The 100 Mile March

How to quantify your goals and measure your success.


In like a lion, indeed. Here we are in March, I can hardly believe it. I have turned into one of those people who are genuinely shocked on the first of every month. As if it doesn’t happen 12 times every year. We’ve had a very cold and bitter winter. I’m battling a cold and there are blackouts all across the city due to freezing rain and exploding generators. I’m ready for the days to get a little longer, and for the sun to shine a little brighter.

I love experiments. Tweaking little things to modify results. Challenges like going to the gym 20 days in one month (hard – near impossible), drinking 4L of water a day (doable), meditating before bed (easy and pleasant), and giving up caffeine after noon (still adjusting). I’m always trying to find the best/easiest/fastest/most productive way to be and do. I have found that having something to work towards, a goal or number, makes the journey so much easier and satisfying to accomplish. And so, I present to you: The 100 Mile March.

My goal for March is to clock in 100 miles of running, which is roughly two marathons or 4 half marathons. It equates to around 3.2 miles per day, or a nice 5km. There is no real reason to do it, except why not? I remember a few years ago when someone asked me what my hobbies were… I had recently moved back to Toronto after university, and many of my friends were either abroad or still in Ottawa. I found college to be very easy for the most part and I had very little homework, so when I wasn’t in school or working, I was at the gym. That was my hobby. The person asked if I was training for something… I wasn’t. I just liked to run. I remember feeling that my answer seemed inadequate. Why do something just for the fun of it? Why waste the time and energy if you are not trying to achieve something?

One of my New Year’s resolutions in 2013 was to double my long run from 6 to 12 miles. I found along the way that a half marathon is 13.1 miles, so that became my goal. Each week I would tack on another mile and in just a few weeks, I had chipped away and passed 13.1 miles. It was a tangible goal with a clear plan. I loved seeing 13.1 displayed on the screen and I felt accomplished and proud. My mistake was that I didn’t plan for what was to come next. The logical move would be to either continue adding to the distance, or try to improve the speed. But I didn’t do either. I passed 13.1 and that was that. Back to the regular everyday grind.

I think 100 miles is both a realistic and challenging goal. Maybe a little aggressive, but why not aim high? I am young, willing, and able enough. I can do it, I’m sure, but it won’t be easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

I have printed out a table, 10 x 10 squares, to colour in as I go and to help me keep track of my progress. Now if only I wasn’t sick as a dog with this cold, I could be out there right now. I, along with every single person on the GO and TTC, seem to be fighting the same cold that just will not quit.

Paper Clips | by Maggie de Barra Nike Women's 15k Toronto

This 100 Mile March is good practice for the Nike Women’s 15k on June 14, 2015 on the Toronto Islands. A 15k race is a nice buffer between a beginner’s 5k and a half marathon (21k). To register, you first have to enter a raffle on March 9, 2015 and a random draw will be held to choose spots.

I can’t wait for the warm weather to sweep in so I can take my 100m from the treadmill to the park!

If you register and are chosen for the Nike Women’s 15k, let me know! And if you are brave enough to tackle the 100 Mile March with me, I want to know your progress!

See you at the finish line. On your marks, get set, GO!


Birthday Reflections

Chapter 9: I Have a Memorable Birthday


On October 9, 2014, I turned 26!! It didn’t hit me the way it did a few years ago when I realized I was older than all my favourite literary characters, or last year when, in the middle of a full blown quarter life crisis, I cut my own hair into a short bob. Luckily, I am skilled in the art of cutting hair and it looked quite nice.

This year was a quiet affair, dinner with family, lots of birthday calls and texts. As my friend list on Facebook shrinks, my birthday notifications are few and far between. Everyone who I actually keep in touch with has my phone number, or my email at least, and I much rather prefer to communicate that way. My reasons for keeping it around dwindle even further. I really hate that thing. If it were not for my friend Jen’s meticulous photo archives of the past few years, that I really need to get around to saving somewhere permanent, or the threat of missing out on social ‘events’, I would have been rid of it long ago. Here’s hoping for the courage to delete it forever. Maybe just a trial run. Maybe later.

The birthday weekend included tickets to The Book of Mormon (seriously hilarious but not for the faint of heart or the politically correct), followed by two Thanksgiving dinners. I got a lovely little Kate Spade watch to replace my broken vintage Casio. And this shiny new iPad, upon which I type this post.

The most overwhelming emotion that I have felt over these last few weeks is: contentment. There is a lot to be said for being happy and comfortable. When everything slides into place, the waters are calm, and things just work. I am, and have been, rather obsessed with my never-ending quest for self-realization, self-awareness, and self-actualization. All the selfs. Through years and years of deep and honest reflection about myself, my feelings, and my actions, I feel like I am quite tuned in. I know when my routines are working well, and when things are balanced. I think being content with your surroundings, pleased with your efforts, and honest about your progress is so important. A feeling of fond farewell to summer, and not regret over missed opportunities. A feeling of welcome and joy for autumn and all the beauty that it holds. And a distant excitement for winter and Christmas. Birthdays and New Years, seasons for change and for lofty goals of self-improvement. This year I’ll… All efforts to usher in a new year where our slates will be wiped clean and we can begin again. Lucky for me, I have found that by living the life I want to lead each day, I no longer have need for resolutions.