I’ve always said that I will know it’s time to make a change based on how I feel. And now more than ever is the perfect time to finish writing this marathon chapter of my life.
I’m not saying I’m finished running; I know I will always want to run. In fact, next on my bucket list is a jump down to a cross country race and up to a 50 miler. And there will always be another marathon. But while we will have our three kids at home for only one more school year, I want to have more time and energy for other things. I want to cook more decent meals again with less thrown together. I want to return to baking cookies instead of buying them. And amongst other things, I want to stay up later at night and be able to get our boys from the gym while not hiding in my pyjamas.
The best part about this marathon journey is that I wanted it simply because I enjoyed running and setting goals. Although we never needed it as a source of income for our family, it and the other paths I earned along with it, became one. While we were able to upgrade my van with some of the prize money I earned from unexpectedly placing third at the Boston Marathon, we were content with the one I had.
I could train and compete locally and at an international level for the pure joy of it.
Recently, while at my daughter’s hockey practice, I was asked how my training was going for my next marathon. I explained that this one was different, much like how I felt when I knew it was my last pregnancy or some other “last” life event. It would likely be the final time I’d invest this much in the event I had done for the past 21 years. The dads nodded their heads and we continued to chat. And then, one commented that I was fortunate to do it on my terms, which resonated with me; I most definitely am.
My first marathon was something I wanted to try for fun, after retiring from hockey and returning to running. It led me to become the (then) second fastest Canadian with a time one hour faster than my first. It also gave me the opportunity to later compete for Canada at the 2013 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games. In more recent years I was able to compete in the professional field at the 2017 London, 2018 Boston, 2019 Berlin, 2021 New York City, and 2022 Chicago World Marathon Majors, placing first three times, fifth, and third respectively in the masters (40+) category.
Knowing I was accepted into the professional field at this year’s 2023 Tokyo Marathon—the sixth and final World Marathon Major—would make for a perfect finale.
My one and only DNF (Did Not Finish), in the countless races I’ve done, at the World Championships, will cost me bragging rights to say I am one of only a handful of people in the world to complete all six World Marathon Majors, the Olympic Games, and World Championships. I believe the ones who have completed all eight marathons are four women: Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Nuta Olaru (Romania), Aly Dixon (U.K.), Deena Kastor (USA) and one man, Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya).
Here’s a brief Q&A I’ve held with myself recently, based upon what others have asked me.
What are some of your career highlights?
- Running into the arms of my family after becoming an Olympian in 2016.
- Learning I placed third overall—not third master—after finishing the Boston Marathon in 2018.
- Being the first woman in 20 years to qualify for the Olympic Games Marathon—less than twelve months after fracturing my femur in 2014.
- Racing for Canada in the Chiba Ekiden Relay in Japan in 2012.
- Training in Kenya for a month in 2017.
- Setting the Canadian 50K record in 2021.
- Having a top eight Canadian marathon time ten times between 2009 to 2021.
- Winning my first National Marathon Championship in my first Saucony race kit in 2010.
What are some career highlights that you earned along with running?
- Broadcasting the 2020 Olympic Games.
- Sharing my story at public speaking engagements, giving hope to a child who “thought you had to be from a big city to make it to the Olympics.”
- Training under Reid and coaching with his Coolsaet GO Personal Run Coach service.
What’s next? What else might you like to try?
- Cross Country and 50 miler races.
- Running in Australia and Antarctica, the only two remaining continents I haven’t run in.
- Continuing to coach with Coolsaet GO as well as volunteer coach with our high school track athletes, pacing the occasional workout—as well as beating our two sons in a fun race while I can (distance to be determined).
I am currently very much looking forward to setting other exciting and appropriate running goals for my stage in life, or not, and just running—for the pure joy of it.