Wednesday, August 23, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 7: The Marathon

This past Sunday, was the final stage of the ENDURrun 2017, the marathon.

The evening before the marathon, Will and Jordan came to my house. We ate pizza and drank a beer. Jordan told me what time I would need to run in the marathon to get a top 10 finishing time: 3:17:05.
He then wrote about it on the ENDURrun blog: A primer for Sunday’s Stage 7
It was not as fast as I thought it would have to be, which surprised me, but was still something significantly faster than I've ever run (my best marathon was 3:24:04), so I didn't think too much about it... but did keep the number in the back of my mind.

After they left, Paul (a past ENDURrunner and also a volunteer) came with his daughter and one of her friends, as they were staying here for the night and volunteering in the morning. I stayed up a little later than planned, but nothing crazy. I was definitely in bed by 11.

The final stage starts earlier than the other stages, so morning came quick. And... I woke up with a sore throat, but figured even if I'm getting sick, it shouldn't affect me too much on the first day of symptoms. It's usually day 2 or 3 of a cold when it starts to affect functionality (which, by the way... is where I am right now as I write this). I got up, made coffee, toasted my bagel, and got ready to head to Conestogo.

The race:

Catherine was behind me the first loop. Right behind me from 2-4k, but then dropped back a little... not much, though. Maybe she just didn't want me to hear her, I'm not sure. So, I was ahead coming through half, but she was not far behind at all. On the second loop, she came up behind me, then ran next to me and said we should work together. I didn't know if she was serious or not... but I was hoping she was, because it would be nice to not have pressure for the rest of the marathon and just run together. I had been completely by myself until this point.

We ran together for maybe a km.. probably a little less.. I glanced at my watch and saw the current pace of 6:55/mile.... so I backed off and let her go. I knew that was not a sustainable pace for me and had to trust that it wasn't for her, either. This was around 26k, so really there was only 10ish miles left in the race... so I also knew that she needed to be almost a minute per mile faster than me for the whole rest of the race to beat me for the week. I tried to keep my pace around 7:30. It was hot at this point and I was starting to not feel great. The pace was still ok, but I was so ready to be done. I walked through two aid stations so that I'd get a bit more liquid in me, and then I actually ended up walking briefly a couple of times because I wanted to give up.. then after a few steps I'd get mad at myself and start running again. I wasn't going to just GIVE this away. Once back on University, I was in a bit of a better head space, but it wasn't until I was almost at Northfield that I had any confidence again. I hadn't seen Catherine since before turning onto Bridge because of the turns, so I had no idea how far ahead she was. Logically, it wasn't far enough, but my brain wasn't being so logical. I thought I had lost first... until I saw Emily on Northfield and she told me that Catherine was only a few minutes ahead. I didn't fully believe her, though... because sometimes someone *thinks* it was only a "few" minutes, when really it was 10. So.... I picked it up slightly, turned onto Northfield, stared up ahead, looking for a white shirt.... and I saw it! I saw the white shirt off in the distance! If I can see her and I'm on Northfield... all is well. she's only a km away at the most. I ran hard up that final stretch, getting back down into low 7s and the final km or so just under 7... turned the corner and saw 3:16 on the clock. I didn't get to break the tape because I came in seconds after Merzi, but that's ok. There actually aren't even any finish photos of me, which is kind of funny. But also fine. Lloyd came over and congratulated me, as did others, of course... because...  


And won it with the 10th fastest time!! 6th fastest person. That's just nuts. I never knew I could hit those times. I also know that if I wasn't in gold, I most likely wouldn't have. But wanting to KEEP the gold... I worked extra hard and went for things that seemed unattainable.. but turns out they weren't! There's no way I would have run 15K at sub 6:40 pace if I realized I was running that pace and if I didn't have people to chase. I certainly would have never been running with Dave and Mark at the 10 miler (not that I was able to stick with them the whole time, but I tried... and didn't blow up badly or anything, just couldn't stick with them). And Sunday? I would have been more than happy to run 3:20 or even just over, which still would have been a big marathon PR... and actually... 3:20 would have been ok, I still would have won... but I didn't know that at the time! For all I knew, she was going for the stage record... and if that was the case, I needed to run sub 3:18. 

I did not want to have to run that fast on Sunday.. .but I'm definitely proud of myself for doing it. I took well over an hour off last year's time and came in over 26 minutes faster than my aggressive goal! I am also super proud to be part of only the 3rd year in history where three women have finished with sub-13 times AND the closest race for top three women EVER. Catherine was 2nd for the women and my Health & Performance teammate Valery was 3rd. On the men's side Rob won, H+P teammate Nick was 2nd, and Stefan was 3rd. What a week!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 6: 10 Time Trial

This is going to be a quick on. It's Sunday morning, the morning of the marathon... so I need to get something up here before I leave for today's final stage!

