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How to get to 12 hours 30 minutes on Vibram Hong Kong 100?

So, how does one get to 12 hours and 30 minutes on Vibram HK 100?

I am about to answer that. Well, not exactly but you will see.

First of all, the books say that one needs to have a rock-solid purpose in order to achieve anything. In fact, there are many quotes on this:

“Have a definite purpose: a definite purpose is more than a strong wish. It is a clear, definite goal fueled by great passion. Definite purpose focuses all you energy on making your goal a reality. It makes you believe. When you believe, you forget your doubts and fears. Pessimistic thoughts vanish and optimistic thoughts become a habit. When you’re truly committed, you will make decisions and take actions that lead you to the fulfillment of those dreams” – Napolean Hill in Think and Grow Rich

“Purpose is stronger than outcome, reasons come first and answers come second” – Tony Robbins

“Purpose is the most important motivator in the world” – The monk who sold his Ferrari

You get the picture. So, Step 1: Know why you want to get to 12 hours and 30 minutes on HK100. I wanted to do it to challenge myself to get to the next level in trail running but I was unsure of the work this would involve. I am definitely not a 12h30m guy at the moment!

Anyway, assuming one has a solid reason to get to that level, then what? PLAN!

Here’s Andy McNab’s quote from Bravo Two Zero. (Btw, Andy is his fake name, not sure what his real name is).

“You should remember the 7Ps of life. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

Tony Robbins has a quote too. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

So, Step 2: Come up with a plan!

But, what plan? And, how? Before answering that, I first wanted to test myself to gauge my current level of fitness. Is 12 hours 30 a realistic goal? Am I way off that target at the moment? Of course, the test had to be conducted fairly. I mean, not before a curry night or without sufficient sleep. And, it had to be the Double Au. A solo Double Au (Mac 3-8). That’s when you take the body and mind beyond 40kms and stress test both of them.

The rough plan was this:
1) Get enough sleep
[check – I got 7.5+ hours]

2) Have a decent breakfast. The body is like a motorbike. You put crap fuel in and the engine won’t work.
[After a kick ass speech to myself about how “the body was my church”, etc, I went to McDonalds for breakfast. I know, it’s like the US President preaching fiscal prudence. Talk about hypocrisy. Anyway, in my defense, I offer that “No. 4 no meat” tastes quite good]

3) Let the subconscious right mind take over from the egotistical left mind. What do I mean by that? Here’s something I read in a book called Inner Game of Work. The book is written by a Tennis Coach who teaches you how to best learn something. Here’s what he says:

You’ve got to read this. I apply this to pretty much any learning activity now.

The Discovery of Self 1 and Self 2

My first insight into another way came the day I stopped trying to change the student’s swing. Instead I asked myself, “How is learning really taking place?” and “What’s going on inside the head of the player when he hits the ball?” It occurred to me that there was a dialogue going on in the player’s head, an internal conversation not unlike his external conversation with me. In a commanding tone, the voice in his head would issue teacher-like commands to his body: “Get your racket back early. Step into the ball. Follow through at the shoulders.” After the shot, the same voice would deliver its evaluation of the performance and the performer: “That was a terrible shot! You have the worst backhand I’ve ever seen!”

Is all this inner dialogue really necessary? I wondered. Is it helping the learning process or is it getting in the way? I knew that when great athletes were asked what they were thinking during their best performance, they universally declared that they weren’t thinking very much at all. They reported that their minds were quiet and focused. If they thought about their performance at all, it was before or after the activity itself. This was also true in my own experience as a tennis player. When I was playing at my best, I wasn’t trying to control my shots with self-instruction and evaluation. It was a much simpler process than that. I saw the ball clearly, chose where I wanted to hit it, and I let it happen. Surprisingly, the shots were more controlled when I didn’t try to control them.

I gradually realized that my well-intentioned instructions were being internalized by my students as methods of control that were compromising their natural abilities. This critical inner dialogue certainly produced a state of mind very different from the quiet focus reported by the best athletes.

My next question was, “In this inner dialogue, who is talking to whom?” I called the voice giving the commands and making the judgments “Self 1.” The one it was talking to, I called “Self 2.” What was their relationship? Self 1 was the know-it-all who basically didn’t trust Self 2, the one who had to hit the ball. Out of mistrust, Self 1 was trying to control Self 2’s behavior using the tactics it had learned from its teachers in the outside world. In other words, the mistrust implied by the judgmental context was being internalized by the student’s Self 1. The resulting self-doubt and over control interfered with the natural learning process.

