Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them; a desire, a dream, a vision.
-- Muhammad Ali
A short run. A net downhill course. More or less flat. Piece of cake. These are all things that I'd heard people saying about Stage 6. Sure, when looking at it on paper, it is the shortest, and easiest stage of the ENDURrun. However, considering that we are running it with legs that have seen 107.8km in the past 6 days, it is far from easy.
Since the course is a point to point, we needed to get to Lloyd's house (and the finish line) by 7:00am. The volunteers and/or spectators shuttled us up to the start line, which is in Elmira. I managed to cram into a car with the current yellow jersey holder (aka women's leader) Joanne, as well as fellow ENDURrunner alumni Jodi and Brian V. One of my favourite aspects of the ENDURrun is the closeness that all the runners feel towards each other. We all have our own personal goals, whether that be to win the event, a stage, hit a personal best, or just to finish. Everyone is so friendly and down to earth and genuine, that you can easily forget that you're in the presence of greatness. Everyone is interested in each other's progress, both during and after the ENDURrun, and it's something I've never experienced at any other run or race event.
Just like Stage 2, this event is a time trial. The participants start in reverse order based on their position in the standings, and get started 1 minute apart. This allows you to see (and try to catch) your competition, as well as get a chance to see the leaders during the race. Since I'm near the bottom of the standings, I got to start earlier. I lined up when it was my turn, and Lloyd (who was handling the stop watch) chatted with me a bit. He asked me how my legs and knee were holding out, and I told him so far, so good. We'll see how this one goes, it'll be a good test for tomorrow. Soon my minute wait was up, and I was off and running, to the cheers of the remaining runners.
The legs were quite stiff and sore, and my knee was hurting me, but not as bad as yesterday. Thank goodness there were no real hills on this course, and it was only 10km. My goal for this race was to come in under 1 hour, and not walk a whole lot, and I managed to achieve both goals. I walked both water stations, for perhaps 30 seconds to 1 minute, and I ended up walking at the 5km mark for 20 seconds to adjust my hat and wipe the sweat off my brow, but other than that, I plugged along.
After the 5km mark, the legs were sufficiently warmed up, and other than being very tired, felt okay. I ran mostly on the gravel shoulder of the road, except to pass other runners, to lighten the shock on my knee. Once we hit the 8km mark and were on the last road, I switched to the pavement, and stuck to pace, which was between 5:30 and 6:00 min/km. Soon I could see Lloyd's street, and as I rounded the corner, the finish line. There was no sprinting to the finish this day, but I did raise my hands in victory. I finished in 54:01 (unofficial) and very happy with the result.
Post race breakfast was provided, and after scarfing down a wonderful Boston Creme donut, I jumped into the pool for a very cool refreshing swim. A perfect end to Stage 6. Bring on the Marathon!
Timex Ironman Statistics: http://tpks.ws/kxJhBjWd
DEDICATION: Today's run is dedicated to the Schmidt family and all the race volunteers. Words really cannot express how thankful I am of all the hard work and dedication that the volunteers put into this race. No matter how hot, how rainy, or how remote, the water stations are, everyone always has a smile and is there to cheer me on. The post race food is home cooked, and fantastic. The Schmidt family opens up their homes and lets us runners invade their pool, hot tub, and lives for a whole week, and gives us runners everything we need to succeed in our goals. Nowhere else have I seen this level of support and dedication, and for that, you have my sincere thanks. You are the reason I am back for a 3rd year, and likely a 4th next year.
NEXT UP: The final stage, and also the longest: The Marathon. 42.2km of moderately hilly country roads. The course consists of 2 loops of 21.1km. Finish this, and I will be ONE TOUGH RUNNER!