OK.. the 10K.

Joel (H+P teammate) met me at my house around 7am and we drove to Conestogo. Parked the car by Lloyd's house, left a few things in the yard for post-race and then got shuttled up to the start in Elmira.

The race is formatted the same as Monday's race, so the runners start one minute apart, with the fastest runner starting last. My estimated start time was posted as 8:53, but since there were 4 scratches, I was now starting at 8:49. The other girls were starting 4 or 5 minutes ahead of me, due to some guys between us in the cumulative results as well as relay team and guest runners that are slotted in according to the seed times they provided. On Monday, I had the advantage of starting right after them, so I could keep an eye on what they were doing the whole race. This time, not so much. I couldn't see them at all.

I started behind Thaddeus (also from H+P), and Robyn (also H+P) started behind me. I wanted to reel in Thad and not be caught by Robyn. I never caught Thad, but I did close the gap a bit, and Robyn did not catch me. The 3 of us finished in the following times: Thaddeus 41:41, me 41:15, Robyn 40:25.
2017 ENDURrun Stage 6: 10 KM Time Trial

Catherine got me by 6 seconds, which I didn't know until the results were announced as I had no idea what she was doing since I couldn't see her. I'm actually not sure if I would have been able to tell a 6 second increase on a one minute lead, anyway.

Heading into today's marathon, I'm 9:45 ahead of Catherine, who is 5:26 ahead of Val. On the guy's side, Rob is 53:32 ahead of Nick, who is 44:20 ahead of Stefan. 4th place Andrew (who started a half hour late on Stage 1 and has been jumping up the list each day) who is 10:19 behind Stefan.

But.. that's enough about today's race! I need something to write about later on. :)

Have a good race today, all who are running! And for those who are following along, Thank you for your support and I hope you've enjoyed my little posts.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 5: 16 Miles Alpine

I'm a little late with writing this one... it's Saturday morning and I need to leave for Stage 6 soon, but I have a few minutes, so let's see if I can whip something up here.

Friday. Yesterday. Stage 5.
I woke up ready to roll. It was the only day (so far) this week that I didn't want to stay in bed when my alarm went off.

I got up, got ready, and headed down to Chicopee Ski Hill. Once there, I caught up with some Health & Performance team mates and did a very short warmup. We lined up for the start, and were off into our first of 5 loops around the hill, each of which includes going from the bottom (or close to the bottom) to the top of the hill four times, plus one partial.

Here's my description of the course:
- short flat section to the never-ending gravel service road climb (which turns 3 times and you're still climbing after each turn)
- flat across the top
- turn right and head straight down a sandy hill
- sharp left at the bottom, then single track back to the top
- across the same top section, but opposite direction
- run straight down a ski hill
- across the bottom
- straight UP a bigger ski hill
- over the back of the hill, down some stairs, and then single track down the back
- and back up.
- pop out of the trails, turning right, across the top
- run straight down another hill
- into trails with boardwalks (very slippery boardwalks yesterday), and then flat trail with some evil little stumps that I swear jump out and grab me at least once each year at this race.. this year was no exception... I went down in lap 3.
- once out of that section, a short grave then grass bit, bringing you into what used to be called Goat Trail (and I will continue to call it that), which brings you back to the top over two sections. I think this is my least favourite part of this course.
- pop out at the top, run over the top, and straight down another ski hill
- turn left at the bottom and run mostly straight to the start/finish area
Do that x5.

On Thursday, it was looking like the course was going to be a mess, but it was actually in really good shape by the time race start time rolled around. There was just a little bit of mud and the boardwalks were slippery. It was probably close to the best conditions for this stage I have ever seen/felt. Last year was super hot and humid. The year before was thunderstorms.

My race: I went out a bit quick on the first loop, but it worked out ok. I finished first female in 2:27:10 and improved my lead going into stage 6 by 3:51. Oh! I ran up North (the big straight up the ski hill climb) without walking a single step on laps 1, 2, and 3. On lap 4, I walked briefly... just the distance between two flags and then started running again the rest of the way up. Lap 5 was a different story. I ran part way, then walked from one flag to the next, then ran the next one, then walked, then ran, etc. In previous years, I walked on each of those climbs, at least for part of each.

Every single runner finished within the time cut-off again today, which is fantastic! It's wonderful to see everyone pushing themselves and then seeing the pride beaming as they come across that line!

