For nearly all of my grade school career, I was an avid Irish dancer. Like, really avid. I practiced Irish dancing for hours and hours a week, with aspirations of touring the world as part of Riverdance. Although this is no longer my principle life objective, Irish dance left me with a two main legacies:
- Massive calves
Unbeknownst to me, my near decade of dance training had essentially been a TON of aerobic and plyometric conditioning. I was fit and I didn't know it! Although I always ran school track and cross country (sometimes quite begrudgingly – it wasn't fun having food thrown at me and my friends as we ran laps around Jr High School at lunch time….!), I didn't join a formal club until grade 11. My coach, Mike, approached me at a high school meet and invited me to join the University of Calgary Athletics Club. Track had always intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go.
My first track practice was absolutely terrifying, especially since at this point I firmly believed that I wasn't even worthy of wearing spandex or track spikes– I thought you had to be fast to do that! Teenage minds are weird. I survived practice, somehow, though I've never been so sore in my whole life. I was literally late for my high school classes the next day because walking was so difficult. For reasons unknown, I decided to go back. GOOD DECISION! My life from then on changed drastically thanks to the best friendships, opportunities, and adventures I've been blessed with.
My collegiate running career as a both a University of Calgary Dino and West Virginia Mountaineer was a true adventure, travelling all over the continent for races on weekends, in between midterms, assignments, and normal college shenanigans. My teammates became so close that they felt like family as we endured the glamour/grind of being student-athletes training our butts off to become the very best we could be. My running career had a few shining moments but was also wrought with roadblocks and bad luck. I ran at the CIS and NCAA championships a few times, won a conference title, was an All-American and All-Canadian, but in between those highlights I battled with pneumonia, anemia, being hit by a car, tripping and falling on my face in important races, debilitating Achilles tendonitis for a full year…. Not quite the smooth path I had envisioned when I was a seventeen year old trying to figure out what to do with my life!
After graduating university, I was at a bit of a crossroads as I didn’t feel like I had fulfilled my athletic potential, but also didn’t believe I was yet good enough to justify becoming a full-time athlete. I moved home, began a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, and resumed training with my high school coach alongside the University of Calgary club team (UCAC).
Where am I now? Good news - I feel pretty confident that I’ve earned the “right” to wear spandex and track spikes! I broke out of the frustrating cycle I’d been in, allowing me to string some consistent months of training together for the first time in a while. All of a sudden, I started to make big jumps towards being the athlete I’ve always believed I could be. In 2014, my relentless work finally materialized into tangible results and I had an absolute dream season, shaving 36 seconds off my 5000m and 7 seconds off of my 1500m times which propelled me to a new class of athletics. I earned the opportunity to represent Canada on my first Senior “A” level teams including the Commonwealth Games and IAAF Continental Cup, which were simultaneously surreal, humbling, and inspiring. I’m so excited to take what I’ve learned from these awesome experiences and compete in more major championships in the future. Although my life is crazy busy balancing school and training, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
For now, I’m here in Calgary, chipping away at my Master’s degree and putting one foot in front of the other as I train towards any athlete’s ultimate goal – the 2016 Olympics!