Saturday, 16 December 2017

Reflections 2017

It's that time of year, to start looking back over the past season, before looking ahead to 2018.
This year I didn't run as many miles as I have in the past couple of years. I didn't have any injuries, but I focused on some more quality than quantity.

The Numbers

Total km as of Dec 14:  2 541 km. (500 km less than last year)

Elevation Gain  29 143 meters

Time 300 hours

Days running 243

Highlights as best as I can remember in chronological order

January: Road to Alabama with my bestie Kendra Olson.  She thankfully said yes to my ridiculous idea of driving 13 hours to Alabama and running a 50 km and then turning around and driving 13 hours home.  We always have lots of laughs being trapped in a car 26 + hours you really get some great /silly conversations. We did our requisite making fun of Trump supporters and humongous portions at restaurants. As for the race, it was the Mountain Mist 50 km.  I was coming off 2 + months of barely running. It went well for me, my energy was good, I enjoyed the course and finished under 7 hours.  Typical of any races I have experienced in the USA and especially the south, the RD, volunteers and other runners were all super friendly and welcoming.

February: My fifth attempt at the February Challenge

This was my fifth attempt and third completion of the February Challenge, the brilliant idea of my friend Ken.  The concept is you run outside everyday in February, you set the distance and time for your own goal. I keep my goal to 20 minutes. But it is a great boost to training to make it outside every DAMN day in February.

March: Frank completing the Hockley Loop and running the Grand Valley Trail

One of the big changes this year was starting a relationship with Frank just before the New Year. I always said I didn't want to date another runner, because I liked running to be my thing. I was wrong. I really like having a partner that likes to go out for runs and explore new trails. Frank is a really new trail runner. When we met it was his third trail run ever I think.  His first was the Hockley Loop in the Fall (which is ridiculous) it's one of the most challenging loops around in my opinion. His first experience wasn't great, my friend Steve had to help him and our friend Mariana leave the loop early.  Fast forward a few months later and we were tackling it again. It was great to catch up with my friend Steve, and Frank finished the loop feeling strong and giving him confidence for upcoming race in the Vipava Valley in Slovenia.

Frank also had a another first in March, we went out with my friend Rhonda ( a known bully ;).) Rhonda had been working on finishing the Grand Valley Trail. We did about 35 km that day. It was a cold and windy day in March. This was his longest run.  It was great this year to see trail running from a newer runners perspective.

April: Running my fastest 10 km since 2010 and Vipava Valley 50 km

Early in the year I started hanging out in Barrie and Frank introduced me to the Run Ninja Group. I was reluctant at first, because I don't like running on the road. Again I was proven wrong.  I have met some great friends because of this group and love the positive and welcoming energy from everyone. They are also a FAST group, for this stubborn trail runner that never does "workouts" it was a much needed change. After training with them during the winter, my speed had started coming back and I went out and did my first road run in 7 years and got a sub 50 minute 10 km. Still a far cry from my sub 45 minute PR, but I will take it.

At the end of April Frank and I traveled to Slovenia. I became interested in Slovenia after meeting Bojan on a run in Tanzania and he told me about his country. In late 2016 when  I was looking for a new race to inspire me, my friend Agnes posted about this race she was doing. I saw the videos and pictures and had found my destination race for the year.   It was originally going to be a solo trip and I would meet up with Agnes and her husband at the race, but I would be spending the majority of the trip solo.  This changed when I met Frank, he had never been to Europe and was able to take the time off. He had done one 10 km race, but bravely signed up for the 25 km, with serious elevation gain. I had signed up originally for the 110 km, but I was under trained and wanted to enjoy the race, so I opted for the 52 km.  I really didn't know much about the race of the country of Slovenia. I was pleasantly surprised by both. Frank and I also had never traveled with each other and had only been dating less than 5 months when we left. But we ended up traveling well together and the entire trip ended up being magical. Slovenia, is truly beautiful, with not a lot of tourists, friendly people, super safe and easy to travel, and not that expensive by European standards. The race didn't disappoint, it had a true European flair, lots of trekking poles and spandex, meat and cheese, and wine at one of the aid stations. I felt like I was in the Sound of Music all day. The climbs were hard, but I put a strong effort in and finished feeling good in around 8:20.  Frank had a great day, he finished the 25 km under 4 hours and felt great and he loved the experience too.

May: Eating and drinking our way through Slovenia and Italy

After finishing the race, I did a few short runs in Slovenia and Italy, but my main focus was eating, drinking, relaxing and taking in the sites. We came home the second week of May and we ran the Mec 15 km Trail Race.  I ran the race hard with a tempo like effort, I finished fourth female and Frank beat me by seconds.

