The first stage of the ENDURrun Sport is a 10km run along the Walter Bean Grand River Trail. It’s two loops of an out and back. The elevation trends downwards at the beginning, then flattens out as it runs along the Grand River. Of course, on the way back, it trends up hill.
Original map located here
I am staying in an AirBnB for the week; a small little apartment in a house with one bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. The place is very nice, very new. One issue, however, is that I have no control over the heating or cooling, as it is done centrally in the house. It was very humid in the apartment, so humid that I had difficulties sleeping. I tossed and turned all night, until 5am, when I finally got up, and slowly got myself ready. I also realized why I shouldn’t have postponed going to the grocery store for food; no milk for my coffee. I ended up drinking it black (yuck).
At 7:15am I made the ten minute drive to the start line. There are only 25 runners (18 men, 7 women), and about half of them I’ve met before at other RunWaterloo events. I went to the starter table, and signed in. After saying hello to everyone, I went for my warm up run along the trail. I did about 1.5km first at a comfortable pace, then at a slightly faster pace, just to get the feel for it. My goal was to try and do an average pace of 6:15 min/km. I didn’t want to burn myself out on the first stage; been there done that before. I want the goal to be realistic; but to tell you the truth, I just want to finish the stages before the cutoff times.
At 7:50am we all lined up on the start line. Since the races are realtively small there’s no need to take gels during, so I opted to take a gel right before. Lloyd Schmidt, the race director, gave us our last minute instructions, counted us down from ten, and we were off! The countdown got me all excited, and when the race started I surged ahead with everyone else. It wasn’t until about 500m in that I realized I was going way too fast! I dialed it back, and tried to settle into a nice easy pace. I figured 6:30ish would be good, then negative split it in the second half.
The first out was fine. A bit on the fast side, but I felt good. The humidity was very high, and before long I was soaked and starting to really feel it. Thank goodness the temperatures were low, around 10-20 degrees Celsius. Pretty soon I hit the turnaround and started back.
All the races this week are loops or out and backs. This may seem pretty boring, but one positive thing is that you get to see and cheer for everyone on the course. Also, they all return the cheers for you. One of the best features of the ENDURrun is that the competitors all cheer for everyone. Even the elites, or who I consider elites. It’s great to get a “Way to go” from someone when you’re suffering in the race.
All the confidence I felt in myself evaporated once I hit the hill on the way back. I was huffing and puffing and wheezing so badly I needed to walk at the top. I grabbed some water from a volunteer, and walked for a minute, then started again. Coming through the start on the second loop I grabbed some Gatorade. I could feel my calves tightening up the way they do right before they start cramping. Note to self, have something more salty before the race, or bring some Gatorade instead of just water.
The second loop is where I really could start to feel it. I was tired, my pace kept slipping into the 6:30s, and I just wanted to quit. I ended up passing the guy running in front of me, but he caught up and passed me when I had to stop and walk. According to my watch, I was still on schedule to finish where I wanted to, so I took the break, downed some more water, then started up.
The last climb was BRUTAL. I had to walk it, then walk part of the last 500m to the finish. I was done. Pretty soon, the finish line was in sight, and I crossed, to the cheers of the people who finished before me. After downing a few cups of cold Gatorade, I headed to the refreshment table to grab some post race treats.
Official time: 1:03:43
Sneek peek of the official photos are located here