Reflecting on the 2019 “Season”
As the decade closes out, I’ve been hit with the realization that 2019 really feels like the year that I finally came into my athletic, and arguably, my professional, own. Now, I didn’t win any of the big ultra-marathons out there, and Shred Girls: Lindsay’s Joyride didn’t skyrocket to the top of the bestseller lists. But I did win some local ultras outright, and the book launch brought more than 100 little girls to Joyride 150 to celebrate and to have a major publisher bring it out into the world is the culmination of so many dreams I’ve had since I was two years old. This year wasn’t about fireworks or anything major happening—it was about steady progress in what feels like the right directions.
In some ways, it’s hard to take the end of a decade too seriously—those of us around my age remember the changing of the freaking millennium, for crying out loud! And added to that, I turned 30 two years ago, and that felt like a much bigger milestone than the clock ticking over to 2020. But still, I do love literally any chance to reflect, redirect, shift courses, make plans and set goals… And pause and think back on what the season has looked like. (We did a podcast recently talking about a season audit, you can listen here.)
2019 was the first year in my life that I actually focused on one type of racing—trail running, primarily the 50k distance—and surprising absolutely no one, it turns out that when you actually focus on a certain sport, you make improvements. I started working with SWAP Coach David Roche (who we’ve had on the podcast!) at the end of 2018 and it was the first time in my life that I actually followed a training plan. (Deepest apologies to the coaches who’ve tried to help me in the past.) All I can say is that I guess I was in a place where I actually wanted to do the training that went with the racing, I understood the need for taking rest time (after dealing with a nagging knee injury) and David and I clicked with his training style and running philosophies. It was actually simple to follow the training plan, even when there were intervals that I hate, 18+ mile training runs, and two days off on weeks where I was feeling great.
So, my training and racing actually finally clicked. I’ve had good results in the past in triathlon and cycling, but actually focusing on running? It was a huge shift and suddenly, I actually won some races—some were smaller local ones, but a couple I was really proud of included 2nd in the 50K at the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain in NY, and a win at the Summit 700 in Blue Mountains, ON, in a brutal 21K hill climbing trail race. And I actually won two smaller 50Ks and a 5K outright, ahead of all the guys as well. Honestly? It feels freaking good to have results like that.
But it also reminded me of something really important: Nothing magical happens when you race well. You’d think I would know that, having literally just written the book, The Athlete’s Guide to Sponsorship. But I admit, there was still a little part of me that secretly expected to magically get sponsored by major brands the second I crossed the finish line.
Admittedly though, the more I’m actually racing and performing in these races, the easier it is for me to write about running. I really love writing for Map My Run and Women’s Running and other running outlets, but unlike cycling, I just don’t have the years in the sport, so it’s been really fun to finally be making moves in that arena as well. I know I’m extremely lucky that life + sport can actually align well for me.
It was also a good reminder because sure, the wins were nice, but the better part of the summer was the long runs with friends—like doing a full trail marathon just for fun with my new friend Karen. It was the solo long runs on the trails. It was—seriously—failing to get the FKT at La Cloche but still having an awesome run and weekend with Peter despite getting lost, despite getting rained on. I knew that a big part of why I race is because I love to train, but I always thought that secretly, that was just a thing I said because I wasn’t always doing too well in racing. But it turns out, the whole process is really what I enjoy more than any one race day.
So I’m excited for another year of training and racing, and minor change. (More on that later.)
But in general? 2019 showed me what I can be capable of, made me excited for it, and has me thinking a lot about what adventures I want to get up to in the future.