Reflections on a Decade of Running

Reflections on a decade of running

A new year is always a good time for reflection, but a new decade affords a special opportunity to look back. Graham and I were discussing our highlights of the past 10 years and many of mine involved running. In fact, one of my highlights was discovering running in the first place. Prior to 2010, I didn’t really run. I didn’t even really exercise that much. I dabbled in the odd yoga class, and begrudgingly took myself to the gym for a spin on the treadmill or elliptical, but that was it.

I had the idea of running a race in 2010, and that became a reality in 2011 when I ran my first half marathon in Toronto. The following nine years saw the growth of my running hobby – one that would become a pretty central part of my life. Since then, I’ve run more than 50 races, including two full marathons, two 30km races, 12 half marathons and five triathlons.

For this post, I thought it might be nice to look back over the significant running and fitness milestones of the last ten years. Here’s how I went from pretty much a non-runner to now!

2010

I loosely trained for and ran a 10km community run for the Brain Tumour Foundation. It was a fundraising event for a colleague who lost his brother to a brain tumour. I raised money and it felt important and meaningful. I have no idea what my time was, but I was really proud that I didn’t stop the entire way.

2011

I joined a local Nike Running Group because my friend was the run leader. They ran and worked out together three times a week for free and it sounded like a good way to ditch my gym membership and save some money. I’ll never forget that first run where I pretended like I ran all the time. I nearly dropped dead from a side stitch trying to keep up their pace for the 6km run, but I managed. And I kept going back.

Here I am, somewhat tentatively standing in front of my newly formed goal to “rock the half” in 2011 (my first half marathon)

I was then asked to take part in the Nike Training Girls blog. The group was looking for a new runner to train for and run their first half marathon and write a weekly blog post about it. In return, they would compensate me with free shoes and kit. So of course, I said yes! (You can read more about that journey here)

And then, in October 2011, I ran my first half marathon finishing with a time of 2:13:42. I was extremely proud.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2011

A few photos from my first half marathon

2012

A runner is born! Initially I thought that 2011 half marathon would be it, but it inspired a new passion for me. In 2012, I participated in six events, including a repeat of the same 2011 half marathon (where I finished with a way faster time of 1:59:23!) and my first obstacle course race (also my first DNF!)

This was also the year I started this blog.

2013

This was a huge year for running. Inspired by my second half marathon and my continually improving times, I decided to take on my most ambitious fitness attempt yet: a full marathon. I trained for it by doing two 30km races (one winter and one summer), a half marathon and a 16-week running clinic with The Running Room. I was so proud and relieved to have finished my first full marathon in a time of 4:33:42 – slightly slower than I had planned, but one of my proudest accomplishments to date.

Crossing the finish line of my first full marathon. Pretty much the proudest moment of my life.

Later that year, I also went back and did that obstacle course race again and finished it!

This picture pretty much sums it.

This was also around the time that my husband Graham got more interested in running, and I was happy to have him join me in several races that year. Little did I know that he would becoming my favourite running partner for years to come.

2014

I struggled with an IT band injury following the marathon so this was a lighter year of running. I discovered the importance of strength training and cross training and realised that was key to becoming a better runner.

2015

We left Toronto and moved to London so we had a whole new circuit of running events to try! We ran a very hungover 5km in Dublin on St. Patrick’s day and our first UK half marathon in Richmond Park. This was also the year we discovered Parkrun!

Nailed it. 2:03:35.

2016

This was a massive year! Not only did I participate in 11 events, this was also the year of my first duathlons and triathlons. Graham decided to do his first triathlon in 2015 and it inspired me. I got my first road bike and learned to ride it. I also taught myself to swim. To practice, I did two different duathlons which didn’t go too badly, and later that year, I did the London Triathlon (sprint distance) and the Brighton Triathlon. I really enjoyed them and the added challenge of a multi-sport event. I also really liked that the recovery never felt as significant as after long running events. I felt stronger and fitter than ever.

My favourite part of the day. Obviously.

2017

This year revolved around training for my second full marathon. I vowed to train better and finish stronger and faster than my first marathon. Despite having multiple full-on meltdowns in the lead-up to race day, the Geneva Marathon was a great race for me. I finished it in 4:14:52. I did everything right and my recovery was much better this time (despite losing a toenail!)

At least my grimace kind of looks like a smile…

This year, I also upped the ante on my triathlon pursuits and did my first Olympic distance triathlon. This proved to be a monumental effort following the challenges of marathon training, but I was really happy with the result, finishing in 3:07:17.

Nailed it!

This was also the year I WALKED a full marathon overnight for The Shine Walk. It was a great event that resulted in some lasting friendships, but I don’t think I can ever do this again or recommend it. It took more than 9 hours!!

2018

I decided to try my hand at another Olympic distance triathlon, but it was not my finest performance. I panicked on the swim and then fell off my bike, not once, but TWICE! My aim was a sub-three hour finish, but with the drama, I finished in 3:13:31. I then struggled with a shoulder injury from my fall for many months afterward.

However, this year I also ran three half marathons including my first trail race (with an eye ulcer!!), and got my half marathon PB at the Royal Parks Half Marathon with a time of 1:54:59.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

2019

I did fewer events this year, but my two major highlights were my 5km PB (of 23:34!) and my 10km PB of 48:16! I consciously took a break from triathlon this year, but I’ll come back.

Hyde Park 10k

2020?

Stay tuned… goals for the year ahead coming soon.

1 Comment

  1. Darren Smith January 6, 2020 / 10:42 pm

    Great blog, loved reading about your journey before I became an avid reader in 2018.

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