Spiking up for 2020

Hello hello. Welcome to my blog to any new readers, and to the people I send this to and then follow-up to ask if you’ve read it – welcome back.

I really appreciated the interest people have been shown in my training and racing in the past few months and the question I’ve been getting asked a lot is:

“So you have a new training group? What’s different?”

In a lot of ways, “the more things change the more they stay the same.” I’m still chasing improvement and following my passion for sport with people who feel the same drive to run faster. I still feel the unsatisfied desire to prove my ability and be part of a greater sport community and I still believe that the relationships and challenges forged in sport are what reveal the kind of person I want to be, and the people I value most.

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Vancouver Thunderbirds High Performance Ladies

So what is different? Truthfully – quite a lot. My training is more structured and higher in volume. My group is significantly larger and full of athletes who are in similar stages in their athletic development and life. I don’t have a day off every week and I actually like it… WHO AM I?!

I feel like I’ve finally found what I’ve been needing for the past few years. There are athletes in my group who recently graduated from University and in some ways that feels like something I did a million years ago, while in others it’s a fresh reminder that I’ve just lost the awareness of being in “the next phase” of my life as an athlete. Finding the right balance between work/training/life is something I’ll always be fine tuning, but I feel like the framework I have now is right.

*Disclaimer: dreamy athlete thoughts ahead*

Because it’s 2020 and the Olympics are upon us, I’ve had a lot of people asking me if I am going to make the team. This is both incredibly sweet and also a bit crushing because it forces me to reckon with the fact that I am not where I wanted/thought I would be since the Olympic trials in 2016. In 2016 I PB’d and raced at trials “for experience”. It was really cool to see a few friends make the team, and it was the first time I believed that it could be me next time. I felt very confident that after four years of continued improvement I would be top of mind for the 2020 team bound for Tokyo.

BUT… I haven’t run faster in the 800m since I did in 2016, the Olympic team standards have gotten more difficult, and the competition is steeper. What happened?! The irony is not lost on me that I am an organized planning Queen in all areas of my life –  how did my planning not work out in the area I care most about?

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What better place to muse on your athletic past/present/future than a Sunday long run?

The truth is, all you can do is what you think is right at the time, and I don’t have any regrets about the experiences I’ve had over the last few years. Working for a start-up, training with the greatest 10,000m runner in Canadian history when I’m not a distance runner, running with high school boys as training partners… I have loved and learned from all of these things. I’ve met incredible people, found mentors, and developed as an employee, athlete, and friend. I wouldn’t change anything about these decisions.

Track is a sport which forces you to be reactionary, but nothing happens in real time. You don’t know that a training plan/program isn’t working for you until you see your black and white results posted with your name slotted in against all your competitors. You don’t know that the endless rainy runs, the countless turned down happy hour drinks, the hundreds of dollars spent on physio/massage/healthy groceries didn’t get you the results you wanted until it’s too late to do anything about it. If you’re not running what you want by June – well, there’s always next year! This inability to react with immediacy is like turning a giant ship – you might be on course after a re-vamped base season the following year,  but good luck until then. *Add this to the ever growing list of reasons being a track athlete is priming me to be a great CEO LOL.*

So, moral of the story, I’ve had a tougher time finding my rhythm after university than I realized. BUT, I feel like I have found it now and I am going to “keep showing up”. Who knows what can happen in a few months? Who knows what I’m capable of on a good day in the right race? The answer is – nobody.

QuoteIt’s natural to have doubts about your ability, to compare yourself to others with defeat and question how you could ever measure up. These are the moments where I learn about myself. To be honest, I have an incredible life of privilege, and the fact that this is what I consider adversary is the greatest blessing of all. Improvement doesn’t have to be linear, and wishing it was doesn’t change anything.

Now.. Back to the Update!

I’m running more mileage and have been running longer intervals without crying/dying. I ran a 5,000 in under 18 minutes and raced the UBC Fall Classic in the fall running 45 seconds faster than when I ran the same course in 2017. These results are nothing to shout about, but they are improvements, and for the 400m runner I once was, these are some endurance #Gainz.

Some things never change…

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I loved how many people asked me if Tamara would be switching to train with CJ when I did. I joked “of course, we’re a package deal,” buuuuuuut it wasn’t really a joke, #Demara does everything together.

True story: Tamara and I took this online 16 Personalities Test (which I would highly recommend) and our personalities are perfectly match for friendship… AWWWW. We are very excited to have added a third member to our 800m squad and will be brainstorming how to include Sophie Dodd in our #Demara lyfe. #Demaroph anyone? Open to suggestions.

