After the Final Bite

What do an elite track and field athlete, a mom with a PhD and constantly-stamped passport, a fifth-year UBC student who loves hiking and geomorphology, and two Grandparents tending exploding gardens in rural Nova Scotia have in common? Aside from our last name, we’re all newly recruited fans of SoLo Energy Bar!

I reached out to SoLo a few months ago during my quest for the perfect energy bar (if you’re looking for some entertainment check it out here), and my heart smiled to learn that they loved me too. I’ve been an athlete ambassador since June and I’ve been making busy work of eating my complimentary product.

Since the last bite (finale of my Energy Bar Bachelorette series), life has been pretty fun. I traveled to Portland, Canadian Track and Field Nationals, Europe, and enjoyed some down time at my family’s cottage in Nova Scotia. SoLo and I are definitely in the honeymoon phase – I can’t stop talking about them and I wouldn’t dream of looking at another bar.SoLo has also had some time to get to know my family, and it’s been going great…

Introducing SoLo bar to my family:

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“Sharing is Caring”

My sister Emma (the hiking geographer) loves this phrase. She’s been using it with limited success on me for years. Usually she’s after my closet, but lately my friends and family are after something else – and it’s low GI, tastes amazing, and gives you energy to keep going.

untitled1.pngI am still working on sharing clothes, but I have learned to love sharing food (as long as I still get some). The first time I thrust a SoLo bar at Emma she was a little skeptical, probably wondering what was wrong with it since I was willing to let it go. However, after I rambled on about some of the benefits (click here for research page) and how it had made it into my “final three” she gave it a go.

My point is, I’m not great at sharing anything, let alone things I like and have a finite number of, so what prompted my sharing of SoLo bars?

Because when you love something you set it free.

I’m serious.

Instead of hoarding my bars like a greedy chipmunk getting ready for winter, sharing has been super fun and helped me appreciate everyone’s different lifestyles and use cases for sustained energy.

Emma’s Use Case

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Favourite flavours: mocha fudge, dark chocolate mandarin

Emma loves being in nature and has traveled the world experiencing different environments. From observing rock striations in BC, pointing out drumlins in New Zealand, and studying microinvertebrates in Belize, she’s a busy gal. She is also a reformed picky eater which is why I was extra excited for her to be introduced to SoLo. Now she has something to pack in her bag on her next adventure, and while she’ll be polite and try the local food on special, I think my mom rests easier knowing she has a back-up snack to keep her going.

Mama J’s Use Case:

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Favourite flavours: Lemon Lift, White Chocolate Cherry

Jocelyn jumped on the SoLo Bar band wagon before I did. Within the past year she joined a gym and has been going on all sorts of awesome adventures, including a 90km hiking expedition in Iceland in July! To fuel her outdoor pursuits she started packing SoLo bars and hasn’t looked back. She enjoys the bars as a tasty snack on the trail, but also as a back-up nutrition option for some of her research-related travels. As I type she is on her way to Mongolia where she’ll speak at a conference about the research she and her UBC-based team have been working on. This will be her fourth trip to Mongolia and while she really enjoys the culture and people, the food is very different from what she’s used to. While it’s very *special* to be offered various sheep bits with a dollop of fat to wash down with some Mongolian vodka, I think her tummy will thank her for the SoLo bars she has squirrelled away in her luggage.

PS. when I asked my mom what flavour of bars she wanted when I was placing a SoLo order she originally typo requested “white chocolate chilli”… Could this be a new flavour suggestion for the SoLo R&D team?

Grandma & Grandpa’s Use Case:

 

Favourite flavours: dark chocolate coconut mint and lemon lift

My Grandma is not a big eater. I was stunned and amazed when she ate an entire hamburger one night when we BBQ’d on the cottage porch. She frequently skips meals and I worry she might not be getting enough energy to power her through her busy days. My grandparents have a beautiful property in Nova Scotia where we joke they’re building an arc as they currently house two horses, two cats, and two dogs. They’re kept very busy caring for the animals and tending their impressive flower and vegetable gardens, so if anyone needs to avoid a spike and a crash of energy it’s these two!

When I left each of them a SoLo bar I wasn’t expecting them to be devoured the next morning, and to receive such glowing reviews. Further good news – SoLo is stocked at Sobey’s (the nearest grocery story to their house), so they can access the bars without me bringing them from BC.

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A family that snacks together stays together

Bye for now, I’m on my way to Edmonton to celebrate my other Grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. Any guesses what I’ll be bringing them as a gift? 😉

Xoxo
Devan

European Racing ’18

I wish I could say “welcome to my blog!” in Flemish, but after spending three weeks in Belgium I’m even more confused by the language than when I tired to determine the cost of an Icelandic yogurt during our 4am layover in Keflavík. (FYI it was $5, creme brûlée flavoured and totally worth it).

This was my second summer spending July in Leuven, a tiny student town 20 minutes east of Brussels overrun by spandex-clad athletes during summer track season. Jack and I wondered how it was determined that Leuven would be the international hub for summer racing in Europe, but with convenient train routes to all the races, an accessible practice track, and enough waffles and gelato to feed the hungry runners, it’s a pretty great choice.

