1. Last Wednesday, I was on top of some of the insignificant hills and mountains of Bataan looking for trails under the heat of the sun. I did not run but I walked a lot on those trails hoping that the area is not considered as “territory” of the insurgents. After an overnight stay in Bataan, I decided to have a long slow distance run inside the Subic Base/Export Processing Zone on the morning of Thursday. I started my run at 6:30 AM and I took the route of the Subic Half-Marathon Race when I joined the said race on January 20, 2008.
2. While I was running my first 5 kilometers, I was anxious to reach the uphill portions of the route. Before I reached the Subic International Airport Terminal, the uphill climb started to meet me and I was surprised that I could sustain my average stride frequency of 170-180 steps per minute. Yes, I’ve been counting my steps since I started to be aware of my stride frequency two weeks ago. This was the very reason why I wanted to run a longer distance in order to test my legs if they could sustain an average stride frequency of 180 steps per minute.
3. More uphill climbs would meet me along the way and I was happy that I was comfortable with my pace. As compared when I first run this route, I felt that the two years of continous & consistent running would make the uphill climbs at the Subic Base as very easy and insignificant challenge to my running legs. I knew that I’ve improved a lot in terms of strengthening my legs and my aerobic capabilities for the past two years.
4. Instead of turning-around the usual 10.5K point, I extended my run up to the direction of the Morong Gate, running an additional 2-3 kilometers. As I turned-back, the first 2 kilometers was an uphill climb and I was able to maintain my stride frequency but with shorter strides. I have to count up to 100 stride cycles repeatedly until I could count 10 X of the hundreds plus a hundred cycles in order to cover a distance of one kilometer. I really enjoyed counting my steps in this run. I was able to cover a distance of 25 kilometers with a time of 2:49+ hours. The heat of the sun slowed me down on my last two kilometers. But I enjoyed my practice in counting the number of stride cycles during this kind of LSD run.
5. I intended to cheer for the 100K & 50K TNF runners at the starting line (Burnham Park, Baguio City) last Saturday morning but due to some miscommunication, instead of 3:00 AM start time, I got a wrong information that the race will start at 4:00 AM. I missed the runners by 45 minutes! So, I went back to the hotel and have some more sleep. At 7:00 AM, I was out of my hotel room for another long run with the intention of running all the way to Fort Del Pilar.
6. Another reason why I was in Baguio City was to look for a manufacturer of a Cowboy Belt Buckle for the Finishers of the BDM 151 to be held next year. I want to have a Silver Cowboy Buckle for these “crazy & hardcore” finishers of the 1st BDM 151. Having lived in Baguio City in the late 60s and up to mid-70s, I know that the best Silver-works manufacturers are in Baguio City. So, I have to locate and talk to the owners of the famous Manantan and Ibay Shops of Baguio City after I finished my scheduled long run in the morning of Saturday.
7. As I was approaching the Old Gate of Camp John Hay, a local runner joined me in my run and started asking about the route of the TNF 50 & 100K. Maybe, the local runner thought that I was a participant or pacer of the TNF race as I was sporting a TNF Runner’s Cap! The guy distracted my concentration as I answered him truthfully that I am not “in the loop” with the said race. The local runner told me that he was requested by his friend, a TNF race participant in the 50K run, to meet him at the Camp John Hay area. Instead of taking the road that goes to Fort Del Pilar, I turned towards the left road which is South Drive and went all the way to the Mines View Park.
8. On my way back, I went directly to the Gate of the Baguio Country Club and turned back to South Drive and went all the way to the Old Gate of Camp John Hay. Oh, how I missed playing golf when I passed by the Baguio Country Club’s Golf Course afte looking at those golfers walking towards the green. At the Old Gate of Camp John Hay, I was surprised that the Head Marshal of the TNF at that point greeted me! I realized that the road going to PMA was a part of the TNF route and I kept on running until I reached the Scout Barrio area. After I passed the Jeepney Stop area at the Scout Barrio, I noticed one of the marshals guarding one of the trail exit/entrance along the paved road and I asked permission from him to run along the trail.
9. The marshal permitted me to run on some of the trails with the purpose of taking some pictures for my running friends who happened to be finishing the 50K. The marshal told me that two leading runners had passed his position and that they are the 50K runners. While I was on the said trail, I was following a man riding a horse and he later took another dirt trail as we separated. It was easy to follow the trail route of the race as there were lots of stringed small TNF banners tied on trees along the trails and in intersections. After running for about 2 kilometers, I met the third place 50K runner and it was my first time to see his face. He must be a local runner from Baguio City or Benguet Province, the runner with some missing front teeth as seen when I started a conversation with him in the local dialect.
10. Before reaching the Loakan Airport, I ended my run & walk on those trails with much frustrations. I am frustrated on how those preserved forest areas being attacked and invaded by “squatters’ and land developers. I’ve been running along these trails when the US Armed Forces were still the Lord of Camp John Hay and I could still remember the smell of those Pine Trees around. Now, running along these trails would be “hazardous” to your health and to your personal security. I made my turn-around and slowly jogged back to the hotel. I was able to run a distance of 23 kilometers with a slower time because of my jog & walk along the trails.
11. I was doubly frustrated when the two famous Silver Shops in Baguio City told me that they don’t accept Made-to-Order Silver Cowboy Belt Buckle. They told me that there is no way that they can make one for me! However, one of the shopowners was brave enough to tell me that he will make one for a price of Thirteen Thousand Pesos a piece! He must be crazy, too! (like my ultrarunning friends!). I might as well buy an LV Belt (Big Buckle & Belt) at Greenhills for the BDM 151 finishers instead of being “crazy” to order silver buckle from Baguio City with such price! Despite such frustration, I am still looking for somebody who would make that Cowboy Belt Buckle for my “crazy & hardcore” ultrarunning friends!
12. I was already back sleeping in Manila when the first TNF 100K runner reached the Finish Line at Burnham Park. In Manila, instead of observing and cheering the runners of the VSO Bahaginan’s Starting/Finish Line on the morning of Sunday, I was on the road again for another LSD. This was my first Back-to-Back (B2B) long run after my Jeju 50K Run. As I started my run, I saw a lot of running friends who were already going back to the Finish Line. Some of them are also having a good time with their respective LSDs for the weekend. The Lawton-Camp Villamor-NAIA 3-Lawton-Heritage Park/C5 and back at McKinley Hill route is already a worn-out LSD route for runners. I finished almost 15 kilometers for the day but I wanted more but due to the heat of summer, I decided to call it a day and rest my body for the next week’s training.
13. For the week, I was able to register a mileage of 67 kilometers (with a B2B weekend LSD) and two sessions of gym workout. Hopefully, I will be able to sustain my stride frequency, improve on this matter and prepare for my next Marathon Race.