Covid19- The New Normal
16 Apr

Covid19- The New Normal

First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge that Canada, and ultimately the IOC, made the RIGHT decision to postpone the Olympic Games. Safety is the most important thing right now, not just for athletes but for everyone around the world. Nonetheless, the last couple of weeks have been overwhelming and confusing. I’ve been reluctant to share my feelings because all the athletes around me seem to be “locked and loaded” for Tokyo 2021. Although the dream is still very much alive, I’m trying to give myself permission to grieve “what I thought would be” before I regroup and focus on what’s to come.

Every decision I’ve made in the last four years has been with Tokyo 2020 in mind. Decisions like moving to another country away from my support system, putting my Master’s degree on hold, living in a different state than my fiancé and picking myself back up time and time again after injury. This season has been far from what one would consider the ideal preparation for the Olympics. Because of sciatica pain, my fall and winter training were intermittent. As a result, a lot of people expected me to be relieved at the news that the Olympics were being postponed. Although the postponement of the Olympics may end up working in my favor, I am still just trying to process everything. For the past ten months, I’ve been focused on one thing and one thing alone: to be in Tokyo in July 2020. Everything I’ve done over the past year has been with a view of turning a lifelong dream into reality. I was ALL IN! I fought like I’ve never fought before. Just two days before Canada pulled out of the Olympics, I ran a personal best. I was moved to tears as I was thinking: “I’M BACK! I’VE GOT THIS!” But, in the snap of a finger, everything was taken away.

Everyone wants to know what my plans are. For now, I’m taking it one day at a time. I have good days and bad days and I’m getting comfortable with the idea that this is ok. I’m working on being kind to myself. I’m also allowing myself, for the first time in my life, to not rush to the finish line. I don’t have all the answers at the moment, but I know that everything will work out one way or another. I’ve re-enrolled in school. I will be completing my Master’s in Counseling Psychology. As for training, I was initially resistant to having to change the way I train. The news that the Olympic Qualification period has been postponed has definitely lifted a weight off my shoulders. I feel that I can finally switch the focus from performance to regaining 100% of my health.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health
5 Feb

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Today is #BellLetsTalkDay, an initiative “dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada.” It promotes awareness and action with a strategy built on four key pillars: fighting the stigmaimproving access to caresupporting world-class research and leading by example in workplace mental health.

As a future mental health professional, I feel I have a responsibility to advocate for mental health. Although every day is a good day to talk about mental health, there is a feeling of safety and a sense of community that moves me to speak out about a cause near and dear to my heart on this particular day.

A couple of years ago, I was subjected to what I believe was misconduct of a sexual nature by a physical therapist. I was not sexually abused. A line was crossed, however, and I felt violated. The first time a line was crossed, I left the clinic in tears, confused about what had just happened in the treatment room.  At the time, I did not know how to make sense of all the thoughts and emotions the experiences brought up in me, so I tucked them away in a little box. “I need to focus on what’s important right now and that’s recovering from my injury so I can run,” I told myself. 

I suppressed my feelings for as long as I could, but the lid eventually came off. I was feeling off but couldn’t figure out why. I was sad, down and emotionally volatile. I lost confidence in myself in all areas of life: on the track, in my workplace, and in my relationships. Confused about my emotional state, I decided to seek professional help.  

As I began to process my feelings with my psychotherapist, it became clear that my experience had triggered a series of internal conflicts. I had seen multiple therapists over the years and had never felt the way I was feeling at the time. However, I still didn’t trust myself to decide if what had happened was right or wrong. I downplayed the incidents by rationalizing that “nothing really happened, it’s not like I was sexually abused.” Moreover, the image I had of myself as an assertive woman was shattered. I was not the self-assured woman who spoke up when it mattered, but “the girl who froze and kept going back to the same physical therapist for treatment.”

Please understand that I am not looking for sympathy.  My reason for writing this blog is twofold. First, I want to stress how much speaking to a psychotherapist helped me. There is still a huge stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues. As a future psychotherapist, I want people to know that therapy simply provides a safe and judgement-free place to talk. Second, hearing someone else’s story would have helped me process my emotions. I would have realized that others experience the same kind of feelings I had at the time.   

I hope that by sharing my experience today, I can draw attention to the relationship between athletes and therapists (i.e. massage, chiro, physio, etc.).  As athletes, we need to get treatment and often times it can be in “awkward” places. Even though the therapists are experts in their field, WE as athletes have OWNERSHIP of what happens in the treatment room. 

