Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 7 - Marathon

The 2016 ENDURrun has come to an end. Sunday, August 14th, was the 7th and final stage: the marathon.

The race started and finished at the same park in Conestogo where it all began one week prior, but the course was not the same. The ENDURrun marathon course is a 21.1 km loop that takes you from Conestogo, through Bloomingdale, Kitchener and Waterloo, back to Conestogo, run twice.

I arrived at the park around 45 or so minutes before race start, stowed my bag under a picnic table, said hello to various runners and volunteers, signed in, got myself ready, and lined up at the start. I spoke with Mark McDonald about potentially running with him, Alexandra, and possibly a couple of other runners, who were looking to finish in around 3:30. My arbitrary A goal was 3:30, but I would be perfectly happy with 3:30-anything. I lined up near them, but when the race started, they seemed to shoot out from the line. I wanted to ease into this race, not crash and burn. I did not want to be pushing this early. I ran the first 4 km fairly easy and slowly got myself into the pace range that I wanted to be in for the bulk of the race. Around 10K into the race, I started passing a few people. From 13K on, I was on my own.

I crossed the half way point in 1:46:00. I was hoping to maintain the pace I was running as I crossed half for the second loop, but at around 24K I could feel painful blisters forming on a few of the toes on my right foot. I think my shoe had gotten wet from throwing water on myself at a couple of the water stops. These blisters were very difficult to ignore and I started playing mental games to get myself to the next water stop (they were placed every 3K) and then I would allow myself a very short break to grab a drink and to get a bit of relief from the blisters.

Around 30K, I felt like I was really slowing down and was thinking that this race was going to go downhill rather quickly, but by 34 or 35K, I no longer noticed the blisters and was back to running around or just under 5 min per km.

The final 3K of this marathon, I was feeling great and ran well under 5 min for each of them. As I ran up the final couple hills up Northfield and was about to turn the corner to the finish, I knew that I was going to be finishing under 3:35. My official time was 3:34:04. My second loop was 2:04 slower than my first, which isn't ideal, but is definitely not too shabby considering the giant puffy blisters I found on my feet when I removed my socks and shoes.

It was great to talk with everyone about their marathon, their week, their journey, to share a bit of pool time, socialize over eating much delicious food, and then to share in everyone's success at the awards ceremony. This year, there were 38 finishers of the Ultimate division of the ENDURrun. A group of 38 people who shared a journey of however many steps it takes to run 160km.

The overall win for the week went to Rob and Angela. Mark Meyers and myself placed second, and Kyle and Hunter placed third. The Rookie awards (fastest time by a first time finisher) went to Patrick Voo and Hunter Kelly.

Full Cumulative Results.

For the sixth year in a row, I have truly enjoyed this week of racing, cheering, socializing, and comradery. It truly is an event like no other.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 6 - 10K TT

Just like Monday, today's stage was a time trial, so the runners started a minute apart from slowest to fastest.

I was scheduled to start at 8:50 this morning, but wanted to get to Lloyd's around 7:30 to ensure I had a ride up to the start (it's a point to point race) and could leave my car at the finish. I was apparently excited and in a bit of a hurry to get there and I didn't realize it until I saw the police car sitting just off the side of the road and glanced down at my speedometer, that I was speeding (whoops!). I drove past the cop, and as expected... he pulled out.. on came the lights, and I pulled over. I got my very first speeding ticket ever. He asked me where I was headed and thought it was funny that I was on my way to a race... seemed appropriate.

So... after the interesting drive to Conestogo, I parked my car, put my bag in the backyard, and made my way into a car to get a ride to the start.

It was nice to watch people starting their race as I did a slight warm-up (it only totalled about a half mile, but I wanted to get the legs moving and a bit loosened up).

When it was my time to start, I headed over, waited until Lloyd counted me down, and I was off. Steve Schmidt was nice enough to come out this morning and ride his bike on the course. It worked out especially well when I no longer wanted to wear my hat. He took it from me and brought it to the finish. Thanks Steve!

