Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Running in Hong Kong Part II: Noah Goes Solo

Last week I was back in Hong Kong for 5 days. Unlike our trip in November, this one was for business, and it was a much shorter trip. And, unlike the first trip, I was on my own this time. I didn't have as much time to run, and there was a lot less chance of asking for directions or figuring out the public transportation system. So no Maclehouse trail, this time. Really, I was pretty intimidated heading out to Hong Kong on my own, but since I was going, I was at least going to get some runs in. And even a swim, as it turned out.
I spent my first two nights on the campus of the Hong Kong Institute of Science and Technology. This is a beautiful setting. I wasn't planning on doing all that much; I'd gotten a scouting report on running there, and I was told that even the track there was beautiful, and overlooked the bay. So I really just planned on doing that.

Problem was, I woke up really, really early. I was out the door at a little after 6, and the track didn't open until 7! So I made myself a little loop around the campus. The loop was around 2.5 miles – more of a lollipop, actually, with a little out-and-back down to the beach. A very pretty run, especially going down to the beach and looking out over the bay. But man, was that run HILLY. I think it's around 500 feet elevation from the lowest point of the loop (sea level) to the highest. I did three loops. I felt good, despite the hills – and despite running on a 15-month-old pair of Asics that by this point were feeling more like running flats. By the third loop, the track was open, so I put in two miles there. Overall, 9.5 miles in 90 minutes. The two miles I did on the track were at 8-minute pace and they felt like they were at the same effort, so those hills were really slowing me down.

The next morning, I messed up and didn't have any breakfast waiting for me in the hotel room when I woke up – once again, way early. So this time I just bided my time, waited until the track opened, did a few easy miles there. Normally, the idea of easy miles on the track doesn't appeal to me. But the natural beauty of the track makes it more bearable. And the feeling of just walking up the hills I'd run up the day before let me know right away that I should keep it flat.
I took a rest day the next day; really, though, I should have gone swimming.
I knew that there was a pool at HKUST – what I didn't know was that it's a 50 meter, outdoor pool. That was quite tempting! And me, without my suit and goggles.

Same deal at Helen's dad's apartment complex – a huge outdoor pool, and time this time to go out and buy a pair of goggles and get in there.

Running at Helen's dad's place was a lot like it was back in November with Helen. I went out twice, once for 35 minutes, once for 45 minutes. It's ok. There are empty sidewalks, which isn't the norm in Hong Kong, and you can keep going without breaking stride too much. There are even parts where you're running along the harbor. But it's not really scenic, and the ground's quite hard. (Did I mention that all my padding was gone in my shoes?) So it's there for maintenance runs, but not much else.

I did get one swim in. Not too long or too far, but it was nice being in such a big pool. One more opportunity to work off all the great food I had while I was there.

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