Time: 1 hour and 18 minutes
Date: November 20, 2011
Pace: 7:48 minutes per kilometer
Running in the scenic Tagaytay Highlands route is very enticing but with it comes running non stop uphill which makes the run challenging and exciting. I was hooked on joining this run under the Team Total Fitness banner since I first heard about it not because I’m a glutton of pain but to experience the scenic highlands terrain. It was a different run and I really had no idea what strategy would I employ in this type of run. You usually attack a hilly course with a steady pace you can sustain from the foot to the top of the course but what if the climb is more than 3 kilometers at a time? I had more questions going into this one than a game plan but all I know is that it will be a learning experience from doing something for the first time.
The Route and the Terrain
It starts near the sports center and goes on with more than 3 kilometers uphill climb with about 200 meters of elevation via Belle View Avenue until the Peak Bar and is followed by about 4 kilometers descent back to Belle View Avenue until halfway into Midlands Avenue covering 300 meters of elevation. 2 kilometers of steep inclines covering around 200 meters of elevation is next from Midlands Avenue until Belle view Avenue. Finally, the last kilometer is a descending terrain worth a 100 meters of elevation back to the area near sports center.
It starts with an early morning road trip from Manila to Tagaytay Highlands and as we made our descent to the starting line area, we got a peek of what’s in store for us and it seemed like a real challenge. We did try a bit of the hilly route during the warm ups and running uphill proved to be too energy consuming so this will be a test on how deep your energy base is and how well you manage it.
3K Walk – After gunstart, I tried to run a few hundred meters and even at my best effort I can’t seem to get a pace better than 8 minutes per kilometer so change of strategy brisk walk along the steep inclines and run on the flats and it proved to be a right move as the inclines went on for 3 more kilometers until the Peak Bar. A good bonus though even if you are walking uphill is that the view of Taal Volcano in the foggy morning mist was splendid. This is photography heaven but unfortunately, I’m here running and not taking photos so I’ll make do with the panoramic view of the whole highlands in my mind. The u-turn in the peak bar was refreshing with the white foggy backdrop and the soft morning breeze.
4K Run – Gravity dictates that what goes up must go down. The second part of the run was an all you can descent from the Peak Bar going 2 kilometers back to Belle View Avenue and another 2 kilometers descent to Midlands Avenue. This was the part when I went all out in a gutsy attempt to catch up on lost time. It does take real courage to run downhill on a fast pace as your muscles do take a beating and of course, the risk of losing your balance would mean the free fall of gravity in full effect. It was to my benefit that I was wearing my ON running shoes as the 3d cloudtec sole cushioned most of the strides downhill. I went full gear and running at 5 to 5:30 minutes per kilometer pace until the 7K mark. About 500 meters to the u-turn slot, I slowed down as the downhill path become too steep.
2K Crawl – The second uphill climb was too steep and no one was even making an attempt to run at this point. It was a slow walk as each steps of the killer hill felt punishing and the heat of the morning sun also started to creep in. Kilometer 8 was the longest kilometer I ever had as the steep incline made it difficult to even walk. I even tried to walk backwards to make it less stressful. Kilometer 9 was more tolerable as there were some parts which you can jog already and at this time I am now building up my energy base for a strong finish once I’m done with the climb.
1K Run to the Finish – As I reached Belle View Avenue again, I wanted to catch up and was so excited to finish the course already so I went on an all out sprint with 4:00-5:00 minute per kilometer run towards the finish line. I ended up having my last kilometer as my fastest kilometer for a sprint finish. I ended up finishing 97 out of 300 to 400 runners and as a reward I’m one of the 100 finishers who earned a medal. A big medal for a big effort though I have high respect towards the difficulty of this course and I guess, every finisher is a winner.
This race felt more like mountain climbing and it was a battle of who had the guts to go all out on the descents. It was a well organized and unique race brought to you by Nathan. It also had a green concept of not using plastic cups and instead using hydration bottles which was included in the race kit. It was well covered by organizers and volunteer photographers and it was definitely a unique experience.
I started the race not knowing what to expect and what strategy to use but I ended up learning a few more things from conquering a ridge run. My muscles may be a bit sore at this time but those killer uphill climbs will make them stronger. It was racing redefined and I’m glad I was part of it.
Team Total Fitness Running
This was the first time we were able wear the official race jersey of Team Total Fitness and it was another good performance for the team as Rojan Pajarin and James Orlanda finished 5th and 12th, respectively and me catching up in the top 100 finishers. It’s been a real honor to be running with the team and it does give me additional motivation to train harder as carrying the Total Fitness banner and running with support of sponsors comes the great responsibility of being the best person you can ever be on the race course, the training ground and in life.