Taking Things in Stride

One year and a couple days ago, I wrote a blog post about having just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is almost hard to believe that a year has passed, and equally hard to fully process everything I have experienced in the last 12 months. It is amazing how much my mental well-being is tied to running - I think I have always known this on some level, but never fully appreciated it until being forced to take so much time off over the last year while simultaneously dealing with so many uncertainties and unfamiliar situations. I often refer to running as "my happy place"; it sounds cutesy but is utterly true. I am so grateful to have been able to log over 1000 km already in 2015 (with 22,000 m of total elevation gain!): the more time I spend on these trails, the more at peace I become with everything else in my life.

About 6k into Loop the Lakes
In that 2014 post, I was getting ready to run the Loop the Lakes 21k trail race - which I just ran again this past weekend. This race last year was my first foray into BC trail racing, and I was excited to run it again with more experience under my belt. This year I knocked about 4 minutes off my previous time, and improved from placing 7th to 2nd female. I am especially pleased with the result in light of my DNF in the marathon earlier this month: because I didn't keep pushing through that hamstring/nerve injury, I was able to get back to running and racing fairly quickly (after about a week of rehab and rest). Ending up on the podium this weekend, as well as at the 5 Peaks Golden Ears race two weeks ago, has cemented in my mind that the difficult decision to drop out of the marathon was the right call.

Attempting to "leap" over a fallen tree at 5 Peaks Golden Ears
My training is now fully focused on trails for the rest of the summer, and I have quite a busy calendar. I'll be running several 5 Peaks and Coast Mountain Trail Series races - all of these are shorter distances and are really just "fast" (note the quotes) workouts as I train toward my main goal race for this year, the Squamish 50k in August. 


My Happy Place
I ultimately want to work my way up to the 50-mile distance next spring, which even I can't actually believe I am saying. The thing is, training for and running in these ultra-length races is such a gift for me. It allows me to spend hours on the trails that I love so deeply, and those hours are the time carved out of my day during which I can be fully in tune with myself. It is self-centred time, and I mean that in the best sense of the term: it allows me to centre on taking care of my mental and physical health. Trail running is part of my path to healing; it is natural therapy. The more I run, the further I test my limits and endurance, the more sure-footed I become, both literally and figuratively. One thing I have learned over the last year is this: There are so many things in life that are out of our control - but in the long run, the best we can do is learn to take them all in stride.

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