Arriving into Brussels straight from Canadian Nationals gave a welcome few days to settle into our Airbnb, rent bikes, and get our legs used to the time change. I actually felt better on our post 15-hour travel day shakeout run than during my semi final at nationals, so I was feeling pretty optimistic for good races to come. When we’re not racing we’re hanging out in coffee shops, training, and having the occasional European adventure. It’s basically like being at a track summer camp (aka. the best thing ever).

The main differences between meets in Belgium vs. at home are the atmosphere, fans, and volume of competition. Heat sheets are often made on the spot, the lanes are filled to the brim, and despite the low-key vibe the races are FAST. The meets typically draw a decent crowd, which is a far cry from the sparsely populated stands of socially obligated family/friends back home. In Canada, “fans” are usually there because they love someone competing, not because they love the sport. (And we athletes really appreciate them for it!!!!) Alternatively, watching races with your family/friends seems like something people actually do in Europe, almost like how people watch hockey at home. It might have something to do with the Belgian beer on tap, but the races were bumping. At one meet they had a music playlist that was only paused for the announcer to start races (sometimes not even then) – and it felt like we were at a rave instead of a race. (Usually when my phone autocorrects “racing” to “raving” I have to fix it but not in this case).

Race Results

I’ll be honest, track has been testing my love for the sport, but there is nowhere I would rather be tested. When I look around at the athletes gathered around Leuven’s egg-shaped practice track I feel a real sense of camaraderie. We do different events, speak different languages and represent different countries, but we’re all chasing the same thing.

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Photo: Jim Neale

What defines a “bad race” for me is when I can’t respond. I feel flat and don’t have any pep in my step to kick for the finish line or go with a move. Somewhat surprisingly, it has little to do with time and everything to do with how I’m feeeeeeeeling. It’s both a blessing and a curse that I know what a great race feels like. The times that I’ve raced my best it felt amazing, which means I have a huge contrast between how I’ve been feeling and what I know I can feel like. I have to remind myself that’s a good thing. If you’d never had chocolate cake and been eating bran muffins your whole life you might be just fine with that. But when you’ve had chocolate cake and bran muffins are all you’re getting – it’s not OK. (Does everything have to be about food? Yes, yes it does).

Race #1 800m (2:07)

My first muffin meet was in Kortrijk. On Coach Lynn’s orders I did the best warm-up I’ve ever done (I’m often lazy in pre-race warm-up because I don’t want to “tire myself out”), and felt ready to rock and roll. I was in the slowest of the fast sections and I was happy about it. I felt a peaceful moment before the race when I felt genuine gratitude to be there and excitement to race for where I am now. I got out quick and positioned myself near the front of the pack going through 400m in around 60/61 and 600m in 1:31. Now here is my problem. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. I have now gone out too hard and died in at least three races. Why do I keep doing this? Why am I going out too hard? Why am I doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

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Photo: Jim Neale

In my defence, I’ve run all of my personal best times off a 59/60 second 400m spilt. In my mind, that’s how it’s done. I also like to run near the front of the pack because I feel “in the race” and ready to compete for the WIN. But something is missing for me right now. Going through in 60 is not feeling smooth or easy, and my body is going lactic and shutting down.

In Kortrijk I was able to fight the shut down off until 150m to go, but it once again grabbed me and I began crawling at a pace slower than a baby that doesn’t want to leave the crib. I felt like how I did in 2013 when I raced with mono – I know what to do, but I can’t make my body do it.

When I unwillingly braved the results page after my cool down I actually laughed – I couldn’t believe I ran 2:07. It felt like 2:11 (or worse). I think that’s the happiest I’ve ever been with a 2:07 in my life haha. [Side note: 2:07 and 2:11 are not bad times for the 800m – but if you’ve run 2:03 you might not be very pleased. You should always compare results to your own goals/personal bests #Perspective].

When the coach says you have one more

Running is hard

Race #2 1500m (4:28)

My next race was the 1500m at Liege and I was looking forward to it. I was pretty confident I could smash my personal best of 4:22 as I’ve only raced the 1,500m a couple times and felt great. Spoiler alert: I did not feel great. This race was a needed serving of humble pie – all events take experience and while you can get lucky with a well-paced heat, it takes training and experience to run a new event well. I got too keen in the first couple laps and was bouncing around because I didn’t want to be “at the back” – not really sure why, if I had settled in and stayed with the pack instead of getting dropped like a hot potato I likely would have had a more enjoyable (and faster) time.

Bottom line, I gave it what I had on the day and while 4:28 is nothing to shout about it could have been a lot worse.

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Photo: Michael Dawson

Race #3 800m (2:06)

Next up: Nacht van de Atletiek in Huesden. I went out conservative and ran my second best time of the season: 2:06.89. Although going through 400m in 64/65 is probably toooooo conservative (lol) it felt SO GOOD to actually finish a race with an acceleration into the finish instead of a waddle. The race was a strange experience as I felt like I was back budgeting in accounting class (with similar feelings of annoyance) as I consciously measured my energy to gauge if I could go faster or not. To be thinking about how full my tank is and assessing if I can respond to moves in a race isn’t the attacking mind frame I need to be in, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

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Photo: Michael Dawson

Race #4 800m (2:07)

My last race of the season was the Memorial Rasschaert in Ninove and after a week of easy training I was feeling confident I could run a season’s best. We figured if I could go out in 62 and hold that pace it would avoid the shut down I’ve been feeling and feel relatively good (well, as good as running an 800m can feel).

