Why I left a dream opportunity to focus on my dream
My 2017 track season didn’t go the way I wanted. My times weren’t great, but the worst part was that I didn’t feel like myself. I went into races with what would become my least favourite feeling: knowing that the best I could give on that day wasn’t even close to my true ability.
It’s the feeling of being unprepared. The frustration of knowing you that could have done really well if you had only studied harder, practiced more, stopped procrastinating – the list is endless. There will always be excuses – and there will always be valid ones – but at the end of the day it sucks to suck.
What matters is what you do about it. (Or so I’ve heard).
Photo credit: Athletes of Canada
I’m 24 years old and I don’t consider myself “good enough” to be a professional runner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very good runner. I run a quick 800m and have the potential for a quicker one, but I’m not an Olympian, and I haven’t been on a National team since 2012.
In 2016 I had a great year. I graduated from university, landed a full-time job at a snazzy fintech start-up, and raced better than I ever have. I ran in the semi-finals at Canadian Olympic trials, and on the day I ran my personal best I won the race with closing speed and confidence I haven’t seen since.
Photo credit: Will Cliff, Portland Oregon 2:03.21 (1.7s off Olympic standard)
In the fall of 2016 things started heating up at work. Canalyst landed venture capital and grew like crazy, and I was beyond thrilled to be along for the ride. We more than tripled in size and moved first into a bigger office, then an even bigger one. With these changes my roles and responsibilities grew and adapted as quickly as the team. It was epic. It was also exhausting, stressful, and impacted my performance on the track.
Then I got a stress fracture. (Dun dun dun).
Anyone who knows my running knows that I run conservative mileage and I’m the first person to shut down a workout when I feel pain, so the fact that I was walk/jogging in the first months of 2017 to rehab a tibia fracture came as a shock to everyone. I joked that my stress from work caused my stress fracture, or that I caught it from my boyfriend Jack (who’s had more than his share of bone related injuries), but the truth is that I’ll never know. Maybe I was on the track in spikes too soon after cross-country. It could have been nutrition related. I might have run too many long runs on cement… or maybe ten years of running without a serious injury finally caught up to me. Regardless of the reason, I never gained my 2016 momentum back (#sad).
Jump forward to fall 2017. I’m fresh off a European racing circuit and back to training at full force. I’ve had some tricky conversations at work with my awesome bosses, and transitioned into a new part-time marketing role. I hoped that leaving the pressure of a sales role and the time constraints of a product one would allow me to focus on running while still maintaining connection to the company I helped build. Alas, like many of the best-laid plans, it went awry. I felt isolated at work, and lacked direction and focus both in the office and on the track.
I realized I could be good at running and good at my job. But I couldn’t achieve the level of excellence that I wanted at either while doing both. So I chose track.
Credit: Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” – words to live by
Ending any relationship is hard. It’s harder to end relationships with people you truly admire, respect and wish to please. Luckily for me my bosses are people of exceptional integrity. Every time they told me that they supported and believed in my Olympic dream they meant it. They put their money where their mouths were by investing in me and now it’s my turn to do the same. I may not be a “good enough” runner to be professional yet, but I will be, and the way I’ll get there is by committing.
Shoes: Brooks Levitate (being photobombed by the Brooks Ghost)
PS The number of people who’ve supported my decision to step away from my “real” career and focus on track has been phenomenal. I truly appreciate single every one of you who has taken a moment to ask me about my running, or wish me well. When I envision competing for Canada on the world stage I think of representing all of you, and that motivates me everyday.