Race Review: Baguio 30 for 30K, December 6

My participation in this race came into being after receiving an invite from Ellen. I was at the Philippine Army pool mingling with some of the takbo.ph people when I was invited to do a 30K in Baguio. At first, I was very hesitant since I’ve never really gone beyond 22K in my entire life. In addition, this was going to be held in one of the chilliest places here in the Philippines – and add to that the killer hills! Plus, I didn’t have much training for a 30K race, apart from the 21K long run I did at the New Balance Power Race and the easy 5K 3 days before race day. But since I was under training for the Condura 42K next year, what the hell, I might as well do it. Finish or no finish, I would have done a long run nonetheless. All the pressure came in further when I told Roselle that I’ll do a long run pace for this event – she reminded me it was a RACE. Indeed, she was right. I cannot slow on this one.

The cutoff time for the 30K was 3:30. The slowest pace that one can go if one were to participate is a flat 7:00 mpk. I thought to myself, this could still be achievable, despite the hills. This led me to adjusting the Garmin pace alarms between 6:45 – 7:15 mpk. But as I will learn later, this may have been too confident for me to utter out.

Among those will be participating in this event are yours truly, Ellen, Doc Iris (who will do a 5K), Bryan, Sir Mon, Roselle, and her friend, Judah. Other members of takbo.ph were in Corregidor taking on a 10-miler uphill race.

Ellen, Doc Iris, Bryan, and I left Saturday, 11AM, on the way to Baguio using Bryan’s Fortuner. After zigzagging in and out of traffic, speeding across expressways, cutting through cars and dodging those against traffic, we arrived at Baguio shortly after 4PM. We already had a couple of pit stops during our travel, but still, 5 hours was still fast! Indeed, Bryan was the driver from hell, and he was highly accustomed to travelling long distances at break-neck speeds. Upon reaching Baguio, the four of us settled in at some hotel near the starting line – Burnham Park. We later met up with Sir Mon, Roselle, and Judah, where we had a little carbo-loading session so as to gain all the calories we need for the 30K. This ordeal was no joke so we ate as much as we could, while not bloating ourselves in the process.

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With Ellen

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With Doc Iris

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With Bryan

All of us had shut-eye at 9:30PM, with an agreement to wake up 4AM next day to have light breakfast consisting of granola bars and bananas.

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Our breakfast come race day.

Race day came. Ellen and I were discussing whether to equip ourselves with a hydration belt for the race or not. Being that Baguio was “unfamiliar running territory” for me, I decided to strap myself up with it, as something bad could happen. After a long time, I finally got to use my Nathans again. In addition, I wore the black warmer I had used during my Spain trip last year, with the Ninoy Runners singlet on top of it. When everyone was ready, we made our way to Burnham Park on foot. The temperature was freezing cold so we had to warm up well, as per Roselle’s advice. We lightly jogged to the starting line, where we met up with Sir Mon, Roselle, Judah, and a few noted running personalities from Manila, like that of Cris Sabal, who was training for the Cebu City Marathon this coming January. While waiting for the starting gun I ran for a bit to get some heat into my system and to avoid the immense cold that was seething through my warmer.

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Ready to rock!

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Warming up.

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At the starting line with Roselle, Ellen, Doc Iris, Cris Sabal, Judah, Sir Mon, Rai RN, and myself.

KM 0 to 4.50: Hitting Fourth Gear
The gun sounded off at 5:30AM. All runners made their way to Kisad Road on the approach to the rotonda that will take them to Kennon Road. Gradual uphills greeted us on the first kilometer, but upon stepping on Kennon Road, the downhill had a rather steep grade, and there was no chance for me resisting gravity here. Hence, my real time Garmin pace readings were hitting above 6:00 mpk. There was no sense of exhaustion since it was a downhill route, and that didn’t pose any problems at all. Roselle and I were running side by side for this section of the race, and I felt good that time until after crossing KM4.5. It was now time to deal with the steepest section of the route – the road to Loakan Airport!

KM 4.51 to 10: Damn Those Hills!
I made the left. After running 20 meters at a VERY slow pace, I walked it. The uphill had a very sharp incline and it posed major problems to my legs. There was NO WAY I am going to run this! For the duration of that uphill attack I was walking while sipping on my orange-flavored Gatorade. Whenever there were any flat paths, I firmly resolved to run it and make up for lost time. But no, the uphill paths presented themselves one after the other. I tried to run it, but I would stop after a few meters and walk it again. Even a run-and-go approach would not work on these bloody hills! As a result, I would resort to walking all the uphill paths I encounter. Screw the pace, as long as my legs and knees don’t hurt I will do just fine!