I went into this race looking to finish around 45 minutes. My official finish time was 45:12. It was another super humid day today and I was absolutely drenched with sweat when I finished. At least I know I wasn't dehydrated!

This was BEFORE I went in the pool.
There were no changes today in the top three on either side. Now, with 117.8km down, we have one final stage to run tomorrow: the marathon. It's a two loop course, starting at the same park as last Sunday's half marathon, but I'll tell you more about that tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 5 - 16 Mile Alpine

Today's stage was what most consider the toughest stage of the ENDURrun: a sixteen mile (25.6km) race at Chicopee Ski Hill. The course consists of a 5.12km loop, each containing 3 long climbs, sections of single track trail, and some straight descents down the ski hill. This loop is run 5 times.

The weather was definitely less than ideal today. It was over 95% humidity and it was hot. Volunteers and spectators alike were kind enough to spray us down with water, hand us ice cubes, and dump water on our heads and backs. If it wasn't for all of these wonderful people, this could have been a pretty disastrous race.

Final stretch to the finish (Photo from H+P Twitter feed)
Times were slower for pretty much everyone this year (I'm not sure if anyone was quicker this year), due to the weather conditions.

My lap splits weren't great today, but ignoring the first lap, they weren't too horrible... I'm not sure what I was thinking on the first lap!
Lap 1: 30:08
Lap 2: 32:45
Lap 3: 33:04
Lap 4: 34:49
Lap 5: 34:56

Man that humidity made it a tough day.

I finished first female ultimate today, but only by 2:27. I have reduced the gap to an even 20:00 behind Angela.  On the men's side, Rob won the stage, and now has a 1:12:26 lead on Mark. Hunter and Kyle both remain in third. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 4 - Hilly 10 Miler

Last night, in whatever hot temperature it was, we ran the 10 mile stage of the ENDURrun. Even though it was not going to be overly fun due to the heat, I knew it would be better than last year.

With the heat and humidity, it was not the stage to try to hit the goal time that I had set for myself months ago. That was a good weather goal, not a heat and humidity goal. So, I ran it, walked through most of the aid stations, getting in lots of fluids, getting sprayed by volunteers, and getting water dumped on my head.

Photos by Jeff Wemp

In the end, I did actually come close to my best on this stage. I was only 9 seconds slower than my 2014 time on this course.

Nothing changed in the top three tonight on either side, either in the stage or the cumulative. Rob now has a lead of 52:01 over Mark, and Angela has a 22:27 lead over me.

Tomorrow, we take to the ski hills and trails. It's a tough, but fun, 16 miles of up down and around Chicopee Ski Park and I am most definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 3 - 30K XC

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the radio informing me that a heat warning had been issued for the region and would last until the end of the week. Great. Oh well, everyone is racing in the same conditions, we just need to be smart out there and hydrate hydrate hydrate!

When I arrived at Bechtel Park it was still quite pleasantly cool, but obviously that was not going to last. The sun was rising, and it was strong.

The race started out at a fairly conservative pace, which was exactly what I wanted to happen. Going out too fast on this long course is never a good idea. The first 4 laps, the temperature didn't seem too bad, but it REALLY heated up after that. Laps 5 and 6 were very hot when out in the sun, but the trail section gave some much needed relief.

My laps weren't as consistent as I would like, but they weren't atrocious. Here's how they went:

Lap 1, 26:06: started out with Catherine, who was running the first leg of the Schmidt Family Relay. She went ahead (of course) somewhere around the school yard section, I don't remember if it was before, after, or in. After that, I stuck just behind Val with Hunter just behind me for the remainder of the lap.

Lap 2, 25:37: Val picked up the pace and moved ahead, I picked it up slightly as well, but was well back from Val and ran solo for this lap.

Lap 3, 25:52: Solo until Jordan (Schmidt Relay) yelled at me while running around the soccer field that he was going to catch me, which he did about 1km or so later, just after entering the woods. I expected him to pass me and keep running, but was pleasantly surprised that he slowed down and ran with me. It was great to have company.

