Date: May 25, 2015
Distance: 21 Kilometers
Venue: Burnham Park, Baguio City
The memorable races for me are not my Personal Best races but it’s those where I struggle and find a way to finish the race. #NatGeoRun2015 Baguio Leg was a real challenge with Baguio’s natural mountain terrain and high altitude. It was a crawlfest as we’ve made our way to the steep ascent from the bottom of South Drive to the peak of Mines View and it was a mental challenge going back on a long ascending stretch of Loakan Road. It was great to be one among thousands of runners appreciating the climate, getting awed by the view, surpassing the challenge and contributing to the cause of the environment.
- NatGeo Earth Day Run 2011
- NatGeo Earth Day Run 2014
- Incoming: Nat Geo Earth Day Run 2015 #NatGeoRun2015
Nat Geo Earth Day Run 2015
Nat Geo Earth Day Run is among the regular causes I love supporting having done it for years now. This year, Nat Geo not only came up with its biggest edition in Manila last month but also came up with a Baguio Leg. The original plan was to do both races though I eventually gave a way my free kit in the Manila and registered for the Baguio Leg due to conflict in schedule. Baguio is an easy sell for me since it’s my hometown and even if I struggle on a hilly terrain, I still would love the experience of being at home and enjoying my passion for running. I went to Baguio last Friday to enjoy a short breather since it’s been a busy schedule all summer so might as well enjoy the old town feel of Baguio City. I was also able to sneak in a trail run too at John Hay even on the usual rainy afternoon in Baguio. I guess that’s my final tune up before the half marathon.
Race Route and Elevation
The race starts at Lake Drive in Burnham Park and it goes to the South Drive Area via Governors Pack and Upper Session Road for the first two kilometers of the race covering total ascent of 50 meters. The South Drive stretch is about 2 kilometers with a net descent before the climb resumes at Outlook Drive. Outlook Drive is another 2 kilometers worth of climbs of another 60 meters. After Outlook Drive, the route shifts to Baguio Tuding Road for about 1 kilometer of descent with about 50 meters of elevation passing through the Mansion and Wright Park. The race goes on a steep climb of about 2 kilometers with an elevation of 100 meters at Gibraltar heading to Good Shepherd and Mines View. The next 2 kilometers is a descent back to South Drive via Outlook Drive with and elevation drop of 100 meters. South Drive is another 2 kilometers of moderate ascent before heading to the long stretch in Loakan. Loakan is another 3 kilometer descent with a 120 meter drop with a u-turn at the 16 kilometer mark. From the u-turn slot, you then climb Loakan again for the next 3 kilometers worth 120 meters of elevation. The remaining distance of the race is a drop of about 50 meters covering military cutoff and Kisad Road all the way to the finish line.
I was jittery at the start of the race since it’s my first time to be in a road race again since March. I’ve been practically on trail or in the mountains the whole summer. The last time, I was in a half marathon in Baguio’s mountain terrain, I had a bad case of shin splint and there’s just something about the terrain and the ascent that triggers it. Well, I’ll just adjust my strategy as the race goes along. Anyway, I just needed to be back on the road to build up for the next races. I was early on the race as I had to warm up. It was nice to see a big race in Baguio though I do enjoy the community feel of most intimate races here.
At gunstart, I tried to move at the middle of the pack as I didn’t want to start fast. The thing about starting fast is that you don’t give your muscles enough time to warm up and end up paying for it for the whole race. It was an immediate ascent going to Harrison Road so I just kept my pace at a moderate though I can already feel the familiar pain in the shin I usually encounter at the start. It was shin splints all over again. I just went along with a climb after climb from Governor Pack to UP to Baguio Convention Center and then Upper Session Road. It was taking me longer to recover from the shin splint since the terrain had me exerting more effort.
Just 1.5 kilometers in the race, I was already limping with pain in my left shin. I saw Glads who asked if I was ok and I said, I’m having shin splints but I’ll be ok. I tried shifting my weight to the other side and after a while it was on both legs. I still tried to run and tried ignoring the pain just to allow the muscle to warm up. Even with the pain, I was making some distance. I wasn’t able to take advantage much of the descent at South Drive since I had to stop every now and then to stretch. I was just trying to cover some distance even at a slower pace until the muscle pain is more tolerable.
That’s 4 kilometers into the race and the next part was a climb. When the race shifted to a climbfest at outlook drive, I took the chance to insert some effort in between by adding a few 30 seconds to a minute run on the climb before a recovery walk. The slower pace gave me time for my muscle to recover at this stretch. 6 kilometers into the race, I felt better and it’s either I got used to the pain or my shin has warmed up. After two long kilometers climbing, it was finally a descent and this time, I was able to take advantage of the descent this time since I was able to run this stretch passing by the Mansion House and Wright Park along the way. I sure wish there was a photographer assigned at the mansion as it would really be a nice running shot.
It was now time to catch up or so I thought as after we made our turn to Gibraltar, it was a steep 2 kilometers climb to Mines View. If you’ve pass this road, you’d realize that even vehicles struggle in climbing this stretch. Since I lost so many time at the first 5-6 kilometers of the race, I tried to insert some runs along the climb. This ended up to be my slowest two kilometers of the race as the climbs were long and steep. It’s a test of patience but one effort led to another until I finally reached the Mines View area. It was time to speed up a bit as it was a descent. It was a long 2 kilometers descending stretch back to Outlook Drive so made the most out of this with only water stops in between. After the descent comes another 2 kilometers of moderate ascent at South Drive. I just went on with a run walk scheme to get pass this stretch.
13 kilometers into the race and the race heads to Loakan Road. This was about 3 kilometers straight descent with about 600 meters of rough roads and an equivalent ascent on the way back. This was my favorite part as you would see practically everybody on this stretch with the faster runners finishing this loop and the other runners as you approach the u-turn. I took advantage of the descent and went on a straight run except for water breaks. I was more relaxed at this point since this was a lot tolerable than the Mines View loop. The rough road part was tough since there were holes on the road and you had to watch your step plus there were also vehicles in the road so you also have to be vigilant as well. The scene with runners all over Loakan Road was such a nice view with runners sharing the road and enjoying the run. The road back was a mental challenge as that’s a 3 kilometers climb with about 120 meters of elevation. This time, I was mentally stronger so I just went on with a run walk sequence and I was able to slowly crawl myself out of this stretch.
The last two kilometers was downhill with the stretch at Military Cutoff and Kisad Road. After all the climbs, that was great news. I just let gravity do its work here and cruised on the last kilometers before heading to the finish line. It was a struggle for the whole race but the thing I learned all these years running is that even if you struggle, you still end up a better runner after. This is why I enjoy finishing a race as a story unfolds with every step. There’s a struggle and there’s that spirit in you that dig deeps to get past the difficulties. It was a well organized run as always by Runrio. There should really be more big name runs in the City as even with the mountain terrain and the shut up legs moment, Baguio is such a great place to run. It was also great to contribute to the cause of the environment.
Outfit of the Race
- Top: Berghaus #TaleOfTheTrail Design by Breakout Design
- Bottoms: Under Armour Compression Tights
- Shoes: Newton Distance 3
- GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 2S
- Socks and Visor: Under Armour