But who is Self 2? Is it that unworthy of trust? In my definition, Self 2 is the human being itself. It embodies all the inherent potential we were born with, including all capacities actualized and not yet actualized. It also embodies our innate ability to learn and to grow any of those inherent capacities. It is the self we all enjoyed as young children.

All the evidence pointed to the fact that our best performance happened when Self 1’s voice was quiet and Self 2 was allowed to hit the ball undisturbed. While Self 1 might be commanding the body with the vague instruction “Get the racket back early,” Self 2 was doing something far more precise. Calculating the eventual position of the parabolic arc of the ball, it was issuing hundreds of exact nonverbal instructions to scores of muscle groups that allowed the body to hit the ball and send it to the desired location on the other side of the net, all the while taking into account the speed of the ball, the wind, and the last-second movement of the opponent. Which self was more trustworthy?

It was like a dime-store computer giving orders to a billion-dollar mainframe, then wanting to take the credit for the best outcomes while blaming the mainframe for the worst. It is humbling to realize that the voice giving the controlling demands and criticisms was not really as intelligent as the one receiving them! The invented Self 1 was not as smart as the natural self. In short, the cartoon character Pogo was right when he proclaimed, “I have met the enemy, and it is us.”

Self 1 is the left brain (the rational mind) and Self 2 is the right brain (the subconscious mind). My plan was that I will not issue instructions tn the body but simply ask myself questions at the end of the Double Au run in an effort to determine what I could have done better.

And, here’s what happened

S.NoStageTimeComments
1Stage 3: Pak Tam Au to Kei Ling Ha1.21:38It was nice and cloudy. Slow and steady start until engines were all warmed up
2Break to refill water3.52:08 bucks for a small bottle of water is a ripoff I tell ya
3Stage 4: Kei Ling Ha to Gilwell Camp1:54:11It started to rain. I was enjoying it! Andy McNab says "Take what you can, when and while you can". I happily accepted the rain and increased my speed
4Stage 5 (Part 1): Kei Ling Ha to Sha Tin pass23:49I was still feeling great and full of power
5stage 5 (Part 2): Sha Tin pass to end of Stage 557:37Barring one fall, the speed was very steady and the pace was beautifully managed
6Stage 6: Tai Po Road to Shing Mun BBQ31:47Continuous running. Very well managed. I saw Ying Ying and Law Chor Kin at the BBQ site. They told me I could complete the Double Au run in less than 8 hours
7Break: Refill water6:02Why did I buy "COOL" water when the mineralized Bonaqua water was available?
8Stage 7: From Shing Mun to Needle Hill summit35:30The sun was back in full force. I was not doing that well. Stomach cramps began. However, they were minor and I slowed down/took deep breaths to counter it
9Stage 7: Needle Hill to Grassy Hill34:58I walked good chunk of it and I was beginning to feel quite tired. Again, took deep breaths to ease stomach cramps
10Stage 7: Grass Hill to Lead Mine Pass7:06The stomach recovered and I enjoyed showing off and overtaking a bunch of runners!
11Stage 8: Lead Mine Pass to the top of Tai Mo Shan59:57The stomach almost completely recovered. Breath management was good
12Stage 8: Top of TMS to Route Twisk19:45Great run downhill. Reminded me of HK100. I recovered fully and wanted to get the time below 8 hours. Manged doing so with 4 minutes to spare
Summary53km, 3374m elavationTotal time: 7.56:19.
Moving time: 7.45:44
Glad to have let the right mind handle the run! No interruptions and unnecessary mind-body instructions

Questions to myself about the run:
1) What did I do about nutrition?
[Soyjoy bars, Granolas bars and a coke in Shing Mun. I suspect the coke threw me off on Needle Hill. Probably dehydrated me]

2) What were the main hiccups during the run and after?
[Other than a bad stomach on Needle Hill, all good. The stomach recovered though. I think it’s just the way long distance runs go. Nothing can really be done about it except for fixing the symptoms as they appear]

3) What could I have done to make the run faster?
[Better training. Run more, more and more until the body’s standard pace goes up. This will need more commitment to training]

And, the main question. Can I do 12 hours and 30 minutes on Hk100 or is that a goal that’s unrealistic?
[This run was optimized. If it takes me 8 hours to do 52km, the first half of Hk100 (42 km) needs to be done in 4 hours and 30 minutes. That is unrealistic. Fatigue is not taken into account either. So, the answer: yes, anything is possible through practice but at the moment, 13 hours is more realistic. Knocking off 30 minutes more from a Double Au will need a phenomenal commitment to training. Is this goal important enough to warrant that?]

