this was a possibility. I regularly take magnesium however given the boost in calcium I think the magnesium wasn’t getting absorbed properly and blood tests have revealed this. I regularly get blood tests, every two months to monitor iron, b12, magnesium levels. There are a few other tests I recommend for runners and I am happy to provide you with these options. After the race my magnesium was low and this contributed to this.

I am pleased that I was able to manage it during the race and not give up – following my intuition that this wasn’t an injury. How I managed it during the race was that I took salt pills, 1 to 2 an hour and drank R line at the aid station where my drop bag was at 50k. I made sure I ate through the whole race and stayed hydrated. At the end of the day I really am not 100% why this happened, as I had been doing a heap of up and down hill running, including a fast 8km race the week before where I went fast down the hill, well faster than I wanted to.

I helped three people during the race which cost me 10 mins though I was happy to help them. Both had bad injuries or cramp so I gave them pain killers and some cramp rub which I always carry. I told them to walk it out, keep moving!

This is what I ate:

14 bananas -2 dipped in salt
6 chia seeds gels I made
3 kumara
1 boosta bar
16 salt pills

Vibram and La Sportiva

My small change in diet - ie: only whole foods when I race usually and overall has made me feel sooo much better - more clear and focused. I know this will help me in another race.

It would be great to go back again next year for a 3rd time, though I will need to see if financially I am in a position to go back. If I do I will go and train on the course prior to the race, even though I know the course - just to familiarise myself again.

I felt disappointed although I have moved on from it. My mental mind space is pretty unshakable right now and part of that comes down to focusing on myself and reaching out to my family who support me. I am an introvert and this helps me with my running. I enjoy spending time running and looking at the beautiful scenery. Running is one of my passions and I it is a gift. I feel lucky to be able to put one foot in front of the other because a lot of people cannot. Making the best of what you have and feeling grateful helps me with life.

My previous employment made me humble. When I hear of others complaining, I often think you do not know how lucky you are. Be positive. Be happy. Happiness is not a destination, it just is. I feel lucky that I am happy in my life because it means I can genuinly motivate others. It has taken me while to get there, it often does. That doesn't mean I don't get upset and have moods, I do albeit generally I am happy.  When you are happy you do not need anyone or thing to make you happy. Happiness is your responsibility no one elses. HAPPY RUNNING xx

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