So … I started a blog! Recapping the first half of 2017
I am two weeks out from my first international competition so I thought it would be the perfect time to start blogging about my running adventures. This blog will be a bit longer than my future blogs, as I will be recapping the past six months. I hope my experiences will inspire others to explore new running adventures, especially on the trails and in the mountains. In future blogs, I will share more details about my races and training, including both the highs and lows. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read about my running journey! For more info on my background, check out my running webpage and bio here: www.shelleydoucet.ca and for those of you interested in learning about my program of research and career as a Professor in Nursing, check out this site: http://www.drshelleydoucet.com
Exploring Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon
After two years of injury setbacks, 2017 has been a great year. It started off in January with a work trip to Arizona, where I had my first exposure to training at altitude with my new friend Melanie Myrand from Quebec. The highlight of this experience was having the opportunity to train with Olympians (from 800 metre specialists to marathoners) and world class ultra runners. I was shocked at how humble and average they were to talk to, especially Jim Walmsley, who happens to be one of my main running role models because he trains incredibly hard and leaves everything out there on race day. I also had the opportunity to run in Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, which is what really sparked my interest in mountain running. I am looking forward to being reunited with Melanie at the Francophone Games in Africa this month, as she is representing Canada in the 10000 metres!
Washington, DC St. Pat’s 10k
In March, I travelled to Washington, DC as I was invited to participate in a health policy workshop. My husband Evan joined me on this trip and we enjoyed early morning sightseeing runs. There really is no better way to see a city than by foot! While there, I also ran a 10k road race as a hard training run. I was planning to race and aim for a 35 minute 10k, but came down with bronchitis. I was ecstatic to run a personal best of 36:42 in -10C temperature, which I attribute to holding back early in the race. It was in this race that I really learned the benefits of being patient by locking into a realistic pace and not going out too fast. According to the time mats, my splits were 18:21 and then again 18:21 🙂
2017 Boston Marathon
Next up was the Boston Marathon, which has been the highlight of my running career to date. While there were things outside my control that did not go as I had hoped (e.g. the heat), I adjusted from my “A goal” at the outset and stuck with a plan B that I could control and ran a personal best of 2:45:46. The main highlight in Boston was sharing this experience with my family and friends. I recognize it is quite special to have the opportunity to hang out with my sister and husband in the athletes’ village as we waited to be called to our respective starting corrals. I was also very fortunate to run most of the race with fellow Liv9 teammate Nat Couture, despite this not being planned out in advance, and we worked together to achieve the best we could on the day. I smiled the whole way down the final stretch on Boylston Street, as I knew I was on pace to break the New Brunswick marathon record for women, and because I knew the end was near 🙂 I felt great as I crossed the finish line and asked the first person I saw if I could borrow their phone to call my Mom, who had been tracking me all morning with her sisters. Just seconds later Colin McQuade arrived and shortly after that Nat finished and we were able to celebrate together, until I got a calf cramp which landed me in the medical tent (great way to get a massage with no line!). Another fond memory I have from this race had to do with my race mantra, which is “Don’t give up”. My daughter’s favourite song is “The Greatest”. For those of you unfamiliar with this song by Sia, here are the lyrics (at least the lyrics as my four year old daughter Ava sings it… she does some editing):
Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no
Mommy you are the greatest here tonight, the greatest
The greatest, the greatest I love you
The night before the race, Ava sang this song to me, which played through my mind the entire race. With one mile to go, I said to myself out loud – “Don’t give up”, to which the guy beside me responded “I won’t, I won’t” 🙂
For a more detailed race recap, check out Nat’s excellent blog about our race experience here: https://www.liv9.ca/blogs/news/records-were-made-to-be-broken
You can also check out this interview I did with CBC radio following the 2017 Boston Marathon:
Taking a Recovery Break
I spent the next three weeks recovering both physically and mentally, and took the opportunity to cheer on my friends and family as they raced. Of note, I was able to bike along the course in Fredericton as my husband, Evan, had spontaneously decided to run the Fredericton Marathon the day before the race as the weather forecast looked perfect to secure a Boston qualifier for 2018, which he was successful in doing! I participated in RunNB races post Boston (and prior) as either training runs (e.g. the Adventure Corridor Relay from Sussex to St. Martins, Brent Kelly 5 Miler) or with my kids and hubby (e.g. Pete’s Pub St. Paddy’s Day Dash). I always enjoy taking part in local races, as it is an opportunity to connect with the amazing running community in New Brunswick.
