I’m a little behind schedule on this post and my mind is far more focused on the year to come rather than the year that has been. But there are certainly some significant running memories from 2015. It was not a year of huge PB’s, though I did complete my fastest 5k and marathon. I think it was more of a year for new adventures, and experiences and isn’t that what life should be?
So, in no particular order, some highlights of 2015:
Until 2013, my husband and I had only done one vacation. That was a trip out east before we had kids. Once we had kids we chose not to travel for many years. The reason was twofold. I chose to stay home for 5 years (a choice I would recommend to anyone if you can manage it, though be warned, it is the hardest job in the world!) and as a result we had one income. We also did not see the point in dragging small children who still needed naps to new locations. We wanted out kids to be old enough to appreciate and remember their traveling adventures.
We started traveling again in 2013 when I ran the NYC Half Marathon. Our kids were 10 and almost 8 at the time. I rediscovered my love of traveling and also discovered that our kids are amazing travelers. They have no interest in Disney vacations. What they love is exploring new places, looking at architecture, finding new trails. From that trip we knew we had kids who would be happy exploring the world, and that was again the case when in 2014 we took them to the west coast so I could run the Vancouver Half Marathon.
2015 was an even bigger year in traveling and one that I will remember for years to come. In March we set off to Europe so I could return to Prague, a city I had spent some time teaching in many years ago. The main point of the trip was the Prague Half Marathon, but in the end it was only a small part of our adventure. We had a phenomenal time as a family, not only exploring Prague but also spending a week in Nice. Having a chance to run in these two beautiful cities was such a gift, but the bigger gift was having such a wonderful two weeks with my husband and kids – so many memories that I will treasure.
After the finish of the Prague Half Marathon:
A family run in Nice , France:
As if that wasn’t enough, we actually managed a second family trip, this time to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island so that the four of us could participate in the Canadian Orienteering Championships. Between events I fit in training runs in each of the provinces, meaning in 2015 I ran in a total of 5 Canadian provinces and two countries outside of Canada.
The kids at the Canadian Orienteering Championships:
An amazing morning orienteering on the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick:
A beautiful trail for running:
A gorgeous morning run in Moncton, N.B.:
I admit I haven’t counted the races of 2015. I know there were quite a few, though I am pretty sure not as many as in 2014. I did run my coldest race ever when all four of us took part in the Winterman race here in Ottawa. It was -40 C with the wind chill and there was no avoiding the wind since we were running along the Ottawa River. It was one of my slowest 10k’s ever but it certainly gave bragging rights!
The other big race of the year was my third go at a marathon. I’m still slow (surprise!) but I did take off 4 minutes despite having a cold, stomach issues and the craziest head winds I have ever experienced. I definitely recommend the Road2Hope Marathon and I will be heading there again this year, though I have not decided if it will be for the full or the half. It was a well-organized mid-sized race with a great route.
The most surprising part of the marathon this time around for me was that I really enjoyed my training. This is despite that fact that I spent 4 weeks of training with my hand in a cast and 5 days of training sleeping at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario while my youngest son was in being treated with I.V. antibiotics. I really enjoyed the training plan I used and I will be using a modified version of it to train for this year’s Around the Bay 30k.
A highlight race was also the Sporting Life 10k when I had the chance to pace Evan for his first 10k race:
This year I stepped out of my road running box and hit the trails. It started in the winter when I participated in the Mad Trapper Snowshoe Series. If you ever get cocky about your running, strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out for a 5k. Within a km you will wonder if you are coming down with some life-draining disease because surely you couldn’t be that exhausted after a mere km. Snowshoeing is one helluva workout but one I highly recommend to change things up and to take advantage of winter.
I also participated in several trail events, plus hit the trails more often on my solo runs. I had a blast at MEC’s trail running clinic for women. I convinced some friends to join me at another women’s event, the Mad Trapper Power in Pink trail run and an amazing time was had by all. I would do both events again in a second and I encourage all women to give them a try.
Mad Trapper events definitely became the series of choice in our family. We started with the snowshoe races at the beginning of the year, a rural road run with the 8k Pancake Prediction Run, then joined in on the trail races. I probably sign up for these races as much for the awesome food and social time post-race as the race itself and have really enjoyed meeting up with new friends. The kids and my husband are also hooked as all of them prefer to be in the woods rather than running on the roads.
Perhaps my most “out of my comfort zone” event (even more so than a marathon!) was the NOOTR Race – the “Natural Obstacle Off-Trail Race”. This one involved climbing rocks and steep hills, running through mud pits and streams and just generally having a blast in the forest. I couldn’t keep up with my kids but I did strangely manage to come in first for the women.
Speaking of not keeping up with my kids, my favourite post race newsletter is definitely the one sent out by Mike Caldwell after the recent Hilly Snowshoe race. We and others had put in a request for a 3k distance so our kids could come. Ends up Luke and Evan were much faster than we thought they would be on snowshoes and they whipped through the course pretty quickly. Here’s a portion of that newsletter:
The 3km option, is not for youth only. Meaning anyone can participate in the 3k event and youth 16 and under aren’t restricted to this race. Youth are welcome to compete in any distance they are comfortable with. And if that means the kids will be stepping up and beating their parents…. then so be it! (Look out Raz family!)
Yep, our kids are going to be kicking our butts soon in snowshoeing. Maybe I should just drop down to the 3k distance now if they are going to move up to the 5k!
I have to add these two trail running photos – my favourite before and after pictures. Do you think it was a hot day?
Orienteering has become the new passion of this family. My kids are amazing at this sport and my husband is very capable too. I, on the other hand, well… let’s just say I am slowly learning. As someone with a lack of spatial sense, this sport is a tough one for me but I am so glad we discovered it. We are very lucky here in Ottawa to have an amazing club, Ottawa Orienteering. It organizes regular B events throughout Ottawa/Gatineau and it has been such a pleasure being part of the club. If you want a family activity or if you just like heading out into the woods on a Sunday morning, I can’t recommend this sport enough.
I truly feel blessed that I can share the sports of road running, snowshoeing, trail running and orienteering with my entire family. As a mother of two boys I think that is a special privilege and one I hope we can share throughout their teen years. When I started running almost 5 years ago it was for me, and it certainly remains a “me” activity. But I had no idea that it would become a way for our family to be together and share common experiences. 2015 was proof of that, and for that I am grateful.
Happy 2016 to all!
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