I honestly don’t know what happened, but I ran 2:07 AGAIN and just felt so blah. My overwhelming emotion at the end of my race was relief. I am so relieved that this season is over.

Post Race Thoughts

Recently, I was reading an article where athletes answered the following question:

“What makes you feel your strongest?”

This season has reminded me of my answer. I feel strongest when I’m able to have perspective on my challenges and recognize that I have the tools to move on and re-focus. Am I going to sulk about this season? You bet. But I am going to limit my sulking. I’m appreciative that not running around a rubberized oval as fast as I want to be is a pretty great problem to have. I have so many amazing things going for me and I have an incredible support team. While I may be a down, I’m certainly not out. Taking the time to sit with why I’m feeling disappointed and explore actionable ways to change those feelings already makes me feel stronger and excited to get to work for the 2019 season.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity and experience I gained in Europe this summer and to be part of a sport that creates a community of such awesome people. Being in a small country like Belgium is a reminder of how vast Canada is, and makes me appreciate how nice it is to spend time with people I usually only see for moments at meets during the year, who are usually >4000km away. I’ve really enjoyed traveling to meets in our (very polite) mob of Canadians and seeing people from different provinces band together and even train together when practice plans allow the opportunity for collaboration.

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Photo: Michael Dawson

Track has given me both an appreciation and apprehension of time and I’m reminded that the moments that matter most happen off the clock. I’m looking forward to many more of those moments. But first… Italy for 10 days of vacation!

Xoxo Devan

2018 Nationals Recap

The track sure looks small when you fly over it in a bright purple WOW airlines plane on the way to Europe. After spending three days immersed in the track and field world at the 2018 National Championships, the shrinking red oval serves as a much needed reminder that there is a big world outside of Ottawa’s Terry Fox Athletic Facility.

Eyes forward


Reasons why National Championships is one of my favourite races:

  1. Opportunity to compete against the best athletes in the country
  2. “Track family” centralized: the chance to catch up and see so many familiar faces of athletes, coaches, volunteers and parents
  3. The excitement of advancing through rounds and competing for the podium

While I’m tactically proud of how I raced my semi-final, I’m not proud of how I finished it. Despite getting in a good position and running well through the first lap (split 400m in 61 seconds), my body shut down at 300m to go and I ended up in 4th with a time of 2:08 and no chance of advancing to the final. Before the race I visualized the 300m workouts I’d been cruising and felt confident that I could run a strong last lap, so to fail to respond when the pack pulled away really sucked. I felt my body shift from race mode to survival mode – all I could think of was making it to the finish.

I don’t have any excuses. My training has been going better than ever, I’m sleeping enough, hardly working at all, and I’m not injured. I’ve being seeing a nutritionist, taking an iron supplement, and made a ton of progress with my physio exercises. On paper everything is awesome. But in races something isn’t clicking.

When the coach says you have one more


I don’t know the right questions to ask to figure out what’s causing my slooooow down, but I think I know the answer – and that’s to trust the process with patience. I made a lot of big changes in 2018. I left my “real job” and switched clubs and coaches. While it might take longer than I hoped to iron out the kinks and get to the level I want to be at, I do know that I have an amazing support system, and I love this sport.

I didn’t achieve reason #3 why Nationals is one of my favourite meets, but I achieved #1 and #2 effortlessly. While I (obviously) wished I were in the 800m final, I felt genuine excitement to see my competition run so well. Sure, it was mixed with envy, but I was PUMPED to see the top THREE run under 2:02 – that has to be the fastest women’s 800m final in years!

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Congrats to Jenna on her silver medal!


It’s pretty awesome to be in a sport that makes you feeeeeeeel so many emotions. Even though I’m frustrated with my result at nationals – I plan to use that as fuel for the remainder of my season and beyond. On that note, onwards and upwards to Belgium! (Literally, I am on the plane right now).

European Race Schedule:

  1. July 14th Guldensporenmeeting Kortrijk (800m)
  2. July 18th Meeting International de la Province de Liège (1500m)
  3. July 21st Night of Athletics Huesden (TBD)
  4. July 28th Memorial Rasschaert (last race of the season – 800m)

No Longer a Bachelorette

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I’m officially changing my relationship status to taken. SoLo and I are engaged in a snacking relationship and I couldn’t be more excited about it. 


SoLo Picks Me Up

You may be wondering, how did this joyous union come to be? Well, after I made my decision about the winner of my bar competition (click here to go to the beginning of the journey), I reached out to SoLo to see if they could love me back. No joke, I sent an email saying “I love you but can you love me?”

*Spoiler alert*

They LOVE ME! (Or at least they’re intrigued enough to give me a shot).


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Energy that sustains

As a SoLo Ambassador I am looking forward to exploring the benefits of sustained energy and learning more about the low GI lifestyle. Prior to connecting with SoLo I didn’t know anything about it – here are some fun facts I’ve already learned (for more info click here to check out their site):

  • Low glycemic slow release carbohydrates, such as those contained in SoLo Bars, make us feel better, more focused, and more balanced over a longer period of time
  • Research studies have shown that a low GI, slow carb lifestyle may also lower blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease
  • SoLo Bar’s slow release carbs help to keep your blood sugar levels in a narrow range.  As a result, your body doesn’t experience the “spike, crash and crave” cycle that you often feel after eating high glycemic foods and snacks.
  • They are tasty!