Jordan and I at the end of Lap 3: half way for me
Lap 4, 26:46: I ran this entire lap with Jordan as he was doing 2 loops for his relay. We ran this one a little slower than I probably should have, but that's OK. We were yapping the entire time that we ran together, which at the time I thought was a good idea, to keep the pace on the conservative side for the middle laps, but perhaps should have been more aggressive. But who knows.. that could have backfired with the heat in the final two laps.

Lap 5, 26:22: Lloyd started his relay lap and I thought maybe, just maybe, I'd have company again... but no... he wanted to run faster. :) This lap was run solo. The heat was rising, but I ran it quicker than the previous lap, so that was good.

Lap 6, 27:07: This final lap was tough in the heat. I stopped at the aid station just after the start/finsh, grabbed two cups and actually walked to the first corner to drink them.. not because I wanted a break from running, but because I wanted to be sure to actually get the fluids into me instead of just spilling them all over the place. The sun was strong and it was hot.. I wanted to focus on hydration. After that severe slow-down, I got back to business. Running in the full sun for the first half of the lap made me feel like maybe my fitness wasn't where I thought it was... I was very happy that this was my last lap and was starting to do math of... even if I slow down to x pace, I will still finish under 2:40. I really thought I was going to suffer this entire lap. I walked through the aid station by the playground as well, drinking 2 cups, but then as I got going again and entered the woods, I felt so much better! It was amazing how much of a difference just getting out of the sun made. I felt strong again. I finished up my lap, and crossed the finish line in 2:37:49. I wasn't happy that my final lap was over 27 minutes, but when I thought about the fact that I walked through 2 aid stations, it made sense. I still would have rather run it quicker (obviously), but I'm glad that I was thinking about the conditions and making sure I was hydrating well.

I finished in 2nd Ultimate Female again today, 3rd female overall (Val of the H+P Women's Team was 1st woman across the line).

Post-race photos:
Lloyd reading the results
Listening to Lloyd
Platter o' food

Cumulative Results after Stage 3 (top 3):
Rob 4:04:27
Mark 4:45:44
Kyle 4:56:41

Angela 5:07:28
Me 5:24:19
Hunter 5:39:40

After the race, I saw emergency vehicles entering the park and I learned that a runner had gone down about 2K from the finish. We were informed in the post-race announcements that he had been taken to the hospital, but that he will be OK. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Justin!

Monday, August 08, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 2 - 15K Time Trial

Although today's stage started at 8am, only one runner was to start at that time. The runners each started one minute apart, from slowest to fastest based on yesterday's half marathon results (or seed times provided by relay and guest runners). I was slotted to start at 8:41, but due to some no-shows and some people who have had to drop out of the ultimate competition, I started a few minutes earlier.

Starting a race alone is very different than starting with a pack. It worked much better for me today, as I could head out at a reasonable pace and not get carried away and go out too fast with others around me. In this stage, since I started after some, but before others, the name of the game was to catch as many runners as possible and to try not to be caught. I almost thought I was going to make it to the finish without being passed by a single runner, but Rob passed me in the final stretch.

I ran a lot smarter today than yesterday, with fairly even splits. I finished the stage in 1:07:32, which was my fastest time on Stage 2 by two minutes and 15 seconds. I am very happy with that result.

Since the race started and finished across the street from the Race Director's house, we were able to take a dip in the pool immediately after the race, which was very welcome. There was some more delicious food today, as usual, which was enjoyed poolside.

There were no changes in the cumulative top 3 today. Rob has increased his lead over Mark to 19:30 and Angela has increase her lead over me to 12:31.

Although it's been fairly warm already, tomorrow, we will really start to battle the heat. The weather forecast is currently showing a high of 32 for tomorrow, 35 Wednesday, and 35 again on Friday. Hopefully they are wrong. One can hope, right? Hydration will definitely be top of mind for the remainder of this week.

