I remember thinking at the end of Race #2 that I was relieved to get such a hot race done, and that it couldn’t get any worse! Was I ever wrong – Race #3 on July 4 was definitely another level of heat and especially humidity. I felt like I was breathing through a warm, wet sponge for the entire race.
I was concerned about how I would run after I had wiped out on the trails two days earlier and really banged up my knee and lower back. I hadn’t been feeling great since then, and every step I took felt like someone was hitting my back with a mallet. Thankfully I didn’t think they weren’t the type of injuries that would be made worse by running on them, so I decided that I would try to bear the pain for the ~25 minutes it would take rather than just sitting this one out.
Things started out quick again, and from then it was a similar race to the last one. I tried to keep my pace down across the bottom of the course, but once again blew up a bit on the long uphill drag to the top of the Niagara escarpment. By this point I was pretty envious of the guys racing shirtless because mine was already soaked, and there was no evaporation happening in the extreme humidity. I didn’t have much of a gap and I was struggling to get my heart rate down through the top part of the course. I was also remaining hyper-conscious of my footing to avoid another tumble like I took last weekend! I cruised through the singletrack behind Brock University and then it was out to the baking hot gravel road grind across to the upper trail loop. There were two groups of mountain bikers coming out of the trail loop that slowed things down a bit. I knew I didn’t have much of a gap on 2nd (and maybe 3rd, 4th, etc) place so I couldn’t afford to ease up too much even though I wanted to! From there it was a blast down the Hydro Hill gravel road, through the last section of singletrack and across the baked grass to the finish line.
It was definitely an ugly race for me, but I managed to cross the line first so I was happy with the result. My time was almost a minute slower than the first race and my average and max heart rate were both higher. I was excited to cheer my wife across the line for her first race of the series. Of course, she thought she should have done better, but she achieved all of her pre-race goals! An awesome job in such brutal weather conditions.
We hung around after the race to try and stop sweating and watched the rest of the finishers. I really like the social atmosphere at these races as everyone is getting to know one another – it’s a great relaxed vibe that makes for a fun Wednesday night. Once again, I am hoping the next race is a little cooler, fingers crossed!