The hills are alive…and they kicked my butt

In between the deadlines last week and the looming deadlines this week (hence the blog absence), P and I got to join some old college friends of mine to go up to Baguio for a three-day break. It was much needed escape–I was looking forward to the cool weather, checking out the new Casa Vallejo and the restaurant and bookstore beside it, BenCab Museum, and looking for a road to run on.

Ever since I started running, I have made a pact with myself to look for roads or routes where I could go for a run whenever I go on vacation. I have been to Baguio several times since I was a kid (it’s one of the most accessible  mountain city retreats from Manila), but I have never run along many of its sloping streets. Baguio has simply been more of a convenient escape-from-Manila-heat kind of destination for me, where I would often just eat, stay bundled up, then go out and eat some more. Sweating it out was never in the itinerary. This time, I was determined to take advantage of the cool weather, lace up and run.

Hello, Baguio road

We stayed in a house along South Drive, which starts as far as I can tell from the rotunda in front of the Panagbenga Park (at least that was my landmark) and it snakes south to Country Club Road, where Baguio Country Club is located, all the way to the other entrance of Camp John Hay. The run started out pretty nicely–a line of trees to our left and beautiful houses up on hills to our right as P and I ran along the sidewalk. But after a few minutes, the sidewalk would end and we would find ourselves either running along the road facing oncoming traffic or crossing the street so we could run along another sidewalk (that is until it ends, and we had to cross or run on the road again).

South Drive Google map

But the most challenging part was the uphill run. Admittedly, I haven’t tackled a lot of inclines. They scare me a bit, but after finishing my eight-week running program on relatively flat routes, I knew I needed to take on some hills. There were some manageable ones midway through the run, but of course they still left me a bit breathless, my legs aching more than normal. The last one though almost made me want to just go down on all fours and crawl. We were almost done with our 30-minute run when we went inside Camp John Hay.

The gentle slope suddenly turned into a steep incline. I was panting so hard while I could hear the cars passing by having a hard time going up the steep road as well. That made me feel better and worse. At least I wasn’t alone, but that didn’t ease the physical pain one bit. By the time I finished, I wanted to lie down on the pavement. I was focusing on how hard it felt that I totally forgot those few things P told me before whenever I feel like I can’t take another step, “Look up to where you’re going, focus on a distant point and not down on your feet.”  This way, you get to maintain a good posture and at the same time have something to focus on besides your poor feet and having it take that next step. When I encounter another hill or even just another difficult road, I have to look forward. It helps to get out of that rut.

The beautiful road in Camp John Hay, which I completely ignored while I was running and panting up the hill. I only noticed it on the walk down. Tsk, tsk.

Must also do this. Hill work to keep in mind from Runner’s World:  “The best way to build leg strength is hill running. Keep it to 10 seconds to avoid producing lactate and becoming fatigued. Running no more than 10-second repeats also reduces injury risk by limiting your fast-running time. 10-second hill repeats are the most efficient way to build year-round strength and speed.”

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6 thoughts on “The hills are alive…and they kicked my butt

  1. Wow! Looks like a tough run. But the more you start running hills, the easier it will get. My sister is a cross-country runner in high school, and she always does the hills near our house! I think she’s crazy, but it’s a great way to get in shape! ….Now I just need to get myself to start running and exercising more 😉

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