The ENDURrun International is a 8 day, 7 event race held August 10-17 in the Kitchener-Waterloo, ON area. Steve and I participated in the ‘Ultimate’ category, and since it is fitting, this report will be in stages too!
Pre-race athlete briefing
The race briefing was held at race director, Lloyd Schmidt’s home. We knew a couple of people who were going to be at the race, so we caught up with them and got to know some of the participants. We also picked up our race kits which were really fantastic – technical shirt, hat, bottle, and race technical shirt. Lloyd walked us through what to expect and introduced some of the race staff and volunteers. We mingled some more and then headed back to our B&B for a light dinner and early bed. We were ready.
Stage 1 – Half Marathon
This was an awesome event. The route was a two loop course that went through Conestogo, on the golf course paths, around RIM park and back. There were no major hills, but the last bit to the finish was a steady climb. Both Steve and I felt really great and we both kept a consistent pace, but trying to keep a bit in the bank because the week was just starting. I passed 4 people coming up the last hill and that was pretty cool. I finished in 1:49:40 with a 9 minute PB, and this effort put me in 9th overall in the ladies’ ultimate.
Once the race was over we were introduced to the perks:
- the staff at KW Health Connection volunteered their time by providing massage therapy and chiropractic services onsite EVERY SINGLE DAY after each event. We made sure to get in line every day to get our legs worked on, we felt so great afterwards!
- the FOOD. I can’t explain how blown away we were at the food that was available to us every day. Candies, cookies, fruit, vegetables, homemade hummus (different types every day), sliced meats, and then crockpots with hot dishes. At the end Ian made smoothies for everyone. These volunteers stood every single day for HOURS helping us. We are so grateful! The photo is from another day…
Stage 2 – 15k Time Trial
This race is also known as the ‘Tour de France of Running’, so in addition to the standard road race events, there are two time trials. We started in reverse order of our half marathon finish times in 1 minute increments. I was charged.
I kept my focus on the guy in front of me, and it took me 5k to pass him, then I was able to pass a few more. By the time I hit the finish line I had passed 10 runners. I was really happy with that. I finished in 8th place with a time of 1:14:57, which moved me up to 8th.
We went for sushi that night with some of the other runners. They showed us how we are supposed to order sushi – none of this 2 of this and 3 of that business. 20 of everything was the way to go! We were surprised that there is no butterfish served at the sushi houses of the area. It’s our favourite!
Stage 3 – 30k Trail Run
Since this was a trail run we decided to wear our Trailrunner Nation PEKs tattoos (performance enhancing kokopelli). We also decided this would be a good time to try something new (because that’s what you’re supposed to do in races right? LOL) and try Tailwind Nutrition. This run is held at Bechtel Park – 6 loops of the track, fields, and wood trails. I very much underestimated how challenging this course was going to be, and at 10k I was really feeling it. My stomach was also feeling pretty lousy from when I woke up so the first 10k so I didn’t eat or drink anything, which didn’t help with my energy. I plodded along, counting the laps until I finished. I’m telling you, I was never, ever so happy to finish an event! It took me far longer than I thought it should have, and I was certainly humbled.
What was fantastic though were the other runners, we cheered each other on at each lap when we saw each other. And then the signs – one for each runner attached to the trees in the woods – these two things made me realize that we were in a very different race than what we know – this is a family. I felt really weak after the event, my body was vibrating for the longest time, but I put on my 110% compression (HIGHLY recommended), ate and drank what I could, and had a massage. I kept my spot in 8th for the day and 8th overall with a time of 3:14:29, for which I was very happy! Oh, best part of the whole Bechtel stage? I was introduced to Bechtel hair. Jodi, I love you. And Tailwind rocks.
Stage 4 – 10 Mile Hill Run
After Bechtel I was feeling a bit concerned about how this was going to shake out. Steve and I booked massages at KW to flush out the legs and to work my adductor and piriformis that I was feeling all week. When we got to Camp Heidelberg we had a short run to shake out the legs. My adductor and hamstrings were really tight. The race started half way down the hill, so we had a tiny bit of momentum to get back up the hill. The hills compared to Blair Hill in Ottawa, and we had done quite a bit of training on Blair, so once I was confident I wasn’t going to snap my legs, I started to speed up. This is some of the hills we ran.
I LOVED this course! I did get confused though, because I thought it was an out and back, but the turnaround was at 9k. Then I remembered that Lloyd had mentioned a surprise, so I thought “oh! he’s making it an 18k! that’s the surprise!”. Sigh. I got to the last water station and cheered with them, then turned right, as this was the route we took in. I then heard a lot of commotion behind me, so I thought another runner was coming through… until Katya was running next to me and telling me I went the wrong way. Poor girl had to chase me because I had my iPod on. I turned around laughing, and profusely grateful, and was on my way, much to the amusement of the two police officers who were laughing and shaking their heads. I made it back to the finish without getting lost again and had a laugh with Lloyd, who couldn’t understand how I did. At the presentation of the results he announced that I had the honour of being the first person to get lost on that course! I finished in 9th, but maintained my 8th place with a time of 1:28:37 and felt really good!
