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

 

Why Strava Isn’t For Me

It was 10pm, negative three degrees and raining.  I was debating if I should wear my runners (Brooks Ghost) or flats (Brooks Hyperion) to sprint across the Burrard Street Bridge.

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Doesn’t look thaaaaaaat far.

Let’s back up for a second.

I thought Strava was just for people who wanted to brag about their workouts and mileage (nothing wrong with that, bragging can be great), but it’s so much more. An online community that inspires people to be active, Strava offers a window into the training of athletes of all levels of ability. Elites, fit managers who bike to work, walk/run groups – Strava is designed for everyone. Well, it’s really made for hyper-competitive, OCD tracking, record-everything types – so I figured Strava and I should be a match made in heaven.

Jump back to me contemplating my shoe choice on that rainy night: Option one, the Ghost (the one on the left). It’s comfy and good on pavement, but not a racer. The Ghost is my go-to easy running shoe. The Hyperion on the other hand, is more of an attacker. Light and quick, it’s my winning choice.

 

I’ve finished a solid week of training and I’m pretty tired, but the Strava segment record looks attainable, and it’s only a couple minutes jog from my apartment. I scroll down my newly acquired newsfeed, excitement growing as I spot another segment within my 800m wheelhouse. This time it’s a 220m segment by Kits pool. The record is 43s owned by a woman named Karen, which I figure I can crush in no time (or a time under 43s to be precise). “YOU ARE GOING DOWN KAREN!” I cackle mercilessly as I picture snatching the course record away from a stranger’s unsuspecting feet.

I pause for a second to wonder if I will look like a jerk to the online community when my total run mileage is only the 220m segment and Karen likely went for a 30-minute run that included it. Do I care? No! Victory will be mine.

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Wow. What just happened?

I, Devan of the notoriously low mileage, was about to voluntarily add on a run against my coach’s wishes (in the dark rainy night I might add). Secondly, I was motivated by stealing a record from a woman who likely takes great pride in her 43s 200m. Finally – and I’m no injury prevention expert – but sprinting on cement after a hard week of training doesn’t seem like a very good idea… Yikes. That is some flawed logic. Laptop closed, shoes off, “Segment Sniper Devan” is going to sleep on this plan.


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It’s the next day and I’m feeling a bit more… rational. I head out for my run and am instantly agitated. My GPS isn’t syncing. While this is always annoying, it now seems catastrophic. OH MY GOD, people are going to think I am running SO SLOW. This is horrible. Then I realize, I am the one being horrible! Here I am, out doing what I love and I’m obsessed with looking good to other people.

I actually enjoy running really slow. I think it’s great for my recovery. I aim to run based off “feel” – which is hard to do when you’re obsessively checking your pace and comparing yourself to past runs, or worse – other people.

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I don’t mean to dump on Strava. I love the idea of an online running community, and the fact that it’s inspiring so many people to be active is freaking awesome. Lets be honest – running needs all the help it can get to make it a more popular and relatable sport. In a way, I think it’s a bit like social media… it’s all fun and games until you start taking it too seriously.

 

So my closing thought: if you can see the fun in Strava and use it as an inspirational training tool I would strongly recommend it. But, if you’re a hyper-competitive analytical enthusiast, maybe take it with a grain of salt or just stay away.

PS You’re welcome Karen, your segment is safe… for now.

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)

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!

 

 

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

 

 

Sun Diego: Training camp 2018

Training Camp. The adult version of summer camp (if you only did one sport and spent a lot of time talking about it). Our small-but-mighty training group “Pacific Elite,” headed down to San Diego for the past nine days to #PutInWork and escape the Vancouver winter. It was awesome to spend time in a place so dear to Coach Lynn’s heart and visit a couple “landmarks” that are also familiar to Jack, Tamara, and myself after many trips with Marek and UBC (aka. the The Bahia Resort & Mr. Ruribertos).


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“Pacific Elite”

We stayed in a great little condo in the Mission Bay/Pacific Beach area and spent our time running, cross training (in outdoor pools #bless), checking out new tracks, and playing Codenames – it made for a great week and a bit. The timing of this camp acted as a primer for Tash before Common Wealth Games, and a confidence boost for the rest of us heading into our outdoor seasons. Woo Hoo!