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Can’t wait to taste the rainbow!

These lessons give me confidence that our relationship has a shot at making it out of the honeymoon phase and becoming something as stable as the energy I’m ingesting.

Trying a New Race

I  ran my first mile race on May 25th and my pre-race snack was…

You guessed it, a SoLo bar! 

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Winning the Minuro mile in 4:45, Kirsten close behind in second

I am pleased to report I won the race and scored some serious prize money – a first for me! I’d been feeling a little FOMO (fear of missing out), because University Championships were happening and as a graduated alumni I am officially too old (and out of eligibility) to compete. However, when you’re a student athlete you can’t accept prize money or you risk losing amateur status – something I don’t have to worry abut any more. Muahah. It was extra awesome that my boyfriend/training partner Jack won his race too, so we have some money in our pockets for when we head to Europe for some fast races this summer.

The race was extra special for me as it was on the 11th anniversary of my Dad passing away from colon cancer. On what is typically a sad day, it felt good to be doing something I love and pushing myself to try something new. It was awesome to have my mom there cheering for me, and see so many friends from the track community at the meet. It was extra fun to race with Kirsten, one of my best friends who also walked away with prize money for second place.

Date Night

IMG_9281SoLo and I also went on a date to the new Star Wars movie were surprised by the lack of SoLo Bars in the film. Han certainly could have used the benefits of sustained energy… maybe if he had chomped on a peanut power he could have done the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. (#NerdAlert).

I was a total CHEWbacca as I munched on my bar (in addition to popcorn obviously). Having a SoLo bar helped me resist the temptation of eating “too many” treats without feeling like I was missing out/punishing myself. While I can resist sugary pop no problem (I think I’ve seen too many science fair projects showing the effect of Coke on your teeth), I can’t say the same for those bags of mini Twix.

I LOVE CHOCOLATE. And while it’s OK to have a couple bites, devouring an entire bag before the movie starts probably isn’t the most nutritious choice – especially in racing season. By having my own great tasting snack I stayed on track with healthy goals, and wasn’t a sad panda.


What’s next for me and SoLo?

We’re taking this love story on the road!

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SoLo has won my heart!

You’ll catch SoLo bar and I (and Jack #thirdwheel), road tripping to Portland for my favourite race of the year – the Portland Track Festival! I will be eating at least one bar on race day as in addition to my own 800m race I will be rabbiting the women’s 1500m only an hour later.

For anyone new to the track scene, a rabbit is an athlete paid to “set the pace” for the field. You’re given a time to run (for me it’s 2:15 through 800m) and then you drop out once you’ve completed the distance agreed upon. The idea is that it helps the athletes in the field run faster, so I will be needing my extra energy to hit the pace and stay ahead of the pack!

Wish me luck (plz),

xoxo Devan

Running for the Thrill of it

My friend Rob Denault (admitting that Rob is a friend – wow that’s a first) wrote a blog recently that I really liked (oh boy – two shocking statements in one sentence, this post is off to a WILD start). Jokes aside, Rob wrote about his motivation for being an elite athlete (click here to read) and summed it up by saying his goal is to “empty the tank.” His blog prompted me to reflect on my own answer to the question:

“Why am I doing this running thing?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially early in the track season when I haven’t found my racing legs and don’t have any results to show for months of training, I have doubts and occasionally worry that I’m wasting my time.

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As a results-driven person, it’s difficult to focus and work really hard on something without concrete feedback that you’re making the right decisions. I like feeling accomplished and knowing where I stand. School gives you grades, work gives you projects/deals, and running gives you races. “Gives” might be too generous a word, but whether these are accurate measures of achievement or not, they’re established metrics that I’m used to.

1064403222I’m also used to working hard and succeeding. Running scares me because I don’t have any guarantees that I’m going to succeed. I know, I know, you can never truly have guarantees – but when you’re getting marks back/feedback on projects, outcomes seem more predicable then when you’re standing on the start line and have no idea what the next few moments will bring.

Similar to Rob’s “empty the tank” mantra I feel like I need to follow through on what I’m passionate about. It’s remarkably rare to find something that you’re genuinely excited about. Something you’re so invested in that you don’t have to try to find motivation to care about it because you just do.When you find something that makes you give a crap you should stick it out.

It could be a job, school, activity, or person – it could be anything. I love Mike Manson’s article (click to read) about how people are obsessed with searching for their passions, but real passion doesn’t need to be hunted for because you’re already doing it. He argues that the things you’re passionate about are what already fill your thoughts and hours, they don’t seem like chores, and you might not even notice you’re skilled at it them because it’s your second nature.

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I want running to be that thing I am so good at. While I don’t know if I’ll ever make the Olympics, or run a two-minute 800m, or be a Senior National Champion, I do know that I love to imagine it. I know I want to do it everyday and I know I need to follow that feeling. Saying it’s your goal to make the Olympics is respected/”understood” by people – which seems weird because so few people can actually relate to that. But it’s more relatable than saying “I’m really passionate about running two laps on a rubberized surface”. Additionally, running creates the opportunity for me to travel to new places and spend time with some pretty awesome people. So why not keep running?

