Posts Tagged ‘España Blvd.

22
Aug
09

A Year Into Running: The Secret to an Ultramarathon

When it comes to running, the last thing on my mind was an ultramarathon—I had an idea how far a marathon is by looking at the route taken by the Milo Marathon which is “just” about 42K, but an ultra, especially 100K, was unimaginable.  In fact the first time I’ve heard of the term “ultramarathon” was when I heard the stories of the Pinoy Ultra Runners—I was like a child being told a fairy tale that I didn’t know for the first time—my eyes were probably gleaming while a dream was being shaped—a dream I didn’t realize I can accomplish before my first running anniversary.  How was it possible for a mere mortal to go from zero to an ultramarathon in less than a year?  Endurance.

Everyone has their own endurance level.  Unless you’ve won the genetic lottery a normal person should train himself to be able to endure very long distances.  Of course improving your endurance doesn’t come overnight—it is built one day at a time, like races are completed one step at a time.  The best way to achieve this endurance believe it or not is really simple—long runs.  Endurance training doesn’t really focus much on the speed but more on the time you give to your run.  Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs are best because for starters it is slow so anyone can do it at their own pace, but the key here is the long part—normally it is long distance but of course the distance you cover is also relative to how long the time you give for each run.  Like I’ve mentioned earlier the focus here is not speed so naturally the longer (time-wise) you run regardless of your speed, the longer the distance you cover.

Best Time to Start

I was very lucky when I started doing my long runs because I started during the one of the coolest months of the year, February (2009).  The later sunrises and earlier sunsets plus the much lower temperature mean more opportunity to run (although less sunlight).  I started doing my long runs (LSDs) not really to train for an ultra since I had no plans to do one then, but instead to improve my endurance to be able to run longer.  By the end of 2008 my longest run was at 16K (10mi) and I was aiming for my first half-marathon which is anything but short.  LSDs, how seemingly less effort you put into it, when done regularly would benefit everyone regardless of the distance you want to train for.  Best of all you don’t have to do it several times a week—an LSD a week is enough so better dedicate good amount of time for each.  If you train from December to February you may start as late as 7AM but in any case you should avoid running beyond 9AM outdoors.  During other months it’s better have the least exposure time with the sun so you must start as early as possible, and if the absence of sunlight isn’t an issue for you running at night also works.

Routes

Like I mentioned earlier the LSDs I had were not originally intended for ultramarathon training.  These routes were made because I really find it boring to run at the same place many times, add a sense of adventure to my runs, and seek new places.  Admittedly I wouldn’t have been encouraged to do these without my Garmin Forerunner 405 to track my time and distance (among others).  Tracking the distance you covered and time is important in doing LSDs because you need to track your progress and you may use many sites on the web to measure the distances of the routes you want to cover.  I encourage you to measure the distance of your route first so that you may approximate how long you’d take to finish it (and adjust your course accordingly).

Without further adieu here are some of my notable LSDs:

February 01, 2009: North Ave. to SM Mall of Asia via EDSA

North Ave. - SM Mall of Asia

Also known as my “MRT Tour” this one started from the Northern tip of the MRT, running along EDSA, until reaching the SM Mall of Asia compound and includes the bayside path to complete the target distance of at least 21K.

Actual distance: 21.11K.

February 08, 2009: Boni Ave. to Global City

More or less a simulation of typical 21K route within Global City that includes a pass through McKinley Hill and Heritage and finishing at Bonifacio High Street (BHS).

Actual distance: 21.70K.

March 15, 2009: Commonwealth Run

After about a month of being away from the Philippines I returned to doing LSDs and that time closer to home: Commonwealth Market to Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) returning back and ending in Regalado Ave.—the northernmost route I’ve done to date.  Who would’ve known that I covered half of the route of the Quezon City International Marathon with this route? This also served as my last run before completing my first 21K later on, the Condura Run.

Actual distance: 22.32K.

April 09, 2009: Commonwealth Ave. to BHS via Kalayaan Ave. and C5

With the excitement I got from LSDs it’s almost automatic for me to have one whenever I am not running any races.  With the thought of doing my first ultra looming I also had to gradually step up my LSDs.

Actual distance: 23.03K.

April 12, 2009: Commonwealth Ave. to MoA via Quezon Ave., España Blvd., and Roxas Blvd.