Workouts:
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On the track

The ladies hit some solid speed sessions at SDSU! Tamara and I PB’d mid workout in the 300m running a 40s rep (Coach Lynn told us to “let the cat out of the bag” – I joked we accidentally let the tiger out of the zoo), and Tash smashed a 600m PB in 1:36. Honestly she probably should have just kept going and PB’d in the 800m too – watch out world, she’s a middle distance runner now!

Tamara and I encountered some serious lactic acid when we met our new “friend” the 30 second rest, but we managed to keep it together and finished our session strong.

I’ve often struggled with being mentally engaged and positive at practice, but I’ve noticed a complete change in my attitude. I would credit this to a couple factors:

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Selfie with Coach Lynn

  1. Having an inspiring and hard-working team to train with
  2. Following a plan that has flexibility and fun at the core (in addition to improving weaknesses)
  3. Stepping away from work/school has allowed me to save my mental focus for the track. I’m no longer arriving at workout exhausted and stressed out. This is my “job” now (which is so awesome).

At Ski Beach:

Coach Lynn is a big fan of the Brazilian workout (click here to see her YouTube video of it). I’d be very curious to know what people at the park thought we were doing… They might not have believed we’re “high performance” athletes. I’m fairly new to the Brazilian workout, but I am loving it – in a “no pain no gain” sort of way. It is hard, and requires an impressive amount of coordination.

 

Lynn said I deserved a box of raisins for the most improved Brazilian so it was pretty much the best day ever.


Food/Fuel:

Real talk: running is a sport where your weight can feel more important than it is. It’s easy to think “if I weighed less I would run faster” or “so-and-so is lighter than me and they’re running fast, so that must be the reason.” These thoughts are dangerous. I don’t feel qualified to speak about nutrition, eating disorders and/or body image, but I do know that I’ve found myself increasingly aware – in both good ways and bad – of my body in the past few months.

Good Awareness: Feeling myself getting stronger, fitter and faster

Negative Awareness: comparing my body to other athletes

You can’t control everything, especially your thoughts – but you can control the direction they go in. I’ve found it helpful to think of being kind to myself, and remembering that the only number that matters is the one on the clock at the end of your race, and not the one on the scale.

It was super refreshing to hear Natasha talk about food in a healthy and human way. She eats chocolate and loves it. Does she eat it all day every day? No. Does she have self control? Yes. The best treat of the trip IMO was chocolate covered honey comb (see photo below – this would be Winnie the Pooh’s crack).

 

We also took to the kitchen and made a meal each. If you want a more detailed recipe please comment on this blog post and I will post more information. The basic menu was as follows:

Chef Tamara made an excellent oven-baked salmon with veggies. Tash sliced about a million vegetables and made a healthy and tasty quinoa chicken salad paired with olive bread and a *deluxe* olive oil/balsamic dip. Jack and I rounded out the meals with a spinach steak salad paired with a pesto pasta.

 


Fun:

San Diego Zoo, tacos, the beach, and a lot of Codenames. If you’ve never played, Codenames is a great group game – but maybe don’t play with a group of hyper competitive athletes unless you’re looking to find yourself in some tense moments. I think Natasha feared that Jack and I would end our relationship (she’s never seen us play Game of Thrones Board Game – that gets waaaaaay worse).

 

We also went and watched Red Sparrow, hung out at the beach, and tried a bunch of new protein bars (new episode of my Bar Bachelorette series dropping soon).

That’s all for now! I’m looking forward to opening my season in April – likely back in California at the Bryan Clay invitational (TBC).

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Until next time SD!

 

 

One Track Mind

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).

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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.

Backtrack…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Managing Work & Running

Balancing work while striving to be an elite athlete poses challenges, but if you’re motivated and love being busy, living a double life is totally doable.

Having the best of both worlds requires managing your time, building relationships, and compromising. I learned these skills while completing a 12-month work placement program during my undergrad, and enhanced them over the past 2.5 years working at a high-growth fintech start-up in Vancouver.

Here are a few of my tips for achieving the work-work balance between an office job and training:

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  1. Work somewhere you’re genuinely excited to be part of. If you care about your job and what the company is trying to accomplish, it’s going to be easier to manage your priorities.