Great work today, everyone! It's now time to rest up and get a good night's sleep before running around and around and around Bechtel Park tomorrow morning.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

ENDURrun Stage 1 - Half Marathon

This morning, at 8am, the 2016 ENDURrun began.

Today was the half marathon, the first of seven stages, which will total 160 km between today and next Sunday.

The start to the day was cooler than it has been lately, which was absolutely fantastic. The sun was strong, so it did warm up pretty quickly on the course, but overall, I really can't complain about the weather today. If only it was going to stay that way

This year, a couple of new traditions started before the race start.
  • Past Gold Jersey holders are now allowed (and encouraged) to wear their gold proudly for stage one.
  • A pre-start group photo is taken (and a separate gold jersey wearers photo).
The official photos aren't available yet, but here is Dave Rutherford's photo that I've "borrowed" from Facebook.

I went out a little too quick today; I pointed out that fact to Patrick Voo, who was running near me at the time. I attempted to back off (or at least I thought I did), but apparently that didn't really happen and a few K later I was wondering what the crap I was doing. I felt good... but it was only a few km into the race. I kept going along, trying to slowly ease off as I went, until I was closer to the pace that I had planned to run. It sort of worked, but not really. There were some slower and some quicker miles here and there, not overly consistent. The effort, however, didn't seem to fluctuate a whole lot. I definitely ran a positive split today, but I'm happy with the overall result. My average place ended up being what I hoped, and I ran a 26 second PR, so I'll take it. Maybe some day I'll learn to run this course a little more evenly.  

Top three on the men's side were as follows:
1. Rob Brouillette: 1:14:01
2. Mark Meyers: 1:25:43
3. Kyle Den Bak: 1:30:24
And the women:
1. Angela Batsford-Mermans: 1:30:28
2. Me: 1:38:58
3. Hunter Kelly: 1:41:34

After the race, it was time for socializing and time to enjoy some of the marvelous food. I couldn't tell you what I all ate, but I know there was a burger, some hummus, sweet potatoes, some salads, jambalaya, and a smoothie.

I forgot to take my usual photo of my platter of food until I had already eaten my burger and probably some of the other food on my plate... but I did take one eventually!

Tomorrow, at the 15K Time Trial, starting in Conestogo, Angela and Rob will be the only runners allowed to wear gold (or yellow). The starting list has already been posted, so we have our approximate start times and I am slotted at 8:41.

Now it's time to rest up, and be ready to race again in the morning. Great work today, everyone!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

ENDURrun - Pre-Race Meeting

ENDURrun starts tomorrow!
Which means the pre-race meeting was today.

It was great to see and catch up with some people that I haven't seen in a long time and also good to hear the updates on the course changes, volunteer duties, etc.

To keep with tradition of previous years.... here's a photo of the swag bag o' stuff.

Links to follow for the week:

Friday, August 05, 2016


On July 9th, I ran the 28K race at The Limberlost Challenge. It was definitely a challenging course this year. There were severe thunderstorms all night and the rain continued during the race, quite heavily at times.

The race course is a 14K loop "alongside five lakes, several ponds and wetlands, across creeks and boardwalks and under some amazing rock formations" in Muskoka. The first lap was muddy from the rain, but wasn't horrible. There were already some knee deep spots, but just a few... and the muddy sections were relatively short. That definitely changed in the second loop. It was a mud fest. There were now very long super slippery sections, sections of thick sticky mud, and more knee deep mud. Most of these bad sectionswere in the second half of the loop, so there was a brief amount of time (with around 6K left) where I actually thought I might finish with a sub 3 time. Those thoughts went away rather quickly when I came across the long mud sections!

I completed the first lap in 1:29 and the second lap 1:45. So, if I thought I might finish sub 3, you can get an idea of just how slow that last 5-6 km was!

Last year's lap splits: 1:33, 1:42.

I finished the race quicker than last year and moved up a few positions (3rd female this year), in tougher conditions... so I am definitely pleased with how it went. 2016 finish time: 3:14:43.

Next up... The ENDURrun!