“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way!” My running coach likes to send this little reminder when I start to show signs of self doubt in training, especially in preparation for a race.  He always seems to know the right thing to say to keep me moving forward and I am grateful for his insight.

This year, however, is different. 2020 is like no other year I have experienced in my lifetime [of 53 years]. Like many, much has changed in my personal and business life. Although many runners have missed the opportunity to race this year, I was fortunate to get the Grimsby Half Marathon in, in mid February and just two days later flew to Cuba for a week of training with Coach Tim Uuksulainen and the Run Revolution Team.  And then it ended.  The 2020 race season came to an abrupt standstill, shortly after our return from Cuba. One by one, race cancellations were posted including two that I had my paid and entry fee into; the Toledo Marathon and the Blackall100 in Queensland, Australia. Of course, there would be a smattering of races throughout the year however, these were the two that I had a goal of achieving a PB.

On March 23rd, 2020, Towne Fitness (along with all gyms in Ontario) was ordered closed. This was the first time in 7 ½ years that our 24/7 fitness facility had closed its’ doors to our membership. On occasion, a ‘Dufferin’ size snowstorm or power outage had us out for a day, or two but never did we imagine that 112 days would go before we could re-open. Wow! That is a lot of time to ponder the future of the business and at the same time filling days in isolation. In our home, we are a family of four and rarely a day goes by without each of us engaging in some form of physical activity/exercise.

During the four months we were at home, I found myself ‘looking back’ more than ever. This time I was looking back to draw strength. Looking back to the races and adventures that shaped me, as a runner, mother, wife, friend and business owner. This time, ‘looking back’ was what helped me move forward.

In 2019, I was awarded the “Grit & Determination” Trophy by the Guelph Victors Running Club. A member of the Victors for almost two years, I was both surprised and honored to be the recipient of any award amongst a group of diverse and talented runners. I guess it was my first 100km race, the UTA100 that caught their attention. I completed the distance in under 20 hours for which I gained the Bronze Buckle. What made this a stand-out race for me was the terrain it covered. 100kms with an elevation gain [climb] of 4,400m [14,435ft] and 4,400m of descent which included 10,000 steps. There is no easy way to end a 100km distance but when the last 200m are straight up 951 stairs, it is just that little bit more brutal. Shortly after leaving the last checkpoint, with about 16kms remaining I rolled my ankle! Originally the goal was to ‘cross the finish line’ however when I realized I had a shot at finishing under 20 hours the pressure was on and so I decided to deal with my ankle on the other side of the finish line and not before, and so, with grit and determination I scraped in under the time.

Over the past four months, I have found myself drawing from that same grit and determination. Dropping by the gym on a regular basis, to check in and pickup the mail, and on one particularly tough day a sparkly object caught my attention. A rather tall, shiny trophy! I buckled that trophy into my car and took it home where it was a daily reminder that tough times call for a little grit and determination.

The doors have been open now for more than two weeks, with a steady stream of happy, smiling faces. It is so refreshing to see so many of our fitness family members return to Towne Fitness. A step in the right direction, and hopefully one step closer to putting the pandemic behind all of us. Here’s to looking forward!