  2. Be up front with your employers about the commitments you’ve made to your sport. If you need to compete at certain races, presenting dates in advance will prevent conflict/stress down the road and demonstrate initiative and transparency. Worried a company won’t hire you if they know you need to be away for competitions? Chances are the environment isn’t right for you. If an employer doesn’t value the commitment you have for your sport, they don’t value a fundamental aspect of who you are, and that’s not an indication of a good fit.

  3. Set a schedule and manage expectations around hours. It’s easy to feel guilty “sneaking” out of the office before your coworkers when you’re on your way to practice. Remember that they have one job and you have two. Set a time with your boss that you’ll leave the office on practice days, make up missed time at home and work efficiently. If you accomplish your tasks and hit your targets, no one should care that you’re spending fewer hours in the office.1502501_10151844535306036_1521898976_n
  4. Compromise on both ends. Be willing to come in early so you can leave early for practice, and be prepared to miss out on some bonding time with your team. Working remotely is an option at a lot of companies – explore if this is something you could do when you’re on the road for races.

  5. Manage relationships. You need a coach who respects your work, and a boss who respects your sport. If you only have one, you’re in trouble. Your coach/boss need to understand they’re both important to you, but neither has full ownership of your time. This is easier said than done. I’ve been lucky to work for some awesome people who’ve believed in my potential on and off the track – it makes all the difference.

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  1. Plan you meals/clothes. Packing food and your various outfit changes the night before makes a big difference. People at work used to joke that we didn’t need an emergency food kit because my snacks would be able to feed us all for a week (as if I would share). Another time my roommate joked that I should take a suitcase to work because my bags of clothes were threatening to tip me over. Take it from me, looking like a traveling nomad is better than forgetting your flats, gym shirt, pool towel, hairbrush, heels, etc.. There are so many things in life you can’t control, set yourself up for success by taking out the little stresses whenever possible.

  2. Be realistic. There are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes you just can’t do it all. Accept it, do your best, and prioritize what’s most important.

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To run or not to run?

Something doesn’t feel right…

Every runner has experienced it and it’s awful – and no, I’m not talking about the urgent need for a porta potti – I’m talking about when you feel pain. Aren’t runners always in pain? Well, yes. But I’m taking about physical pain that isn’t the usual struggle of pushing yourself (if you stopped whenever you felt that pain you would never run anywhere). I’m talking about when your knee aches, shin splints are acting up, a “hot spot” is getting worse, you rolled your ankle… etc.

“It’s nothing!”

“I’ll warm up out of it.”

“It’s really not that bad.”

– Every injured runner

To run or not to run – that is the question. Pretty sure Shakespeare wrote that. And given the internal turmoil felt when you’re in the midst of deciding if you should push through pain or not, I’m pretty sure it’s from Hamlet.

Trust me, it’s not worth it to hurt it. Your chances of improving pain by running through it are next to none – and the chances of making it worse are much, much, higher (#statistics).

I’ll be the first to admit that in the moment it doesn’t feel so simple. It’s tough to turn around and walk home, miss practice, and/or cut a run short – especially if you’re not hurt “that badly.” It’s even harder to scratch from a race, or cut your season short without feeling like a quitting loser.

Here’s the thing, if it really is nothing, then it will be gone tomorrow. In the light of a new day you can call yourself paranoid, silly, overly cautious, and laugh about it. You’ll probably even feel annoyed and remark “gosh darn it, I totally could have nailed that [insert super impressive workout].” But secretly, you will be very, very, relieved. The potential for relief trumps risk when it comes to injuries. Playing it safe is the finance equivalent of a bond – boring as heck, but a guarantee. Now I’m not advocating for a super safe philosophy for all training, but messing around with an injury has next to no upside

When it comes to pain, it is always better to be safe than sorry.


When you (probably) shouldn’t run:

  1. You feel pain – not soreness/stiffness
    • Note: As a runner, you’re always subjecting your body to stress and it’s natural to feel discomfort. If you had a big workout the day before, have been increasing mileage, or you’re just a regular runner, it is normal to feel sore. Pain is different. You don’t warm up out of it and you might want to limp.
  2. Your coach/physio tells you not to. Listen to them.
  3. Your coworker who knows next to nothing about running but would like to see you race at a track meet in the distant future tell you not to (thanks Emily)