So much for the hopes that the second stage would be cooler and less humid. At 5:30am when I got up, it already said it was at 100% and 25 degrees. Another hot one, just a bit shorter.
This stage took place in Cambridge, ON, about a 15 minute drive from where we were staying a ULW. It’s the only stage that doesn’t take place in Waterloo.
The second stage of the ENDURrun consisted of a 15km time trial. What that means, is that the runners are ranked based on their times from yesterday’s stage. The runners start from slowest to fastest, one minute apart. So the object is to catch the person in front of you. The course was mostly on roads, with a 4km piece on an out and back trail made of packed gravel. On paper, it didn’t look too bad. One major hill at the 2km mark. No problem right? WRONG!
My original plan was to maintain a 5:00 min/km pace throughout, mainly 'cause I knew what was coming in Stage 3, and I really needed to conserve. Despite stretching, and standing in a garbage can full of water and ice blocks yesterday, this morning my legs were a tad sore. I knew in my mind that if I pushed it to 4:30, then tomorrow would totally suck.
When it was my turn to go, I started off pretty strong. Before I knew it, I’d gotten up to 4:30, and kept up with that for the first km. The first hill was like a kick in the gut; my legs totally rebelled, and I struggled mightily. It went up, and up, and up, then up over the 401 before descending. I chose to run without water, relying entirely on the water stations placed every 3km. However, water wasn’t enough; I was sweating profusely and pretty much soaked by 3km (and I normally don’t sweat much), so I started to drink Gatorade and water. I know, you seasoned runners are probably screaming at your screens: “You know you never try anything new on race day!” Yes, I know, but these were desperate times, and I was a desparate man. I knew I would need the salt and electrolytes. The Gatorade actually did sit pretty well, surprisingly.
Once past the 3km mark, it was on roads until the 8km mark. Not too bad, although I started to fade at one point; must have been between gummi bear intakes. The trail portion of the run was a nice respite from the open sun and heat, as it was shaded almost all the way. It was also a great place to cheer on the fellow ENDURrunners as they passed, then doubled back.
The last 3km were a struggle; I was basically on autopilot; just willing myself to continue. I chose to run straight, walking through the water stations for about a minute. The legs were very tired, but keeping steady rhythm to the 5:00min/km pace. Finally, the finish line was in sight! I finished in 1:13, with an average pace of 4:58min/km. All the existing finishers were just dripping with sweat; some of them just collapsed at the finish line and lay for a moment in the oppressive heat.
After receiving and giving congratulations, I partook in the post-race food. And what a spread! Today’s menu was make your own subs. A huge spread of meats, vegetables, hummus, as well as salads, chips, candy, fruit, and vegetables. I also managed to make it on the massage table, and had a great 10 minute massage.
After the results were tallied up and given out, a bunch of us headed over to “Granpa’s” house for a pool party. Yes, you read right, a pool party hosted by the father of the race director! About 12 of us showed up, swam around in the pool, then got out and sat around in the beautiful sunshine drinking some beer, eating fruit and other dessert, and socializing. How many other races can you say that you swam in the pool and talked to the 1st place holder in the ENDURrun (and his wife, the first place holder for the women)? Not too many, I imagine.
Tomorrow’s stage is one of the toughest. A 30km cross country trail run through Bechtel Park in Waterloo, which consists of 6 5km loops. From all accounts it is EXTREMELY hilly. It is one that I am very scared and nervous about. I think this stage will be more of a mental test than a physical one.
- Distance: 15km
- Time: 1:13:47 (unofficial)
- Average pace: 4:58min/km
Official results can be found at the ENDURrun website