2017 Year in Review: The Year of the Ultra

2017 year in review: the year of the ultra.  The year that I decided to ditch the road races in favor of the trails.  I decided to go long, setting the Ice Age 50 mile as my ultimate goal for the year.  I explained why I moved towards the ultra marathon distance in this post; I was looking forward to the relaxed atmosphere where no one obsessed over the time on their watch.  But if I’m being 100% honest, in the back of my mind I also thought, “If I run an ultramarathon I’ll stay skinny.”  So while 2017 started as the year of the ultra, it was also the year where I took my eating disorder head on.




2015 was the year I joined the Chicago running community.  I found the Boston Bound program, showed up to November Project, and began seeing a therapist to deal with my eating disorder.  At the beginning of that year, I was in denial about my eating disorder, in denial about being in an anxiety filled depression, and while I ended the year with new friends, new PRs and a newfound happiness, I had a long way to go.


2017 year of the ultra
Summer 2015


2016 was the year of recovery and PRs, where I started to fuel better, focus on strength and start to turn my life around.  I began to eat better and as a result did really well with running, but I still believed that I should control and restrict my food intake.  By the end of the year, I was a bit burnt out from road races and began to look towards trail running.  As I said before, I wanted to begin running ultra marathons for the calm atmosphere and because the little eating disorder corner of my mind wanted to run even farther to lose even more weight.  Mentally, I was not ready to recover and give up my old ways.


End of 2016


Enter 2017.  For the first three months, I was still in that “road mentality.”  I had the idea in my head that the thinner and lighter I was, the faster I would run.  But as the year progressed and my distance increased, my mindset changed.  I quickly realized that if I really wanted to run 50 miles, I had to eat enough to have the proper energy and nutrients to remain healthy and strong.  And so with every mile I logged towards my running goal, I also inched closer to the eating disorder finish line.


Now, it’s clear that I am not yet there. I have not yet cross that finish line, I’m not yet able to say that I have fully recovered from my eating disorder. But, I’m close. At the beginning of 2017, my mornings started with a daily weigh in.  I couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without obsessing over what I would or would not be eating, how many calories I had eaten already, how many calories I had to make sure that I did not eat. But lately, I’ve been able to go in entire day, an entire two days, an entire  MONTH without weighing myself, without obsessively logging the calories that I’ve eaten, without staring at a plate of food almost in tears because I didn’t want to risk gaining weight.


I used to train in order to eat, but I began to eat in order to train.  It’s a subtle but incredibly life-altering perspective shift.  That perspective shift lead to some of my best running moments of 2017.


My 2017 Best 9 from Instagram


Best Running Moments: 2017 Year of the Ultra


1. Tokyo Marathon
If you ever get a chance to go abroad for a race, I highly recommend the Tokyo Marathon.  The Japanese people are so welcoming, it’s surprisingly easy to find vegan food, and the marathon is a unique experience.  Where else will you see tomatoes at aid stations?  This whole trip was wonderful because I was able to relax about food and trust that I could fuel myself right in a different country.



2. Earth Day 50k 

Racing Earth Day 50k was a total spur of the moment decision to enter the race, but it fit perfectly with 50 mile training.  For my first ultra marathon race ever, it was incredible.  I made friends during the race and cheered on others.  But more importantly I proved to myself that I was learning to fuel well.  It helped that I placed third female overall too.


Ultramarathon Training Week 13


3. Ice Age Trail 50 Mile

Throughout training, I had fun inventing recipes to keep my fueled on the run (like long-run energy bites) and after my runs (like black bean quinoa enchiladas).  For all of the training and nutrition focus to culminate on race day was incredible.  Even thinking about it now, I get goosebumps.  I did it.  I actually ran 50 miles.  I actually spent 9:26 minutes in the woods, running, hiking, fueling, hydrating, and kicking ass.  Immediately after crossing the finish line, I burst into tears and embraced my parents.  Finishing first in my age group and 6th female overall, this was one of the moments in 2017 that added to my recovery bank.


Icce Age 50
Photo Cred: Mike F.


4. North Face Endurance Challenge Wisconsin 50k 

As if two spring ultra marathons weren’t enough, I decided to focus on a 50k for the fall.  Admittedly, this was a mixture of loving trail races, realizing I was really good at it (for a Midwesterner anyway), and still believing that I needed all the running in order to control my weight.  I finished fourth female overall by just 30 seconds. While I was devastated, I showed myself that I was stronger and faster on the trail than I thought.


Felt like a badass passing him


5.  Growing my blog and coaching business

At the start of 2017, I met with some other local Chicago bloggers for advice on how to increase readership.  I’m happy to say that I increased my blog’s reach by over 400% (say whaaaaat!) and I started training athletes for races.  THANK YOU for reading, subscribing, following on Instagram, sharing recipes, just thank you or everything.  It’s so much fun and I cannot wait to see where the growth goes in 2017.


Coaching and cheering at the Chicago Marathon!

The person I was when I started 2017 is not the person that I am finishing the year.  In January, I truly believed that running an ultra marathon would make me even skinnier than I was.  That was exactly what I wanted.  But mile-by-mile, day-by-day, I realized that I had to eat properly in order to accomplish my goal.  I may have started the year focusing on ultra marathons, but I had no idea how that would help me in the kitchen too.  2017 was a year of incredible personal growth.  Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!


Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Happy running,



Linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales in Fitness for the Friday Five.

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12 Comments on "2017 Year in Review: The Year of the Ultra"

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Congratulations on a great year! And thank you for being so brave and honest about where your mind was and how it’s changed. That’s awesome.

Zenaida Arroyo

Wow, what a year for you! I don’t know if I can go vegan but vegetarian would be a start for me. 🙂 Happy New Year and I hope 2018 is even better for you!!


I really enjoyed reading your story! Becca you have come so far with your running as well your non running goals! Is that what inspired you to become Vegan? Cheers to a happy and healthy 2018!


I’m very proud of you Becca. You’ve done a lot of work in a short amount of time. You should be so
Proud of yourself. 😀


Sounds like you had a great year and grew in many ways! I hope you have an even better 2018!


You’ve had a great of running and it looks like you’re on the road to health as well! Happy New Year!


You’ve had an awesome year of races, especially the Tokyo Marathon.
Wishing you a happy 2018!

Amanda @blackbeanqueen

Becca! You are an inspiration! You’ve come far as a person and a runner this year-can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for you 😊