Ottawa 10k National Championship Race
My next goal race was the Ottawa 10K National Championship Road Race. This was my first evening race and also my first time racing without my immediate family present. Despite running a 5-mile personal best (28:58), I faded quite significantly with 1 mile to go. That’s what can happen when you race at the red line, especially in the heat. It was a good thing that my coach John Lofranco was there to keep me upright at the finish! 🙂 I have no regrets, as I believe it is experiences like this where I can really push myself to the limits so that I can learn what I am truly capable of and achieve the best out of myself. I have learned this from my running idol Jim Walmsley. Anyone reading this who followed Jim at the Western States 100 miler the past two years will understand what I mean. Ottawa 10k May.
At this point in my training, I had moved from mostly road running and some snowshoe running over the winter to mostly trail running with my workouts on the road. The best part of my training week is definitely the Monday night runs with the River & Trail Runners group, where we run on various trails in Saint John and surrounding areas (all are welcome)! I will provide more info in my next blog on my training and fueling, otherwise my first blog will become a book.
First Trail Race of 2017–Rompin Rockwood 25k
My next race was the Rompin Rockwood 25k trail race, which was a blast as I had the opportunity to race against my training partner, Evan Arsenault, and for the first time in 2017 re-connect with trail runners from all over New Brunswick and outside the province. The highlight in this race was seeing my family in the woods at various places (especially seeing son Myles and daughter Ava running around in the trails as I would approach them). A close second was the joy on my sister’s face at the finish of her first trail race – I could tell she was hooked!
Mount Washington Road Race
The following weekend I ran my first mountain race at Mount Washington and was humbled by how challenging it was. I was so happy that the pain was almost over as I approached the finish line that I am sure the spectators thought I believed I had won the race, even though I really came in third. The highlight of this race actually came after my race was over. While driving back down the mountain, a 97-year-old man was still venturing on his 7.6 mile journey up the mountain, which he would eventually complete in just over 4 hours. I can only dream that I will be able to run 7.6 miles at age 97, much less a 7.6 mile run where the average climb is 12% and nearly 5000 feet of elevation with no flat or downhill recovery periods. Hopefully this will inspire others to get outside their comfort zone and try an adventure like the Mount Washington Road Race, at any age!
Ottawa Canada Day 10K
Our road trip to New Hampshire was a last minute trip for our family and we had so much fun we decided to go on another road trip to Ottawa the following week. While there, I, of course, found a race and ran in the Ottawa Canada Day 10K. Where this was not a goal race and the weather was rather wet, I started slow to see how I was feeling and ended up running a personal best with a time of 36:23. I just learned today that in doing so, I broke the course record! 🙂 This race was memorable as I made a new friend, Cleo Boyd, while racing and we helped each other dodge the many puddles and pick off the men ahead of us. Rather than playing games with racing tactics, we worked together to get the best out of each other. Unlike my even pacing in Washington in March and slow crash in Ottawa in May, I ran a negative split with my first mile clocking in at 5:55 and last mile at 5:34. The next day I joined my coach John in Montreal for a long run on Mount Royal and ended along the canal where I did 40 minutes at marathon pace in preparation for my upcoming marathon at the Francophone Games in Africa. I returned home from Ottawa Monday evening and before going home stopped at the Irving Nature Park to join the River & Trail Runners for our Monday night run at the Irving Nature Park.
Stay tuned for my future blogs, which will cover more details on my training, as well as my experiences at the Francophone Games in Africa (July 23) and World Long Distance Mountain Racing Championship in Italy (Aug 6), where I will have the opportunity to represent Canada for the first time!
I will end with sharing how much I truly appreciate everyone who supports me throughout my journey, especially my family who are there through both the highs and inevitable lows. A special shout out to those who make sure that I am geared up with the best products and nutrition, namely Salomon, River & Trail Outdoor Company, Liv9 Nutrition, and Suunto!
And for a shameless plug…please consider joining us for the 3rd annual Quispamsis Run and Swim on July 15th. Participate in either the 500 metre/1km kids’ fun run, the 3km trail run (7-18 years of age), or the 5km Super Series race! All proceeds will go to PRO Kids Saint John, a non-profit organization that provides funding for underprivileged youth to participate in sport and recreation activities.
Be sure to get outside, it is #timetoplay!