In 2017, I achieved two major goals that were actually part of a 5-10 year plan: the Boston and New York City marathons. Running them both in the same year, as my second and third marathons, respectively, was unexpected and not in the plan. So I’ve tinkered with the plan, and I’m excited to share what I want to accomplish in 2018.
With NYC behind me, I have fielded a lot of questions about what’s next. I’ve even been asked how will I ever top 2017 from a running perspective. I don’t feel like I have to race a World Major Marathon in order for a year to be considered big or successful. I’m quite content racing locally and focusing on improving my times. Which brings me to what’s next for me on the running front.
I’ve known what’s next for a while actually. Although I wasn’t super thrilled with either of my marathon times this year, my decision wasn’t based on those results. Rather, it’s about the great experiences I’ve had with shorter distance racing, specifically at the 10k distance.
In the fall of 2016, I raced my first 10k, and REALLY surprised myself by running a 37:54. This time was under the Elite B standard for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 10k, which is also the Canadian 10k road championships. My elite application was accepted, but I knew I likely wouldn’t perform the way I wanted to because the race was just a few weeks after Boston. My body took a long time to recover from those Boston hills. I gave my best at the TORW 10k, but I was burnt out. A few days after the race I was diagnosed with low progesterone.
During the summer, I decided that I would train for NYC, but it would be my last marathon for a while. I love the marathon, I loved marathon training. There was something about the structure and the discipline that I thrived on, and I can honestly say that I never had a day where I felt I was forcing myself to run — I consider myself lucky for that. My decision to change my focus for racing was mostly due to my interest in the 10k distance, and of course, wanting redemption for not performing the way I wanted to at the 10k championships in Ottawa.
I ran a 5k and a 10k race during NYC training, and managed to surprise myself again on a hot day racing a 10k. I finished as the 1st place female and 17th overall at the Canada Army Run 10k, and broke 40 minutes for the second time. This race was a breakthrough in my marathon training. I felt like I was heading in the right direction, being able to break 40 minutes on very tired legs, on a hot day at the end of a marathon training week. It was far off my personal best, but I thought, “If I had been focusing on the 10k, and not been training for a marathon, I know I could have done better.” The signs were there during all of 2017, and now I have decided that 2018 will be the year of the 10k.
It’s not the ‘easy way out’
To me, my decision makes a lot of sense. To others, they keep asking me which marathon is next, and when I reply that I’m taking a break from that distance, they wonder why. In my opinion, the 10k is just as much work as a marathon. I know that I have to get a lot stronger and focus on some of the things I let slide a bit when marathon training. My ultimate goal is to run 36:XX in the 10k. This goal scares me, but it also motivates me. The drive and motivation are there. I know what I have to do to achieve my goal. I’m ready to start chasing it.
Have you made a decision to focus on racing a shorter distance after a string of longer distance races? How do you decide what’s next after a big race?