Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we learn. Lantau 2 Peaks was a game plan gone wrong for me. I ended up having cramps, getting lost and ending up with a totally different adventure. It was not my day but lessons were learned and truly grateful to have a race partner who’d hang in there with me during those tough times.
Lantau 2 Peaks
My biggest fear when racing was having cramps early during the race and clueless on how to finish it. It finally happened on one of the race that I’ve been preparing for months now. After 4 kilometers of pure uphill challenge, my right calf muscles cramped up real hard and after trying to move forward for another kilometer of climbing, it was both calves cramping up real hard. It turns up, my decision to use calf sleeves at the last minute didn’t do well. It ended up too tight restricting the blood flow into my legs. I knew it was muscle failure the moment I fell as no amount of salt and electrolytes were resolving the tightness.
It’s also in the times of greatest failure that I got to appreciate one of my greatest blessings during the race. The road to Lantau started mid this year and it was with Princess. We’d synced our busy schedules and train together or at least keep tab on our progress leading into the race. It was a journey that peaked to this moment and I’m glad she was there with me. Personally, I’m not used to being helped and would have preferred that she move forward in the race as I knew the months of preparation she had. She said there would be other races and there she was nursing me back to my health and even holding on to me on the slippery wooden part of the trail. On my several years of running, this would be a moment I’d treasure and be forever grateful. I’m disappointed for sure but the selfless act of Princess just made my not so good day, one of the best ones.
We stayed at my cousin’s place, the whole time we were in Hong Kong. I was struggling with cough all week so which made me a bit worried about the race. It was a packed itinerary as we did Dragon Back, explored Discover Bay, and had our tour of the City. All roads lead to race day and there we were at the starting line less than an hour before gun start. There were a lot of participants though there was not as much fanfare on pre race ceremony like in the Philippines. We were just surprised that the race just started at 7:30 am without any briefing.
The race started fast and we went with the pace knowing that it’s the only part of the course where we could save some time before hitting the climb. I would take a few walking stops because of the cough and then go again. It was a stretch of ascending road but we just went with the flow. Personally, running on the road feels new to me again after spending so many months in the trails. It was about 2 kilometers of the trails before hitting the trail head.
Upon entering the trail head, it was stairs unlimited so we just went on power hike mode. I did prepare for this part as I did have a lot of Power Mill sessions before. The stairs can be really punishing, we did take a several photo breaks just to catch our breath.
We also met some Filipino Hikers from Bandilang Pinas in the trails. The mileage were creeping so slowly with the endless climbs but we were moving forward. It was purely uphill with some rolling sections after the first cable car ride. We took it as an opportunity to speed up a bit then it was another set of stairs. This was the drill for the next 2 kilometers of climbing. It was around 4 kilometers before right calf muscles cramped up and it was really stiff. After a few minutes of trying to relax the muscle, we went on. I tried to shift my weight on the left to reduce the wear and tear on the right calf muscle but after another kilometer of climbing, it was both calves cramping up real hard.
It took more time as Princess tried to relax both muscles and this is the time I figured that it might be the calf sleeves causing the cramps. One big mistake was I never got to try this on before the race so when the muscles expanded after all the effort, it felt too tight. I had to pull down the calf sleeves and it felt relieved after that. I was thinking I just need to find a way to hit the aid station and DNF there and let Princess continue during the race. Princess held on to me on the slippery wooden planks as I was slowly recovering from my cramps.
We’ve managed to hit the top of the climb and the worst part was over or that was what I thought. We ended up missing the trail marker by the side of the cable car and went on a different route. We realized we were lost when some runners were coming back and we met some hikers and they told us that this was not the right route. We traced our way back to the Cable Car station found the pink ribbon and went on.
We followed the pink ribbons which led us to a fork with no markers again. We took the left route first then upon seeing no markers, we went back to the right part of the and with no markers still we went back again and waited for the next group to come so at least we can get lost together. We eventually found our way after several kilometers being lost and clueless.
With so many wasted time already, we would already be missing the cut-off so we just went at a leisure pace and had some photos of the trail. It was a scenic part of the trail as we were running by the side of the mountain with the urban side and the mountains as part of our view. We went on consistently and my calves were also feeling much better already. It was not the adventure I expected but it was still a great experience in my books.
We’ve hit the aid station beyond cutoff. We were already more than 10 kilometers in my watch but this was the 8.5K mark of the race. We were lost that long. We asked if we could continue at least the 15K route. The race official at the top agreed for the shift in the distance. I could have opted to just ride the bus at Ngong Ping but whether officially or unofficially finishing even the 15K distance would still be a good booster after the really bad case of cramps.
It was all downhill and mostly paved roads. It does make my wonder why we could just have taken this road heading up. Princess took the chance to speed up. I was a bit hesitant first because of my calves but eventually I did run the descent too. Slowly, I was regaining my confidence in my legs and we were back in the Tung Chung proper for the last 3 kilometers. Thanks Princess for pushing me even during the times I doubted myself. We ended up running the last few sections of the race. When we finished, I was given my time but being the goody-to-shoes that I am, I went to the race official mentioning that the race official upstairs allowed us to shift distance and even got our race number. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo so we ended up with no results. All is well though as after such a scary incident, I still get to head back to the finish line on foot. Well, it’s back to square one once again.
It’s better to try and fail than fail to try.