Sunday, August 14, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

Today at 7:30 am, the 7th and final stage of the 2011 ENDURrun began. Since the start was a half hour earlier today, this also meant that I had to get up earlier and since it was a full marathon, I wanted to be sure I ate 2 hours before start time, so my alarm went off at 5:20 am. Ugh. That’s too early for me. I got up, made coffee, turned on the toaster oven and had myself my breakfast of peanut butter and banana on an English muffin.

We arrived at Conestogo Park about 15 minutes before the start, so I got my self organized and headed toward the start area, chatting with fellow runners about the run ahead and the fact that we were almost done. Just 42.2 km to go and our 160 km would be complete.

I started running and was maintaining a good pace, but was noticing that my shoes were a bit too loose. I stopped a few km into the race to adjust them, but then they were too tight. A few km further, I stopped again to loosen them a bit. This time they were just right (and Jessica referred to me as Goldilocks).

The first loop of the marathon was going well until I reached a hill around the 12 km mark. My legs did not want to go up the hill and I actually felt like my right leg might give out. I slowed down a bit and got myself up the hill. I kept going and once I was no longer travelling uphill it was much better. Once I crossed through the start/finish area, my right leg was hurting some more and I let Ryan know that I thought my 2nd loop was going to be slower than the first by approximately half an hour. This would put me finishing in 4 and a half hours. I stopped for a moment while talking to Ryan and drank some water and Gatorade.

I set off for lap two and discovered after a km or so down the road that the leg started to feel a little better. This lap did not actually feel too bad and I stopped and chatted with some volunteers at a water station around the 32 km mark while I attempted to open my package of Shot Blocks and drank some water. It was a nice short break, but it was brief as I needed to get going down the road for my final 10km.

At this point, I was definitely counting down the kms until the finish and calculating both how long it should take me to get there running and now long it would take if I walked. I knew I should come in between the two times.

As I approached the finish with approximately 1km left in the race, I could see my marathon training group coach Michele C making her way down the hill towards me. I waved and said hi. She gave me some words of encouragement and ran with me to the final corner. I certainly picked up the pace when she was there and busted through the tape at the finish line in 4:08:42 (Garmin time). As I walked to the water table, I was wheezing, but I knew it was only because my body was trying to suck in more oxygen due to my final push to the finish. It only lasted maybe a minute, probably less and then I was okay.

I watched as the remaining runners finished their race, got a massage, ate some fantastic food, and enjoyed the feeling of having completed the ENDURrun. The awards were given out shortly after everyone had something to eat. When each person was called up for their medal and plaque they were given the opportunity to say a few words. It was great to hear everyone’s final comments on the event including their struggles, their triumphs, and their overall thankfullness for a wonderful week with great runners, fantastic volunteers, and a generous race director and his family. This truly is the best organized and friendliest race I’ve ever been a part of. It’s an amazing event.

I placed 4th female of the Ultimate competitors and 1st rookie female. My cumulative time was 16:02:18 for all 7 stages.

The ENDURrun
8 days, 7 stages, 160 km
One Tough Runner.


Thanks for a great week everyone! We should do it again sometime.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 6: The 10 km Time Trial

After yesterday’s alpine stage, I didn’t have much time to recoup before today’s stage. By the time I got home it was 1:30 pm and Ryan and I were shooting a wedding at 4:00. I had time to write a blog post, get clean, plop myself on the couch for a while for a quick rest, and then get ready to leave for the wedding at 3:45 (it was only a few blocks away from our house).

I got home after the wedding around 10:30 pm and was in bed around 11:30. I didn’t have the best sleep (woke up several times) and then the alarm went off at 6:00 am.

I got up, had a quick shower and sat down to eat some breakfast (oatmeal, coffee, and water). We left the house around 7:00 to head up to the race start.

Today’s stage was another time trial like on Monday where the runners with the slower previous time start first and then each runner starts 1 minute apart up until the fastest runner leaves last. Today, due to the number of guest participants, we started several people 2 at a time. Since it takes some time while others are starting to run, it gives some added time to talk to other participants before starting your race. We talked about how we were feeling today and what we hoped to accomplish.