I swear to the heavens, those hills really got the best out of me. A couple of runners in their prime (read: runners in their 60s) passed by me and I was amazed at how they could take on those hills with the greatest of ease, as if they were treating it like flatland. I felt embarrased after they had passed me. These gentlemen are doing strong on the hills while I’m just walking them? I could almost cover my head in shame after realizing that. But then again, I was playing on an unfamiliar playground, so in some sense I had an excuse.

I was able to resume my running form again on the way to the Philippine Military Academy. There were flats and downhill paths for me to run quick on. But as I was traversing the road to Philex Mines, I once again implemented the run-and-go approach. There were some uphill sections that I really couldn’t handle. For some reason, my legs had started to feel like marshmallows. Goodness, I haven’t even completed a third of the race and I’m already feeling like this. God, help me finish this race.

The first water station came in along KM6. Thank goodness I thought of bringing along a hydration belt!

KM 11 to 14: A Temporary Reprieve
It was nearing 7AM. After making the turnaround leading back to PMA, I once again ran with Roselle. Along the road was a very good sunrise, being partially sheilded by the clouds and montains on the horizon. It really was an extravagant sight, something that provided a temporary sense of happiness and awe. Roselle and I couldn’t help but admire the view, so we ran the next kilometers at a relaxed pace. There was a race marshall on a motorcycle who was following us directly behind as the two of us were a portion of the last runners. I asked him were Mount Pulag was and he gladly pointed it to me.

After passing PMA, there as another uphill path again, leading to the road to Camp John Hay. We had to walk the hills for the most part but we tried running it nonetheless. The moment we saw the water station, we got a gulp, held on to our spirits, and made our way to Camp John Hay. The reprieve was other – it was time to hand in some punishment once again.

KM 15 to 22: Feeling Apprehensive
The next few kilometers were mostly uphill once again. After reailizing that I couldn’t take anymore of it, I urged Roselle to move on ahead and leave me. I am going to take this ordeal on my own. About 90% of the time I would walk the uphill road, with bike marshalls assisting me from behind, should anything go wrong. But on a good note, when there was a chance to run on flatland, I would do so to the best of my ability. My thoughts were going wild at that time – I was asking myself why the hell I was doing this for myself, I wasn’t even running for the most part to begin with!

It even got worse when I got to South Drive. Although there were certain portions that were flat, I couldn’t bear to run that much or that far anymore, so I once again implemented a run-and-go approach. Run a few meters, then walk the rest. The process repeated itself just before entering the road leading to Mines View.

KM 22.01 to 24.51: I QUIT!
The road to Mines View was yet ANOTHER uphill path. Upon realizing that I had much to go and that I will never make it to the cutoff time, I decided to walk until I see some flat portion that will enable me to get myself running again. Unfortunately, there weren’t that much flatlands, so I was walking most of the time.

Halfway going to Mines View, my legs couldn’t move that much anymore. My legs had completely locked themselves. Even if I tried to walk, I couldn’t push myself to do so. As a result, it led me to uttering those two words: “I QUIT!” I shouted to the heavens and took a seat on the pavement, pushing the stop button on my Garmin at KM24.51. Panting and wheezing heavily, I had realized that this course was harder than hell, and I vowed to myself NEVER to run in Baguio again. The paths were unforgiving and the route will kill your spirits. Partly, this was my fault, because I didn’t prepare physically and mentally. But it’s okay. I have accomplished a long run nonetheless. It’s still an achievement.

Thankfully there was an ambulance behind me, so I got in there for me to stretch my legs. After crossing the remainder of Mines View while following the last runner of the race, I got myself out of the ambulance to find a taxi that will take me to the finish line. There I met up with the finishers while chugging on a couple of cups of taho.

After the race we went back directly to our accomodations to have ourselves a decent breakfast. Ellen and I checked out come lunchtime and had another chance to get some grub at Session Road. Cindy met up with us after she came from a friend’s wedding. Come around 1PM Ellen and I headed to Victory Liner, where we purchased our tickets for the earliest trip possible. We took the same bus that Sir Mon, Roselle, and Judah were in.

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Lunch with Cindy.

