It’s been ages since I last run on the road outside of races and I’m glad I finally did! I didn’t join any races for the month of September but I’m glad that something came along to motivate me out of my bed.
That motivation came in the form of a small liquid substance inside a tiny packet—the Active Health Sports Gel (for convenience’s sake, let’s just call it AHSG). AHSG had its soft launch last September 24, 2013 and I didn’t want to wait until my next race before I tried it. Besides, trying something new on race day isn’t advisable. Since I had absolutely zero mileage for September and I wasn’t doing anything for the last Sunday of the month, a long run would be perfect: I’d break the zero mileage and have the venue to test out AHSG.
First thing first, the route. Testing AHSG would require me to run for at least two hours or a distance of about 20K, so that’s how long the route should be. It should start close to home to reduce commute. It should also end somewhere convenient. Good thing we’re living in the 21st century so planning a route of this length can be done in the convenience of home using mapping apps. Google Earth is the obvious choice for me but there are of course tons of choices out there.
Using Google Earth’s ruler tool, I devised the best route for my long run: starting in the vicinity of Commonwealth Market and ending in Bonifacio Global City. That involves running in major highways of Metro Manila: Commonwealth Ave. and C5 (composed of Katipunan Avenue, Col. Bonny Serrano Avenue, and Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Avenue).
You just have to thank that even roads have “breaks” every Sunday mornings. During such times even the busiest roads permit you to run on their side walks without suffocating on exhaust. Of course there’s still traffic so you still have to be cautious, particularly on crossings.
One of the more challenging parts of running on the road is going up and down the pedestrian overpasses (also known as “footbridges”). Not that you have to do it to obey the law, there are just some roads that you can’t cross without using footbridges. Doing it early on your run is okay, but after more than 10K it’s no longer “fun.” And with Metro Manila’s current setup it’s practically impossible to get anywhere without having to cross one.
On the other hand, one of the nicest things about running in the morning is meeting fellow runners on the road. I noticed that even though the general attitude of runners joining weekend races have changed throughout the years, those that run on sidewalks that people normally call “joggers” have not—you’re still greeted with the casual smiles and “good morning” greetings even if you don’t even know each other. And there were quite a lot of them unsurprisingly in Katipunan Ave. area because of how well trees were maintained in the area.
Another thing nice about running on the roads are recognizing things that you won’t normally notice when you ride a vehicle. Among these are the quality of the sidewalks, the vegetation en route, the sceneries, etc. If all local government officials run on the road (and not just for office), they’d know exactly what infrastructure problems our cities are plagued with.
Running in the morning at this time of the year in Metro Manila is already pleasant as the temperature isn’t that high, but as the sun rises it still gets quite hot. While the past few days were cloudy, I was blessed with a sunny weather during my run so as I was done halfway, the sun was already scorching. I had planned to do at least 21K for this run but since I started later than planned (and ran slower than anticipated to take pictures) I had to cut my run a bit short. In the end I still managed to cover around 20K in about two and a half hours.
In case you’re curious about my hydration all throughout my run, I was carrying with me some 2kg weight inside my backpack consisting of about 850mL of sports drinks, change clothes, slippers, camera, and some personal items. To track my distance, I was using Endomondo in my barely working BlackBerry Curve 9300. I wasn’t actively monitoring my phone as I was running and was approaching Market! Market! area when I noticed that my phone had restarted for unknown reasons, cutting short my tracking. I just resumed tracking from that moment on and just estimated the “missing” distance to come out with the estimated 20K figure.
The best places to end a self-sufficient long run is on places where you have just about everything you need after you run. Bonifacio Global City is one such location as I have a place I can change clothes, with lots of food choices!
Looking back, it wasn’t such a bad way to end September after all. 🙂