Looking at me now most people wouldn’t guess that I didn’t grow up athletic. Even as a teenager, being homeschooled from Grade 6-12 meant that I didn’t engage in the extracurricular activities that most kids do or even partake in any kind of organized sports. Being as active as I am now only came to me later in life.
I lived abroad for 6 years in Ireland and lived quite a sedentary life. Running definitely wasn’t something that crossed my mind and the thought of climbing a mountain, well that didn’t even come into the realm of possibility. That is until my husband Leigh and I moved to Squamish, BC in 2010 and our world changed forever.
I went from being unfit and not even being able to run a full minute without stopping, to becoming inspired by the landscape around me; I wanted to be part of what I was looking at. The mountains beckoned and I followed their call up the steep trails to their summits. Hiking was becoming a daily activity and with the increased fitness that came from spending so much time outside I soon became determined to run my first marathon. In 2011 I gobbled up as much information as I could about running, came up with a training plan and logged all my training runs solo. I would go on to run the BMO Vancouver marathon that May. The running bug had bitten me and I was hooked. By the Spring of 2012 I was running the BMO marathon again.
After so much time training and running alone on the roads, dealing with mental limitations and self doubt, I soon learned that the only limits holding me back were the ones I set for myself. With the desire to push harder, farther and stop limiting myself, I discovered trail running and felt my life shift. After spending so many hours hiking on mountain trails and spending time in high places, it was a natural progression to be able to move quickly through this type of terrain. Trail running offered me a challenge and beauty that I couldn’t find running on the road. This was what I was meant to do and where I was meant to spend my time.
With this new found passion I quickly signed up and ran my first 50km trail race in 2013; after all once you run a marathon (42.2km) what’s another 8 km right? That 50 km race was one of the hardest races, mentally and physically to train for. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether I could succeed and I was even toying with the idea of dropping from the race weeks before the big day. But with the support of my other half and the determination not to give up, I pushed through and completed something that only a few years earlier I would not have even thought possible.
Incidentally it was at this point that I discovered Hammer Nutrition and it became my mainstay for training. Anyone who trains for long distance running can tell you that nutrition is key to success and it is a long process of trial and error. Once I found Hammer products it felt like the trial and error period was over. I found something that worked for me, that I could trust and I never went for another long run without a hammer bar or gel in my pack.
But wait, once you have run 50 km where do you go from there? Well for me it meant running my first 80km trail race in 2014. This was my big goal of the year, along with increasing my skills as a rock climber. With that in mind I tried to train as hard as I could. Most days saw me running anywhere from 20-50km and then climbing for a few hours the same day. It was important for me to be able to push my body to its limit and see what it was truly capable of.
I completed my first 80 km trail race within my goal time and went on to be able to lead climb several rock routes that I had on my tick list over the summer. Putting in the effort to train and fuel my body correctly showed me that anything is possible if you continue to remove the limits that we so often set for ourselves.
So what is in store for 2015? Well I am so privileged and honoured to be chosen as a Hammer Athlete Ambassador for the year, along with my husband Leigh and a list of other very accomplished and inspiring athletes. My goal is to competitively run at least two 50km trail races this year along with several smaller distance races, hoping to make my way to the podium more often. Asides from racing, my training will take me into the mountains, climbing harder and more technical lines, learning to move fast in that terrain and overall making sure to have as many Hammer fuelled adventures as possible in 2015!