2016 has been an absolutely incredible year, full of change, accomplishments, adventures and love. Looking back through my photos of the year I can’t believe how many amazing things I was able to fit into one year. Here is a little recap of my favourite, most memorable moments of 2016.
1.Crossing the Finish-Line at Trans-Alpine Race
Absolutely, 100% my top moment of 2016. After quite literally training all spring and summer with a coach, doing hill repeats both up and down, back to back long runs, speed work and vertical kms after 12 hour shifts and countless hours one the trails, I toed the line at Trans-Alpine Race September 4th with my husband as my team mate, my two best friends and 4 other friends. 7 days running in the alps was no easy feat but we pushed through everyday. I woke up with nausea every morning and had trouble eating, so nutrition was always a catch up game for me. We ran up and down incredibly steep passes, through unexplainable mountains, countless alpine towns, and saw places the took our breath away. On day 3 I developed an injury that plagued quite a few runners. It quite literally felt like a knife stabbing into my shin with every step. This could have been my reason to quit, could have been why I dropped from the race, but instead it fuelled me, it lit a fire inside me and told me to push through the pain. The 7th and final day was incredibly painful for me but with the help of my husband, we completed the stage and crossed the sought after finish line, flags in hand, tears running down my face. A moment I will never forget.
2. The day I handed in my notice at work
The day I bought my flight to be in Costa Rica from November till the end of March was a huge moment for me. Not only did that mean I was actually doing this, it meant that I was going to have to surrender my full time nursing position. It was a terrifying decision for me but I knew in my heart I had to do this. I had to give myself fully the the project of Run Like a Girl and our Costa Rican Adventure and Wellness Retreats. I had full support from my parents and friends and husband which made the decision that much easier and I was starting to feel burnt out from nursing and needed a change. I learned if you have passion, amazing things will happen. I had lost passion for nursing and needed to pursue something else. It has now been 2 months since I have been here, giving myself full time to RLAG and absolutely incredible things have happened.
3. Racing the Knee Knacker with Eduardo
The Knee Knacker 50km is a very popular race where we live, it covers 3 mountains on the North Shore and is notorious for it’s steep climbs and technical terrain. This was one of my A races this year. I trained hard and specific for this race and was going for a personal best after sneaking under 7 hours last year. The morning of the race we woke up to a torrential downpour and after an already very rainy start to summer, this meant the trails were going to be in rough shape. It was a struggle to get out of a bed in that kind of rain and I even started the race (in July!) in a long sleeve. I pushed myself incredibly hard this race and learned a lot about myself and nutrition. I pulled into the halfway mark in 2nd place but struggled through the next 10km with nutrition. Eduardo was incredible with me and encouraged me to eat and drink more than I thought I needed to. By the 35k mark I was back under control and although I was in 6th place now, I pushed the last 15k harder than I had ever pushed. We crossed the finish line, hand in hand in 6:37 a time i was very proud of given the conditions of the day.
4. The day I found out I was finally getting a sister
When my brother met his now finance, Alicia at our retreat last November, I was really excited. The day he proposed, I was even more excited!! I grew up with two brothers and always wanted a sister. Well now I am finally getting one and I love her. I am excited to have her in our families life forever. Not to mention we also found out that there will be a little Van Dyk is entering the world next June as well. A sister and a niece or nephew? Sweet deal!
5. The day I moved to Costa Rica
November 1st, I boarded an airplane to Costa Rica to spend the next 5 months here. It has been an absolutely incredible, amazing and life changing experience so far and I am very excited what the next 3 months bring! Being immersed in a new culture and language has been an awesome learning experience for me and I am very thankful for this experience.
6. Climbing Sky Pilot with two of my biggest running idols
Sky Pilot is one of my favourite peaks in my backyard of Squamish BC. Eduardo and I have climbed it now 4 times, but my favourite summit was when we went with a group of awesome, kick ass inspiring runners. A week before the Squamish 50 race, the town was flooded with professional runners, one in particular was Anna Frost. We had met her a few years back at the Coastal Challenge and her and my husband became great friends. She wanted to see the top picks in Squamish and one of them was Sky Pilot. Together we climbed the peak with a group of awesome friends, including bad-ass runner and my coach Jen Segger. It was literally the perfect way to end my training for Transalpine with my coach by my side and my running idol. The fact that I could even keep up with these athletes are a huge accomplishment in itself for me.
7. Exploring Landmannlauger in Iceland
When we booked our flights for Europe, we found we could fly through Iceland and stay a few days at no extra charge, so we jumped at the chance to see a new country! The whole trip was a highlight in itself, but specifically, our hike to Landmannlauger blew my mind completely. I had researched it online after a recommendation from a friend, and was mesmerized by the rainbow coloured mountains and open scenery. I knew we had to go there. Although our rental camper van wasn’t technically permitted on Iceland’s “F Roads”, we decided to take the chance. We drove off into the unknown as night fell. The landscape was so strange, if you had told us we were on a different planet, I might have actually believed you. The next morning we started our 25km trek of Landmannlauger’s rainbow mountains and took in some of the most incredible sites I have ever seen. When Eduardo and I summited the highest peak of the trek we stood at the top and were moved to tears. We could see the ocean, most of Iceland’s glaciers, mountains, lakes… it was indescribable beauty.
8. Gorge waterfalls 50km road trip with my brother
We both applied for the lottery in this race and agreed that if one got in that the other would come and crew. Well I got it, and Devin was the best crew a girl could have asked for. We road tripped down to Oregon together (my first time there!) and camped in Hood River. When I was meant to be tapering, we went exploring endless waterfalls and the sites of this incredible place. The race itself was awesome and I kicked off my 2016 race season with a PB for a 50k of 6:13.
9. BC Running Road Trip with my good friend Brice
As part of my training for Transalpine, I wanted to mimic a stage race. I planned a 3 day road trip through BC where I would run new trail each day. The only friend crazy enough to do this with my at kind of last minute was my friend Brice. We had an incredible adventure running absolutely stunning trails in BC and pushing our bodies over 100km in 3 days with lots of driving in between. The highlight of the trip for me was running the Rockwall trail, a 55km point to point trail that was on my list for awhile. I met my friend new Liz there as well when she agreed to run with two people she only knew from Instagram! It was an incredible day. What a trip!!
10. My first rock-climbing competition
I started rock-climbing in January when a new climbing gym opened up near our house. I was immediately hooked and progressed quite quickly. Just for fun, my husband and I entered a climbing competition at the gym. The goal was to climb as many routes as you could in 2 hours. You got more points for harder routes but you had to be strategic not to tire yourself out before the 2 hours were up. I am by far not the best climber out there, but I have endurance and a competitive flare and I actually finished as first female surprisingly. It was such a fun night.
11. Run Like a Girl’s first Squamish Retreat
We dreamed up an adventure weekend in my backyard and it sold out in 48 hours. It was an absolutely amazing success and everyone had an incredible time. It was so fun to share my passions in my favourite places with others. We hiked, rocked climbed, mountain biked and kayaked. It was a fantastic weekend of adventure and new friends. We are stoked to be able to do more of these in 2017!