Sunday, 16 November 2014

Summer Dreaming

Summer vacation is kind of a myth once you're in grad school (they don't tell you that when you sign up!), but I really took advantage of my unstructured lifestyle and had a whirlwind summer of racing adventures here, there, and everywhere. Although it's now November, I'm dreaming of warmer times and can guarantee that a "My Summer Vacation" post will be about 1000 times more interesting than one titled "My Fall" aka "What I've Been up to  Since it's Started Snowing in Calgary". So without further adieu,

My Summer Vacation

In April and May, I ran a few 5000m races in sunny California and came away with a tan and a  massive PB of 15:13.1, which was a big big BIG breakthrough. After many years of frustration, this was absolutely unbelievable and a major catalyst for the opportunities I earned the rest of the summer. 
Celia Peters and I having a wild time at Mt. Sac
Payton Jordan 5000m

Halifax - love this city to bits!

Feeling pretty good, I thought I'd test my speed with some 1500m and mile races as far apart as you can get on Canadian soil - Halifax and Vancouver. To that point, it had taken me five years to knock a grand total of two seconds off of my 1500m time (4:19 when I was 19 to 4:17 when I was 24), so I was quite satisfied with a six second personal best in the 1500m - finally. It was pretty neat participating in the Harry Jerome Mile (in Vancouver) as this year is the 50th anniversary of the Miracle Mile, which was the first time that two people broke the four minute mile in the same race, right at this very meet. It's pretty hard to fathom that this only happened 50 years ago, but what makes this feat even more miraculous is that that race was run on a cinder track in sneakers rather than spikes. Makes the rubberized tracks we have today seem downright luxurious! Anyways, it was neat to witness a tiny part of sport history.

Harry Jerome Mile 4:30

After a few days at home doing some science (grad student life!) I returned to  Moncton to run the Canadian Championships, and was excited to win my first senior title in the 5000m. My entire family is from the Maritimes, so my parents were able to come watch - always a treat!This was a much more pleasant experience than last year's nationals, to put it lightly. In 2013 I finished dead last in the  5000m final after having run for only 6 days following a stress fracture, pity clap and all.  Plus last year, we didn't get an opportunity to visit the world's largest lobster! A juxtaposition in many senses.

World's Biggest Lobster!


Amazing Leuven city hall
View off my balcony at night
View off my balcony during the day 
A few weeks later, I flew to Leuven, Belgium where I met up with 20+ fellow Canadians as well as many new American, New Zealand, and European friends. Many athletes use Leuven as a base to train and live while travelling to races all over Europe because the European season is slightly later than the North American season, and there are lots of great racing opportunities in close proximity. It was empowering to be in such a charming city surrounded by friends who are all there for the same reason - to run FAST!

Canada crew Leuven it!

After a week in Leuven, I travelled to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games! This being my first "Games" experience, I was blown away by the whole event. The athletes' village felt kind of like a great big summer sport camp and was surprisingly not all that different from Canada Games or Legion Camp, but with fewer rules and better food. The race, however, was like nothing I'd ever experienced before.  It was truly surreal to be experiencing something I'd dreamed about forever - competing at a world class event - and I was so happy to be in that moment that I had to consciously force myself not to burst into emotional tears and refocus on the task at hand. The race passed by in a flash and I can hardly even remember details, other than there being sooooo much noise. It was absolutely deafening as a packed stadium of 30 000 fans were on their feet cheering for the entire duration of my 5000m. The atmosphere was so electric that I don't think I even felt pain! I felt that my 10th place performance was solid but certainly not perfect, and I left Glasgow with a slew of experiences and new found wisdom that I'm certain will pay dividends in the future. 

The race was after a downpour! True Scottish weather
Other highlights included:being reunited with my former WVU roommate Sarah-Anne Brault who was competing in triathlon, being mere steps from the Queen during the opening ceremonies, and watching Canadians from all sports kick ass!
Closing Ceremonies bath!
Fun times with my WVU roommate Sarah-Anne Brault!

The queen gave us a wave
Scottish countryside near Stirling
Cheerleader of the year goes to Bre Langley!!

I came home for a month after the games and resumed training, which was pretty difficult after such an emotional high! I eventually got back into my groove and in mid September traveled to Toronto for the inaugural Canadian 5km road championships. Megan Brown and company did a fantastic job creating a deep field of athletes, and the event was a blast! I'll definitely be back.

From Toronto, I was off to Morocco as one of ten Canadians selected to Team Americas for the IAAF Continental Cup. This meet is held every four years with eight athletes lining up in each event - two per Continent with a maximum of one per country. What an event! Team Americas consisted of athletes from all over the USA, Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, etc., which was very cool. I mean, my teammates  Dawn Harper, Kim Collins, and Veronica Campbell-Brown were cheering me on while I ran 200m repeats at the track at approximately half their speed, seeing as they are Olympic champion sprinters. Never in a million years did I think that would happen! I love meeting extremely elite athletes because the one thing that continually strikes me is how normal and even goofy they are in spite of their many accolades.

The meet itself was remarkably low key given the quality of competition, and it was a great way to cap off my season. The world record holder in the indoor 3000m stood beside me on the start line, and she lived up to the Dibaba name by putting on a  great demonstration in what it looks to be on top of the world stage, easily winning and running the last 600m of her race in under 1:30! This was both humbling and motivating as I have a long way to go, but was honoured to be in that race and am eager to be sprinting down the homestretch beside those ladies someday soon.

Africans waiting to strike

Exploring the Souks in Marrakech

After this marathon of a season (Metaphor! No marathons for me!), I took a well needed break and am now starting to ramp up my fall training. It's great that track and field/cross country/road running has so many distinct phases - certainly never any time to get bored!

A Camel! 
Fewf, that's a long post but it's been a long summer. Thanks for reading! 


  1. So awesome Jess! The success you have had could not have happened to a better person!! I am so glad I got to watch you in Glasgow and than have an amazing night out! Miss you girlie!!
    Xo Bre

  2. Love u Jess! Couldn't be prouder!
    Keep posting updates, you know how much I love to live through your athletic success.
    I feel like I contribute as I allow your legs to recovery property when we run together ;)

  3. Good luck racing in Japan Jess! I can't wait to hear all about it :)
    I'm so happy we are friends, and I wish you all the best on your road to Rio!