It has been so amazing this week, to have so many people from the club out watching, cheering, running, etc. It is such a boost, especially on days like Stage 5. Thank you H+P!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 4: Hilly 10 Miler

Evening stage. That's always tough for me. What to do all day? What to eat? When to eat?
  • I mowed the lawn...
  • Did a bit of housework...
  • Wrote yesterday's blog...
  • And waited for it to be time to get ready to leave.
I arrived at the race site about an hour before start time, chatted with some other runners, hit the bathroom a couple of times, ran around in some sort of super short warm-up of sorts.... and then it was time to walk down the hill to the start. 

Shortly after the race started, I found myself in a pack with Dave, Merzi, Mark Meyers, Stefan, and a few others, including Catherine, who I didn't actually realize was also in this pack until I happened to catch a glimpse of a white shirt out of the corner of my eye (all the guys were shirtless). We stuck together along Conservation, and then thinned out a bit once we were into the hills on Wilmot. 

I don't quite know who ended up where (I wasn't looking), but I know I was with Mark for a bit, Mark and Dave for a bit... Then.... Catherine passed me around 8 or 9 km into the race. So... for the second half of the race, I was chasing her. I never caught her, but at least I didn't give up too much. She got me by 43 seconds on this stage. I am still in the gold going into Stage 5, with an even 6 minute lead.

My finish time for stage 4 was 1:11:02. My first time actually running a decent race on this stage. It's always been a horrible one for me in the past, with my previous best time on this course well over 1:19. I felt good, in control, breathing was normal, etc. I'm very happy to have finally run a decent time on this stage. Of course, I would have preferred to take the win, but I can't be upset with the improvement I made over previous years... I'm also happy that it's done.

I'll add some photos to this later. Right now it's time to head out to meet people for lunch!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 Stage 3: 30K Cross Country

It's Wednesday morning, but today's stage isn't until evening, so I'm catching up on blogging about yesterday.

Yesterday was Stage 3, a 30K XC race at Bechtel Park. The course is a 5K loop, which is run 6 times. It's not very technical and there are no giant hills, but the hills that ARE there can wear you down.

My goal/plan for the stage was the same as it is every year: to run even times on my laps. The time I wanted to run each lap in may change each year, but the plan of even laps is always the same. Some times it goes to plan... some years it does not.

Here are my lap times from past years:
2011:  (1) 28:33  (2) 29:27  (3) 31:23  (4) 32:43  (5) 35:30  (6) 36:42
2012:  (1) 29:48  (2) 30:40  (3) 31:06  (4) 32:17  (5) 33:27  (6) 33:26
2013:  (1) 28:54  (2) 28:41  (3) 28:13  (4) 27:58  (5) 28:01  (6) 28:33
2014:  (1) 26:50  (2) 26:48  (3) 26:47  (4) 27:07  (5) 28:38  (6) 28:21
2015:  (1) 26:22  (2) 26:55  (3) 26:46  (4) 27:28  (5) 27:23  (6) 27:20
2016:  (1) 26:06  (2) 25:37  (3) 25:52  (4) 26:46  (5) 26:22  (6) 27:06

As you can see, my first year was pretty bad. I was more than 8 minutes slower on my last lap than I was on my first! 2012 was significantly better, but still an almost 4 minute differential. I started to figure things out in 2013, which, I guess you can say about a lot more than this stage, my times dropped across the board in 2013. I started running smarter at that point and it's evident in my pacing for stage 3. The difference between my slowest and fastest laps in 2013 was less than a minute.

2014 through 2016 weren't as consistent, but finish times were quicker. In fact, stage 3 is the only stage that I've improved on year after year.

Back to this year...
I ran with Merzi for almost 5 loops. We started out together and had the same idea as to what we wanted to do for lap times and finish time, so we stuck together. We are very close in the cumulative as well, so I figured we'd be running about the same this day. We chatted a fair bit as we ran, but not constantly. It did help to make the time (and loops) go by more quickly. Thaddeus was coming up behind us, so before the end of lap 5 Merzi picked it up a bit and Thaddeus followed, I stuck to my plan of being even and let them go. I ran the last loop mostly solo, and finished in 2:23:32, 40ish seconds behind Merzi and Thaddeus, and first female across the line.

My splits for this year's race:
(1) 23:56  (2) 23:51  (3) 24:03  (4) 23:44  (5) 24:00  (6) 23:58

The difference between my slowest lap and my fastest lap was only 19 seconds! I'm very happy with my consistency on this stage this year.