June: Barrie Half Marathon

I have not run a half marathon, since I helped a friend in 2011. My last great half marathon was 2009 where I ran a 1:38 at Angus Glen. Frank gets a free entry into the Barrie Half through work, and it was his first half, so I reluctantly agreed to go.  I woke up and it was rainy and miserable out, it was perfect, because it fit my attitude. I had in my head that I would like to break 2 hours and if it was a great day break 1: 50. I started out conservatively and kept building, the cool weather and rain helped. I had forgot to charge my watch, so after 10 k I had no idea of my pacing and had to run by feel. I pushed pretty hard, the last few kilometers were hard as expected and I came through in 1:49 and change, a far cry from my PR but I was happy with my effort. Frank finished and made his goal of breaking two hours. I guess it wasn't so horrible after all to run a half-marathon.

July: Enjoying the summer

I opted not to do Limberlost, and stay up at the cottage and enjoy some summer sun.   I took Frank and Franco to my cousins cottage for the first time on Lake Naraka.  They loved it, we enjoyed the peace and quiet and I got some easy runs in the morning around the area always followed by a dip in Naraka (my fav). We did a nice mini trip to Lions Head and got some miles in on the Bruce Trail (one of my favorite parts of the Bruce).  It was sometime in late July or early August, that I decided to register for the stage race in Mozambique.  So I tried to stick to a training plan, but it didn't always go as planned.

August: Fam Jam and Portaging

In July I managed to keep my mileage at decent number, but August I dropped off, because I had two non running vacations planned. A four day portage trip, meant no running at all, but I looked at it as great crossing training, and a great time to test my gear for Mozambique. Both trips I got to spend time with my son, our second trip was to Nova Scotia to spend time with my high school friends. I got a lot of hungover runs in, but no quality work and no high mileage runs. I really didn't care because I loved both these trips, it was great to spend time with family and friends.

September: Solo camping and group running

The long weekend, I did one solo night of camping at Cape Croker up on the Bruce Peninsula to again test my gear and my skills of starting a fire and generally not dying lol. The next morning I met up with my friends for the last organized group run on the Bruce Trail for the year. I had organized 5 group runs throughout the season at different points on the Bruce Trail, they were fun fat ass runs with friends.  I hope to do more next year, it was a great way to connect friends from different running communities. Also in September it stayed HOT, we really didn't get a hot August or July, but I was grateful for the heat training in September, and for my friend Christina.  She was training for a marathon in October, so we shared many hot long runs around Barrie and it helped get my mileage up.

October: Vulture Bait and Bertha

Bertha, was what I decided to nickname my pack for Mozambique, because she was big and heavy despite my efforts to keep her lean and light. Through the end of September and October I started taking her out on runs (not enough though).  I had also registered for the 50 k at  Vulture Bait before signing up for Mozambique, it was only 2 weeks before I was flying to Mozambique, so I decided to be conservative and run the 25 k but with Bertha.  I went down to London with the two Kelly's and it was a great mini girls weekend away. I loved the course at Vulture Bait, one big loop, pretty flat and fast and a lot of single track. I think Bertha weighed in a 10 kg. I thought it would be a long day with Bertha, but of course, I got into race mode and was feeling good. Soon I was passing people and ended up running 2:50 or so and felt pretty good, except my collar bones were killing me. I got in two more solid efforts with Bertha in Hockley Valley with friends and then Oct 30 I was heading to Pearson for the start of a 40 + hour journey to Mozambique.

November: Ultra Africa Race

I wrote a whole blog about this race. So I will just say it was one the highlights of my year and a dream come true to go back to Africa. I loved the whole experience, the course, the people and I was very proud of my performance. The race was 220 km in 5 days with 3600 meter elevation gain, I was second female and 8th overall.

December: Rest and Reset

I took a few weeks off after returning home from Mozambique and focused on doing some strength training and my nutrition. This year I am trying to avoid gaining weight over the holidays where I inevitably eat more and run less. So far its going well, but its only Dec 15th.  This week I have started to train again, because after such an amazing experience in Mozambique I have decided I want to do another Canal-Aventure race, it will be their Ultra Asia Race in Vietnam in March 2018, 4 days 160 km and 6000 meter elevation. It will be my first time to Asia, and it will push me to work more on my hill running and climbing ability.

This year has been one big blessing with having Frank in my life, selling my house, meeting new friends, reconnecting with lifelong friends, seeing my son travel all over the country and turning 16 and doing a great job in his first year of plumbing co-op. I have longed and dreamed about travel for so many years, so it was amazing to be able to run in both Europe and Africa this year and be planning a run in Asia and I will be going to South America for the first time this year to in February to celebrate Carnaval and meet Frank's family for the first time.  If 2018 is half as good as 2017, it will be an awesome year.

Do you reflect at this time of year? What were some of your highlights? Have you started goal setting for 2018? What are your dreams and goals for 2018 and beyond?

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