Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Running Playground (Where to Run)

UP Acad Oval - late afternoon
The UP Acad Oval (as how most people refer to it) is a 2.2km oval (although its shape is more rectangular than oval).  A lot of runners go to UP early in the morning to run.  This is where we run on Sundays.  I have been running here since 2012.  It is closed to motorized vehicles every Sunday although there are special lanes for runners so you can still run here any day of the week.  Most people run “counterclockwise” and quite a few run “clockwise.”  I usually run with the flow like everybody else, although I sometimes run “clockwise” so I can see more people which puts a bit of encouragement for me.  Although personally, I feel that running “clockwise” is harder because it is more “uphill” which makes it more challenging.  The oval is mostly shaded (there are a lot of huge acacia trees around the oval) which means you can still run as late as 8/9am and the path will still be shaded.  

It gets a bit crowded late in the morning though, so I suggest you run as early as 5:30am so you’ll have less people running with you. I have tried running here in the evening also, but I still prefer morning runs here.  The lights are kind of “gloomy” for me.
One of our Sunday morning runs in UP (L-R: Coach Mike, Age and I)

I love running in UP.  Even if I live in the South, I don’t mind the 20+ km drive just to run here on Sundays.

PROS: Parking is free. There are a lot of trees so it’s mostly shaded.  Always fun to see groups of runners, bikers and families get together on weekends.  Closed to motorized vehicles every Sunday. If you get thirsty (or hungry) there are sidewalk vendors in designated areas around the oval. There are a lot of nearby  “post-run breakfast places.” If you get bored from running the 2.2km oval, there are a lot of other running routes within the UP complex that you can explore.

CONS: No clean restroom.   

Rodic's (UP Shopping Center)
Stacy's (Capitol Hills Golf &Country Club)
Pancake House (Katipunan Ave.)
Sweet Inspirations (Katipunan Ave.)
Mom and Tina's (Katipunan Ave.)
Sinangag Express (Katipunan Ave.)
Upside Down (White Plains)
Kanto (Intrepid Plaza outside Eastwood City - Libis)

There are other restaurants in and outside the UP Complex - these are just the ones I've tried post-run 

BGC (Bonifacio Global City) - Taguig City
One of those Saturday morning BGC runs with running friends (Rizal Drive, BGC)
Photo courtesy of Jema Ng
Bonifacio Global City (BGC) for me is very “runner friendly” especially to newbie runners.  You can run around Bonifacio High Street  (BHS) and that entire “rectangular area” is already a little over 1km.  If you need to get a little “boost” by people watching and you want some sight-seeing, this area will motivate you to run.  It’s also safe to run around the BHS area since there are a lot of security guards and traffic marshals. On weekdays, there are more runners in the evening (those who work in BGC run in this area after office hours), although there are quite a number of runners in the morning also.  I sometimes do my weekday runs here in the evening, but I often run here Saturday mornings.  I run with my friends around the BHS area and around the entire BGC. For me it is safer to run around the entire BGC early morning because some areas are not well-lit at night, and construction is everywhere.  Apart from the BHS area, we run around University Parkway, Burgos Circle, Rizal Drive, 5th Avenue all the way to up to Lawton Ave. If you get tired of running around BGC, you can also opt to run from 5th Avenue and turn right at McKinley Rd. all the way to Ayale Ave., Makati Central Business District (CBD).

Park your car in the open parking lots so parking fee is PhP10 less than the covered parking area. (Parking rates are PhP35 (open parking) PhP45 (covered parking) first 4 hours; flat rate every Sat/Sun and Holidays)

Most of the restrooms in BHS are still closed early in the morning, better to ask the guards on duty which ones are open.

For newbie runners, you can try the “Track at 30th Street" if you are not yet comfortable running on the road.

PROS: Relatively safe. BHS area is well-lit at night. A lot of 24-hour convenience stores where you can buy hydration and other stuff, if necessary. A lot of post-run breakfast places to choose from in BHS or even around BGC.

CONS: No trees / not shaded - it tends to be hot as early as 7am (depends on the time of the year); limited restrooms are open early in the morning.    

