“I need something else to work towards or I won’t run. And this would certainly be motivating. But there is no way I can do it except on a team.”

And with that text from my friend Jacquie, I fell down the rabbit hole of Run the Year 2017.

See, Jacquie lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She runs mostly 5Ks, partly because four to six months with snow and ice on the ground makes training for longer distances much more difficult than training in Central Texas. I mean, yesterday she said, “This week the temp is dropping to -20 to -30 with wind.” I think that’s Celsius, but no matter how you measure it, it’s cold by Austin’s standards. And this time of year her part of Canada only gets seven or eight hours of daylight, too. So I can see why she doesn’t want to run outside in the winter.

Anyway, Jacquie achieved her 5K time goal in 2016 and wanted a new challenge without jumping up to longer races. We have a mutual friend who gave her the Run the Year idea, but she needed, as they say, a little help from her friends.

I wasn’t easily convinced. When she first suggested this thing, the math was daunting. Thanks to my knee, I’d only managed to run about six miles that week. For a two-person team, running 2017 miles is about 21 miles per week, or 84 miles per month. I typically run around 100 miles a month—more in the early part of the year when we kind of have winter (also when Austin holds its major distance races) and fewer in the heat of the summer. It’s doable for me when I’m not injured, but still way out of reach for my Canadian friend. And for me at my current state as well. So she suggested adding a third person, which drops the total to 56 miles per month. No, I didn’t even run that far in December—I logged 35 miles—but a gradual increase in mileage as my knee recovers should get me there and beyond over the course of a whole year.

I still wasn’t ready to commit, but I floated the idea to my BRF Sara and we kicked it around for a week or so. In the meantime, an MRI of my knee showed no tendon or ligament damage, so I wasn’t facing something major that would knock me out before I got started. No, it’s not 100%, but the needle is starting to move. I managed three miles on Thursday and five on New Year’s Eve. I’m not pretending I can jump back into half-marathon training where I left off in November—I’m taking it easy a mile or two at a time, concentrating on good running form and listening to my body, ready to back off at the first sign of trouble.

So at Saturday’s post-run coffee date, Sara and I discussed the pros and cons. With three of us, we’d each have to run 13 miles per week—something she and I often knock out on in one run during half-marathon training season. Even on a slow week in the summer, we run more than 13 miles. Oh and there’s a medal. Cons include a year-long commitment and the state of my knee.

As we sat there sipping coffee and weighing everything, our friend John, who’d run with us that morning, joined us. After we filled him in, he piped up, “Well, do you need another team member?” And then we were four.

Now our mileage is about ten miles per week, which takes a whole lot of pressure off me and my recovery. Same with Jacquie and the Canadian winter running situation. So we took the plunge and registered.

Next we needed a team name—first we suggested Rogue-related ones since three of us train with Rogue Running. Then we tried to connect bluebonnets and maple leaves. Our initials don’t make good acronyms—without vowels, anything we came up with sounded like a breakaway Russian republic, not a running team name. And finally, when Jacquie was trying to teach us about Alberta she described it as Canada’s Texas, and it stuck.

To celebrate, and to get this thing started on the right foot, I went out for a 2.5-mile recovery run. Only 2014.5 to go!

For more information or to join the challenge, visit https://runtheedge.com/runtheyear2017

About the Author: Melissa Cooper started running in 2011 with Couch to 5K. In the summer of 2012, in what seemed like a leap, she joined Rogue Running and completed her first half-marathon–San Antonio Rock and Roll–later that year. Finishing San Antonio was supposed to be a one-time bucket list thing, but these days her half-marathon total is at double digits (and climbing). Her favorite race distance is probably the ten-miler. By day, she is a middle school teacher who juggles work and life and running—sometimes even successfully.