I think that my twitter summary said it all for today..That was quite simply put, the hardest course I have ever run. I am just a simple road runner gal. Tree trunks, rocks, bushes, and single track mud and rain filled trails are not something that I am use to. Combine that with it being on a SKI HILL yes a SKI HILL, and I was totally out of my element today. Thats what I have learned this event is all about. Reaching your comfort zone and pushing, no slamming past it. Today was so far past my comfort zone that I can’t even see it in the distance!
Yesterday was a rest day for the Ultimate athletes, but I had a golf tournament so there was no rest for this athlete. Every year the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council hosts the Daniel Tudesco golf tournament. I go each year with a couple of fun ladies from the hospital. Usually we have some golf, drinks, and a tasty meal. Due to the race the next day, I cut myself off at golf. No tasty drinks, and headed home to a meal cooked by my bestest dude. I did not sleep well after Wilmot, and was incredibly tired. I am not sure if it is because I had just run, or eaten but sleep did not come easy. So i wanted to be sure to make it home early because I knew today’s stage would be a doozy.
So I knew it would be a doozy, and this was the stage I was most afraid of. Before today what I thought I would face, was tiny compared to what I actually faced. In my mind I knew that I had to go up a ski hill 5 times, but for some reason I was still shocked and surprised when I stood at the base of it this morning. This picture really doesn’t do it justice, but its the best I got.
I was also completely unfamiliar with the rest of the course. I had no idea how many other hills there were, and what the trail sections looked like. Needless to say there was a very very steep learning curve on my first 5k loop. As an added bonus: thunderstorms. It was crazy humid, and every once and a while the skies would open up and christened all the runners. This course is definitely not for the faint of heart. The loop starts with a gradual (and seemingly forever) climb up the backside of the ski hill. I found that the first half of the 5k loop was more challenging then the second half. Although there were some more technical challenges in the second part (stairs, boardwalks). The largest of the hills was about half way through the loop. Each and every runner I saw walked up this hill at some point. That is the hill pictured above. I walked up all 5 times and I think that unless you were one of the elite runners, this is what most did. There were some definite challenges with this course, most specifically the muddy single track trails in the rain. This slowed down my overall time as you needed to proceed very cautiously around many corners. This seemed to get harder as the loops continued due to the repeated trampling of the trails by multiple runners. I had two female runner around me for most of the race, one was an ultimate, but I spent large portions running on my own. I actually felt pretty good till about the 3rd loop. I even managed to climb the first hill without walking the first 2 laps. The 3rd lap is when I started to need to walk the top portion, and by the 5th lap I walked most of this hill. Since I had never really done a course like this before, I would use the runners ahead of me to gauge my performance and speed. I felt that as long as they stayed within a comfortable distance or eyesight then I was doing okay.
Enter the 4th lap. Oh boy, this one was the doozy (oh well I guess 5 was too). Mentally this was my toughest point. I needed to make sure that I kept my mind focused on laps, not overall distance. If I thought about the 10k that still lay ahead it would break me. Right at the end of the 4th lap I had my first wipeout. At the start line. In front of everyone. Sigh. I was looking ahead towards the finish and a pesky rock got in my way. I fortunately bounced back up, and didn’t manage to hurt anything. It was the 5th lap when I wiped out into the bush that was the real doozy. I slammed into the dirt as the mud pulled my feet out from under me. Managed to bounce up again, and make my way towards the ski hill climb one last time. The 5th lap was painful, but once past the 2.5 mark I knew I could make it. I came down the last hill towards the finish and saw that I was at 2:57. Determination set in and I pushed past the finish at 2:58:12. There was no way I was letting it hit the 3 hour mark 🙂
Overall, I am pretty pleased with my finish. My feet and my body however were not. I finally got my first blister of the week and its a big one. After the race I was nauseated, and ended up not going to work. I also had some major digestive issues. These both didn’t clear till about 4pm, and why I didn’t blog until now. I was unable to eat much and managed to get a small amount of smoothie down. By 5pm,I was ravenous!!!!! I still needed to take the food in slow because my stomach was sensitive. There were points that I really loved this race, and other points where I cursed it as the death run. I loved the single track trail portions, at least until they pooled with water and mud. Once they got slippery it was hard to enjoy them and I was more focused on being careful. I didn’t want to hurt myself for the last 2 stages. I hated the ski hill, but I challenge you to find someone in the race who didn’t.
I will bid you adieu while I go soak my achy feet and legs in an epsom salt bath. Tomorrow brings the 6th stage which is a 10k time trial. Im excited because bestest dude will be running the event as a guest! Also did I mention that it’s FLAT? I am so excited to run on flat ground tomorrow. Until then I will leave you with my km pace, and a pic of my nasty blister. Yup, I went there. You want the whole experience don’t you?