I was quite happy with how I started the race this year. I kept it controlled, didn't go out too fast, and settled into a pace a little over 8 min/mile. After a few km, the pack thinned out and I was running with Mark McDonald, who was hoping to run around 3:40. Mark and I stuck together for 10ish km (but I could be wrong... I know it was more than 6, but less than 13), but then I ended up a little ahead of him, on my own.
I started to pass a few people once I got to University Ave, and a couple more on Northfield and I could see Catherine ahead, noticing that the gap was closing. As I ran through the start/finish at the half way point, I was just behind Catherine, who was one spot ahead of me in the cumulative results. Until this point, I wasn't even considering the possibility of moving ahead in the overall standings on this final stage of the ENDURrun. I was in 4th, over 18 minutes behind 3rd place heading into the marathon, so it would be a tall order to overcome that deficit.
I ended up passing Catherine around the 22km mark. As I went past, I asked if she was ok; she was having some muscle tightness in her leg. I wished her the best, and she offered some encouragement to me as well. From that point on, the race is a bit of a blur, with the exception of the final 10km of a painful stomach. I think I had too much Gatorade and I was paying for it. It was tough to run through that, but I was determined. I did slow down a bit, but looking at my splits, I can see that I would slow for a bit and then probably tell myself to suck it up and I'd speed up again. That happened a couple of times until it was less than 5K to the finish. At that point, I was able to maintain a decent pace. It wasn't quite the pace I was running at the start of the race, but it wasn't too far off. My first mile was 8:13, my 26th mile was 8:36 (and was uphill). I rounded the final corner, and ran across the finish line, with a finish time of 3:39:43.
I had finished the marathon in 3rd place for the ultimate females, but wouldn't know how I placed overall for the week until Catherine crossed the line. I hung out near the finish, drank my recovery drink, chatted with other runners, teammates, etc, and kept an eye on the time. When the clocked passed into mid 3:58, I knew that I had finished the ENDURrun in 3rd place, something that I did not expect at all going into this week.
My final time for ENDURrun 2014 was 14:06:52, just under 54 minutes faster than last year, and over 2 hours faster than the year before. I am very happy with how I ran all week and I look forward to continuing my training and hopefully improving even more for next year!
I had a fantastic week with everyone again this year. The race organizers, runners, the volunteers, family members, friends, and teammates were/are all so very supportive and were/are such a fantastic group of people to be around day in and day out. Thank you to everyone for making ENDURrun the summer camp for runners that I (and many others) want to attend year after year.
I'm sure all see you all again next year for my 5th year, but for now.... for the 4th time.... after 8 days, 7 stages, and 160km, I am still one tough runner.