Hmmm. Perhaps, I will train a little more and revise my target for this year to 12 hours and 50 minutes!

Strava link.
Garmin link.

Training Diaries 2014 – Going back down memory Lane!

Training Diaries 2014 – Going back down memory Lane!

The fitness goals for 2014 are clear. To have two HKTR teams and attempt to run the Oxfam Trailwalker in less than 14 hours!

Hmm. Sounds almost unachievable considering that not-so-long-back, we were only a 22-hour OTW team! And, 22-hours at that time was a gargantuan task for us! During those years, we thought that those who did sub-16 hours on the OTW were just plain old crazy. Now, we seem to have joined that club!

In fact, I remember pitching myself as the “fastest guy in the HK Trampers” to Steve Sparky, our strict team boss during those years. HK Trampers is a hiking group and my sales pitch to Steve was that I ran upto Sharp Peak and did a 20km loop during weekends which I thought was totally jaw-dropping HARDCORE! I was expecting him to go “wow! you are da man!”

This is the email I wrote to him.
—————————————————-
Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 7:34:22 PM
Subject: Re: Trailwalker 2009

Hi Steven,

Thank you for the offer. I am a 28-year-old ex Trailwalker (2 times). I think my personal best can be 20/21 hours. As a team, my best was 24 hours. I am also the Read more

Cloudy Hill, Pat Sin Leng, Plover Cove plus plenty of sunshine

Cloudy Hill, Pat Sin Leng, Plover Cove plus plenty of sunshine

A poolside Corona or a 37km run?
35 degrees centigrade. 90% humidity. Zero cloud cover. Scorching heat. This is the kind of weather an average Joe would spend relaxing, lying on a poolside bench and sipping an ice-cold Corona. But, us? No, not the Hong Kong Trail Runners. Our way of relaxation in this weather is to go out on a mammoth scorching hot run. And not just any run. Today’s run was the mother of all heatstroke-causing runs. Cloudy Hill, Pat Sin Leng and Plover Cove. 37kms of sheer brutality with over 2200m of accumulated elevation. Extreme endurance training at its very best.

The sunshine lovers – courtesy Vic

Read about the HOT trail running experience and the “rescue” effort up ahead

Making history on New Year’s Day with a Lantau Bypass Operation

Making history on New Year’s Day with a Lantau Bypass Operation

Photos here.

Some wise guy (definitely not me) once said: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are”. This quote should work the other way around as well, i.e. “Tell me who YOU are and I will tell you who your friends are”. Well, I am CRAAAAAAAAAZY. So, you know what my friends are like. There’s this one guy who is especially crazy; in the interest of respecting his privacy, I can’t tell you his name but I’ll give you only one clue: his name starts with “M”, ends with “N” and there’s a “artij” in between. And, what is so crazy about him? I’ll tell you.

It all started with an easy run I wanted to do to celebrate New Year’s Day. I asked my crazy friends if they were interested in running as well. “Mate, join the Quintuple run“, came the response from Martijn, who was referring to a run he was organizing. I signed up.

I met my crazy #2 friend, Vic, in McDonalds at Tung Chung today morning. We had an interesting conversation.

Me: So, what exactly are we doing today? Going up to Read more

Double Au, November 2012, Discovering the merits of a rope

Double Au, November 2012, Discovering the merits of a rope

In preparation for the Trail Walker in 2 weeks’ time, we decided to hit the trails for our last, long training before the event. (I say that but I think we would have hit the trails for a 54km run regardless!)

We had two things to accomplish today. (1) To do a Double Au (Mac 3,4,5,6,7,8 – 54kms) without stopping anywhere for too long and (2) -This was more of a secret mission- We wanted to catch Martijn and Olivia who were attempting the Double Au as well but they started about an hour ahead of us. We wanted to run past them at top speed and make demeaning gestures.

It was going to be my 7th Double Au since 2010! My best time was 7 hours 40 minutes (not quite sure how I did that -must have been on steroids-)

The lazy 8.40am team at the start – Gilles, Rupert, me and Vic

Continue reading about the “rope” experience