-- Phoebe Jones
Today's stage is, on paper, the easiest of the seven stages. With the exception of a small dip in the road between the 2km and 3km mark, the run is pancake flat, on paved roads, and ends up being a net downhill. It's also the shortest run of the stages. It's almost like a mirage; dare I say, an EASY run? Hmm... I think Lloyd has something up his sleeve for this one. It can't be easy. Then again, we are running it after having run over 100km in the past 7 days. How will my legs take it? How will my exhaustion factor in?
The race, as I mentioned, is flat, point to point, and run on roads. It starts in Elmira, and ends at Lloyd's house in Conestogo, just outside of Waterloo. It's a time trial format, like Stage 2. That means that the runners are all ranked based on their overall position after the week's stages, and the slowest goes first, followed, in turn by everyone else and spaced 1 minute apart. I am sitting pretty in 12th place currently (out of 15). The object is to catch and pass the person in front of you (and more people, if you want).
This stage typically also has many guest runners (runners who just do the one stage). Being a small distance, and run on a Saturday, there were over 60 guests present in addition to the 23 ultimate runners.
We all got shuttled to the start, and milled around waiting for the race to start. The temperature was comfortable, but it was only 7:30am. The weather forecast was again hot and humid. One of the ultimate competitors decided to wear a Mexican wrestling mask on the run, for fun. We'll see how long it lasts in this heat. (It lasted 2km before he ripped it off) The day before coming to Waterloo I was at the Toronto Festival of Beer, and picked up a cowboy hat as a prize for participating in the human foosball table match. I figured it'd be fun for me to wear the uncomfortable straw hat on the run.
Pretty soon, it was my turn to start running. I started out pretty strong, at a 4:30min/km pace, testing it out for tomorrow's marathon. Surprisingly, the groin pull from yesterday didn't bother me at all. The legs were tired, and I didn't have a lot of gas in the tank, but still, I'm not injured anymore (woo hoo!). I plugged away at 4:30 pace for as long as I could, but the heat started to become very oppressive. My cowboy hat was very uncomfortable at first; barely fitting on my head, and popping off periodically. But once it got soaked with sweat, it loosened up, and stuck to my skull like a suction cup.
After the first water station at the 3km mark, I realized I couldn't keep this pace up. Maybe on fresh legs, but not after running so many kms. I could hear Steve behind me as he was catching up. At the water station, I took some Gatorade and gels, and walked a bit. Steve passed me at this point, and kept distance between us. I settled into a 5:00min/km pace which was more comfortable, and ran the rest of the race at that pace. My goal became to finish in under 50 minutes.
As I came into the final km, I put on the jets a bit and caught a few guest runners. Finally the finish line was in sight, and I finished strong at 0:48:31, the cowboy hat ever present on my head. It was great finishing with all the volunteers cheering for you. I was happy with my performance, but still a bit worried about tomorrow's marathon. My goal of finishing a 3:30 marathon is pretty much gone now. I'm hoping to do 3:45 - 4:00; that would be a good finish time for me.
Total Distance: 10km (flat paved road)
Total Time: 0:48:31