If it doesn't Challenge you it doesn't Change you

Today, a milestone: my first pain-free run since undergoing a bilateral mastectomy on October 3rd. I've done a couple 20-minute runs over the last two weeks, but neither went very well and I came away from both feeling sore and more deflated than elated. Not so today! Although I was out of shape after over 2 months off, and realized that the last run I had timed read 2h45 on my chrono, I pushed those thoughts aside and thoroughly enjoyed today's short spin on the trails.

I'm cautiously considering today's 28 and a half minutes the start of my winter base training. You have to start somewhere, and I have long known that while the first few weeks back after a layoff are difficult, I just need to keep at it ... and it will get better. My legs will get rolling soon enough and I'll slip back into a groove of feeling like a runner again. I've missed feeling like that, and am excited to turn the challenges of this past year into motivation for chasing after some personal bests in 2015.

I've registered for 2 major goal races: The Vancouver Marathon in May (20 weeks from today), and the Squamish 50k trail race in August. I have several reasons for returning to the roads after a year of running exclusively on trails. I haven't run a marathon in five years, and I've never run Vancouver, so both of those seem like good reasons to do this race. Running on mountainous trails is a completely different kind of running: although over the past year I became stronger and tougher, and ran longer and farther than I ever had, I was also running much more slowly than I am used to. This is fine (and actually necessary) in trail racing, but I am looking forward to getting back into the grind of hitting my goal pace in Vancouver. I never thought I'd say I'm training for a marathon to get my speed back(!), but I guess everything's relative. I turned 40 last month, and would love to set a PB, in my 10th marathon and first as a Masters runner. I also trained for my first marathon in Vancouver, so there's a nice symmetry to this. I'm looking forward to revisiting some of my favourite long run routes, with the advantage of 16 years of marathon experience under my belt. 

The old is new again: view from Jericho Beach trail
Once Vancouver is accomplished, I'm going to refocus my energies on the trails. I had such an amazing experience at the Squamish 50 this year, and can't wait to get back on that course. My goal will be to better my time from the 2014 race; I am certain that, barring any major setbacks like I had this year, I should be able to knock at least 30 minutes off my time of 7h12. I do all my weekend runs on Squamish trails, and never tire of the endless single track, rust-coloured soil from ancient redcedars, green moss and ferns, and towering hemlocks and firs. These trails, though the most challenging terrain I have ever run, are where I feel most at peace. 

Challenge ... and Peace
So. After a year of ups and downs, but ultimately reaching new heights in my running, my goals for 2015 are to seek challenge, change, and peace. This journey never ceases to amaze me. It meanders, hits road blocks, and shifts direction, but two things remain constant: I am always running toward something, never away - and I will always love running, wherever it takes me. 

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