I started at the same time as Sandra W today around 8:30 am. The course was nice and flat and actually a bit of a downhill. I ran pretty consistently today and finished the 10 km stage in 49:19, which is actually my 2nd fastest 10K time.

The finish line was right in front of the race director’s house, so afterwards, we hung out in his yard, had some food, went for a swim, had some massage treatment and socialized some more. It’s really great to have such a nice group of runners to hang out with every day this week. This evening, we’re all invited back to Lloyd’s house for a barbeque and pool party to reflect on this past week and look forward to tomorrow’s final stage: the marathon.

6 stages and 117.8 km down, 42.2 km to go.

Friday, August 12, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 5: The 16-Mile Cross Country (25.6 km)–Chicopee Ski Hill

This morning was a bit different than then other mornings this week because I was getting a ride with Paul instead of either driving myself or going with Ryan. Apparently this threw me out of my routine a bit because I managed to forget a few things at home including my recovery drink.

We arrived at Chicopee Ski Resort around 7am this morning (an hour before race start), so we had some time to sit and chat with other runners, get ourselves ready, and use the washrooms without feeling rushed.

While we were standing around right before the start, there were two deer crossing the one ski hill, which is part of the course. It was fun to watch them for a moment, but then it was back to business. Roll call was taken and waivers were signed (I guess the Chicopee people don’t want any law suits if we hurt ourselves). Now it was time to go. We lined up at the start and Lloyd counted us down.

The first km of the course was new from previous years and went through some nice trails, but there were some very narrow sections, so it was a bit tricky with all of us going through at once. It got much better on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th loops. Out of this section, we crossed over a road and into another trail section, which was my favourite part of the course. It was shaded, there was a breeze, and there were lots of twists and turns. After this, we ran out into a gravel road area with the hot sun beating and then onto the first official hill of the course. It was a long and gradual hill, which then turned around a corner to more hill, around another corner to even more, steeper hill. The aid station at the top of this section was very welcome. And the nice shady trail section that came next was also a welcome change from being out in the sun.

The first major downhill (straight down one of the ski hills) was quite steep and tricky to run down as if you went too fast you might tumble down. After the descent, there was only a short stretch before the major ascent up another ski hill. This one was un-runnable for me. I attempted at first, but resorted to walking very quickly. There were more nice trails at the top of this hill and then another downhill, up through trails, and the final downhill of the lap.

Repeat this 4 more times for a total of 5 loops.

Today’s stage was quite tough. I walked up several hills, but I was okay with that. I finished the 25.6 km of Chicopee in 3:12:08. I had some low back and hip pain today and also 2 blisters, but I didn’t feel as though it was slowing me down, just an annoyance more than anything. I’m glad this stage is done. 5 stages down and 2 to go. Tomorrow is the 10K and then Sunday is the marathon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 4: 10 Mile Hill Run (16.1 km)

The first of two hill runs, this course is for the fast, strong runner. This 10 miler is on paved and packed gravel roads and is characterized as demanding and hilly. The start and finish are both up hill, mainly along Wilmont Line west of Waterloo. The gathering point is at Camp Heidelberg at 6pm - the only stage to start at the end of the day. After the short hill start, runners run through a low forested region then join Wilmont Line. There are a series of large hills to slow you up, but the descents are long and fast. Approximately half way out the course doubles back straight towards the finish. The rapid succession of hills during the last third of the course draws on all the strengths of the runner. The final 300m finish usually sees the competitors battle to the finish line and a well deserved leg massage! (description from

Today’s stage was an evening stage, which meant the alarm did not have to go off at 6:15 am today! I got to stay in bed, which was very nice. I was awake before Ryan left for work, but pulled out Runners’ World magazine and lounged for a while longer before getting up. As tough as it can be to prepare for an evening race (when to eat, what to eat, etc) it was a welcome change from the rushed early mornings of the rest of the week.

Since we only have 1 car and Ryan had it with him at work, I bussed up to meet him this evening. This meant I needed to leave the house a little earlier than usual, but it was quick and easy to get ready today and the bus ride is just a half hour, so it wasn’t too bad.

We arrived at Camp Heidelberg just before 5:30, so I had a half hour to get myself organized, make a trip to the washroom, show up for roll call and then walk down the hill to the start with the other runners.

