2015: A Year Measured in Adventures

How to reflect on the incredible year of running I've had? If I look at 2015 by the numbers, I've logged over 2300 km and, according to Strava, gained almost 57,000 m of elevation in 237 hours of running (this is an under-estimate, because my GPS watch dies on runs over 5 hrs, of which I did quite a few!). These statistics, though, don't really tell the story of what I achieved in my running this year. What can possibly capture the milestones and moments I experienced over the course of those 2300+ km?

Let's try another summary method ... If you're on Instagram, you'll have noticed lots of "best nine" posts recently - a collage of your nine photos that received the most "likes" in 2015. Here's what mine looks like:

These images inspire me to reflect on the amazing year of running experiences I've had, and to realize how different my 2015 was from the previous year. 2014 was about dealing with challenge after challenge - I was in survival mode for much of the year, and looking back it feels like a blur, some parts of which I can't even fully remember. This year, conversely, has been about accepting and moving forward from my cancer diagnosis and surgeries; it has been about discovering and fostering the ways in which I find peace, clarity, and positive energy. I have always loved running - but this year has reinforced not only how important it is for me to be able to run, but also how much strength and joy I gain from exploring in the wilderness for hours and days at a time, moving only on the power of my own two feet. 

And as those photos show, to what breathtaking places and experiences my own two feet have led me in 2015! I did local adventure runs like the 30k Howe Sound Crest Trail and 50k of the Sea to Sky trail from Whistler to Squamish; hiked and ran in Kelowna and Boulder, and in Banff, Yoho, Cypress, and Garibaldi Parks; completed a 50k circumnavigation of Mount St Helens; won the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series; raced my second ultra marathon and achieved a PB on the Squamish 50k course. All of these experiences were incredible, and carried me through some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.

But still, as I reflect on the year, this selection of achievements and snapshots is missing something: there is another component to why many of these 2015 experiences were so meaningful and memorable. It's not just the distance run or elevation gained, nor is it the beautiful landscapes alone. Before this year, I was mostly a solo runner; I would sometimes join people for long runs, but for the vast majority of my runs I was out there by myself. I still highly value my alone time on the trails - but adventures, I have discovered, are that much better when shared. 

As well as sharing many incredible hiking and running experiences with Brendan this year, I've made some amazing friendships with strong, like-minded women, with whom I've pushed myself ever farther outside my comfort zone in the world of ultra running. It is these supportive, positive, and uplifting relationships that have elevated my 2015 from another year of running, to a year of true adventure. So, here's my version of Instagram's collage: less pictures of me on my own, more with the people who helped make this year one of my best to date. I can't wait to see what adventures 2016 has in store.

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