It’s rare that something grabs your attention and holds on, making you feel alive and giving you purpose. I might be changing my tune when I have more responsibilities… But for now I intend to make the most of every authentic interest I find already have.

xoxo Devan

PS Thanks for reading!

 

 

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: FINALE!

And the winner is…

I’ve found love and I want to tell you all about it. Similar to every contestant on the Bachelor I did have some last minute anxiety over picking the right partner. Choosing one bar to rule them all is a BIG DEAL and I take my commitments very seriously. But I couldn’t let my devoted readers (you) down so I had to make up my mind and listen to my heart (and stomach).


The Elimination of ONE Bar

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The first step was taking the final three down to the final two. This is when I realized what I already knew: ONE Bar isn’t the one for me.

It’s expensive, American, and artificial. While their vast array of dessert flavours are enticing, they aren’t catering to an athletic lifestyle and I don’t think we’re a great match.

It’s not them… it’s me? (JK it’s them).


The Final Two: Simply and SoLo

On paper Simply has it all. The bars are all natural, have 15g of protein, and come in a variety of flavours. Simply is also a Canadian brand and was recommended by my nutritionist. Eating a Simply bar felt like being set up on a blind date with someone who “checks all the boxes” but for whatever reason there’s no spark.

product-fan-whey-500The thing about love (in my wizened 24 year-old opinion), is that you can’t fit it in a neat nutritional information box. Love changes what you think you need and can’t be defined by what you thought were “dealbreakers.”

I wanted to feel excited about Simply, but I just wasn’t craving them. After eating it I wasn’t satisfied – I was left wanting something more….


SoLo Bar: Changing my plans

I need a bar that sustains and brings me happiness. I LOVE snacking – my boyfriend calls me Chomper for a reason –  and I need a bar that when I remember it’s in my bag I get a flash of pure unadulterated JOY.

I think I’ve found this with SoLo Bar.

When I started this blog series I wanted to find a single protein bar that met all of my (perceived) nutritional needs. I was looking for a bar to eat after track workouts that had 15g of protein, that was low calorie and low sugar. While polyamory did cross my mind (different bars for different kinds of training), I knew my snack experience would be more meaningful if it was with one brand only.

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I was so set on finding a bar for post workout that I had blinded myself to my other protein needs: snacking and pre-workout. In fact, I realized I should make more of an effort to eat a meal right after working out – instead of eating a protein bar in addition to a meal an hour or so later. I was also set on the idea that low sugar was the way to go, but now I understand the benefits of natural sugar as a quick source of easily digested energy.


Mother knows best

I introduced my mom to SoLo and she was ready to commit before me. Despite being an elite runner in University, my mom had never had a protein bar before I started my quest for the “perfect” one. When we were hiking in New Zealand I gave her a Kirkland bar to power her up a hike and she was less than impressed. While she said the energy was exactly what she needed, it was a chore to chew and felt like she was eating out of necessity vs. enjoyment.

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Mother/daughter snack team

I suggested she take SoLo on a snowshoe with her and that sealed the deal. She likes the “peanut power” but her favourite flavour is “lemon lift”. She’s off to Iceland in a couple months for another hiking expedition and she’s bringing an army of SoLo bars with her.


What’s Next for me and SoLo?

do-you-love-me-or-notI’ll be chomping on SoLo bars before races, when I need a snack, and to tide me over after practice if I don’t have time to eat dinner within the hour.

I reached out to SoLo to find out if they could love me back… Stay tuned for details on a potential partnership?!

 

 

 

2018 Season Opener(s)

My 2018 track season has officially opened! After a few hours and an IN-N-OUT burger combo to give me hindsight, I have positive feelings about my race experiences this weekend.

Day #1 Bryan Clay

Heat sheets didn’t come out until 20 minutes before the race, 13 girls were on the start line, the leader went out in 63 and closed in a 60, and I was boxed in (too far) behind her. It was chaos. To quote Kirsten: “your race looked like Victoria’s Secret on Black Friday.”

Takeaways: despite thinking “oh this is a good spot I’m right on the inside” it was in fact not a good spot (unless I wanted to get boxed in #sad). At 300m to go when the leaders surged I was trapped and couldn’t find any free room to run. I managed to finish strong but was frustrated with the 2:07.23 – even though I know times don’t really matter at this point in the season (I will keep telling myself this until I believe it). I know I have more to give!

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Running is hard! I am tired.

Highlight of the meet was watching the 1500s at night. The atmosphere was electric and the depth of the field was insane. It almost made me want to run a 1500m. Almost.

Jack raced 3:48.37 aggressively, looking strong, focused, and springy (until the last 50m when he “sat in the chair”). His time was quicker than he ran all of last season! (#SpeedGoogles). It was also awesome to see Lindsey run 4:10 (I had to get out a second set of speedy goggles) and Justin Knight ran 3:36 in the same race that Josh Kerr broke the American collegiate record in 3:35. WOW, by the end of the night I was wearing so many speed goggles Jack had to guide me to our Uber.

Summary: Bryan Clay really has it going on (especially in the music department, the playlist was as fire as the 1500s #HilaryDuff).

Day #2 Beach Invitational

After finishing Season 2 of the OC (when in California), Jack and I packed up and left our somewhat sketchily-located Airbnb and headed to Long Beach. They’ve completely redone the stadium so it looked nothing like my fond memories racing there in my UBC days.