One of the most picturesque routes and easily one of my favorites, it passes through the historic city of Manila.  Don’t take this route if you don’t have your camera and is not willing to stop to enjoy the sights.

Actual distance: 27.50K.

May 03, 2009: Manila to Tagaytay

To date my longest non-race run—so long I had my marathon and ultramarathon distance debut with this run!  With about 20 days to go before my first ultramarathon race, TNF100, it’s a must that I do a serious LSD to prepare my body for the grueling 100K.  I highly recommend this route to those planning to do their first ultramarathon.

Actual distance: 56.60K.

I actually had a repeat of this route last August 02, 2009 (but was a few meters shorter at 56.00K) with more friends adding to the community of ultra-runners.  I encourage ultra-runners-to-be to take this route because of its challenge (generally uphill) and distance which is even longer than some ultramarathon races.

Metro Manila routes for my first year of running

Metro Manila routes for my first year of running

For the past year I did a lot of LSDs covering nice distances and interesting routes both within and outside Metro Manila.  Recently though I’ve yet done a 20K+ route but despite that I still benefit from the endurance I gained with these LSDs (click here to see the complete list of my runs) and was even able to complete my first marathon, still within my first year of running.  As you may notice I wasn’t as consistent with my LSDs as I’ve wanted but it still works!  What’s important is the honest dedication and effort to practice, and in the end you reap what you sow.  You may not be planning for an ultramarathon but this “secret” is proven to help anyone willing to improve themselves.  As you can see training need not be imposing—all you need are some sense of adventure, an open mind, and a willing body.  Better yet grab along some crazy buddies with you to share the fun!  Just don’t forget to bring along your common sense on your exploit!

See you on the road, and have a safe run!

12
Apr
09

Easter LSD: Commonwealth to MoA via Quezon Ave. – Roxas Blvd.

For my Easter LSD I decided to take another one of my dream route—Commonwealth Ave. to the Mall of Asia via Quezon Ave., España Blvd., and Roxas Blvd.—from the top of the Metro to seaside.  I’ve planned to take this route for some time now originally just ending in Rizal Park (KM 0) but for the sake of having an LSD longer than my previous I decided to take it longer to the Mall of Asia compound.

Like in regular races I still hate waking up early for an LSD but since it’s already summer I have no choice but to do likewise, and likewise I still started later than planned: 5:24AM.  By that time the sky was just starting to light up.

It was very nice to see the sky gradually changing colors as I run southwards and by the time I got to UP-Ayala Land Techno Hub the sun’s rays started reaching ground—the Easter sunrise.

The first landmark I passed with this route was the Quezon Memorial—the proud symbol of Quezon City.  Nearby are the City Hall and Parks and Wildlife.  This also marks the start of Quezon Ave., one of the nicest roads in the Metro.

Quezon City’s proud symbol

Quezon City’s proud symbol

Upon crossing EDSA I was surprised and a bit disappointed. Surprised that the road was wider, but disappointed because those precious trees lining the road that I really love were gone!  These trees have been around much longer than I do and were part of the road’s distinct features, and now they’re gone.  Do we always sacrifice nature for progress?

Surprise, surprise… but there’s something missing

Surprise, surprise… but there’s something missing

Not all trees were cut down (for now).  These trees are next.  Sigh.

Not all trees were cut down (for now). These trees are next. Sigh.

In fairness to MMDA they’re planting new ones in place of the removed trees.  I’d just like to appeal to Mr. Bayani Fernando of MMDA for them to just put back the old trees in places that are ready instead of planting new ones.  We certainly would appreciate it if we know that the trees we grew to love along Quezon Ave. are not killed and just made fuel for cooking.  Besides these new plants will take years to restore the look of Quezon Ave. we used to enjoy.

In fairness to MMDA they’re planting new ones in place of the removed trees. I’d just like to appeal to Mr. Bayani Fernando of MMDA for them to just put back the old trees in places that are ready instead of planting new ones. We certainly would appreciate it if we know that the trees we grew to love along Quezon Ave. are not killed and just made fuel for cooking. Besides these new plants will take years to restore the look of Quezon Ave. we used to enjoy.