Brooks

A friend told me they thought I came up with the slogan”Run Happy” because it seems like such a fit for me. While I have to give credit to the Brooks Marketing team for that one, I am honoured to be an ambassador for a fourth year and continue to live the #RunHappy lifestyle.

To me, “running happy” doesn’t mean that I’m always smiling and having a great time (although I usually am because I am one of weird those people who just LOVES to run). It’s about pursuing a passion and finding happiness in the commitment and challenges that I’ve posed to myself.

My favourite Brooks shoes:

Workouts: The “Launch”. I also have a brand new pair of the “Revel” that I am excited to test out. If they feel good I will wear them for my next race – the Saint Patrick’s Day road race in Stanley Park on March 14th! (Bonus: they’re green).

Easy runs: The “Ghost” has been my go-to shoe since High-school. It’s a neutral cushioned shoe that has a roomy toe box, and a seamless upper that looks great and fits pretty much every foot type. If I really want some extra squishy/comfy time I’ll wear the “Glycerin” – which is basically like the ghost on a cloud.

Racing: I just got a new pair of the “Wires” and I am in LOVE. So light, and yet aggressive and comfortable. These shoes have PBs coming this year, I can feel it.

Speaking of racing… I did a few indoor meets at the University of Washington in Jan/early Feb.

Indoor Races Recap

I opened my 2020 season with a 1,000m at the University of Washington and it was a blast! I certainly needed a rust buster as I felt pretty zoned out for the entire race and honestly struggled to keep track of how many laps there were. I’m not used to counting to more than 2 in a race LOL. I ended up running 2:46 and am the Canadian leader in the event on an “oversized track” hehe it pays to be the first Canadian in an event that is hardly ever run!

Next I raced a mile and was kinda disappointed to run 4:50. I was coming down with a cold and felt very flat. In the race I was thinking “I am not working very hard, why can’t I go any faster?” I told CJ after that if I could have had a minute break after 800m I think I could have run a lot quicker… wonder if UW will consider offering this next time?! As a “sprinter” I am used to suffering a lot for a short time – the mile felt like a very very very long time to suffer. I had a good tempo workout after* and left the race feeling very excited to run an 800m at the next meet. The highlight of the UW Invite for me was 100% spending time with my married friends Maria & Matt! I raced early in the morning and Maria was later in the afternoon (after my ride departed for Canada), so we had a good laugh over the fact that we came to Seattle to hang out and go to a questionable (but delightful) Greek restaurant and never even saw each other run. Good memories.

*Workouts after races are a big new thing for me! I feel like a real athlete haha.

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Finally, I headed back to the states to visit Trader Joe’s UW for an 800m at the Husky Classic. I think one of the hardest parts of being an athlete is acknowledging when you’re not 100% healthy vs. mentally blocking out doubts and just going for it. Since the mile my cold had progressed and I was feeling pretty crappy in the week leading up to the race. I managed a decent workout, averaging 30 seconds for 200s off a minute rest, so I figured I could still put a good race together. Right off the gun I got pushed around and lost my initial spot on the inside. The race went out quick and I felt unaccustomed to the pace, and very timid. I went through 400m well in 61, but then I just faded and felt flat and sickly haha. Oh dear. In my post race tempo I was basically jogging, and while 2:08 isn’t a terrible time for 800m, (in fact – it’s only a second off my indoor PB), I wanted a lot more.

Expectation is a dangerous thing and I’m looking forward to tossing it out the window, working hard, and focusing on finding my racing mindset. I know my competitive spirit is alive and well (just ask me about how I am doing in my Bachelor bracket), so I am keen to explore how I can improve my mental toolbox before outdoor season starts.

Final thoughts…

I’ve also returned to training at the UBC track, which feels full circle (#pun) in many respects as that’s where I started training more seriously in high school before my time on the varsity team there.

I’m also the Meet Director for two track meets hosted by the Thunderbirds. It’s neat to see “behind the curtain” and appreciate all the hard work that is required to put on a track meet. This role has definitely made me thank volunteers more and appreciate the technical aspects of the field events. Nothing makes me acknowledge the expertise of other people more than when I need help setting up a hammer cage or a pole vault pit. While I’ve been involved with track and field since elementary school, being a Meet Director was a reminder that I’m an expert in my own events, but I have much to learn when it comes to distances between hurdles, weigh-in procedures, wind gauges, and a million other things!

It’s fun to grow into new roles in the sporting community and become a more well-rounded participant. I’ve also enjoyed coaching with the Jerome Outreach Society, and am looking forward to the 2020 season ahead!

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That’s all for now xoxo