Posted in 24km, 25km, Runmania, Runmania PH, Uphill Run

Because I don’t want to end my running year going downhill (performance-wise)… PNPA Uphill Challenge

My lackluster performance at PinoyFitness 21k Challenge last month still haunted me. I really don’t want to end this year that way because I feel like my performance and fitness level is going downhill instead of improving. I was desperate and started searching for one last race for December, and luckily, I found Runmania’s PNPA Uphill Challenge and signed up to redeem myself and end this running year with a bang. I registered for the 24k category at Red Gloves Boxing Gym in iMall Canlubang.

The event is a run for a cause and set in the Philippine National Police Academy in Silang, Cavite. Driving to the event site was a bit difficult because Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road is not well-lit and some parts of the road don’t have street lights (plus the tint of our car’s windows made the view even darker). I was confused that I made a mistake of making a turn towards Adventist University of the Philippines. Luckily, the academy was nearby, so I didn’t miss it.

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Despite mistaking Adventist University as the Academy, I was able to arrive at the event site before 4am.

Aside from being a challenging race, one of the best reason I joined is the race route. It’s a fresh route for me, starting from PNPA and around Silang, Cavite. Even better, it’s a round course, no U turns.

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the official race map for 24k

There was a delay regarding the 24k gunstart. The race was suppose to start at 4am or 4:30am, but the race organizer said that they are still waiting for the scouts to make sure that the route is clear and safe. It was then announced that we will start at 4:45 am, but again, because of some slight preparations, announcements, and warm-up exercises, we started pass 4:45am and my Nike+ Running app recorded the starting time as 4:55am.

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The race started at 4:55 am according to my smartphone time. Photo credit: Laguna RUN

Race director, Pat Maranan, gave us instructions that we will have 5 minutes to run on both sides of the road, after that, runners should stick to the left lane and on a straight line instead of running side by side. Although, there were some stubborn runners who still ran on the right side of the road and side by side (sometimes, 3 runners side by side, blocking a large part of the lane), we didn’t cause any major difficulties to vehicles or cause traffic (we just slowed some of the drivers down though). As I mentioned earlier, some parts of the road don’t have street lights, some are dimly-lit, but it was still easy to navigate and by the time we reached the 4th kilometer, most runners have already adjusted to the route and ran in accordance to the instructions of the race director. I was spotted by a former running buddy, Kiko, early in the race, but I told him to go ahead and run his pace, because I was still finding mine.

By the time we made the first turn at the 5th kilometer, we entered the first baranggay and ran on a route that was still under construction. The road was not yet fully cemented, so there are some muddy and rocky parts, and grass surrounds the area, so fresh air for everyone. It was also the scenic part of the route, too bad it was still dark and I wasn’t able to take any clear photos of the surroundings.

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Photo taken at 5:49 am to show the scenic route. It was still very dark, but my smartphone’s camera was able to brighten the scene using high ISO at the cost of sharpness.

Somewhere between the 8th and 9th kilometer, I caught up with Kiko and paced with him. I wasn’t really on a mission for a new PR, but rather to find a comfortable pace where it’s not to slow or too fast, but still enjoyable and relaxing. I just followed him while I still can. It was refreshing to pace with someone, I didn’t even touch my music player because it’s entertaining to just have a good conversation and trade stories. The last time I had a running buddy in a race from start to the near finish was from last year’s Rexona Run to your Beat, our first 21k run.

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Attacking the uphills can be straining to the calves and thighs.

Living up to its name, the race route really has a lot of uphills, sometimes, we enter another baranggay, and there’s more uphills. The whole area is elevated grounds. At times that were very tired, we walk the uphills and run or jog the downhills. It’s good to see that some aid stations have bananas and limited Gatorade supplies (managed to grab one).

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Lotsa Uphills and Downhills… And Curvy uphills and downhills.
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Go downhill and gravity will help you out.
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Some of the motorists were kind enough to slow down and give way to the runners. Thanks, guys.
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There are lots of bridges too.

Some time around the 15th to 20th kilometer, Kiko was suffering from cramps and we slowed down significantly. Though, he told me that I can just go ahead, I decided to stick around as I myself had some minor cramp pinching my calves a few kilometers ago and I’m not really gunning for a PR.

My other observations during the race, the cadets and policemen are tough, they have enough stamina and endurance for the long run. Some are even ahead of us. Some of the villagers are cheerful, some will greet you, and some will take photos of the runners. And aside for the scenic view along the way, what I like the most about provincial routes like this is the almost non-existence of traffic and pollution.

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Final photos before the last 2 kilometers. Photo credit: Lean Einzel
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Last 2 kilometers up ahead. Photo Credit: Lean Einzel

As we approach the last few kilometers, we feel tired, but still have enough energy to carry on without slowing down significantly. The last 2 kilometers was back to the main Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road. This time around, there are more vehicles on the road and more 2nd hand smoke along the way.

We saw the sign that says PNPA 1.5 km, we jogged to conserve energy and have a strong finish.

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Back inside the Academy grounds. Photo Credit: Acquizzed Snaps Photography
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Last 300 meters. Photo by Acquizzed Snaps Photography.

Kiko asked me if I can still sprint the last few hundred meters, i said ‘I’ll try.’ I’m always hesitant when it comes to sprinting to the finish line bacause I always remind myself of the sudden cramps that I might experience and it’s the reason why I didn’t sprint during the PinoyFitness Challenges and my recent races. Nevertheless, I ran with a boosted speed (but not sprinting speed), while Kiko finished a few meters ahead of me by sprinting with whatever energy he has left. We finished at 3 hours and 5 minutes based on the start/finish line timer (no timing chip for this race) and Nike+ Running App. The total distance was 25.15 kilometers as tracked by Nike+ and it’s not surprising since the race director said before the start of the race that the total distance is expected to be more than 24 kilometers.

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25.15 kilometers at 3 hours and 5 minutes. Not bad for a race with a lot of uphills.
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Post-race with Kiko

Despite the cloudy and a bit dim weather (I thought it was gonna rain), it was a very satisfying run, it’s a feel good run (especially it being a run for a cause, you run and help people), I enjoyed it a lot and my objective of closing the year with a good performance and a fun run was achieved. I finished the race injury-free and I seem to have found the right pace for my first marathon on February 7. For now, I’ll slow down, rest, relax, recover, and enjoy the off-season.

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A reminder that I just finished another challenging race. Hard work and Dedication.
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Inside the academy
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Some of the sights inside the PNPA.
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First long distance run with my new Saucony Ride 7 Viziglo
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It shines when flashed!

RUNdom Notes:

  • The Finisher Shirts cannot be claimed after crossing the race. Instead, it can be claimed from the store where the runner registered. This is because the event was a last minute addition to the race organizer’s schedule, so preparation time was affected. It’s okay though, better late than never and you can trust Runmania.
  • This was the first long distance run with my new Saucony Ride 7 Viziglo, my official first marathon shoes. Very satisfied with the cushioning and I think I made the right choice.
  • Started the year 2015 with a Runmania running event, Resolution Run on January. Ending the year with another Runmania event, PNPA Uphill Challenge this December.
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