My body was feeling tired today and when I started running, it wasn’t much better, but after a few hilly kilometers, my legs were loosening up. I felt good running today. I maintained a pretty steady pace for the most part, but did have to walk up a couple of the hills to save some energy for the final big uphill to the finish line. I managed to pass a few people on the 2nd half (into a strong headwind) of this mostly out-and-back course and finished strong up the hill. Of course I was passed on the course as well, but I was very happy with my run today. It was definitely a good confidence boost after yesterday’s rough stage.

I finished Stage 4 in 1:25:40 (Garmin time). I believe this maintains my position as 4th place female. There was no way I could catch up to Jessica to attempt to re-claim the 3rd place spot. It was nice to be in 3rd for a day, but I think it was only meant to be mine for a brief moment (or day).

Tomorrow is the “mandatory rest day” and I plan to do just that. I’m getting a massage (which really won’t be relaxing, but it’ll be helpful), then possibly meeting up with some other runners for a beverage.

The next stage is on Friday morning and will be the 2nd of the two “Mountain Stages.” I’m still a little frightened by Chicopee. We’ll see how this goes.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 3: The 30 km Trail Run

Today’s breakfast: cinnamon raisin bagel w/ peanut butter, coffee, orange juice, and water.

I woke up with a bit of a headache this morning. Hopefully it’s the weather causing this and not dehydration because I’ve been making sure to take in lots of fluids.

I got to the race start around 7:30 this morning and the rain was coming down. Luckily, Ryan had left his rain jacket in the car from Sunday, so I had that to put on to keep warm and dry until start time. At that point, I let Chris (volunteer) “keep it warm for me” aka borrow it while I ran.

The course for this stage is mostly grass and trail, but has a short road section as well. You head out from the start, run on a bit of gravel, then onto the grass over to the short bit of road and then down into a grassy meadow starting downhill, then running a gradual uphill to a large flat opening, where we ran around the perimeter and back out to the wide grass trails, up a short hill, then around a corner to go down another hill, across, and up a much bigger grassy hill. After this section, the course enters the forest trails, which are very nice with a lot of small ups and downs and a couple larger including one long gradual gravel uphill, which was not so much fun. There was also a steep downhill in the trails that got progressively muddier as the rain kept coming and the runners ran down, loop after loop. After another km or so in the trails, you emerge close to the start/finish line, where you pass through and start the next lap. Repeat for a total of 6 5km laps.

The start of the race was wet, but felt good. I maintained a good pace for the first loop (of 6 loops in total), and headed into the second feeling strong. I kept of decently well for the next couple laps and was lapped for the first time around the half-way mark. In the 4th lap, I started to get tired. At 18km, my legs were getting a bit fatigued, but held on.

As I mentioned earlier, I woke with a headache. In order to make sure that I wasn’t dehydrated, I decided to wear my camelback today and to also take some fluids from the aid stations to keep me fully hydrated. It seemed like a great idea, but I think I took in too much Gatorade. The final 2 laps were miserable. I felt like I was going to vomit and had to take many walk breaks so that the feeling would pass. It never did fully pass until well after I was finished, changed, stretched, had my legs massaged, and had some food. Then I was ok.

I finished today’s 30 km stage in 3:14:19 (my unofficial Garmin time). I had been hoping for 3 hours, but my stomach/upper GI did not allow that to happen.  I think I did make a smart move taking it a bit easier once it wasn’t going that great because I still have 4 more stages to run and need energy and strong legs to do so.

I haven’t seen the official standings yet, but I moved down a place to 4th female today. I’m still top rookie female (out of a whopping 2 of us), but my overall placement dropped. We’ll see what tomorrow evening has in store at the 10 miler hilly road.

Today was tough. Three stages down and 4 more stages until I am One Tough Runner.

Monday, August 08, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 2: 15 km time trial

I was up at 6:15 this morning, coffee was brewing again and the 2nd day of ENDURrun was about to begin. I sat and had my breakfast (today it was oatmeal and coffee), checked up on the other runners on Facebook and Twitter, and watched the stage 1 video. There is actually a part 2 of stage 1 also posted. Reliving yesterday’s stage was a great way to get pumped for what was ahead of me this morning.

