December 14, 2016:
So here we are at the end of the race season and what a year it's been. I should have known this would be a special year when I met Paula Radcliffe in early January. As a super-fan I have to point out that I've talked to her at the London Marathon in 2004 and the NYC Mini Marathon in 2010 but this is the first time I was actually was introduced to her. I was part of a group of International Race Directors that met in Disney to talk about what we do, putting on races and Paula was our Guest of Honor.
After a couple of days of meetings we all finished up by participating in the Disney Half Marathon. I was ecstatic to have had a few opportunities to talk to my running idol. But, the absolute highlight was that I got to run just over a mile of the race with her. Oh my gosh, I raced with PAULA RADCLIFFE!!! I only wish I was fitter so I could have stayed by her side longer but she's a WORLD RECORD HOLDER and OLYMPIAN that even in casual mode is too fast for me!
But I had one thing on Paula, I am a drinker so it was with great pleasure that I exposed her to her first mimosa (EVER). See below!
Now back to running, not fan-stalking. Back in 2013 I did a 50 Mile (80K) ultra on a difficult trail that beat me up so much that it was a couple of years before I felt recovered. In fact it was only THIS year that I felt recovered and my race times started to show it. I was running very low mileage but I could still run under 20 minutes in the 5K if I was willing to work hard during the race. I did a couple of 10Ks but honestly was happy "just" (wait for why I say JUST) doing 5-8K three times a week.
But feeling good finally I decided I need to get back into distance running. So in July I decided to run a 100 mile race (160K). I guess feeling so fit, I felt that it was now or never. Since I knew I didn't have a lot of time before the race I wanted to do and since I didn't want to over-train. Remember my mileage was LOW, I decided to limit my training to 100 days. 100 days for a 100 mile race wouldn't work for many runners but I have 25 years of long distance base and felt I could make it work.
The plan was to do 4 marathons leading up to my 100 miler but not RACE any of them. This strategy of just doing the distance and not worrying about pace seemed to work very well for me. In fact I set my current Personal Best 5K time six days after a marathon (at 45 years old the 19:06 result is very likely as good as it gets and clearly showed that a marathon was not beating me up). And I got to travel to some amazing Canadian marathons including: the Nova Scotia Marathon in Barrington, Fiddler's Run Marathon in Cape Breton, the Victoria Marathon and the Prince Edward Island Marathon (back to back weekends I was on the WEST and EAST coast of Canada, how cool is that?).
On November 12, I lined up with 500 other runners to participate in the Tunnel Hill 50 and 100 Mile Race. Because of the layout of the course, you can drop down from the 100 mile race to the 50 mile race (and 100 runners did this on race day).
Having done a 50 Mile Race I knew that doubling the distance would be hard but I had no idea how hard. It was the fact that it would be hard that I looked forward to most. To see exactly how much I could take. Well, I found the first 50 miles to be FUN and FAST and that was despite the nastiest, most gruesome blisters of my life. I've lost toenails after marathons but never during them...
Unfortunately, despite the great fun of the first half of the race, the wheels did come off in the final 25 miles as I had injured both of my knees very significantly and probably should have stopped. Somewhere in the race I tore the Meniscus in my left knew, bruised the bone of my right leg, strained a muscle and developed and ruptured a bakers cyst in my right knee (and that is just what we found in my knees... don't get me started on my left hip and both hip flexors).
Of course I wouldn't stop. In the longest, toughest race of my running career I would not stop. In the end I finished the 100 miles in 21:33:16 and was the 7th place female. Was it as hard as I thought it might be. YES. It absolutely was.
I think that 100 mile race was my Everest and I will NOT be looking for bigger, harder challenges. I can't. I have done enough and now I really need to heal. Did I mention that I've been treated and I will have a minimum of three months of no running. Well as they say, pain is temporary and pride is forever. But it's gonna be a long 3 months!
Now as I look back at my athletic feats it's hard to say what I am most proud of but I can distill it down to four events and one led to the next.
Ironman World Championships - I proved if you run FAST enough you can get to the big stage and this was the first truly out-of-my-league-can-I-really-do-that-goal. Once I got this I went for the rest!
Sub 3 marathon - I knew I had the speed to run sub 3 but it takes much more than fast running to execute the perfect marathon it also takes LUCK and in my 30th marathon I FINALLY got that lucky.
Swimming from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island - I have always been the slowest swimmer I know and I detest cold water so this was an incredible accomplishment for me!
Running Tunnel Hill 100 - since it took 21:33:16 to cover my 100 miles, this is the biggest one and the longest! And well, I suppose the most impressive. Now I get to rest right?
So in 2016 I ran a race with Paula Radcliffe AND I ran a 100 mile trail run. Both of those things were pretty special and proved to be the perfect book ends for a wonderful racing season! What does 2017 have in store for me?