Roselle told me not to feel bad after not completing the race. She said that I should be proud of myself because it took humility for me to admit what I can do and what I can’t. Had I pushed myself further I would have gotten myself injured even more. She’s got a point there. While on the bus I had pondered on this thought – heck, I had my first DNF on this race, BUT I have gone past the 22K mark when it comes to running longer. This only means that I should train harder, especially now that the Condura Run is nearing.

So to all who participated in the race, thank you for an exhilarating yet wonderful experience. Those hills were punishing and I vow to get my revenge on it soon. You will see me again, Baguio! =)

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Banana chowdown after the race.

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Posing near the finish line. Everyone finished but me.

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Cooling down.

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I will be back again, Baguio, hopefully better trained. =)

Here’s my review of the race:

D (direction) – just look at the map and you’ll see where we went. Remember, Baguio has a lot of hills, so this is one tough cookie!

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R (registration) – Sir Mon was able to get me into this race at the very last minute. Thanks much, Sir! =)

U (uhaw) – if you didn’t bring your hydration belt, you’re in a LOT of trouble.

M (money) – 300 bucks for a bib, the route, and a finisher’s shirt. That’s not bad in itself, but I hope there were more goodies.

S (safety) – although there were an adequate number of race marshalls, there were a couple of runners I know of who got lost along the way. In turn, one of them had nearly simulated a full 42K. Where’s the marshall when you need him? But on a good note, at least there was plenty of bike support, which came in really handy on the approach to Camp John Hay and Mines View.

Here were my splits. Very horrifying. Note that I had to walk the majority of the race route due to those blasted hills.

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(Pictures courtesy of Bryan Rivera. Thanks, bro.)

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8 responses

  1. elkyoshi

    Congratulations on your first 24.51k run!
    I agree with the Running Diva, it is more important to avoid being injury to run another day. Although I know I’m not the best person to give an advice, knowing that I still have yet to race in Baguio.
    See you at Condura!

    Thanks, Alfred! How many Ks you doing at Condura?

    December 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    • elkyoshi

      42k! Tara! 🙂

      Hehehe, go ahead on the 42K. I’ll run the full come Condura next year. =) BTW, was nice meeting your personally last Sunday.

      December 17, 2009 at 3:48 PM

  2. vard

    its a good decision quitting the race than suffer injuries after. for someone coming from manila i understand there are no hills in the metro (except antipolo), so i guess you have to train in a treadmill with incline if you want to go back to baguio 🙂

    Hi Vard,

    Indeed, it was a wise decision on my part. If Antipolo weren’t far from my place I would do my hill training there. =)

    December 15, 2009 at 6:24 PM

  3. wow! saya nyo naman! *envious!* =)

    Hi Julie,

    Di bale. There will be more Baguio races for sure. Join us in any case. =)

    December 15, 2009 at 7:57 PM

  4. baguio’s hills could really be a killer. those old runners who overtook you are probably baguio based runners who eat hill workouts for breakfast. i was amazed by them myself when i raced in Baguio.

    Hi Wilson,

    It would seem that way – those senior runners chow down hills three times a day, even. My hats off to them for tackling uphills as if it were nothing to them =)

    December 16, 2009 at 7:37 AM

  5. I enjoyed reading your post and couldn’t help but smile and almost cried at the same time. Oh well, I couldn’t even remember I said those things you mentioned here. But I was so glad you took the experience so well. I knew you were never a quitter.

    Glad you wanted to do Baguio again. Congrats, my friend! There’ll be other races and if ever there’ll be another chance to conqer Baguio, we should do it again.

    “Hills are speedwork in disguise”- Born to Run by C. McDougall

    Hi Selle,

    Thanks much! Yup, I would want to race in Baguio again, hopefully better prepared the next time around. Let’s do this again soon. =)

    December 16, 2009 at 10:07 AM

  6. I remembered now who said that quotation. Frank Shorter was quoted in that book. Shorter is an American distance runner and a winner of a marathon race during the 1972 Summer Olympics.

    Thanks for the info, Selle =) as of this typing I’m tempted to buy “Born to Run”.

    December 16, 2009 at 10:18 AM

  7. Wow, I didn’t know you took a DNF on this bud. Remember, this wasn’t your first race here. Our 21k a couple of months ago there would give you an idea just how much of a joke the hills there are. But still a lot to be proud of, 24k is still a considerable distance to handle and you will surely bounce back from it strongly next time 🙂

    Hi Luis,

    Yup, this only means more hill training from me. Don’t worry, I’ll get back on those hills soon… and have my day. =P

    December 16, 2009 at 1:59 PM

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