I’m James Koole, a forty-something father of two girls and husband to Ginny. We live in the east end of Toronto, just north of the Beaches neighbourhood. I’m the product manager for Hover, which sells domain names and email. I love everything about the Internet and I’ve had my own websites and blogs for years. This site is the latest incarnation of my running blog.
I’ve been a member of Team Awesome for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend twice (2015 and 2016) and I was a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (2016). I love helping others discover and reap the rewards that making running a part of your life can offer. Nothing makes me happier than to see someone go farther, faster or run better than they thought was possible.
My running journey
My own running journey started about eight years ago. I started running in the winter of 2008 after a friend suggested we run the annual Sporting Life 10km in Toronto that May. I got hooked on the sport, while he no-showed for the race.
10kms to Half Marathons
After that first 10km, I decided to make running part of my life. I quickly ran another 10km on Canada Day (improving my time by five minutes), and then signed up for a half marathon clinic at the Commerce Court Running Room in downtown Toronto. I met a great group of running friends there, many of whom I still run with today.
After a pair of half marathons in the fall of 2008 in Toronto, I set my sights on another one in the spring of 2009 – our first Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. A couple of half marathons later, my running buddy Nicole and I decided maybe it was time to step up to the full marathon after watching our friend Ida train for and run the New York City Marathon.
Stepping up to the marathon and beyond
In the summer of 2009, Nicole and I ran the Midsummer Night’s Run 30km in Toronto. That run convinced both of us that we still had some work to do before we were ready to run 42.2km. More training over the winter of 2010 led us to the Around the Bay Road Race 30km in March and a return to the Ottawa Race Weekend in May where I completed my first full marathon in just under four hours.
I ran another full marathon in the fall (Goodlife Toronto), and then in May, 2011, I travelled out west to Vancouver and ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon on the very day I turned 40. Training continued and I followed it with with my first ultra marathon – the Niagara Ultra 50km – in June 2011.
A big setback
In September, 2011, I was involved in a very serious bike crash. I was hit by a car on my way to work and fractured my left arm in multiple places between my elbow and my shoulder. Two plates and 13 screws later, I embarked on a long process to rehab and recover. Things were much tougher than expected and physio lasted for almost a full year.
In May, 2012, I returned to Vancouver and ran full marathon number four – my comeback run. I ran the Niagara Ultra again in June, 2012 (a PB of 5:17:32), and followed that up with my fifth full marathon at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon at the end of 2012.
March 2013 brought a follow-up surgery on my arm and I spent the summer recovering and going through more physio. In the fall I threw caution to the wind and ran the Hamilton Marathon on very little training. It was my worst marathon ever, and also a great learning experience that capped off two years of discovering that I was far tougher than I ever could have imagined.
The spring of 2014 brought me to Vancouver yet again for my seventh marathon and third BMO Vancouver Marathon. I ran a great race that day and dipped under 3:50 for the first time with a 3:48:30 (nearly six minutes better than my previous best).
I approached 2015 with more confidence, better form and a renewed love for running. That paid off with personal bests in the Around the Bay Road Race (2:28:56) and a huge personal best in the Ottawa Marathon of 3:36:01.
In 2016, I ran the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. While my goal was to run sub-3:30, a hot day meant that wasn’t in the cards. I’m still hoping to run under 3:30 this year to get within striking distance of a Boston Marathon qualification time of around 3:23.
At some point, I expect that I’ll stop seeing improvement in my times and I’ll have to be content with just running for the fun of it. I love the long run, and knowing that on any given day I can lace up my shoes and just run and escape for a couple of hours.
I hope I never lose that feeling or ability.