North Face Endurance Challenge 50K was on the agenda this past weekend.
However, after the Causeway DNF a near DFL in Slovakia I wasn’t feeling very confident.
I dropped down to the marathon length, to give myself a “bit” of a break. But I knew it would still have a lot of elevation and challenges. I was just hoping for a the best.
When my alarm went off at 5:30am I ignored it.
When it went off again at 6am I rolled over and until 6:05am seriously contemplated my first DNS.
But I told myself, “Wanda, there is a bigger picture here. For once you are going to stick to a training plan. And the plan calls for at least 40kms today. So, Wanda, if you don’t do this race you won’t get the 40k in. You know that.” And I did, know that.
So I got out of bed. Put on my race clothes, drank an Isagenix protein shake, made my coffee and pb&j and headed out the door, into the car and drove nearly 2 hours north to Blue Mountain.
It was a foggy drive up and the radio kept talking about the extreme heat warning. Oh yeah, another element in my fragile race. “It’s just a training run.” I kept repeating to myself.
Parking was on problem at Blue Mountain and in a short walk I was at the starting line with a few friends and a bunch other races. It was a 9am start. Blue sky and swelteringly hot. Just don’t DNF.
Right at 9am we were off. Up. Up. Up. Went the climb and my heart rate. I was concerned. But once we started on the switchbacks my heart rate stabilized and I got into a good pace. Surprisely, I kept it.
I actually felt great. But I kept reminding myself it was early in the race.
I kept waiting for the wheels to come off. But they never did.
The heat was tough, but I seem to have a good system in place. At every aid station I downed one to two cups of gatorade while the amazing and efficient aid station volunteers filled my bottle with water and a little ice. It was a great system and kept me well hydrated. Along with 8 salt tablets, 4 gels and one pack of chews and an anti-inflammatory at the 3 hour mark.
It was also helpful that familiar faces (volunteers & races on longer courses) were passing and encouraging. Or in one case waved me over to run with them. Which was an added bonus and really made my day.
Another bonus was the flawlessly marked course. I particularly like the many “wrong way” signs. Absolutely WandAR proof.
The end of race neared and I still felt great. Soaked in sweat. Yet very happy that the wall never hit.
I finished with a time of 5hours 38min, when the cut off was 8 hours and I truly expected to be very near that cut off. I don’t think I have ever under estimated myself so much. It is a nice change of pace. But believe me I will not let it go to my head.
I took an easier course in this race. I am not going to kid myself or you readers that this post would read the same had I done the 50k or the 50miler. However, for today I will feel satisfied that my legs and head were in sync and I will remember that feeling so that I can bring it out during one of the many not so good racing days.