Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Playing Catch-up - Saturday 18th of September, 2010

Finally got a run in with Jim, who had arrived the night before. I don't think he was quite prepared for Hong Kong's tropical conditions and went out hard at the start, suffering at the end.


Managing to get us both in a panorama down by the mid-autumn displays in TST.

Jim suffering on the last leg. This was shortly before he walked (!) up the ramp leading to my place.

Double trouble - Thursday 16th of September, 2010

Since it had been a while, I decided to run the trail down to Po Lam and back up the hill. I haven't hit the 30km/week target for a while now, but this week's been crazy busy and things will only get busier next week. Hopefully, by the time things quieten down, the weather will cool off a bit too! The lunchtime heat was sweltering.

Sorry that this post is much later than the run date. Photos will have to suffice!

Willie cranking along the trails. His Nike Lunar shoes certainly aren't made for this kind of terrain!

Down the stairs, already a bit bothered by the heat.

Wonderful vines stretch across a white wall on Silver Strand Crescent.

Punishment - Wednesday 15th of September, 2010

Aloha. Again. Back on the Hawaii Trail for the third time in five runs!

The weather was hot but patchy clouds provided occasional respite from the killer sun. Tacking on a little warm-up at the start, when I hit the trail I found the stones slippery despite wearing my Asics, no wonder the first time I'd ran down the stones I labelled it the slippery death route.

Found this little guy hopping around on the steps.

I hit the semi-paved track and at the creek crossing where I couldn't find the nerve to 'walk the plank' last time, I quieted my mind and shuffled across. Very impressed with myself I thought: "now to seal the deal I have to run up all the hills without walking".

I found the nerve to walk across the right hand pipe!

Wonderful little trackside waterfall.

Bright sunshine and shady stairs

As I continued the heat wore me down and the hills loomed large. Struggling up all but the last hill it was a good effort, just not a great one, and not enough to be impressed with.


When I hit the road I locked myself into a comfortable pace, once again pretty pleased with the pace of the last 3 - 4km. Overall a hard run, a good run, but not a great one.

See you on the trails!

~ Joe

Monday, 13 September 2010

Cheng Tzuk Sae - Monday 13th of September, 2010

Back in the Mizunos today and torrential rains yesterday, enough to dissuade me from tackling one of the trail runs, left me with only a few options.

Still feeling optimistic after Saturday's run, I choose to run down to, and around Hang Hau before heading back to UST. A fully paved route where I (hopefully) wouldn't have to worry about slipping over and could push my pace a little for the first time in a long time.

After two days on then a rest day, my legs felt strong but still remembered the pace necessary.

Down, down, down...

Felt great at the start and went perhaps a little too fast down the hills. I took a brief detour through Shiu Bin Village (scenery: yay, stairs: grrr).

Shiu Bin Village

Village houses stand like fortresses overlooking Hang Hau.

When I got to Hang Hau I coasted along, preparing for the climb.

Only watching the ground directly in from of me I slowly chewed the hill back to UST.

Oh crap... snake!

Looking down the hill after I'd already passed it.

I half lept ahead but had already really passed the snake anyway. It was a very skinny green snake. I stopped to take some photos and meanwhile some person came up behind me. When I motioned for him to stop he seemed a little agitated that I couldn't just let him pass, but after I pointed out the snake he jumped back, stood 5m away and proceeded to repeatedly tell me that the snake was a Cheng Tzuk Sae (direct translation: Green Bamboo Snake - Wikipedia Link) and how unbelievably poisonous it was!

Just chillin' collecting some rays.

Eventually the snake moved on and I continued up the hill, struggling up the steepest part of the hills and cruising back to UST.

Despite running a lot of trails, so far it seems that the best place to spot snakes is pedestrian footpaths, where they're often sunning themselves! After browsing the web for photos of Green Bamboo Snakes (more commonly known as the Bamboo Viper apparently), I'm not convinced this is the same snake. The Bamboo Viper is a pit-viper, and this snake doesn't seem to have that classic diamond shaped head. Ah well... better safe than sorry!

After mapping the run I was surprised how far I'd ran. I thought the course was about 8km long, and when I finished, just thought that I'd been moving really slowly, but after mapping it, it turned out to be ~10.5km. Not bad for a lunchtime run!

See you on the trails (hopefully not you Mr. Bamboo Viper!)

~ Joe

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Head Banger - Saturday 11th of September, 2010

Continued rain on Friday night and Saturday morning made for (relatively) fantastic conditions for a morning run.

Wet conditions along the harbour front.

I decided to run up the one hill I've found in the local area, out to west Kowloon, then back home via TST. Just over 11km and perfect for a light run.

Zig Zag stairs go on into infinity! I did not run these stairs, just past them on my way up the one hill.

Settling into a comfortable pace, I covered the small hill, bustled my way through the very busy Nathan road crossing and headed out west. After turning at the wholesale fruit market, I made my way down a little side street to where I normally jay-walk across the road and jump a fence. Today there was a police van parked in the side street watching the crossing.
Nah... they won't say anything.
I dashed across the road, jumping over the fence when *clang* I slammed my head into a street sign. Ouch! The force took the hat of my head and after picking it up I took a couple of minutes to see if I was okay. Just slightly broken the skin on my head but nothing serious.

A jungle of towering steel "trees" at Elements shopping mall.

I settled into a nice pace again, stopping here and there to take photo before eventually winding back home again.

Decorations for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival at the harbour front in TST.

Aside from banging my head this run made my quite optimistic about the coming winter. I really think it was the cooler conditions that allowed me to run without tiring. I'm looking forward to pushing the pace!


See you out in the rain! 

