My Life as a Series of Mugs and Races

We’re a unique type—lovers of coffee, running, and travelling for races. We enjoy our lifestyle and don’t mind people asking us questions about why we do what we do. We take pleasure in scrolling through Strava just as much, if not more, than any other social media platform. And we don’t mind leaving parties early or being the first in our household to go to bed. Because, when our head hits the pillow and we’re drifting off to sleep, we’re all enjoying thinking about the same thing: the coffee we’ll drink in the morning before our run in preparation for our next race. Am I right?

Toronto, Ontario

Competing in the December Tannenbaum 10 km (2014,15,17,18,19) has always been very fun with a lot of familiar faces. I’m usually just returning to training, after taking some downtime post fall marathon, so I rarely have specific goal times. The Christmas spirit is in the air and the running community is happy to be together out along the beachfront. We usually start decorating for the season at home so I’m happy to pull this mug from the box amongst other holiday items.

Orlando, Florida, USA 

After recovering from my fractured femur in 2014, I was succeeding in what it would take to make the standard for the 2016 Olympics. In order to get a solid block of peak training in March for my April marathon, I travelled south to escape our Ontario winter. For the first ten days I stayed and trained in Houston, Texas with my good friend Mary Davies. As she was also preparing for a spring marathon, our plan lined up well for joint workouts, easy and long runs. From there I travelled to Florida where I met up with my family for continued warm weather training and a Disney vacation. I would get up early to complete my run while my husband and kids would eat breakfast and pack lunches for the day. After a quick shower and eating, we’d head to the amusement park for the day and repeat it again the next day. Looking back, when our kids were ages 4, 7 and 9, I don’t know how I had the energy to keep up. But I did. And I have the mug to show for it. I went on to run 2:29:38 at the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon, which made me the first woman in 20 years to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Edmonton, Alberta

This mug is my favourite of all. I love the shape, its solid structure, and the memory of what I overcame after I purchased it. In 2015 I was in great shape and training for the October Toronto Waterfront Marathon. A few days before travelling to Edmonton to race the half marathon, I stepped on a rock and injured my foot. After flying all the way to Edmonton, my pre race test run revealed that I definitely should not even start the race. Mary Davies was my roommate, who also travelled for the race, and I was so grateful for her friendship. She helped me during a very difficult time. I bought this mug at the airport before my long, solo, and teary trip back home, where the next day I discovered that I had broken a bone in my foot, and my season would be over.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

I have several items to remind me of my incredible experience running for Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games. I enjoyed my time in the Olympic Village, was very pleased with how I worked my way from about 70th to 35th place in the race, and was full of emotion when I celebrated with my family and coach just after crossing the finish line. I don’t think anything will ever top that moment. 

Iten, Kenya 

For the month of March in 2017, I completed my first (and only) stint of training at altitude. Other than the deep sadness I initially felt when leaving my family, I absolutely loved everything about this trip. The local people, facility, other athletes with whom I ran and ate, the cuisine, culture, and training made for one of the best experiences of my life. I feel like a small part of my heart remains in Kenya and I have the mugs to take me there.

London, England 

After my very productive month of altitude training in Kenya, I was fit and in fine form to run a personal best at the 2017 London Marathon. It was a perfect day for racing—ideal temperatures without wind, and a pace group within my goal time. Around the 10 km mark I started to feel unwell and dropped off the pack, only to then realize that my stomach would be problematic for the remaining 30+ km. I finished the race and managed to win the masters division but to this day it still seems like the longest marathon I’ve ever done. I decided to make the best of my remaining time in London, doing some sightseeing and shopping, before making the trip back home.     

New York City, USA 

I was fortunate to compete in all three New York City bucket list races—the Half Marathon (2014), Mini 10 km (2018), and Marathon (2021). Visiting the M & M’s store has always been a must-do with every trip, which I enjoyed once with my sister and once with my husband. My most memorable moment in New York City was likely in 2018 when I sat on a panel with Des Linden and Sarah Sellers after our podium finish at the Boston Marathon

Over the years I’ve collected a few mugs while away for training and racing. For each mug there’s something meaningful behind it. And when I drink from a particular mug, that memory reminds me of who I’ve become and how it’s contributed to my story. There’s a lot more racing, and mug collecting, to come, stay tuned.