Wild Flour (Ground Floor, Net Lima Bldg. 5th Ave. cor 26th St.)
26th  Street Bistro - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Ground Floor Net Lima Bldg. 5th Ave. cor 26th St.)
Slice (BHS Central)
Pancake House (BHS / Ground Floor, Net Quad Bldg. 4th Ave. cor 30th St.)
Figaro (BHS)
Seattle's Best (BHS)
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (BHS)
Starbucks (BHS / Crossroads - 32nd St. and 7th Ave.)
Recovery Food (Crossroads - 32nd St. and 7th Ave.)
Army Navy (Crossroads - 32nd St. and 7th Ave.)
100 Miles Cafe (Fort Strip - but closed on Sundays)
Uncle Cheffy (Burgos Circle)
PAUL Patisserie and Boulangerie (Rizal Drive, BGC)

There are other restaurants around BGC - these are just the ones I've tried post-run / post-race (open for breakfast)

ULTRA (Phil. Sports Arena) TRACK OVAL – Pasig City
Photo courtesy of Jema Ng
(L-R: Chix, Age, Coach Mike, My husband Mike - during of of those speed trainings)

The Ultra Track Oval is a 400-meter oval track (redundant, huh?). Anyway, it re-opened June 2014 after being closed for renovation for a long time (for what runners say seemed like forever).  I have not tried running here before so I cannot compare if the track is better now than prior to the time it was renovated. I’ve been here a few times for our speed training.  I only tried running here on weeknights so I cannot say how the crowd is on weekends.  Based from my limited experience from running the Ultra Track Oval, I would say it’s best to do your speed training here since the surface is softer as compared to cemented / asphalt roads.  There are designated lanes for fast and slow runners so make sure to follow the rules.  Entrance to the track oval is only PhP35 and parking is free.  Although parking may be limited depending on the number of people who run (and swim, since there is a swimming pool near the track as well).

Entrance to the Ultra Track Oval is not in Ultra but in DepEd (along Meralco Avenue) 

The track is open from 5:30am – 9:00pm everyday (Mon-Sun but closed on public holidays)

PROS: Best for speed training.  There is a “locker room” / dressing area. There is a small convenience store near the track and swimming pool area if you need to by hydration / snacks. Aysee (a good / cheap sisig place) is just right around the corner so best to try it after your speed training.

CONS: The entrance leading to the Track Oval is not well-lit at night. The track tends to be a bit crowded on weeknights.

POST-RUN EATS (not sure if open for breakfast since I've only tried running at the Ultra Track Oval at night):
Aysee (St. Martin Street across Ultra)
Starbucks (Capitol Commons)

PHILIPPINE ARMY GRANSTAND - Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
During one of my "first runs" at the Phil Army Grandstand 

The Philippine Army Granstand Oval is 1km. I tried running here a number of times during Saturday / Sunday mornings.  There are parts of the oval that are shaded, although it is mostly not shaded so it tends to be hot as early as 7am. Most of the people who run in the oval are Philippine Army officers and their family members.  It’s a fun place to run here especially for “newbie runners” since there are also a lot of people who just walk around the oval.  It’s right beside the Army golf course though so be “cautious” of the golf balls (have not heard of any accident here, but it’s always best to be cautious).  

If you get a chance, it’s also fun to watch the Army in uniform doing their drills at the grandstand.

Use the Gate 6 Entrance along Bayani Road (near St. Michael’s Church) because the gate near the grandstand(along Lawton Ave) is open only for those with decal (car sticker). Civilians are advised to enter via Gate 6.

No entrance fee to use the oval – don’t expect much since the oval track’s surface is not designed for speed training.

Parking is free and spacious- you can even run around the parking lot since it doesn’t get cramped.

PROS: There is a restroom at the Grandstand where you can change.  There is a drinking fountain also near the grandstand (but it’s still best to bring your own hydration).

CONS: Mostly not shaded so it's best to run early morning.  It’s not lit at night so evening runs are not possible.

Please see BGC list since the Army Oval is relatively near BGC

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