Sunday, August 18, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 7: The Marathon

Today’s marathon was the 7th and final stage of the ENDURrun. It started at 7:30am and was a bit cool at the start, but we all knew it was going to warm up very quickly.

Just 2 days ago, it was brought to my attention that while my actual goals for myself before the week started would end up with finishing times for the week of either 15:35 (my “ambitious” goal) or 15:59 (my “realistic” goal), with my cumulative times so far and my goal times for my final 2 stages, I would be about 15 minutes over 15 hours for the week. I didn’t think about this while running the 10K yesterday, although I did come in ahead of plan, but this morning the possibility of a sub 15 for the week crossed my mind. If I ran a 3:57 and change today, I would just squeak in under the 15 hour mark. My fastest marathon time is 3:51, but my 2 previous ENDURrun marathon times were 4:08 and 4:12.

The course for today’s marathon is a 21.1km loop, that is run twice. My plan was to run a conservative first loop and then pick up the pace a wee bit in the second.

The first loop went well and felt comfortable. I crossed the half way point around 1:58.

The second loop got ugly. It got hot. The legs got heavy. I was pretty sure the possibility of running a 3:57 or better was gone. The stretch between 31km and 37km felt like it took forever. I had a few rough, slow miles in that stretch, but once I got past that point, I was okay again.

As I headed into the final 3km stretch, I glanced at my watch. It was still ever so slightly possible to come in at 3:57. I picked up the pace a little and plugged away up the hills to the park in Conestogo. When I had about 1 km left to go, I looked at my watch again. It wasn’t going to happen, but it was going to be close. I ran around the corner to the finish line and crossed the line at 3:58:12. So close!

My total time for the week was mere seconds over 15 hours. I’m very happy with how I did this week, but it was a wee bit of a kicker to be SO CLOSE!

Overall, this was a fantastic week and a real confidence boost for me. I exceeded my expectations for every single stage. I managed to finish with Personal Best (PB) times in the half marathon, the 15K, 30K trail, 10 mile, and 25.6K trail (and ski hill) and I finished with ENDURrun best times in both the 10K and the marathon. My overall placing for the week was 3rd female, which was also very exciting.

This has been a very rewarding week in both running and in the social aspect. It was great to spend the week with such a great group of people including the runners, volunteers, race director & family, the spectators, and supporter from afar. Thank you to everyone!

So, once again…. after 8 days, 7 stages, and 160km, I am still One Tough Runner.



Saturday, August 17, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 6: 10K Time Trial

It’s tough to run a 10K race the morning after Chicopee. My legs did not want to race today, but they had no choice (or at least I didn’t give them one) and my legs and I ran.

As with the 15K on Monday, this stage was a time trial, with runners starting a minute apart from slowest to fastest. Since the 10K distance is a popular one and since it is now the weekend, there were a number of guest runners. The guest runners submit their predicted finish time with their entry and are slotted into the starting order accordingly.

The course for Stage 6 is a point to point from a park in Elmira to the race director’s house in Conestogo. It is mostly on long stretches of country roads with minimal shade. The course is also a slight net downhill, so it does make for some good finish times.

After socializing in the parking lot for a while, it was my turn to start (I started 38th today). I waited for the countdown, while chatting with Lloyd for a wee bit… turns out he had my predicted finish time down as 47:33. Did he actually expect me to run that today? (My best 10K is 47:57)

I went out today, planning on running around a 50 minute 10K. As I ran along, I noticed that my pace for the first bit was a bit faster than I expected, but nothing crazy, so I wasn’t concerned about it and just kept running along, trying to find a good rhythm to maintain and keep going to the finish. It worked out well, as I only had 1 km at 5 min and all the others were a little bit faster. I finished the race in 48:19 and was 3rd female again.

I have my usual post-race food photo to include on this post, but I can’t seem to find my phone right now. I will add it to this post once I locate it.

[Edit: I found my phone, so here’s the photo.]
It was breakfast food day today.

ENDURrun Stage 5: 25.6K Alpine Run

I’m a little late with this stage’s blog post as I was out and about all of yesterday after finishing the stage. Now, as I drink my coffee and eat my toast before stage 6, I have a chance to write about yesterday’s difficult stage.

Stage 5 is on a ski hill. It’s not a huge ski hill, but it’s still a ski hill. The course is 5 laps of 5.12km per loop. There were some course changes this year, which made it a bit more demanding than it already was.