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2015 UBC 800m Squad @ the Long Beach Invitational

I was in the fastest section and I was the fastest seed so I wanted victory but alas, I finished 4th in my race. Tactically, I ran much better than yesterday, getting out quick and into a better position. But the sloooooow down from 200-400m was brutal. After a decent 200m we went through 400m in 65… Which feels WAY different than the 60/61 I’m lusting after. I heard someone saying it’s more fun to run an 800 off a slow first lap but I have to disagree. It’s an uncomfy pace and the transition to sprinting at the end is a rough one when you’re not in peak racing shape. I attempted to make a move at 300m to go, but my hesitation cost me and instead of powerfully striding to the front I zig-zagged around in a confused manner similar to when I was looking for my Uber pool pick up spot after the race. OK it wasn’t that bad but it was a good reminder that the 800m is not kind to hesitation.

The more I write this the more fired up I am to get back out there. I did have the usual moment before the race of “WHY AM I DOING THIS” but the aftermath is always the reminder: because it makes me feel accomplished, powerful, and alive.

I’ve heard that patience is a virtue. So while I’m keen to showcase my fitness and prove to myself that I’m capable of more, I’ll settle for two negative splits and an injury-free start to the racing season! That’s already more than I can say for last year.

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Love my new racing top – thanks Rackets & Runners!

Trip Highlights:

  • Did I already mention we went to IN-N-OUT? Real talk, Jack said Whitespot makes a better burger and I’m going to have to agree with him. Still worth the hype though.
  • I made an excellent grocery list and we managed to make all our meals off one $36 grocery shop #HumbleBrag
  • Spending time/traveling with Jack (aaaawwwwwwwww)
  • Seeing so many familiar faces at the meets! Track family is the best family ❤

Trip Lowlights:

  • The pollution in LA! My track hack is next level. Explaining track hack to your Uber/Airbnb companions gains you some sceptical looks. I swear I don’t have TB or smoke 5 packs a day!
  • Related to the above… The traffic! Getting anywhere took twice as long as I expected
  • The mucus. I’m feeling way better than last week but the amount of snot I’ve produced over the last few days is certainly a personal best
  • The blisters! There was more fire on the track that my times indicate – the side of my foot has been roasted off. At least my feet looked great in my new ELMN8 spikes

Time to get back to work. I think my next race will be around the second week of May… Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

xoxo Devan

PS Wondering what protein bar I had after my race?

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It was the SimplyProtein Maple Pecan bar – bringing some additional Canada flavour to the races

 

 

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 5

It’s time to chew into these bar’s values and where they come from. But before I do…

Training Update:

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Chasing good times and the perfect protein bar

Training has been going awesome. I’m loving my new coach and program and focusing on training full-time (instead of working) is making a huge difference in the quality of my workouts.

Speed: I haven’t felt speedy since High School (when I ran my 55.61 400m PB). This is changing. Lynn has me doing sprints, stairs and drills which are sharpening my reflexes and giving me some serious power. Pair that with some consistent work in the gym with my strength trainer Devon (what a great name btw), and I’m getting excited to race.

Managing expectations: I’m excited to prove my fitness but I’m also keeping in mind that results can take awhile to come to fruition. The meat of my season will be in June/July so that’s when I need to be in fighting form. I’m looking forward to feeling the race vibes in California in a couple weeks but I know these races are just for feedback on the last few months training and I need to keep my expectations in check.

I’ll be sure to post an update after my first race so check back at some point after April 21st.


The companies: Time to learn about who raised these bars.

SOLO-GI-Logo-2013SoLo Bar

SoLo was the first bar to catch my eye, and has already made an excellent impression on my family. I can’t deny that I have serious feelings at stake here.

“SoLo Bars were designed using a unique blend of slow release carbohydrates, proteins and fibres that provide a lower glycemic response than other leading energy bars. This means SoLo fills your tank with premium fuel to keep your body running stronger over a longer period of time, so you don’t experience the “highs and lows” that occur when your blood sugar levels go up and down. “

SoLo bar website

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Sounds like stability is a top priority for SoLo, which I love. I am not a dramatic person and my relationships reflect that. SoLo’s website remarks “there are no roller coasters around here!” And that sounds pretty ideal. I don’t want my heart getting jerked around.

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Early days, flirting on Twitter

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I love how the company is local (based in BC) and seems really focused on balance and living a nutritious, fulfilling lifestyle.

Plus, look how many flavours there are! There may not be any roller coasters, but I don’t think there’s any risk of becoming bored.

Everything seems great. Except one thing…. the amount of protein. Post workout I think I need closer to 15g, and most of these bars are 10-13g. I could compromise and pair the bar with some milk… or just eat two?!

TBH eating two sounds like a pretty good idea…

Family Favourite: SoLo is my mom’s choice.


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(Bar)

 

I feel like ONE is speaking right to my soul…

“Stop playing the field and start playing, period: ONE Bar is packed with a whopping 20 grams of protein – but only 1 gram of sugar – all delivered in deliciously decadent, too-good-to-be-true flavors.”

ONE website

Part of me certainly feels like I have found “the one”. Taste, protein, flavour… or “flavor” as the Americans would say. ONE bar is all about avoiding guilt, and living a glamorous, indulgent life. However, the company is all about indulgent snacking – and not athletics. The target consumer seems to be the “in-the-know health suave cool person” at the office avoiding doughnuts and 3pm sugar cravings by opening their ONE-stocked snack drawer, and not a sweaty, protein-thirsty athlete such as myself.

