I’ve been at this marathon thing long enough, 13 in 14 years to be exact, to pay particular attention to what my body says in the off-season. After the Olympics I took five days off then transitioned into Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon training with both care and risk. I wanted to recover properly yet quickly ramp up the workload because I felt I had nothing to lose. I was elated that it worked when successfully capturing the National Marathon title, particularly because it was against a very strong field.
It was definitely the icing on the cake.
Recovery from my second 2016 marathon, which was only nine weeks after my first, was smooth. As per my usual post-marathon routine, I fully indulged in the sweets I lived without for months. I enjoyed simple walks with the dog and recreational bike rides on the trails. I physically felt fine but emotionally and mentally started to feel that with every day, I needed that much more time to fully recover. I then looked back at my list of 2016 races from January to October, and somewhat surprised myself to discover it was a pretty big year: five half marathons (in Houston, Vancouver, Burlington, Montreal and Calgary), one 30 km (in Hamilton), one 10 km (in Toronto), and two marathons (in Rio and Toronto). No wonder I felt I needed more time! After two weeks without running, I started some easy jogging then filled the rest of my day with all the extras I had put on hold for basically a year. And since then, it has kept me quite busy in a variety of ways: I completed several interviews in person and by phone, Skype/Facetime or email, had various speaking engagements, worked with the kids to fill their Operation Christmas child shoe boxes and purge hundreds of items from the basement and their bedrooms, had overdue coffee dates with friends, completed my annual College of Dietitians of Ontario renewal, trained for and completed my first shift as official swim meet timer, helped with team fundraisers, played in an evening of laser tag, AND fully suited up for the first time in many years to play some ice hockey! So many of these events required significant energy that I just wasn’t able to give when in the thick of marathon training. I’m particularly glad to have the purging job complete. That takes more time and energy than any running workout!
At this point in late November, I’ve finished my fourth week of easy running and have quite enjoyed this beautiful fall, running freely with no plan, no watch, and simply the beauty of the outdoors with crunchy leaves beneath my feet. My 2016 recovery has nicely become my base building for a 2017 spring marathon. I’m expecting 2017 to look a bit different, not only because I will turn the big 4-0 in early January but because I will be with a new coach. It was a very difficult decision to make but after much thought I decided to not continue with Rick. After five very eventful and successful years with him it was really tough but necessary for my career. I felt I needed change, something different. I realize 2013 may be my fastest year and 2016 my most successful but I couldn’t stay for comfort and familiarity. I did not want to look back and ask myself, “Why didn’t you just try something new when you could have?”
Thankfully, I’m at a very good point in my career right now. I could get injured or decide to be finished today, leaving incredibly pleased with my success. Or I could give it a few more attempts to see what else could happen. Rick was understanding and supportive. We will always have a positive relationship with mutual respect as we continue to share our passion for running and love for our Brantford community.
In terms of coaching, it made sense to ask Dave Scott-Thomas if he and his team would consider taking me. For many reasons, I always felt this is where I would go, should the need arise. And I somewhat already felt part of the team because I was included as an “adopted” Gryphon in the list of Speed River/University of Guelph Olympians. Recently I made a trip to Guelph to meet with Dave to discuss our next steps. While walking around the athletic buildings, we made a stop in to see my former teammate and roommate, Rachel Flanagan who is now head coach of the women’s hockey team. We reminisced a bit, which included us determining that Dave’s first year as head coach was my second year at U of G. I had actually done a few runs with the x country team when in my first year while also attending hockey tryouts with a full course load but it was too much at the time when my mom was losing her battle to cancer. So there I stood, twenty years later, back in Guelph somewhat picking up where I left off.
December will continue to be a base-building month with likely the addition of a bit of quality. I am quite excited about 2017. Perhaps the best is yet to come!