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!

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