 

This relationship has passion and excitement. But I’m looking for my partner for life here. I don’t want a fling, I need something that will last.

PS ONE touts the idea that you deserve an extravagant lifestyle – and they charge a price that reflects that. These bars near the $5 mark, which is hard to justify for an athlete on a budget


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No doubt, this bar is great for a snack, or after a light workout. Perfect after a pool run. In fact, I just had one this morning on my way home from the Aquatic Centre. Crunchy, tasty, and made with only wholesome simple ingredients – this bar is a serious contender for my heart.

 

“SimplyProtein® products are high protein, gluten free, and contain only 4g of sugar or less. All of our snacks are free from artificial sweeteners and flavours, making them perfect guilt-free snack options. “

SimplyProtein website

My only concern with this bar is if it has enough substance to satisfy me after a hard workout. I could compromise and supplement the (intentional) lack of carbs with some fruit, maybe a loaf of bread…

I know that every relationship is  bound to have insecurities and worrying if this bar has enough “substance” is overlooking the fact that it’s the only bar I’ve found that doesn’t have artificial ingredients and has 15g of protein!!! In that respect, it’s a bit of a unicorn.

 

Two of my favourite flavours: Cinnamon pecan and lemon coconut.

“I liked the flavour, it was a nice light option for right after a run. You don’t feel like you’re eating something heavy. But I don’t know about the texture… I felt like I was eating a rice krispy and I don’t know if that’s for me. It also tastes natural, I don’t feel like I’m eating artificial ingredients. Oh bonus, it wasn’t too sweet!”

– Tamara (Training partner of the Bar Bachelorette)

Simply’s mission statement is “to make healthy snacks for busy people” – I would say they’ve 100% succeeded – maybe now it’s time to grow their relationships? (As in be in a relationship with meeee?)

Side note: Tamara, how can comparing something to a Rice Krispy treat be a bad thing? Check yourself.


Next steps:

It’s time to make a decision.

 

 

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 4

With the “hometown dates” right around the corner, this is an appetite inducing week. By the end of this blog, the final three will be revealed. #Drama


One-on-One Snack: Vega

My training partner Tamara is a huge fan of Vega and I’m a huge fan of Tamara so I was looking forward to my first snack with this vegan option. I’m a little concerned that there’s only two flavours… but Tam Tam assures me that peanut butter chocolate is the only bar I’ll ever need so I’m keeping an open mind (or at least trying to).

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Post speed session at the South Surrey track

Basic nutritional info: 15g protein, 260 calories, 16g sugar

I tried to manage my expectations but I had high hopes for this bar and wasn’t disappointed. Tastes great, and a great amount of protein. I tweeted that I was trying the bar and they replied right away – wow, so nice! Not only do they meet my nutrition requirements (although the sugar is a bit much), they seem genuinely supportive and nurturing – in more ways than just nutrition.

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BUT… I feel like committing to Vega might be like marrying someone who’s devoutly religious when I’m not. No matter how great they are, it’s hard to look past the fact that we have drastically different values. How am I meant to explain to Vega’s family/friends that I’m not a vegan? How can I endorse the brand when I love steak almost as much as life itself? I don’t feel like Vega is pressuring me to convert, and maybe we can make it work…. I don’t know!


SUGAR: What is it good for?

First-things-first, that heading was meant to be read to the tune of “War” (if you missed this please go back and re-read) .

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I have been operating under the assumption that the less sugar the better. But then I started thinking… there must be more to sugar. Is some sugar actually a good thing? And, more interestingly, if a bar isn’t sweetened by sugar, than what is doing the trick?

So I asked around a little, and learned:

  1. Sugar can be a good as a quick source of energy especially before workouts
  2. Consider the source of sugar, if you’re having a bar made with dates, some sugar will be unavoidable (and natural)
  3. Sugar can be a helpful tool for elite athletes, but isn’t as helpful for the general public

So basically, sugar can be good, and maybe I shouldn’t be ruling out bars because of it. I think the bar this really impacts is the Clif brand… read on to see what I decide.


Group Date:

41oQE59uCIL._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_PIStarRatingFIVE,BottomLeft,360,-6_SR600,315_SCLZZZZZZZ_Q: How am I only just discovering that the protein count for this bar is only 3.5g?

A: Because on the website it sneakily puts the amount of protein for 100g (which is 10g), instead of the amount per 35g bar (3.5g). I feel a bit humiliated and led on. This is like when a contestant on the Bachelor already has a boyfriend. What are you doing on this blog, you’re not here to find love, you’re here for fame!!!! Get out!!! #SingleTear


Picky-Bars

These bars have been neglected so far because they’re American and difficult to get a hold of. I swear they used to be stocked at Trader Joe’s, but I had no luck sourcing one in San Diego. I feel like Picky might be the contestant that leaves the bachelor for a legit reason (like they had to go back to a real job), before they had a chance to get to know the Bachelor and you always wonder if they’re the one that got away. I fear this is happening with Picky bar. If I can’t find one, how am I going to bite one? Maybe one day the stars will align and I will find them. But until then it doesn’t seem fair to my other contestants to keep holding out for a bar that’s not making themselves fully available to me (geographically and emotionally).


