My last blog post mentioned the emotionally difficult times I was having in April. These emotional challenges increased in June with the loss of my mom. My mom had been unwell for a long time, 11 years in fact. She was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers at the age of 58 and had a very fast downward spiral culminating in the loss of her ability to self-care, to eat, to communicate and to be mobile. She remained in this state for many years. I felt I had lost many parts of her over the years and that I had grieved these as they happened, however, I was unaware that despite my grieving over the years I would still feel so unprepared when she went. The waves of grief continue to come over me, although they do move further apart.

After my mom’s death I did do one more race. This had been on my schedule as my final race for the season and I decided I would like to do it. It was the inaugural Toronto Waterfront 10k. I had been running some really good workouts leading up to my mom’s passing so knew I was fit but in the couple of weeks after her death I had not had the energy or desire to do anything more than easy comfortable runs. I went in to the race wanting to run a hard effort and see what happened. It was a warm and humid day in Toronto so I decided to just run by feel. I went out at what felt like a fast but conservative pace and hit the 5k mark at 17:04. I was in about 5th place I think and mentally kind of gave in. The next 2 k were slow and my motivation wasn’t there. At 7k I had renewed sense of competitiveness and decided to work to catch the woman in front of me. I pushed harder and was able to overtake her at about 9k. I finished the race in 4th, and was first master. My time of 35:08 wasn’t my best but I was happy I was able to push through and finish.

Following the race was my season break. I took a week off where I just ran a couple of short easy runs then I took 2 weeks where I ran daily but all easy runs. Some people like to stop running completely on their break but I find mentally I need to get some running in. With how I was feeling emotionally as well, running was my outlet and meditation time, a much needed release. I am now ready to start training again so this week I have added some fartlek runs to get the legs turning over again.

I plan to start racing again in September, with my goal race being the New York Marathon on November 6th. I have been invited to race as part of the elite field and am so excited to line up with the elite/pro women in New York. I will be aiming to be fit and ready to run fast. My last marathon was just slightly over a year ago at the Pan Am Games so I am ready to embrace the training.

I am sure I will continue to navigate through the emotional challenges of life, but I am ready to focus on my running journey again.

I also want to send out a huge congrats to my friends and team mates in Canada and the US who secured their spots on the Olympic Team. What an incredible honour to represent. Also if you anyone is interested in #Rule 40 and what it means for athletes check out for a blog on it’s impact or follow Lauren Fleshman or Sally Bergesen on Twitter. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of a team that supports and advocates for not only it’s own athletes but all athletes.

Thanks as always to my amazing friends and family for their support during these challenges, to my sponsors Oiselle, Nuun, Forerunners, Zensah, New Balance Canada and RunGo App! And to my coach Richard Lee, I couldn’t do it without you all. It really does take a community.

Catherine Watkins Running BeachCatherine Watkins Strides