A Look Back at 2016

sunset californiaRunning wise, this year has been a mixed bag for me, I’ve learned some tough lessons but also had some great races. Personally, I’ve had a great year – Callum and I got married, I have a new niece and we left Toronto at the beginning of November for an extended roadtrip across the USA.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last winter was another cold one and I managed to run through it which is always a big accomplishment. I had a recurring knee injury throughout the first few months of 2016 which eventually flared up causing me to DNF at the Sulphur Springs 100 in May. That was my first DNF and caused me to question a lot about running. I took a little bit time off and re-evaluated what I wanted from running.

sulphur springs 100

I actually didn’t train much during the summer, I temporarily hired a coach that had me running really low mileage. I ended up running the Black Spur 54km with my longest training run being 15km! Black Spur was also my first mountain race, something that I’d wanted to try for a long time and it was tough.

black spur ultra
During the summer, my goal was a fast fall marathon. As it got closer, it was obvious that I hadn’t done enough long training runs to attempt that so I signed up for the half-marathon at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM).

In mid-September, my friend Sigrid and I road tripped to Wisconsin for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin. Race day ended up being beautiful weather and the flatish course allowed me to get a 50km PR there.

north face endurance challenge 50km
To close out the year, I raced the STWM half and had a really tough race but managed to take almost 5 minutes off my PB!

Looking back, what started off as a tough year allowed me to reevaluate what I really wanted to do and try some new things.

Stats for this year:

  • Total kilometres: 2,654 km (1,649 miles)
  • Runs: 214
  • Total elevation gain: 20,076 m (65,866 ft)
  • Races: 10
  • Ultras: 5
  • Set personal records for the 10km, half-marathon and 50km

In early November, Callum and I left to start our van trip to the US. In the last two months, I’ve run in the desert, at elevation in the mountains, along the ocean and through forests. I’ve also spent a lot of time struggling to get in enough mileage but the amazing places I sometimes get to run more than make up for it.

van rocky mountains
On NYE, I closed out 2016 with a long run along the ocean in LA with Callum. I have some big running plans for 2017 already and I can’t wait to take all the lessons I’ve learned this year to make 2017 an even better year!

What’s on the calendar for 2017 already –

San Tan Scramble 50km outside of Phoenix, AZ next week (Jan 7)
Lone Star 100km race in El Paso, TX in early February
Ragnar Relay from Cobourg to Niagara Falls, ON in late May
Sulphur Springs 100 miler – I have some unfinished business there!

How was your year? What’s your biggest goal for 2017?

Happy running!


Race Report: Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon Toronto – Half

I initially added this race to my calendar with hopes of improving my marathon time. After a weird season leading up to it, I decided that a fast half marathon was a more attainable goal. A few weeks out from the race, I registered for the half and cobbled together a few weeks of a schedule.

I was excited for the half because when I ran the full marathon last year, I had a great time in the first half. I was hoping that I would have a great time in the first again but without having to do the second half!

Leading up to race weekend, I had an extremely stressful week at work and I was also having stomach problems. Not the ideal conditions to try to PB a race. I decided that I would just go out there and do the best I could.

On race morning, I got a drive to a km from the start and then walked the rest the way as a warm up. It was already hot and humid out and threatening to start raining. I got into my corral and looked for some friendly faces since I knew a lot of people doing this race but I didn’t find anyone.

Way too quickly, it was go time! I had found the 1:45 pace bunny and decided to try to run with him since that was my goal time. At the last minute, he pushed through a bunch of people and lost everyone that was waiting in the corral to follow him. I decided that I’d try to find him later or just run my own race.

The first 5 km, it rained which actually wasn’t too bad because it was warm out. My watch was wrong from the start and claimed I was at 1km probably 200m before the sign and it just got worse from there. I tried to catch up to the pace bunny and found him at around 3km. I stayed with him until I realized that he was running about 10 seconds per km too fast and I didn’t want to blow up my race by doing that.

I saw a couple people I knew between km 6 – 10 which gave me a real boost. And then you run on Lakeshore Blvd with no real crowd support and I was really fading. I kept telling myself that I just had to keep going and that the race would really start at 15km.

There were a couple good spots but for most of the time after 5km, I was hurting. I kept hoping that things would get better so I tried to hang on to the pace. Until 16 or 17km, I managed to stay on pace and starting at 16km, I was counting down each 500m until I finished. I was slowing down but I told myself that the faster I ran, the faster I would be done.

The rain had stopped after the first 20 minutes so I spent most of the race soaking wet and I didn’t realize until later that my leg was badly chafed.

My goal time was 1:45 and I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:46:23 beating my PB by almost 5 minutes. Just looking at the time, it looks like the race was a success but honestly, it wasn’t. I didn’t feel good or enjoy most of it. By the time I was done, I didn’t even care about the time, I was just happy to be done.

The race taught me that having a race where I feel good and I’m enjoying myself is more important to me than being really fast.

As always, the race was well organized and it’s a very nice, mostly flat course. Now that I’ve gotten PBs in almost every road distance this year, I’m ready to get back to the trails and longer runs.

Happy running!