Clif-BarThere is no denying that Cliff is too sweet for me. The sugar content is sky high, and the protein content in regular Luna bars just isn’t enough for me. I do have a soft spot for the mint chocolate chip builder bar, but I don’t know if that’s enough to carry the relationship.


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I’m starting to feel a bit bad for ONE bar as it’s clear they have no friends in the snack cupboard. This bar seems to do no wrong. I tried this flavour after my second track workout in San Diego and loved it. I also saw these bars in Canadian grocery stores, but they are expen$ive – cashing in around $4.40. Also, the sugar content is crazy low, but betting the list of artificial ingredients isn’t as small…


The Chomping Ceremony:

Eliminated: Vega, Clif, Nakd, Vega, Picky

Safe: Simply, SoLo, ONE

The Final Three!!!


Next Time:

Hometown week: time to get to know what makes these bars the way they are

The Energy Bar Bachelorette: Episode 3

I have a confession to make. While I’m trying to keep the playing field fair, I’ve given a slight advantage to one of the contestants. Simply came with me to New Zealand .

*Gasp*

I’ve started seeing an awesome registered dietitian/sport nutritionist and she suggested these bars as a recovery option for easy(ier) training days when I wouldn’t need a big bar to recover (ex. after a pool session or short run). These bars are super tasty and have a great amount of protein – especially considering the low 150-calorie count. They remind me of “Rice Krispies treats” if they grew up, went to college, became a busy executive and started working out.

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This moment of sibling love and NZ activity brought to you by Simply Protein Bar

We (me and Simply) had a great time in New Zealand. These bars are light, crunchy, and they contain no artificial sugars. Plus they’re Canadian and come from a female founded company!!! Wow. I think my crush has grown into real feeeeeeeeelings.

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So far I’ve tried and loved the peanut butter and the maple pecan. This one even has a maple leaf on it!! How cute (& Canadian).


Two-on-One Snack Date:

Typically (in Bachelor world), there are two contestants and one bachelorette on the infamous two-on-one dates, but today there are two girls one bar (he he he). Please welcome my *special guest*, Canadian 10,000m record holder and Olympian: Natasha Wodak! T-Fierce and I brought our bars in San Diego to fuel our training camp on the recommendation of fellow Canadian runner, Catherine Watkins. Tash grabbed a coconut chocolate and I opt’d for chocolate sea salt. (Can you tell we like chocolate?)

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Wow. No BS and No flavour. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. Disappointed, confused, wounded… These bars look great and there’s no denying that they’re a healthy option. Apparently it is too much to ask that you look great and taste great too.

Tash didn’t even finish hers, tossing it to Jack who remarked:

“I might as well have taken dirt and put it between some bran.”

– Jack, Canadian National XC team member & boyfriend of the bar bachelorette

Things are not looking good for RXBAR. I don’t know if I even want to try the mixed berry flavour I bought.


SoLo Meets my Mom:

I didn’t intend for any of the contestants to meet my family until “home town week,” but I’ve once again broken my own rules.

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Photo taken by Jocelyn

Obviously my own (protein) needs are more important than my family’s perception of a bar – but I’m close with my mom and sister and challenges could arise down the road if they don’t approve of the relationship. My mom (Jocelyn), took SoLo on a 7km snow shoe which gave them a lot of time alone together.

Upon her return, I immediately asked if she thought SoLo had enough substance to be my long term partner? She said she really enjoyed the bar’s company, but needs to get to know them a little better before she can give her blessing. It’s clear that I like SoLo (a lot) because I’m anxious for them to make a good impression on mama J and instantly feel relief when she remarks:

“SoLo was a great companion for a winter hike. Tasty. The texture was much better than any other bar I’ve tried, which I only ate because I needed to. Today I had an enjoyable snack experience and felt like I was eating something because I wanted to, not because I had to.”

– Jocelyn, Mother of the Bar Bachelorette

When I asked her what she needs in order to give her blessing, she said more flavours. Does she actually require more samples – or does she just want them? A good sign either way.  SoLo is getting a bite to the next round.


Group Date #2

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ONE bar continues to shine. I hope I’m not allowing my infatuation to cloud my judgement on if this is a realistic relationship or not. I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen the product in Canadian Stores.


temp1Invited but didn’t show up. Wow, these guys are hard to track down. You can pre-order them online, but I don’t think I’m ready to commit to a box of 12. Plus, I’m a hungry runner, I don’t have the patience for pre-ordering!!!


5After Coach Lynn’s “Brazilian Workout” I was in need of a protein pick-me-up and this was my bar of choice. TBH I was let down. Tasted very artificial and wasn’t worth the extra $krilla. I’ve tried better Quest flavours (ex. raspberry cheesecake), but I’m not in love with this one.


0022252233030_CF_version_type_largeSampled this bar post long run around a hilly lake in Cali. Tasted great, a little shy of the protein content I’m looking for but the flavour made up for it. Not sure if you can get this Luna “protein” variation in Canada? I will have to investigate.


The Chomping Ceremony:

Safe: Simply, SoLo, ONE, Picky, Nakd, Vega, & Clif

Eliminated: RXBAR, Temple, & Quest


Next Time:

WAR. SUGAR. What is it good for? How much sweetness should I have in my life? How much is too much? Time to start asking some complex (carbohydrate) questions.