There were no changes in the top three on either side, but there were changes in the relays! I don't know exactly what happened right now, but you can certainly check things out on the results page and also on the H+P site, since the bulk of the relay teams are from the club!

After the stage was complete, I had a nice lazy afternoon in the hammock until it was time to get ready to meet up with some of the other runners for sushi and then out for a drink. It was a great evening with good friends. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 - Stage 2: 15K Time Trial

Today's race was the first of the two time trial stages, where the runners start one minute apart based on the Stage 1 finish times. Today was 15K and Saturday's TT is 10K.

I started my race this morning at 8:48am, one minute after Catherine, two minutes after Val. In order to keep the gold jersey for another day, I had to stay in the female lead cumulatively, so the pressure was on. I have never been more nervous at the start of a race!

When it was my turn to start, I headed down Sawmill Rd, seeing both women in the distance in front of me. The course is on three roads, all long and straight sections, which is great for keeping on eye on where everyone is.

I wanted to close the gap a bit, but didn't want to do anything too crazy and potentially wreck tomorrow's race. 30K is a long stage and a lot can happen there.

Around 11ish? maybe km. High 5 with Joanne on her birthday.
As I watched what was going on ahead, I saw that Catherine and Val were very close together, but they weren't pulling away, so this seemed ok to me. As they passed by a sign, I checked my watch, then checked as I passed the same sign. It was 30ish seconds, so from here on in, I tried to keep the gap about the same, knowing this would mean that I would increase my lead by at least a little bit.

I finished the stage in 1:02:00, first Ultimate female, 3rd female including guests and relay.

I am still in the gold for tomorrow. There was no change on the men's side, either.

Today's Stage
Cumulative: Ultimate Females , Ultimate Males

Sunday, August 13, 2017

ENDURrun 2017 - Stage 1: Half Marathon

ENDURrun is now in full swing!

This morning, stage 1 happened: the half marathon.

My alarm went off at 6am after waking up numerous times in the night. I got out of bed, made coffee and toasted an English muffin, couldn't find the shoes that I wanted to wear (turns out they were in the trunk of my car the whole time), so I grabbed my slightly older pair of the same model of shoe. I drove to the race site and was super excited to get this event started! I said hi to people, signed in, ran a very short warm-up, did some last minute prep and got to the start line.

Ten minutes before the start, we took a "class photo" so to speak. A photo of all of the Ultimate contenders before the race begins. A second photo will be taken next Sunday, after the marathon, of all of the Ultimate finishers.

The race began at 8am, and I found myself running next to Vicky S. We soon realized that we were hoping/planning to run right around the same time today, so we stuck together. Vicky was running Stage 1 for the H+P relay team that I am also part of, so it was nice to share the stage today.

For the first 10ish K, we had company, with Catherine D just behind us, but for the remainder of the stage, we were mostly on our own. We crossed the start/finish at the end of the first loop (~13 km) in just over 56 minutes, and finished the race in 1:32:02. We were the first females across the line.

One stage down.... six to go.

After eating a bunch of delicious food, the results were read and gold jerseys were awarded. Today, for the first time in my life, I was awarded with the gold! I have the privilege of wearing it tomorrow for the 15K time trial. Rob B. is in the gold for the men.

The gold is worn by the male and female who are in the lead cumulatively. As of right now, I have a 1:32 lead over 2nd place, 1:35 over 3rd. It's close right now.. and it's a long week. Anything can happen.

Cumulative results can be found here: Ultimate 2017

After the race today, I headed over to the Schmidt house (race director) to hang out with a few other runners in the pool. It was great to catch up, share stories, enjoy a beverage, and soak the legs in the cool water.

Once I was back at home, I got my stuff ready for tomorrow, did a few other little things around the house, and then made my way to the hammock for some lounging.

A post shared by Vicki Zandbergen (@vickizandbergen) on

Tomorrow's stage is a staggered start, with runners starting one minute apart, based on today's finish times. The final finisher from today starts first tomorrow, and the first finisher from today starts last. My estimated start time tomorrow is 8:47am. But... I'm not going to think about that right now. Right now I'm recovering and soon I will go to bed.

Good night everyone, and for those who are here... see you in the morning!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

ENDURrun 2017: Pre-Race Meeting

It's that time of year again.... ENDURrun is here again!
(I had the Oktoberfest song in my head for that.... if you live in KW, you know what I'm talking about.. you kind of have to stretch out ENDURrun, but it kind of works....)