Today’s stage was a 15 km Time Trial. Each runner starts one minute apart and the starting order is the reverse finishing order from yesterday, so the slowest runners start first and the fastest runners start last.

The course starts with a bit of a loop around Riverside Park in Cambridge, then heads out onto the roads for a nice long uphill on the 2nd km. I was very happy with the fact that I ran the hill quite well and still kept up a 5:30 km pace at that point, which was slower than my average pace for the stage, but was not my slowest km of the day. The remainder of the course was quite nice, but tough at times with the hot sun beating down. The shady trail sections were definitely a welcome change from the hot roads, but it was even hot in the trails. Mind you, when it was all done, it didn’t feel nearly as hot out as I thought it was.

It was tough stage because the person you are trying to beat is behind you, and you don’t know how far back they are. So, I just kept my pace in the hopes that it would keep me at least from falling back in the rankings.

I finished the 15 km in 1:19:35. I was third place ultimate female today and I think I might have moved up to third in the cumulative results as well, but I’m not 100% sure, so I’ll have to wait and see when the official results are posted.

After the race was finished, I changed out of my sweaty clothes, got some ART, ate some of the fantastic post-race food, and socialized. As if this wasn’t a good enough post-race experience, we were all invited to head over to the race director’s daughter’s house for a pool party.

Thanks Carly and Chris for allowing us to use your pool and to play with your cute puppies today. And thank you to the rest of the Schmidt family for everything you do for us runners. You guys are the best!

Top left: Henry, Top Right: Chester, Bottom: (left to right) Mark M, Sandra W, Regan C, Jack K, Maureen P

Sunday, August 07, 2011

ENDURrun Stage 1: The Half Marathon

6:15 am
The alarm woke me up and I could hear and smell coffee brewing in the kitchen. I decided to stay in bed for a few more minutes and was up by 6:22 am.

6:30 am 
Sitting in the living room eating breakfast (toasted English muffin with peanut butter and banana and my cup of coffee) and reading updates and comments of other runners all getting ready to start the ENDURrun today. Looking outside, it’s quite wet out there, but as long as it’s not pouring, it should be just fine.

7:00 am
I’m all ready, dressed, body-glided, and excited to get to the start line. Race start is in 1 hour. Just waiting for Ryan ( to get out of the shower so we can go.

Okay.. it’s now early afternoon. I’m home, I’m clean, and I’m ready to finish this post my thoughts and some BB photos.


The half marathon started at 8:00 am just about the same time as the rain. It was a light rain, so not too bad at all, but I’m sure the volunteers and spectators weren’t too happy with it.  For the majority of the run it was humid and damp, but not actually raining. It did, however, rain more after I was finished.

I finished stage 1 in a time of 1:52:39 (according to my Garmin, I didn’t catch what my official time was and it’s not up on the website yet). This time was actually a PB for me in a half marathon event. I ran the first half of the Mississauga Marathon in just over a minute faster, but as far as running the specific half distance, this is my best time yet!

(Now feels like a good time to share my post-race sweaty BlackBerry self-portrait)


I really enjoyed this stage today. At one point I wished I had a camera on me because I looked toward the Grand River and saw a man standing in the middle, fishing, with the mist surrounding him. With no camera on me, I had to take a mental picture. Perhaps I’ll just head out there one morning to see if this is a common occurrence.

Okay.. back to the event. I kept a decent pace today and I felt really good, too. I don’t feel like I overdid it, so I should (hopefully) have lots of gas left in the tank for the rest of the week.

6 more stages to go and I’ll be One Tough Runner.

Congrats to everyone else who completed stage 1 today. I’ll see you tomorrow at the 15K time trial!

Woolwich-20110807-00194 Woolwich-20110807-00197 IMG-20110807-00199 Woolwich-20110807-00203

Above photos: Top: Ryan McGovern, Middle Left: Paul Mora, Middle Right: Dave Rutherford, bottom: Catherine Kelly.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

ENDURrun is just about here!

I just got back from the pre-race meeting for the 2011 ENDURrun. I have my race number bib (107), my t-shirt, race kit bag of goodies, and my awesome new long sleeved quarter-zip pullover! Now to get my stuff ready tonight and head to the start line in the morning. Wish me luck!

I plan on posting after every stage of this 7-stage event, so keep an eye out for my updates.