The Loop:
From the start line, we run through a short flat section, toward the first ascent up a gravel service road. It is long, it is gradual, it is a pain. After reaching the top of the hill, we run along the top briefly, and then nip down into some trails. This section has a straight sandy “down”, and then it winds back up to the top of the hill. Once at the top, it’s back out the way we came in, but instead of heading down the service road, it’s straight down a ski hill. Hang a right at the bottom, run past the start finish area, and then straight UP another ski hill. I didn’t even attempt to run all the way up it this year. I’d run to certain spot just above the bottom and then walk up. After reaching the top of this evil hill, it’s across the top and into some more trails, which of course headed down and then back up, but it was gradual and there were small ups and downs throughout. I like this section. Once out of those trails, run over to another ski hill and run straight down it. At the bottom of this hill was the main change to the route. In past years, we would turn left at the bottom, but this year, it was into the woods to the right. This section contained some narrow boardwalks and trails and was quite flat. The flat didn’t last too long, as after this was another “up” through some trails between hills, but this one was shorter than some others. Once at the top again, run across the hill, and then straight down the final descent, hang a left at the bottom, run between the volleyball courts and the trees, and through the finish chute.  Do this 5 times and you’re done.

With the course changes, I didn’t know how my time on this stage would be affected. Last year I ran the stage in 3:01:37, the year before 3:12:08. As I waited for the start of the race, I was hoping for sub 3, but not sure if I could accomplish it. I hoped to run around 35 minutes per lap. As the laps went by, I started thinking that I wanted to start lap #5 at 2 hours and 20 minutes so that I would have 40 minutes left to complete my final lap and have a PB. I did just that. There were some seconds on the clock as well, but when I passed through the start finish to start my bell lap, the clock started with 02:20 and I was very happy about that. I finished the course in 2:57 and change, finishing 3rd female. I also maintain my 3rd position in the overall standings.

As usual, my platter of food.

Now it’s just about time for me to leave for stage 6, the 10K time trial, so off I go! I will post about the TT later today.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 4: The Hilly 10 Miler

Stage 4 is the only evening stage of the ENDURrun. The start is at 6pm, which is tough in itself. It’s nice to have the extra recovery time after the previous day’s 30K, but prepping for an evening race is very different. What to eat? When to eat? Do anything during the day or just take it super easy? I ate a fairly normal breakfast and lunch and then a snack around 4pm.

I arrived at Camp Heidelberg about half an hour before race start. I got myself ready, chatted with others, and then whacked myself in the knee with the vehicle door when I went to throw my extra stuff inside. Crap. Why am I such a klutz? It felt like it was going to bruise, but at least wasn’t right on muscle, so it didn’t feel like it was going to affect running too much.

Just before 6pm, Lloyd took attendance and we walked as a group down the hill to the start. This death march is done so that the race starts and finishes on an uphill.

The beginning of the race is pretty quick because after the short uphill, it is a gradual downhill for the first 3ish km. Once the course throws the runners back onto Wilmot Line, it is a steady series of large hills with one monster of a hill around the 5K mark. I ran the first bit while chatting with a couple of other runners so that I would keep myself from going out too fast, but when I glanced at my watch I did notice that I was going a lot faster than I felt I *should* be. I realize that it was because of the downhill and I wasn’t doing anything crazy, but it made me think about it a bit.

I tried to run by feel again today, wearing the watch, but not paying attention to the watch. I did look at it a few times throughout the stage, but not much at all. On the up hills, I ran up each of them quite steady (mind you a bit slow) with the exception of one around the 14K mark when my knee decided to act up a bit, so I walked for a chunk of that hill to give it a break. On the down hills, I let myself go as fast as I could while still feeling in control. This helped to get myself partway up the next hill without having to feel like I had to put out too much effort. While doing this, I did pass a couple of runners pretty much on each ‘down’ and then they’d pass me half way up the next ‘up’. It was kind of fun to keep switching positions with them. They pulled away from me in the last 3rd, but it was good while it lasted.

I finished today’s stage in 1 hour 22 minutes and a few seconds, finishing 3rd ultimate female. This was another PB for me as I came in 3 minutes faster than my previous best.

Tomorrow is Rest Day, so I will not have a race stage to report on. There may or may not be a Stage 4.5 post, depending on what goes on during the day.

Great run tonight everyone! It was great to see a lot of PBs again tonight. It’s now time for lots of rest and recovery before we tackle Chicopee on Friday morning.

Good night.

My post-race platter of food. It’s 11:30pm and I still feel full.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 3: 30K Cross Country

Last night, I got to bed at a reasonable time, but for some unknown reason, I woke up several times in the night. I saw the clock at 2-something, multiple times between 3:00 and 4:00, and again at 5:00. I didn’t feel too tired when my alarm did go off at 6:00, but it was still frustrating to not have the good sleep I was hoping for.

Pat picked me up this morning and we arrived at Bechtel Park about a half hour before race start, which allowed a bit of time to get ourselves ready, chat with some other runners, and get to the start line without having too much time to get too cold (it was quite cool and windy).

