Posts Tagged ‘North Ave.

26
Aug
10

Rediscovering Quezon Memorial Circle

During weekends when I don’t do races I usually have a preferred northward route from our home to SM Fairview, a 6K course via Commonwealth Ave. and Regalado Ave.  Last Sunday though, I decided to change course and head southwards, still originating from home but this time towards SM North EDSA (also via Commonwealth Ave., then via North Ave.), a slightly longer course at 9K.  Living in Quezon City it’s quite inevitable that you’d end up in a mall. 🙂

(Continue reading…)

29
Oct
09

QCIM Chronicles: A Pacer’s Story (Part 2)

Six hours was a pretty long time to run, and to run it at a consistent pace makes it more difficult.  This would be one of the longest races I’d have done, surpassed only by ultramarathons.

UP Diliman Campus

The good thing about running on major roads was that as long as there’s electricity there’s light so even if it was still dark when the marathon started you’re not running blind, especially with competitive and casual runners running side by side on very wide roads.  From Elliptical Road the road got considerably narrower entering University of the Philippines Diliman Campus but since the fast runners were already way ahead of us it was very spacious for us laggards.  Before we were able to leave UP for Commonwealth Ave. the leaders of the 21K leg were already entering the campus.  It’s always exciting to see the leaders of races—at that time we were simply “spectators.”

Competition

While running along Commonwealth Ave. I was startled by a very fast female runner that dashed very close on my right side, followed by another—they were the female leading pack of 21K, a Kenyan was leading chased closely by a Filipina.  Amazing!  It was competition happening right in front of my eyes!  Yet another spectator moment.  All we can do was just enjoy the show as our ordeal had barely just begun.

By the time we reached Commonwealth Market the leading pack for the marathon was already on their way back!  Of course this was the most exciting pack to see so us “spectators” can’t help but stop and just watch like we were in front of our TVs, only this was happening live in front of us.  A world-class level competition and we got front row seats.  Who says being slow at races meant being last?

World-class competition at the QCIM

Community

All along the route the community was also made aware and got involved with QCIM.  This actually made the race more festive and interesting which I thought was very nice.  By doing this QCIM successfully brought the sport closer to the masses and hopefully create more interest.  On the other hand I also do hope that the local government would provide the facilities for the sport.

The involvement of the community makes for a more lively race

Water(less)

Before we knew it we were back on my favorite part of the QCIM route, La Mesa Eco Park.  Not only because that the view here was spectacular, the cleanest air in the Metro is here.  The exciting part was that we finally got to pass through areas that were usually restricted to the public.  Ironically, there were no water station for the entirety of this section.  Luckily I was able to grab a bottle of water from a water station back in Fairview, but due to the rising temperature and the distance already covered it was also running out.  The water station at the Quirino Highway exit seemed promising, but alas, still no water.  Now we can really feel the heat.

Entering La Mesa Eco Park

Dangerous

From Quirino Highway the race passes in front of SM City Fairview, through Mindanao Ave. and eventually back to Commonwealth Ave.  By this time the roads were partially opened so it meant a slightly dangerous run for us at the back pack, not to mention unhealthy.  We were suddenly running side by side with buses and trucks, among others inhaling their fumes as they pass us by.  Thankfully conditions improved by the time we were in Commonwealth Ave. as there was a wide space between us and passing vehicles.

Courageous

I was virtually alone along Commonweath Ave. maintaining my pace for the six-hour finish and while I was cruising-along I stumbled upon a celebrity—Nene from the reality show Pinoy Big Brother.  Since it was practically just the two of us might as well have some conversation to help pass the time.  To my surprise she was actually very nice and I was very amazed at her feat—she’s never done any shorter races but instead just jumped off into a full marathon!  That for some could be considered “suicide” but for me I find it “courageous”—doing a marathon is not a walk in the park.  As much as I had wanted to stay, eventually I had run ahead of her to maintain my pace.  Duty calls.

The vastness of Commonwealth Ave.

Five hours into the race, around six kilometers to go

Grim Reaper

The downside of being a pacer near the end of the spectrum was the heartaches it causes.  Being an official race pacer I was virtually “married” to the time I signed up for.  The worst feeling I had during this duty was whenever I pass a runner—somehow it gives me a feeling of a heart break.  I am like the Grim Reaper of QCIM—whenever I pass by a runner somehow I felt like I killed his aspiration to finish within six hours.  Because of that I usually hold back to avoid overtaking runners but whenever I am a few minutes behind schedule, I had no choice but to keep up.  I was practically the personification of a six hour finish—if you spot me the six hours finish is near.  I had hoped that I’d be able to pull runners near the last parts of the races but sadly the most I see were already walkers.  On the good side though I was able to push those that are slacking—if I catch them they’d finish in more than six hours.  For the last 10 or so kilometers it was countless heartache for me, but it was a feeling that I had to endure if I was to reach my target time.

Finish

I was again alone at the last two kilometers of the race.  I kept looking at my GF405 to maintain my pace, and then I realized that I had assumed that the race would only be 42.195 kilometers long—what if the actual course was slightly longer? With this in mind I started to increase my pace and when I saw the digital clock on the finish line it was already a few seconds after six hours!  It was much faster than my GF405’s time which was based on gun time.  Naturally I’ve no choice but to haste and cross the line as soon as possible.

Final two kilometers along North Ave.

Since it was six hours after the race you won’t expect a lot of people at the finish line.  This was a new experience for me because the only time this had happened to me was during my finish at TNF100 (at 30 hours).  Fortunately there were some familiar faces there so I had a feeling of relief.  Vener (run unld.) was there to take my finish line picture and to my surprise the clock face facing the other side reads only six hours and nine seconds!  My GF405 was right after all!  Too bad, I was actually aiming to finish in 5:59:59 but due to the wrong clock face up front display that didn’t happen.  My actual finish time (gun time) was 5:59:48.

My finish line picture, courtesy Vener

The area near the finish line six hours into the race

Conclusion

In the end I had mixed feelings with being a pacer.  It was good because never before had I exercised so much control over my pace and patience for a very long time run.  It was bad that I felt awful passing several runners.  I didn’t know either if my decision to stick to the target pace and time regardless of other runners was right.  All I know was that it was easier to pace with specific persons than to be a pacer on a race.  I’m still willing to do it all over again though, and not just to get a free race.  Being a pacer is doing a public service to fellow runners, should they view me as the Grim Reaper or a chance to reach their target remains with their perspective.  As for me, it was a task successfully completed.  I sure hope though that that those that saw me beforehand were “pushed” into finishing their goals.  This has been the Grim Reaper, I mean, six-hour pacer, QCIM thank you for the opportunity.  Congratulations to all finishers!

Takbo.ph meets Nene of PBB

My proud QCIM finisher’s medal

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!




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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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