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!


Running in Portland

Portland marked the end of the first leg of our van trip. I was really excited about visiting because I had heard that Portland had great running. After some van trouble (the heat was broken) we decided to rent an Airbnb for most of our stay in Portland to have a little break from the van, do some laundry and have somewhere to leave Lucy so we could explore.

The first night in Portland, we met up with Brett and Jordan who run Territory Run Co/Runners of the Wild and found out all out where to run over pizza.

The next day we headed out for our first run. We parked at Lower Macleay Park and run up the wildwood trail to Pittock Mansion and an overview of Portland. It turned out that the 8km run had 1,000 of climbing but it was worth it for the views. The run through the forest was also beautiful – it’s SO green!

Later in the day, we drove up Skyline Blvd and saw the upper part of wildwood trail. Wildwood trail is 30 miles (50km) long and it’s in a forest (Forest Park) inside the city, it’s basically a trail runners dream.

The rest of the day was spent settling into our Airbnb and checking out New Seasons Market (if you like Whole Foods definitely don’t miss New Seasons if you’re ever in Portland).

For run day 2, I decided to run down to the waterfront and across some of the bridges are everywhere in Portland. The run to the waterfront wasn’t very nice but once I found it, there’s a nice short trail along the waterfront. Portland has great signage so it’s easy to not get lost thankfully!

We met up with Julia and Tim from BibRave in downtown Portland that night and heard all about life in Portland and their suggestions about what to see and where to run. It was great to meet so many internet friends in real life during this stop!

Our Airbnb was in the northeast part of Portland and there were a few shopping streets around. I knew by the third day that we weren’t going to have time to explore them all so Callum and I decided to run a loop that went through each one. After the run, we went to Salt and Straw (we were told it was a must do) and ate ice cream even though it was freezing outside. It was really delicious! I had cocoa peppermint and Callum had gingerbread cookie dough, worth getting really cold eating ice cream in December for!

We’ve had a lot of trouble with long runs recently so we decided that we would do our long run in Forest Park before we left Portland on Friday. We retraced our route from our first run to Pittock Mansion and then just stayed on the trail. It turns out that this is the wrong direction to have gone and at 12ish km we had reached the very beginning of the trail and climbed about 2500 ft. We turned around and ran part of the trail the other direction which had a lot less climbing and went on a lot farther than we needed it to. After that long muddy run, we headed to the gym to shower and then left Portland for the coast.

I had high expectations for Portland and it did not disappoint! There’s great food and people and amazing trail running. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend that you go there!!

Happy running!