Today.... Saturday, August 12, 2017... is pre-race meeting day! Right now it's 3ish pm and I'm at home, getting some stuff ready for the week, but soon, I'll head to Conestogo to meet up with runners and volunteers at the RD's house. It's always a bit of a reunion, since there are people who come to this event year after year (both runners and volunteers), those who are returning for the first time in a few years, and those who are new to the event, who will soon feel like they've known everyone forever.

At the meeting, we pick up our numbers and swag bag, eat some fruit and maybe some chips, mingle, and then it's time to get down to business. The details of the week are outlined, along with any course changes, etc. It's a great opportunity to get a good feel for the event and all of the hard work that goes into putting on this week. The head volunteers explain their roles and provide any instructions to the runners, such as what to do with garbage, recycling, and organics, what types of signs to look out for on the courses, etc.

While the meeting is not mandatory, it's definitely beneficial to attend.

9:26pm and I'm back home from the meeting, going out for food and a quick shopping trip for some food for in the house.

Revealing the new Volunteer Shirts

Lots of food at East Sides

There are no major changes to be aware of so far, but it has been noted that there is a tree down on the course for tomorrow's stage. I guess we'll find out just how much of an obstacle it is in the morning.

And now.... the swag bag.

I should stop writing in here now and actually get my stuff together for morning and get to bed at a decent time. Racing requires sleep!

Good luck to everyone running this week, and a giant thank you the Schmidts and all of the volunteers for making this week possible!

Good night!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The rest of the April road trip

I dropped the ball on continuing with the posts in a timely manor. So, instead of trying to write anything decent, I'll pretty much just make this a post of unedited cell phone photos with very minimal writing. Once I actually work on the SLR photos, I'll put them up on flickr.

Boston, Massachusetts 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The day after the Boston Marathon, my friends & teammates were heading out of Boston, so I was now on my solo vacation. I had no actual plans at this point. I had to be out of my hotel by 11 or noon or whatever checkout time was and didn't know if I was going to stay in Boston or travel elsewhere, but was leaning toward elsewhere. I had just spent a few days in Boston, it was time to explore some more.

In the morning, I went out for a run with my phone in hand, to take a few photos along the way.

It was the perfect morning for a run. It was cool and there was no humidity... why couldn't it have been like this the day before? Oh well.. 

I took one more photo on this run, in the middle of the above photos. I somehow caught this out of the corner of my eye while running. I'm not sure how or why I saw it, but I'm glad I did. 

A post shared by Vicki Zandbergen (@vickizandbergen) on

After my run, I packed up and checked out, put my stuff in my car, which was booked to stay in the garage all day, so I set out to wander and explore. And.... it got cold... cloudy... windy. 

I checked out Faneuil Hall

Then headed out for more wandering/exploring.

I considered getting a cannoli from Mike's since it's apparently the thing to do.... then I saw this line:

I guess it IS the thing to do... but I didn't want to wait.

So... I went to Boston Public Market, where I got a coffee and a delicious vanilla bean donut,
sat and contemplated where to go next.

I decided on heading to the White Mountains. Checked for some options of places to stay, figured out a rough game plan, and then did some beer shopping (also in the market).

** ok.. interjecting here with something sort of funny that just happened. The mail just came, so I went to get it out of the box and in it was this:
That makes me feel slightly better about taking so long to finish up writing about April! haha **

New Hampshire

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I arrived in Lincoln, NH at some point late afternoon or early evening. Checked into the Holiday Inn Express, was upgraded to a larger room since there weren't many people staying during the off season. Brought my stuff to my room, and walked to Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery to get some dinner and beer. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This was a day of hiking at Greely Ponds Trail and Hancock Notch (with a bit of post-holing... post-holing to mid-thigh!) and just enjoying being outdoors.. until it started raining. At that point, I headed to a One Love Brewery for some food (and a beer) and then called it a day. 

In a shop window.

Wednesday, April 20, 2017

I went out for a short little run from the hotel around Lincoln in the morning and took a few photos. It was such a pretty morning!

My plan for this day was pretty loose. I would most likely cross into Canada at some point, but planned to stop several places on the way to do more exploring.

First stop: Franconia Ridge, Falling Waters Trail.

2nd stop: Littleton (for no real reason, just wanted to wander around a town with my camera)

3rd Stop: a lake in Vermont that looked pretty from the road. 

4th and final stop before Canada: Newport, VT.

I walked around by the beach for a bit and then to the East Side Restaurant for some food, since I hadn't had anything since breakfast. After this, it was time to head to my parents' house where I would stay for the night before driving back home to Kitchener. Actually, I think I stayed two nights. 

So there you have it. I can now get back to more recent/current posts... just in time for ENDURrun to start this weekend, the one time of year when I consistently blog. :)