#IMSierra51050 was not only a run with the upHELL terrains that came with a lot of Shut Up Legs Moment, it was a visual appreciation of the natural beauty of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the refreshing clean and green surrounding of the area. It was a breath of fresh air that did make up for the lung-busting climbs. While it was physically challenging to have the legs beaten up during the suicide descents and the quads going on overtime navigating the steep climbs, Sierra will always be about the breathtaking views and the tough mental mindset that keeps you going against the endless climbs. #WeRunAsOne
There are “races” and there are “memorable races”. #IMSierra51050 is one of the races you would definitely remember for quite some time. Who wouldn’t? With all the difficult climbs, the breathtaking views and the fresh surroundings. It wasn’t an easy one especially that I’ve been on a running hiatus since my 2nd marathon last month. Yes, in case you didn’t notice I was away from running for a full month. I did earn it after months of non-stop training and that break was much needed both for me to recover from the training stress. I signed up for the 10-kilometer distance (instead of the usual 21K) for Sierra 51050 as my first race after my marathon. The main goal was just to enjoy the race since the place is new territory for me and the terrain would be great for my preparations for my mountain run in a few weeks.
Race Route and Elevation
Race Starts at 10 Cents to Heaven and Proceeds to Marcos Highway for the next 1.5 kilometers before heading to Barangay Cayumbay Access Road for the next 2.25 kilometers. The race goes back to the main Marcos Highway again after a 2.25 kilometer climb. The Race then heads to the other end of Marcos Highway for the next 1.2 Kilometer before heading back to 10 Cents to Heaven for the Finish Line.
The first 3.75 kilometers of the race goes downwards, including about 2.25 kilometers of steep descent in Barangay Cayumbay Access Road covering almost 300 meters of elevation. The next 2.25 kilometer is a very steep climb back to Marcos Highway covering about 230 meters of elevation. The next race then shifts to rolling terrain on the other side of Marcos Highway and back to the finish line at Ten Cents to Heaven.
It was an early start for this one as we had to take the shuttle to the venue at 2 am in the morning. We arrived at 10 Cents to Heaven Leisure Camp at Tanay, Rizal at around 3:30 am so there was really a lot of time to exchange pleasantries with running friends and organizers for the event. It was also extremely cold in the area and I was just wearing my sleeveless singlet. Luckily, I added a jacket last minute to my outfit before I left home. I decided that despite the drag, I’ll just run with my jacket on. It would look cool in photos too. We had a few more hours to burn before our gunstart at 6 and it’s just nice that there are a lot of running friends around to keep the wait short. I also had with GoPro Hero 3+ attached to the handler so I will be able to take some photos during the race. (Photos at Francramon.com FB Page)
It was downhill at gunstart so it was a fast start for all of us. I had to stop often just to appreciate the views and take some photos. The Marcos Highway part of the race was on a higher elevation which had a lot of views of the mountain ranges. Taking photos was a welcome break from the really fast pace the race started. It’s also nice that the handler felt light and wasn’t much of a drag running. The first 1.5 kilometers was on a rolling terrain with a net downhill elevation. I really appreciate how green and clean the surroundings was. I also appreciated the fresher air in the area.
The Barangay Cayumbay Access Road were steep descents. It was a fast, frenetic and suicidal descents for all of us. The road was around 2.2k kilometers from top to bottom covering 23o meters of descent so took advantage of gravity. I also had a vision of my very near future after the turning point which is the hellish climb to follow as I met most 21 Kilometer runners and 10 kilometers leaders struggling on that part. The descent also took it’s toll on me as the fast strides felt like a rough massage beating down my knees, my tummy and the rest of my body. There was the short area which was really dusty because of the surface and it’s a good thing that I had my Spyder Nomad H eye wear for protection. It didn’t take long for me to reach the u-turn slot which is about 3.75 kilometers into the race.
After the u-turn, it was time to face the hardest part of the race which was the 2.25 km climb back to Marcos Highway covering 230 meters of elevation. This was a really long climb and struggle so I switched back to walking mode and at times crawl mode and took it one step at a time. This was a lot of shut up legs moment as my shin, calves and quads were really stinging. There were few areas with more moderate terrain but I just took it as a spot to catch up my breath from the lung busting climb. I was also monitoring my heart rate with the Sunnto Ambit 2S as the climb can really make raise the heartbeat real fast. Every time, we’d see the far end of the climb, we’d always think maybe that’s the last part of the climb though it always ended up as just a start of another climb. Strategy was to never stop, except to take photos on awesome spots on the race. After a climb that lasted forever, we were finally back in Marcos highway at around kilometer 6 of the race.
After the climb that tough, I felt the upcoming rolling terrain would be routine. At the first sight of the downhill, I started speeding up again and when the climb is back, I shifted back to run walk method. I guess this is the part to catch up for lost time. It felt like cruising on the road. The climbs reminded me of the long stretches of climbs during my marathon, which is hilly yet it’s something you can run at a moderate pace. I guess when you get past the tough part, you become stronger. It also reminded me on how I can be mentally strong for a race. It didn’t take long for me to reach the u-turn at around 7.2 kilometers into the race.
After the u-turn, I had several options one which was to enjoy the race and just enjoy the uphill terrain or two, insert some efforts in between the race so I can finish faster. I went with option two doing a 1 minute run walk interval and just like that I was slowly inching my way to the finish line and was also starting to overtaking some of the 10K runners. I wasn’t already thinking about the elevation but more on the run walk interval. Even if it was a hilly terrain, the one minute walking interval would be sufficient to recover. After several intervals, I was finally able to reach the entrance of 10 Cents to Heaven and there were three runners slightly ahead of me at my pace group with 200 meters left to the finish line.
Call it me missing the finish line but after I saw the finish line nearby, I forgot all the pain and just went on to sprint past the 3 runners ahead of me and went on to finish strong. Nice to see you again finish line!!! Sierra was a great experience and I also enjoyed spending my time interacting once again with everybody on the race and seeing other people finishing the tough race. Great Job Rundezvous and Team Sierra!
Outfit Of The Race