My plan heading into today’s stage, which is a 5K loop run 6 times, was 31 minute laps. This would have me finish in 3 hours and 6 minutes, 4 minutes faster than last year. I wanted to be conservative, with the first lap nice and easy, and hopefully pick it up a wee bit and maintain consistent laps.

I felt very good out of the start, holding back and not going out too quick. I didn’t care if people passed me and I just kept to the plan and ran what felt nice and comfortable. Starting about half way through the first lap, I started running with or near Dusan, a man from my running group with Runners’ Choice who was running as part of a relay team today. He said he was hoping for sub 3 hours today (and that he did!). I was a bit concerned about sticking with him, but I felt like I wasn’t pushing it too hard, so I kept up. As we passed the start/finish line after Lap 1, I saw the clock and it started with 28. Hmmm… would I be able to keep this up?

Laps 2, 3, and 4 went by and I stuck with Dusan, but on lap 5 I went away on my own. I finished up the final 2 laps and crossed the finish line in 2:50:20, over 20 minutes faster than last year! I finished 2nd female today, but will stay 3rd in the cumulative results for the week so far.

I wore my Garmin today, but I was pretty good at not looking at it. I wanted to be able to look at my splits after getting home. I was pleasantly surprised at how consistent I was and was very happy to see that my first lap was my slowest, the second lap was my second slowest, and there was less than a minute between my slowest lap and my fastest lap. Today felt really good.

I was too cold after the finish today to really take any photos, but I did take one of my food. I ate a LOT today. As I told Chris Duke a couple times on the course… I was hungry.


Tomorrow’s stage is in the evening, so we have the luxury of a bit of extra recovery time after today’s tough stage. I am definitely looking forward to not setting an alarm when I go to bed tonight and look forward to a relaxing first part of the day tomorrow.

Great run today, everyone!

Monday, August 12, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 2: The 15K Time Trial

After completing yesterday’s half marathon, the starting order for today’s stage was made based on the finishing times. The person with the slowest time from yesterday started first and the person with the fastest time started last, with each runner starting 1 minute after the last.

I started 11th today. I had some issues with my Garmin this morning, and as I walked up to the start line, I turned it on again (was trying to save battery life as it told me it was low earlier) and it shut right off again, I tried again, and it did the same, so I took the watch off and ran without. I always run with a Garmin, so I was a bit concerned how this would work out… would I go out too fast? Would I end up trying to run TOO conservative and not be able to get up to the paces I wanted to run? I guess time would tell.

As I headed from the start line, I held back and made sure I didn’t feel like I was doing anything all that “hard” at this point, I wasn’t going to try to pass anyone in this first stretch before the turn, just over 2km down the road. I felt good, and passed my first competitor (Susan) at around the 4km mark (I think) [Edit: Susan has informed me that it was not until 5K :)]. At this point, I decided that I was going to count how many people I passed and how many passed me. It was a while before I caught anyone else, but starting around 6km, I managed to start catching up with some more people. I kept counting as I ran along.

When I turned around the final corner, with just over 2km to go to the finish line, I had passed 9 and I realized that I had not been passed by a single Ultimate competitor and thought maybe just maybe, I could be the first Ultimate to cross the line (this of course does not make me finish the stage in the fastest time, but would feel pretty darn good). Just after I had that thought, Jack passed me. I was passed by another with 1 km to go, but I did manage to be the first girl to cross the line (ultimate or otherwise) and I managed to pass every single person who started ahead of me! I was very happy with that and very happy with my race overall. I finished in 1:13 and some seconds that I’m not sure about (I will update this when the results are posted), which was 6 minutes faster than my previous best time on this stage 2 years ago.

Running without a Garmin was different and, surprisingly, it felt really good. I think the time trial format helped out because I wasn’t alone on the course without anyone around me, I had people I wanted to catch and I had people that I did not want to catch me. I don’t think I’m going to give up the Garmin, but I will think about running without it from time to time. 

After the race was over, it was time for some fluids, food, massage, the pool, and results. The gold jersey will be worn by Stefan tomorrow for the men and Catherine maintains her overall 1st place position and will wear the gold jersey for the women.

As always, it was an enjoyable post-race experience. I had a great time at this morning’s stage. I look forward to Stage 3 at Bechtel Park with the good weather forecast. It will be a nice change from the rain last year and the year before. I should now go knock on some wood to make sure I didn’t jinx anything.

Great race everyone! See you tonight for some sushi and tomorrow for another stage of the 2013 ENDURrun.

Photos from today’s stage:20130812_075639
Pre-race – they were baking bread ON SITE!

