2017 in Review: Missteps in the Right Direction

Every December, I write a blog reflecting on my year of running before I dive headlong into another year of training, racing, and adventuring. My immediate impression when I think about 2017 is that it was a bit of a non-starter: I was sidelined for a good portion of the summer and fall with a bad hamstring tendon strain, and because of this I have been finding it hard to start this post this year. Until just for a change, clarity came in the form of my run this morning. About half an hour into the route I had planned, I found myself ploughing through deep snow on a trail I had assumed would be tracked out. I was getting frustrated at how slowly and awkwardly I was moving - this is not what I had envisioned for my last run of the year! I eventually turned around, and was met with this sight...
...which stopped me in my (fresh) tracks, and smacked some sense into me. Who cares if this run isn't what I had expected? It is still beautiful, and fun in its own way, and I am grateful to be running at all. And, of course, this also applies to my year of running.

When I take the time to reflect on what I accomplished in 2017, it was still a successful year in many regards. Stats-wise, I'm closing out the year having logged just over 2000 km of running and gaining over 66,000 m of elevation. That distance is right around where I generally have landed at the end of the year since I started trail running, but the elevation is greater than I usually end up with - which is surprising, considering I missed the summer mountain running season. Lots of rolling runs add up! 

Owing to that injury, my race season was a shortened one, stretching from February to June. In that time, I raced two ~25k's (Run Ridge Run and Comfortably Numb), and two 50k's (Chuckanut and Tillamook Burn). Aside from Chuckanut, the leg pain disaster of which I have already blogged about, I ran well at all those races, placing 4th, 5th, and 6th female. Including Chuckanut, I was first in the 40-49 age group in all the races, except Comfy Numb where I was 2nd. I had actually forgotten all of this, incidentally, before I sat down to write this post. Interesting how achievements sometimes slip away until you stop to take stock.
Comfortably Numb, Whistler. Photo courtesy of Rob Shaer.
The thing is, though, running for me is not about the race performances; not really. I enjoy the process of setting goals, training, and racing - and I am proud of the results I earn through that process - but racing has never been the reason I run. I run because I love it. I love the familiar practice of putting one step in front of the other and propelling myself through and to incredible places. Even with the layoff this year, I managed to squeeze in lots of fun adventures, including hiking to and camping at Lake Lovely Water for Alicia's stagette, exploring the new Lord of the Squirrels trail in Whistler with Cristina and Starr, doing an incredible 20k day hike in Tetrahedron Provincial Park with Brendan, introducing our newly adopted dog Hobbes to trail running, x-country skiing, and snowshoeing, and running with 30 girls to Elfin Lakes in costumes for Halloween. In short, 2017 was not a non-starter: it was another year of great experiences. Like my run this morning, it was just a matter of me looking back to realize it.
The other great thing is that injuries always come with a silver lining, which is that when I can finally run again, my love of running is rekindled ten-fold. I come back more grateful, and more focused on why running is such an important part of my life. I've been slowly building my distance back up for two months now, and am back to running 50k weeks regularly. I'm back to running with my friends, and regaining both my treasured alone time and social time on the trails. 

I'm back.

So this is how I end 2017, and start 2018. Proud of what I have accomplished, and excited to set new goals and for the work I'll put in to achieve them. Grateful, always, for the incredible people I get to share adventures with. And armed with the wisdom that even though runs, or races, or years, don't always go how I expect them to, I am still headed in the right direction. 


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