When lacing up those racing shoes 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. Looking back, perhaps it was an indication as to how the rest of the year might go. 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. It was text book.
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, only choosing to once again 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 5 km and 35:53 at the Toronto Waterfront 10 km. 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 10 km 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 racing shoes, 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! Bring on 2018!