20130812_101032My delicious plate of food. Well, I actually didn’t eat the potato… I accidentally dropped it in the pool. In case anyone was wondering… they sink.

Post race

Sunday, August 11, 2013

ENDURrun Stage 1: The Half Marathon

As usual, I didn’t get to bed as early as I should have last night. I did some running around the house, locating items, gathering items, and packing items to bring to the race. I will make sure to be ready earlier for the remaining stages. At least now that my running stuff is more organized, it’ll be easier to be ready for the rest of the week.

Since stage 1 went better for me in 2011 than it did in 2012, I decided to have the same breakfast today as I did two years ago: a toasted English muffin with peanut butter and a banana as well as a cup of coffee. 

20130811_074848Ed and I pre-race in our ENDURrun swag from 2012 and 2011

I tried to run smart today. It didn’t quite go as planned, as I started quicker than I should have, but I felt like I did regain a fair bit of control and was able to finish strong. I feel as though I ran better than I normally do and had more “left in the tank” at the end of the race than usual. As a bonus, I even ended up with a new half marathon PB of 1:49:59! So far, I do not feel like I overdid it or anything today, but I guess the following stages will reveal whether or not that is true.

First place Ultimate finishers for today were Mark and Catherine, who will have the honour of wearing the gold jerseys tomorrow for the 15K time trial. I sit in 4th place of the ultimate females after stage 1, but anything can happen over the remaining 6 stages.

Now to rest, fuel, recover, and get ready to race in the 15K time trial tomorrow

But first… here are some photos from today’s stage.

New to 2013 – Menu board to specify which items are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc.


20130811_104701Susan, Dave, and Kyle post-race

Thanks for a great morning, everyone. Let’s do it again tomorrow!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

ENDURrun 2013 – Pre-race meeting


It’s that time of year again… time for the ENDURrun! The 7 stage event officially starts tomorrow morning at 8am, but unofficially started tonight, with the pre-race meeting.

As usual, the race was held at the race director’s home in Conestogo. This year, to be sure the meeting began on time, it was suggested to come early if you wanted to socialize. I arrived a half hour before the meeting start time, which allowed a bit of time to catch of with some people that I had not seen in a year, some that I had seen last month, some a few days ago, and some I had never met before.

In talking to various people, I discovered rather quickly that I’m not the only person who feels that they have not adequately trained (or trained specifically at all) for this event. It made me feel a bit better about my readiness (or lack thereof) and I’m interested to see how the week plays out.

We picked up our bags containing our numbers and some other goodies and headed to chairs for the meeting. The official meeting included an introduction to the volunteers/race crew, some announcements, and some general information about the week to come.


After the meeting was over, I noticed a few more people that I hadn’t had a chance to talk to yet, so more catching up was done before heading home to eat and get ready for tomorrow.

Now that I have filled up my tummy, I should get my race stuff ready for the morning.  Have a great evening, and good luck to everyone at the start line in the morning!


Friday, August 02, 2013

Another Rainy Friday Evening

I was debating whether or not I should run tonight. Well, not so much debating as just not knowing. I hadn’t made any plans to run, but I hadn’t decided that it was a rest day either, so it was just kind of up in the air. Around 6pm I decided that since I didn’t have any food in the house, that I should go to the store and since I was going out to go to the store, I might as well run. So I did just that.

I left the house and ran up to the nearby trails. I decided that I would do a 3 mile run and then nip into the store, pick up a few things and walk home (the store I was going to is essentially across the street from the trails).

The sky looked a bit angry before I left the house, and it wasn’t looking any happier when I got to the trails. As I ran, I could hear thunder rolling, but it didn’t sound too close. I kept going and noticed a lot of downed trees from the storms that occurred last weekend and the weekend before. I hoped this was not any sort of sign of what was to come tonight.

About 2 miles into my run I started to feel a few drops. That’s alright. I don’t mind running in a little rain at all. I don’t even mind running in a moderate amount of rain… but then it happened… 2.5ish miles in, it started to POUR. I could see some flashes of lightning and I could hear some thunder, but it still didn’t sound very close, so I wasn’t too concerned. I was almost done my run. I just needed to finish up in the trails and head across to the store.

As I made my way out of the trails and crossed the street, the rain drops were hitting hard. They started to feel almost like they were solid. Luckily, I was where I needed to be, so I stood under the overhang of the store for a few minutes just to let some of the water drip off of me so that I didn’t make their floor TOO wet as soon as I set foot inside. It’s amazing how quickly you can get drenched in that kind of rain.

I did my shopping, the rain died down, I walked home, and then it started again. But this time, I’m in my house. I am now warm and dry and I am about to make some pasta and pour myself a glass of shiraz-malbec.