Also because of the road widening the nice sidewalks that Quezon Ave. had were also gone.  The road widening is still incomplete so I hope that by the time MMDA is done with the road they’d be generous enough to return those missing sidewalks.

Before leaving Quezon City for the City of Manila you’d come across another landmark, the Mabuhay Rotunda (used to be called Welcome Rotunda or “Rotonda” in Filipino)—a welcoming monument to those entering Quezon City from Manila.  It was translated from “Welcome” to “Mabuhay” years ago to promote usage of Filipino.  This marks the border between two cities and the start of España Blvd.

Mabuhay!

Mabuhay!

España Blvd. is infamous during rainy season because of flooding, and during the dry days this is one of the nicest roads to walk, but not to run.  It’s nice to walk here because it was designed to have sidewalks, but unfortunately for running it’s very strenuous on your knees as the sidewalks are very high, wheelchair access is still unheard of in these parts of Manila, not to mention that streets cross this road every few meters (part of Spanish-era urban planning) so running here is like running on hurdles.

University of Santo Tomas (1611), the Philippines’ oldest University is located here and running on its sidewalk is very nice because of the trees, except for the occasional uneven surface.  This was probably the best place to run along España.

Further on is Recto and Quiapo.  Since it’s Easter there were a lot of people around Quiapo church so it was better just to walk (Long Super-Slow Distance?).  After the church is arguably one of the most beautiful bridges that cross Pasig River—Quezon Bridge.  Upon crossing the Pasig River you get to reach the “old” Manila—the historical, government, and tourist sites.  In a way this part of my LSD became a “tour.”  The sites: Metropolitan Theater, Manila Post Office, Liwasang Bonifacio, Intramuros, Manila City Hall, National Museum, Rizal Park, Manila Hotel, Museong Pambata, US Embassy, and Baywalk. These are only some of the sights you can visit within this area alone.

Arguably one of the best looking bridge to cross Pasig River—Quezon bridge

Arguably one of the best looking bridge to cross Pasig River—the Quezon bridge

The dilapidated but historic Metropolitan Theater

The dilapidated but historic Metropolitan Theater

Liwasang Bonifacio with the Manila Post Office building in the background

Liwasang Bonifacio with the Manila Post Office building in the background

Manila City Hall and its clock tower

Manila City Hall and its clock tower

KM 1 in across National Museum

KM 1 across National Museum

Rizal Monument (KM 0)

Rizal Monument (KM 0)

Roxas Blvd. is a popular site for races including the country’s largest in terms of attendance, the Milo Marathon.  It used to be a seaside road but due to reclamation it’s now inland starting CCP Complex southwards.  Part of this reclamation site is the country’s largest mall, the SM Mall of Asia.  Turning right from Roxas Blvd. towards the mall is definitely not fun as there aren’t many trees to shelter you from the blazing sun.

This is not Puerto Galera!  This is Manila’s Baywalk, Easter 2009, and yes there are people swimming in Manila Bay (a lot of them as a matter of fact).

This is not Puerto Galera! This is Manila’s Baywalk, Easter 2009, and yes there are people swimming in Manila Bay (a lot of them as a matter of fact).

Finally after arriving at the mall grounds I decided pass by the Shrine of Jesus near SMX to see if I can get in later, and then headed off towards Sunset Ave. to complete 27.5K, just before One E-Com Center.

Shrine of Jesus, originally my intended LSD end point

Shrine of Jesus, originally my intended LSD end point

One E-Com Center, the end point of this LSD after a last minute decision

One E-Com Center, the end point of this LSD after a last minute decision

Being an LSD done during Easter this route was really nice because I got to pass by several parishes and churches: Kristong Hari Parish, St. Peter Parish, Sto. Domingo Church, Quiapo Church, Malate Church, and Shrine of Jesus.  Being an LSD in general it was very pleasing because of all the sights I passed on this route, the fact that I exceeded my original goal of 25K for this run and was still able to shop around the mall afterwards proves that this was one of the best LSD routes I had.

My Easter run route, currently my longest in terms of time and distance

My Easter run route, currently my longest in terms of time and distance

In the end I didn’t get to visit any of the churches I mentioned above, but I was able to nonetheless in Baclaran Church.  The latter was still some distance away but a visit to the church was the best way to cap this Easter adventure.




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The MIRACLE isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the COURAGE to START
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