The year in review

Well, my last run of 2014 is in the books! Total distance for this year is 1773 kilometres. That’s an all-time high for me exceeding last year’s 1303 kilometres. Yay!

This year was a spectacular year for me. It was a year filled with all sorts of challenges,  tons of excitement, and it was the year I learned how important commitment is.

It started with training through an exceptionally cold winter for Around the Bay 30k which takes place the end of March. This was a year that saw an unusually high volume of runners drop out of this very popular race because the temperatures had been so cold and the streets so icy, that a lot of people weren’t able to put the training in. As cold as it was, and maybe because I’m a wee bit competitive (some say crazy), I didn’t miss a single training run. There were times when I had two or three layers of clothes on (top to bottom), but I find that the hardest part of these cold winter runs is just getting out the door. Once you get going, you’re fine. And so out the door I went four to five days a week. Whatever the weather. Commitment.

The race itself was tough for me. With more than half the race left I started to get a blister on the bottom of my foot that just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, I stopped at an aid station and tried to fix it up. I lost about six minutes at that stop and it cost me a PB but I stuck it out and finished the race with a smile. Commitment.

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Around the Bay 30k. Less than 1 km to go

In April I found out I had gotten into the Chicago Marathon. My first marathon and my A race for the year. In order to keep myself in check until training started, I decided to run the Mississauga Half Marathon in May. It would keep me going another month and then I would take a few weeks to dial it back a bit and rest my legs before the marathon training began.

It wasn’t until the gun went off and I was 20x30-MIAM1047running the race that I realized that I hadn’t really prepared myself for it. I hadn’t even looked at a map of the route.  The further I ran, the more I realized that I was running this race for all the wrong reasons. It was a great course. I ran it. I was not committed to it. I will run it again someday. Next time, I will give it the commitment it deserves.

My commitment to the Chicago Marathon began right after that race. For months I had been having severe lower back pain to the point that I could barely move after a run. In May, I decided that I had better get it looked at before the marathon training began. I knew that the training was going to require a lot including more and longer runs and I had better be in the best shape that I could possibly be in. I started seeing a physiotherapist a couple times a week and stuck to the daily regime of exercises and stretches she gave me and by the time the marathon clinic started my back was 1000 times better than it had been. I continued on with physiotherapy throughout the training to ensure that I was operating at my best.

Further commitment to my first marathon continued throughout the training. IMG_3192The schedule called for five runs a week. I had been doing three so decided that four would be fine and removed the Saturday run from the schedule. After a few weeks of training, I realized that there was a reason for five runs a week or they wouldn’t all be in the schedule so I added that run back in. Five days a week. Rain or shine. Commitment.

In July I went on a nine day vacation and was afraid, no terrified, that being on vacation and away from my regular routine and running buddies was going to blow my training. The trip involved a lot of driving and days on the road so I wasn’t able to get all my runs in, but I did manage to get both 16km long runs in and an 8km run in between. It took some planning but I mapped out routes ahead of time and knowing what my goals were it was pretty easy to get out there even if I was on my own for the most part. I found it was a great way to see more of the cities we were visiting and I was able to keep my training on track so that when I returned I was able to jump right back in with my training buddies. Commitment.

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Discovery run in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The summer brought the usual sweltering heat and humidity and running our 10406548_840057709345201_2350319251948836907_nlong 30+ km runs was a huge challenge. There was sometimes talk of cutting some of those runs short but we never did. The longer the training went, the more aches and pains we were all feeling. I started to have pain in my right leg that was diagnosed as hamstring fatigue and began more strengthening exercises. I was lucky that it never got bad enough for me to have to cut back on my training, or even worse, drop out of the race. I managed the pain and I carried on. Commitment.

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Last training run before the Chicago Marathon

The race in itself was an experience I will never forget. And when the going got tough (and it did), everything I learned in training about commitment and drive was put into practice.

The challenge in the marathon though, is not necessarily running the race, but rather committing fully to the training. Following the program as closely as possible and making sacrifices in other areas of your life when you need to. Finishing the race is the culmination, a celebration of a successful training cycle. The training will actually tell you a lot about how committed you are to the race. Looking back at my training schedule recently, I found that I had completed 92.57% of the total distance my program called for. 92.57%. Commitment.

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After I completed my first marathon (Yay again!) and took a couple of weeks off,  I continued to run two 5–7 km and a 15km run every week in order to maintain a good base so that I’m ready for the next round of training to begin in January. There are different schools of thought as to whether you should give your body a complete break but I feel that running less frequently and easier during the week with an easy 15km LSD on the weekend is a good balance for me and keeps me at a point where I can transition easier into that training when it does start up again. Commitment.

Yes, this year, I learned all about the importance of commitment. Having some great running buddies makes it easier to keep those commitment, but in the end, everyone is responsible for their own training and how much they put into it. Ultimately your level of commitment plays a big part in determining your success in anything you do.

Of course in order to commit so fully, I have a great support system around me. My running buddies Ginny, Julie, Marie, Stacey, Tricia, Nalini and Shamita, my daughters Michelle and Erika who listen to the stories of all my runs without complaint and with smiles, and my fountain of running knowledge and biggest supporter Mike. Thanks Mike for taking all the awesome photos of me and the rest of our running community. On training runs, in races, when you’re not running and even when you are! Without them, my blog would be almost void of pictures.

Here’s to another great year in 2015!

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