What do entrepreneurs, chefs, and athletes have in common? They’re always “on” and they never stop working, innovating, and seeking improvement. I’ve found a surprising amount of inspiration this track season from watching the Netflix show “Chef’s Table,” and listening to the podcast “How I Built This,” which tell stories of chefs and founders respectively. The career arcs are strikingly similar as both industries are ruthless with low odds of success. Similar to elite athletics, there are countless factors at play when it comes to determining who is going to “make it” with an IPO or Michelin star, and who isn’t. As an athlete struggling after another year without a personal best, it’s comforting to know that everyone at the top of their craft questions their ability and vision at some point, wondering if they are following the right path to achieve their end goal.
I’ve enjoyed learning more about chefs in particular because I love food and discovering the different cultures and movements behind menus. Without any previous exposure to the culinary world, I never appreciated how great chefs obsessively seek inspiration and are always creating new flavours, sensations, and dishes. Like founders of start-ups, every moment they’re away from the office/kitchen has a steep opportunity cost. There is no 40-hour/week structure, no one punches out at 5pm, and the competition never sleeps.
When I think about what my life will be like after track, I often romanticize how every decision I make won’t have a direct effect on my performance. If I want to walk to work it won’t matter that it could make my legs feel like trash on a run later. If I don’t eat a balanced meal, or have spicy Mexican for lunch on a Tuesday it’s not going to impact a workout. If my sleep schedule is erratic or I sprain an ankle playing pick-up soccer it might not be the best for my overall well-being, but it won’t sabotage months of work. When I think about quitting these are the things I look forward to, but for now, the pull to achieve my potential is so much stronger.
I say potential and not competition because I felt like crap competing this year. I didn’t feel strong or fit, and while I ran 2:06 more consistently than I ever have, it’s not what I want. I’m not going to write a blog about why I think this happened, or whine about it, I’m just saying that’s where I’m at and I don’t like it.
I’m committed to racing until 2020 and then I’ll see what I want to do. If racing brings me joy and I don’t have something I would rather be doing, I don’t see a reason to stop. As of September I’ve changed coaches and training groups, and I’m optimistic that a larger group with athletes in a similar development stage as myself will give me the environment I need to succeed. I’ll write another post about fall training soon, but I will say that I am so excited to be back with the Vancouver Thunderbirds training with some familiar faces and coach CJ.
I’m really excited to mix things up in this new group, and so thankful to have been part of something truly special for the last two seasons. Lynn and Natasha have an incredible bond and it’s been an absolute privilege to be part of their group. Tash is nicknamed “Fierce” for a reason, she is as tough as they come while also being incredibly generous to her friends, and a passionate advocate for female empowerment (and cats).
I am so grateful to have had Lynn supporting me as a coach, mentor, and mama – she has brought so much joy to my running, and I’m in constant awe of her endless energy and positivity. The transition will be made easier since I will still get to see her all the time (thanks to Jack for being her son)!After I listen to an episode of “How I Built This,” I often think that there should be parallel shows called “How I almost built this”, “how I tried to build this but failed”, or maybe even “I wish I never tried to build this.” Listening exclusively to success stories when I know the (slim) chances that a start-up actually “makes it” is a bit delusion-inducing. At the end of every episode the host asks: “how much of your success would you attribute to skill/hard-work and how much would you say was just luck?” The answers are fascinating. Most say a 50/50 split, but there are some that go all in one way or the other. I think I’m a 50/50 gal and while I know I’ve been putting in the hard-work, and I believe I have talent, I’m optimistic that some luck is coming this season.
The crazy thing about athletics, culinary stardom, and profitable start-ups is that you need to have the belief that you can beat the average. Everyone knows the definition of average, and yet, somehow, most of us consider ourselves above it. It’s a requirement to be the best that you think you can beat the benchmark. All the guests on HIBT struggled at one point or another and had that pit in their stomach that signifies the ship might be sinking. They were told “this will never work” or “don’t do this” and for the majority that advice was true. But for the few, it wasn’t. Don’t I want to take the chance that I’m one of the few? That despite three years of not feeling like the athlete I think I can be, my best is still in front of me?
Having time to think and reflect over the last couple weeks during my annual time off running has helped me find some perspective. Of course I want to run fast, but what is more important is the community I am fortunate to be part of. The friends I’ve made and the people I’ve met through this sport have shaped my life in so many ways and whether you’re running 2:00 or 2:08 you’re part of that same community. Sure, if your about to become an Olympian you’re in the final and running faster, but you’re warm-up is the same. Your check-in procedure is the same, your last minute bathroom break is the same. Whether you’re ranked 1st or 17th in Canada you have made sacrifices, you appreciate your coach, you’re grateful for your teammates. You are part of the same sport and while your sponsorship and racing opportunities should be different, you know the same feelings of racing, pushing yourself, disappointment, and the constant optimism that you can run faster, and be better.
I’m looking forward to getting back “in the kitchen” and seeing what I can cook up for next season with the help of all the wonderful people I am so fortunate to have supporting me.
1:34.66 (600m indoor)
2:09.75 (800m indoor)