Racing Ahead

About a month ago I made the really hard decision to withdraw from the Yukon Arctic Ultra. I was signed up for the marathon portion of the race (42 km) and was excited about competing because I knew it would challenge me as a runner (both physically and mentally), and because if anyone knows me, I absolutely adore running in the winter. Unfortunately I came down with an awful flu right before Christmas — the same flu that seems to be cruising across Canada right now. It is only now, over six weeks later (and with the use of antibiotics) that I feel I am finally almost recovered. I have been able to go out running more and more, and am glad to be training again. Being out of commission for over a month meant that I was not marathon ready, and especially not for the Arctic Ultra, where even the fittest and most ready are pushing their bodies to the extreme. I know that I made the best decision to pull out of that race. As much as I wanted to prove to myself that I am a winter running warrior, I am glad that I gave myself the time that I needed to recover. I have never pulled out of a race before, so it was not easy to do. I went back and forth a couple times about whether I wanted to watch the start of the race (would I be able to emotionally handle it?), but on the -37 degree C morning of February 2nd, I went a little bit down the river to cheer on the runners and those competing in the longer expedition. It has been quite a cold year for the race, with some fantastic updates here. I certainly have my mind zoned into this race for next year, but truthfully hope it will be just a wee bit warmer.

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Trying to stay optimistic after this blow, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the various races that I am planning to do this year. Perhaps I am a keener, but I am currently planning to do five different races that are 42km or longer, and will likely compete in a few shorter ones too. So here it goes. This is what I hope to have on tap.

  1. Waterloo Marathon (42km) April 29, 2018 – Waterloo, Ontario

My first race of the year will be the Waterloo Marathon. Having been born and raised in Waterloo, this one holds a special place in my heart. I was visiting my parents last April when I saw this one pop up on my Facebook feed a few days before the race. I made a quick decision to enter the Ed Whitlock ½ marathon (the 21km option of this race). Everything just seemed to tickle my heart about this race. The start and finish line was in the park I have spent many fun adventures in with my family, friends and pets, and the route took me through the rolling country roads that I have traveled many times. It was also so lovely knowing that my parents could be there at the start and finish line to cheer me on. After completing the race; I already knew I wanted to do it again. When registration opened for this year’s race, I made a slightly bold decision to sign up for the full marathon. I am really looking forward to running even more of the rolling country roads near my childhood home, and can’t wait to run through the famous Kissing Bridge.

Feeling good and beating the boys, final stretch to the finish line of the 2017 Ed Whitlock ½ marathon, Waterloo.
  1. Dempster to Dawson Marathon (42km) June 16 , 2018 – Dawson City, Yukon

The Dempster to Dawson Marathon will forever be a special race for me. This race was the first marathon (and still the only) marathon that I have done. When I first realized that I might actually be able to complete a marathon, I had my eyes set on this one. I knew I wanted my first one to be in the Yukon, and the idea of embarking on a conquest like the miners did, heading into Dawson City in 1889, would be fun. The race was quite a quirky and fun one, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering doing it this year. Seven of us got picked up downtown at 6am and driven out to the start line, 42km away in the middle of nowhere. Once the first speedy runners took off, the only humans I saw (besides the volunteers at the water stations), were the slower 5km runners that I caught up to a couple kilometers before the finish line. The race organizers and volunteers sure know how to put on a fun race – and I must admit that I really appreciated the cheeky signs along the route, and the Dawson City Firefighters who hosed us down about five km from the finish line. With this being my first marathon, it seems incredible to say that I placed first for females! But I must admit that there were only two women racing – haha. This marathon quickly made its way to a top spot of my list of races to do again this year, and I was delighted to register again for it the other day.

Seconds away from completing my first marathon! 2017 Dempster to Dawson Marathon.
  1. Reckless Raven (50Miles/ 80.4km) July 1, 2018 – Whitehorse, Yukon

Oh boy. Where do I begin with the Reckless Raven? This race is by far the scariest and most exciting challenge for me to date. I have a friend who runs ultra marathons and have always found the challenge of them inspiring. I also never thought I could do one, until I ran the Dempster to Dawson marathon last year, and realized that distance running seems to be my strength. I cannot run fast, but I sure can run far. Some wonderful mountain runners here organize this race in Whitehorse, and last year was the first year it occurred. I volunteered at the start line and one of the check points, and knew right then that I would sign up for the next one. In truth, I do not have too much to say about why I signed up for this race yet, but I know that I need to start training for hills (or mountains) as this one has A LOT of elevation gain, and hills have NEVER been my strength. I look forward to running this race, but still am terrified about the idea of it.

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Some hills to look forward to during the 2018 Reckless Raven Ultra Marathon.
  1. Yukon River Trail Marathon (42km) August 5, 2018 – Whitehorse, Yukon

I am still on the fence about whether to do the half marathon or full marathon portion of this race. I have done the half marathon the last two years, and struggled with it last year more than ever. It is known to be a hilly route, but an absolutely stunning one. While I want to try to improve my time of the half marathon, I realize that if I if I running an even more hilly and longer race a month earlier, I should be in good enough shape to attempt the full. I still have a couple months until registration opens up, so I still have time to decide.

Slower than the year before, but another Yukon Trail 1/2 Marathon under my belt!
  1. Victoria Marathon (42km) October 7, 2018 – Victoria, British Columbia

This one is a bit of a wild card for me. I have never been to Victoria before, but have heard wonderful things about the city, and the race route. I know that many Yukoners travel to this marathon, so I thought I would look into it some more. I really like the idea of keeping my fitness up after the summer, to a point where I can run marathons regularly, so I figured I would register. Even though this marathon is 9 months away, I had to provide my estimated time of completion, which was really challenging for me! I could only really go off of the time of my first marathon, but by this time I will have four others under my belt. I am also a little nervous about how many people will be racing. I saw on the website that they put a cap at 1500 for the marathon. Compare that to the seven of us that competed in the Dempster to Dawson Marathon, and it seems pretty overwhelming to me! I have never raced with a pacer before though, so I am interested to see if that will help my pace.

Had a blast running leg 6 of the Klondike Road Relay in 2017. Hoping to do it again in 2018.

There are a few other races that I am sure will pop up throughout the year, including some local snowshoe races, the Klondike Road Relay, and the Horror Hill Race in Waterloo (race report from last year). And of course, racing ahead into next year, the Yukon Arctic Ultra in early 2019.

Here I come 2019 Yukon Arctic Ultra!

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