I'm so glad that it lands on a signifant day like Canada Day, because I'm a crazy proud Canadian and it's an easy way to ensure the date doesn't slip by without me remembering.
In some ways it's hard to believe running was ever not in my life because it has made such an impact. In other ways, I still feel like I have so much to learn. This year I tried several new things as a runner and feel like I've only cracked open the cover and peeked inside at the opportunities that await.
During the dark, cold days of January, February and March, I drove up to York University to participate in track meets. This is typically what you'd hear from your third grade nephew, (well, except the driving part!) but what makes it even better is that it was part of Ontario Master's Athletics (OMA) of which I am now a member. This means that participants are all over age 30. I participated in several 800 m races and a 1500 m. During the Ontario Championships I even got a medal!
The OMA also has a road race series. Basically, instead of putting on their own races, they piggy-back onto established races in Ontario for each typical distance. I was able to participate in the Robbie Burns 8K, Toronto Waterfront 10K, Pride and Remembrance 5K and will be racing the Sunset Shuffle 6K later this summer. In the first three I managed to obtain a top three finish in my age catagory! I always feel like I have to add that there aren't a ton of participants in my catagory and my chances of making the age catagory in the over all race are very slim, but it is a great way to encourage runners to be competitive and frankly, I love the bling!
Last September I did my first destination race, which, coincidentally was also my shortest road race ever! Michelle, Allison, Carmy and I drove down to New York to participate in the 5th Avenue Mile. No race I've done can compare to the race atmosphere of that day. I will never forget that race or trip.
In May if you follow me on social media you will undoubtedly know what I was doing...The Ragnar Niagara Relay. In a nut shell it is a relay race of 300+ kilometres from Cobourg (that's waaaaay past Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa and even Bownamville to give you context) to Niagara Falls in just over 24 hours. One member of our 12 person team was running at a time and each team member ran three legs that generally ranged from 5-15k each. We spent our non-running time travelling to and from each exchange point, cheering on our team mates, eating chips, not sleeping and laughing a lot. I am signed up to do another relay race in September, this time in the trails!
Which brings me to, trail running! My close friends told me that I would love trail running. They know me well! My first time trying trail running was at the 5 Peaks Terra Cotta race this spring. You know how they say don't try anything new on race day? Well, that kinda went out the window, didn't it? Turns out that race day was after epic rainfalls and flooding throughout the province. The mud was ankle high in a huge number of sections. I learned quickly that in most cases it's pretty pointless to try to navigate around the mud and puddles. You might as well just go right on through (it was admittedly more fun too!) My second race at the much more technical (aka scrambling up the rocky escapement using your hands to hang on) was less muddy and while challenging and hot, really sparked the trail bug in me! I'll be doing at least two more of the 5 Peaks series this summer.
This year also represents my first full year training with Coach Michelle. I would say my biggest take-homes have been speedwork and my mental game. I love my track workouts every week. Yes, they are painful, but the pain is short lived. Mentally I know I can hang on. 'Hanging on' has been a phrase I have used a lot this year. Holding on during an 800 m race on the track for that last lung burning lap. Hanging on to my pace during a 5K when I just want to slow down. Hanging on going up a hill. Hanging on during a 15K in 30K wind gusts and pelting rain. Which is what I've tried so hard to learn as part of my mental game.
Looking back, I managed to get a PB in my 8K and half marathon distances. I tied a previous 15K PB and established a time to beat in the road mile, as well as the indoor track 1500 and 800 m.
What are my plans as I head into my fifth year of running? I have found greater joy in shorter distances lately. Recovery is quicker and I can do another race sooner and take advantage of my training. I will continue to do trails, the OMA Road Race series and likely summer outdoor track season. I am itching to improve my 5K time and next spring hope to do the same for 10K which will be a much bigger challenge. I also look forward to supporting my friend Jean-Paul as part of JPs Team as he attempts to run six marathons (aka Six in the 6) during the Scotiabank Waterfront Toront Marathon weekend.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me this past year. Although most of run training is done solo, having my husband, coach, family and friends behind me (or beside me as the case was during a couple races) means so much to me.