Stage 4.5 – Rest day… food with the other runners! And of course, because we’re streaking, and it was on the same day, AND they offered a virtual run, we ran a 5k virtual fun run with all proceeds going to the Sears Great Canadian Run to #EndKidsCancers.
Stage 5 – 25.6k Alpine Run
This stage is the one that is most feared by the other runners, and once we saw Chicopee ski hill, we knew why! It’s really steep! We were excited to get going and once given the go-ahead I was very careful to stay on track and not go off course. I was super happy to see our cheer signs again! Except somehow I went off course again, unknowingly of course, until the lead pack came at me and told me that I was going the wrong way. I thought they must have been kidding, only to be told ‘no joke, you’re leading the race’. DAMN!! I was so upset with myself, even moreso when I saw Steve and he asked ‘honey, where are you going?’. UGH. Worst of all, I took two people along for the ride with me. We turned back and backtracked to the top to try to find where we went off course, the whole while telling everyone coming at us ‘we took a wrong turn, keep going’. Michelle realized that we never saw the 2km marker so our mission was to find it. The marshall at the top didn’t know how to get us back on track, so we gave up and turned back to continue onward. I was really worried that I had just DQ’d myself and the other runners with me. By the time we saw the 5km marker and we were at 5.75 we knew that we had at least made up the ground missed, if not on the right course. We could see the RD at the bottom of the hill, hands on hips, and I said ‘we’re in trouble’. LOL. We showed him our watches and explained we had tried to get back to where we went off, and he told us what we should have done and to keep going. That log that we had to climb over? Yeah, the flag is a left from there… don’t go along the path up the hill. UGH UGH UGH. My adrenaline and anger at what I had done had me picking up the pace and I made up quite a bit of time.
I was really really happy to get this race over with, and face the ridicule I knew I deserved. Good God what was wrong with me?!? Maureen gave me a huge hug and kiss at the finish, telling me she loved me (and that she also took a wrong turn her first year at this course… Love you Mau). I finished 9th and was somehow able to maintain my 8th overall. Time 3:25:46.
Stage 6 – 10k Time Trial
This stage begins in the town (city?) of Elmira. I memorized the town, the map, and recited it to everyone I saw. I was quizzed by the other runners as well. When it was my turn to start I again apologized to Lloyd for being such a disaster and tried to reassure him that I wasn’t going to get lost today. He is truly a wonderful person and laughed and told me to have a good run. I was off and paying very close attention that I needed to turn right when I got to the intersection. I burst out laughing when I saw this:
Yes my friends, each and every turn had a personalized sign for me, to make sure I didn’t get lost. Each of the volunteers on the route were also tasked with ensuring that I knew where I was going. It was amazing. I’m happy to report that I didn’t get lost, in fact I had a great run! My time was 49:58, 6th woman, keeping me at 8th overall.
There was a special award presented at the results to me – a compass LOL!! The reaction…
In the afternoon we had a potluck to thank the volunteers for all their hard work over the week. Imagine giving that much of your time to put this race on! So grateful!! It was also very fun to hang out with the other runners when we were a little more presentable.
Stage 7 – Marathon
It was really cool to drop off our bottles and gels into the boxes at the start of the marathon so we didn’t have to carry everything. Steve and I decided we would share bottles, and spaced them out to every 2nd water station. I felt really really good starting the race. It was nice, Steve and I got to run together for quite a while, his goal was to stick with me so I could keep him from going out too fast because of his injury. In retrospect, sharing a bottle is a bad idea when you run together! We both had to wait while the other had their drink. Rookies!!
I was feeling great until the half, and then I got really weak. I wasn’t sure what was going on, I almost broke down and had any old gel on the table, but figured that would be a bad idea, considering gels and I don’t get along. I had a Jolly Rancher and a GinGin in my SPBelt and had those. I expect those 50 calories didn’t help a whole lot. I was dry and weak at 23k, with my emergency fuel, Justin’s Almond Butter, taped to our bottle and waiting for me at 37. UGH. I know better than this! There was a lot of walking in this second half, and thankfully I had Pierre to keep me company.
We were very happy to be finished, and I was really disappointed with my time (4:16:05… first half 1:56:30, second 2:19:35), and questioned my nutrition strategy. I was still 8th on the day, and kept my 8th overall. My legs were seizing pretty badly afterwards, and I couldn’t understand why*
Overall, I can’t say enough about this race. We are already registered for 2015! We have never been to any event like this before. It truly is a family affair, and we are part of that family. We can’t wait to get back to KW for next year’s run!
*So apparently Steve took the L-Glutamine scoop instead of the Tailwind. Essentially we were taking in 1/8 of the product than we thought. No WONDER I felt like crap!!