When lacing up those racing flats for that final race of the year, one can reflect on how the year began. My first race of 2017, and first as a master, having turned 40 in January, was the Refriger8er (8 mile) in Waterloo in February. I quite enjoy racing with Run Waterloo, but that particular morning had the poorest conditions I had ever experienced in any race. With an accumulation of several inches of snow, I nearly walked the finish. I had some quality work I was to do afterwards, but couldn’t find decent footing—anywhere. Nevertheless, I was pleased with my effort and fitness in my first race since joining Speed River and Coach Dave Scott-Thomas.
My second race of the year was the Chilly Half in Burlington in March on our daughter’s 6th birthday. It was a good day for Speed River as both myself and Tristan Woodfine captured the wins. Although it wasn’t a particularly outstanding pace, my time of 1:14:55 earned me the Canadian Masters Half Marathon Record, previously set by Danuta Bartoszek in 2001. Two days later I left for my first altitude training camp; one month at the High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya. Saying goodbye to my children was one of the most difficult things I had ever done but the experience was absolutely incredible. I had full support from my husband and kids, loved the people, food and atmosphere, made new friends, and trained harder than I had ever trained in my entire life—including quality mileage weeks of 180 km and 190 km.
Although my goal race of the London Marathon in April was a big disappointment, as I had my first ever G.I. distress experience, I concluded the season with my head high, choosing once again to only focus on the positives. Like countless other times in my life, I relied on my Christian faith that has kept me humble in my highest highs and pulled me through my lowest lows. I took ample time to recover from the season and steadily resumed training, hoping for redemption at my favourite Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). In June, I raced a decent 17:15 in the Peachbud 5K and 35:53 at the Toronto Waterfront 10K. However, a few weeks later my body gave me my first sign that reaching for another marathon since the 2016 Olympics (STWM 2016, London 2017) would be too much.
I cross-trained and started running again, planning to race the Army Run Half Marathon in September, where I would be speaking at the pasta dinner. But I knew that even the slightest niggle would be the final straw. I didn’t have any more training time to lose. I enjoyed the Army Run race weekend experience, but accepted the fact that my most recent slight hip flexor strain was that final straw. I knew it was truly over when I indulged in a decadent peanut butter and chocolate ice cream treat. I took the off-season to help coach my kids’ sports teams, and grow and develop my professional Registered Dietitian and Public Speaking career while I again steadily resumed running. With plans to run a 2018 spring marathon, I was happy with my season-opener and 2017 finale of 36:08 at the Tannenbaum 10K in Toronto in December.
My 2017 was certainly not one of my best years. In fact, other than my 1:14 half marathon in 2015, it was the first year since 2009 that I raced and didn’t have a top 3 Canadian spot in both the marathon and the half marathon. But 2017 did mark 15 years since completing my first marathon in a time of 3:28 at (what was then called) the Casino Niagara International Marathon. I continue to enjoy training and racing, but am also allowing myself to age gracefully in this wonderful sport of marathoning. And I am also allowing myself to enjoy taking risk, something that I have done very little of in the past several years.
It’s hard to leave you with one final thought about 2017 but if there’s anything to say it is this: enjoy your time out there in your sneakers, but don’t forget to enjoy all your other times, too. As I lace up my skates for my daughter’s weekly hockey practices, I think about 2017, and about life, and I’m left with one word: gratitude. Thank you to everyone for coming with me on my incredible Marathon Mom ride. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous Merry Christmas and exciting New Year!
Photograph of the Tannenbaum 10K by Edison Yao. Photograph of the snowstorm by Lisa Warmerdam. Photograph from Kenya by N.Coll.