~ Joe

Return Trip - Thursday 9th of September, 2010

I really enjoyed Monday's run. It felt like a route I'd been looking for all along, linking the Po Lam direction with the Fei Ngo Shan direction. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to run it again, this time in the reverse direction.

Since the reverse direction starts with a mammoth hill, I assumed it would all be smooth (downhill) sailing after that.

After a hot 20mins beside the road, I was thankful to hit the trail.

I certainly wasn't wearing the best shoes for the trail, wet slippery rocks making me nervous in my Mizuno Waveriders. The trail went down, down, down... much further than I remembered climbing.

Wet, green rocks!

The reverse direction turned out to be a bad idea. Instead of having the main climb somewhere in the middle, the big climb at the start made mountains of subsequent molehills. What appears on the elevation profile as a short bump is in fact a heart-beaking stairmaster session.

Distorted panorama showing where I came from on the left and the direction I'm heading on the right.

A jungle retreat I found halfway along the trail, including chairs, carpet, some tarps and even a mirror!

Certainly will be aiming to run it the "normal" way again to confirm that this was indeed harder and not just my mind playing tricks, nevertheless its still a great route.

See you on the trails!

~ Joe

Monday, 6 September 2010

Aloha - Monday 7th of September, 2010

I thought about trying to run a new today. Straight down to Po Lam (instead of taking a convoluted trail route) and then into the township and around the back of Hang Hau.

Heading out UST's backgate I was resolute with this plan, but as I started along the trail I was once again enamoured and didn't want to leave the trail to pound some asphalt. No. Stick to the plan.

As I headed down the trail I thought: gee, this section is much nicer than I remember

Wonderful, mottled trails.

And I don't remember this little water crossing. I must have taken a wrong turn! Ah well, better to see where this trail comes out now!

Awesome! Stream crossing!

4-way crossroads. Mental note: don't come here on a moonless night at midnight. Also... which way from here?!

Tseung Kwan O village will take me back to Po Lam. Yau Yue Wan (direct translation: Squid Bay) is where I came from. Au Tau (hidden here) sounds familiar and it sounds like there's a waterfall down there but it's not really the right direction. And Tseng Lan Shue, I have a hunch about that one. So let's goooooo.

Good choice! Awesome riverside paths.

Collapsed dam?

As it turns out my hunch for where the trail comes out was wrong... but the truth is better! The path comes out onto Wilson Trail Stage 3, almost at the end.

The winding lovely end section of Wilson Trail Stage 3.

I'd often seen the end of this trail while hiking/running Wilson and wondered where it went. Now I know!

Oh, and for those wondering, the trail is called 'Little Hawaii Trail' !!!

See you in the jungle!
~ Joe

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Drizzle - Friday 1st of September, 2010

Rain. Wonderful rain.

On Friday morning the rains came, washing particulates out of the air and cooling the temperature (a little). After a deluge in the mid-morning I was a little worried that the rains wouldn't hold out till lunchtime and I'd have to run in sunny, super-humid conditions again. My fears were unfounded as the rain drizzled-on well past lunchtime into the evening.

Having already ran both towards Po Lam and Sai Kung this week, I decided to complete the triplet and run towards Fei Ngo Shan (Kowloon Peak, or in direct translation: Moth Mountain).

Across the bridge and up the hill.

The path was wet but covered with interesting colours.

Once I gained a bit of altitude I must have moved above the rain bands as the rain slowed. My legs were a little stiff on the uphill section, but fine afterwards. Instead, I started feeling really hungry in the middle section!

Cloudy vistas.

This too passed and I found a nice, very comfortable, albeit quite slow, pace. No need to push myself too hard, I backed off the accelerator and peddled all the way back to UST. A very enjoyable lunchtime run.

See you on the trails,

~ Joe

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Marked Path - Wednesday 1st of September, 2010

Hot, hot, hot!

While Severe Tropical Storm Lionrock (not a fully fledged typhoon yet, but getting there) hovers around in the South China Sea, Hong Kong is under the influence if it's subsidence, creating hot, calm and generally high pollution inducing weather. It's very much a case of 'the calm before the storm', where the calm is super hot and sunny!

So, since it was an Asics day I decided to take advantage and run the trail route down to Po Lam. The little bit of road wore me out but as soon as I hit the trail I was feeling great.

Tree-lined perfect running trails.

Prickly flowers!

So great, in fact, that I decided to stretch the trail section out and hike/run back up the hill instead of sweating it out on the roads.

This is a photo of the map provided mid-route. Etched Stainless Steel. Nice. But hard to change when routes change I suppose! The route I planned to take here is the red one, while I ended up on the blue one (I added the colour for these routes, but not the others). Note that both of these are marked trails.

Wonderful, interesting, government provided paths through the jungle. This trail is marked in exactly the same way as the one I ended up on! (blue one above)

I hit the valley floor and ran the tiny bit of road to find my trail (red one)... Nothing doing. There was nothing I spotted that would vaguely pass for a marked trail. Nevermind, I'll run that other trail behind the villas.

Easy to find, the start of this trail was quite promising.

This quickly descended into another safari through tall grass. Doh. Didn't I say I hate running in this type of terrain?

Playing spot the trail... Again. (Right in the middle of this picture, actually)

The trail wasn't all bad (aside from making a bad turn and getting lost in the jungle for 5mins). Quite hard to follow and rarely able to run at proper speed, but interesting places.

Awesome makeshift wooden bridge.

The trail on the left is where I came from, on the right, a trail I occasionally run down.

Abandoned concrete house. No windows, door or roof, but a few chairs indicate that locals use it as a resting place halfway up the slope.

Overall quite a short run with a bit of walking up stairs at the end (notice the sharp inclines on the elevation plot!). When I finally made it back to UST, I wasn't nearly as tired as usual, but a lot dirtier!

See you in the jungle!
~ Joe