Therapists, I urge you to exercise caution and not blur the line.  There is a power deferential between you and the athletes you are treating, so follow your code of ethics. Remain diligent even if you’ve been working with athletes for a long time. Don’t make assumptions and always communicate your treatment plan.   

To all athletes and to anyone reading this, please trust your intuition. If something feels off, it is off! 

Thank you, Oiselle, for giving me this platform and empowering me to share my experience and promote the benefits of seeking help to deal with mental health issues.   

 

Link to original publication : https://www.oiselle.com/blog/lets-talk-mental-health

It’s been a while!
25 Jan

It’s been a while!


Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.  Since August 16th, 2016 to be exact!

So much has happened since then that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! So instead, I thought I would just let everyone know where I am at right now. I am still in Los Angeles, California, training. It’s been two years since I dropped everything and changed my life in the space of a week! It has not been easy.  There was a big adjustment period and a huge learning curve. There were also a lot of setbacks and moments of doubts, but I stuck it out and I am finally settled in my new environment. I am healthy, training is going well, I’ve made friends and I’m finally getting to enjoy what California has to offer. So much so, that I’m not sure I can ever go back to the harsh winters of Ontario, especially after this winter!

When I’m not on the track or in the gym, I am completing an online Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. I am in my last trimester of coursework and am due to start an eight months practicum in the fall. I will be graduating  in May 2019, just in time to focus all of my energy on preparing for the 2020 Olympic Trials.

I will try and do a better job of updating my website moving forward! I’ve posted my 2018 indoor competition schedule and have added some new partners on my homepage.

I’ve also added a short video in my Gallery of my time in Taipei, Taiwan when I competed in the 2017 World University Games this past August.

So check it out and stay tuned for more updates!

 

Are you going to Rio? The question of the year!
16 Aug

Are you going to Rio? The question of the year!


Are you going to Rio? IMG_20160815_223554Why not? What happened? What place did you come in? How far off were you? I still get asked these questions several times a week! I’ve gotten pretty good at giving a standard answer: “ I placed 5th at Trials which was not enough to secure a spot on the team…but I’m looking ahead. Everything happens for a reason”!

I’ve had a month to reflect on my journey to the Olympic Trials and to the road that lies ahead. I thought this would be a good time to answer everyone’s questions in more detail and recap my 2016 season.

The start of the season was a bit rough. I fell during my first race and had a couple of terrible races after that. However, after some tough love from my coach, I got back on track and quickly equaled my personal best of 13.33s. A couple of weeks later, I managed to shave off 100th of a second off my wind-aided PB for a new Pb of 13.23w. I also ran a PB in the 200m on the same day. I achieved these times earlier in the season than the previous year and felt that I was finally finding my rhythm. I thought: “Ok, I’m right where I need to be.” The Olympic Standard was 13.00s and I was confident that this number was going to appear on the scoreboard in the next few races with plenty of time to prepare for the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, this is also the time when my back decided that it had had enough!

As many of you know, I suffered a back injury that took me off the track from 2008-2012. The rehabilitation process has been long but I’ve managed to do a little more every year and work back up to an elite training program. I thought I was finally in the clear but I had a flare up in the fall that kept me off the track for about a month. I had a second flare up during the outdoor season and unfortunately my back was at its worst after running my PBs. I had to back-off hurdling for a week and stay out of the weight room for the remainder of the season. I could feel my body changing and the loss of strength was starting to show in the latter part of my races which is usually where I gain some ground. I asked my coach to throw me back into the weight room or to introduce new elements into my training program to help me gain my strength back, but as always he was the voice of reason. He argued that I couldn’t jeopardize the progress I had made and risk putting my back out for another 3 years. So I managed my symptoms, minimized the load and trusted that the foundation I had laid earlier in the year would see me through the season.

Though I am still disappointed about how my quest to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics ended, I’m starting to see the silver lining. Shutting down my season early means I can take the time to address all the little issues I am having with my body. I can afford to be patient with my recovery, although this is easier said than done! Being home for a few months is also allowing me to work with an amazing team of people including:

John Zahab, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Continuum Fitness

Sarah Zahab, Kinesiologist & Exercise Physiologist at Continuum Fitness

Jay Ankersmit, Athletic Therapist at Continuum Fitness

Duane Smith, Chiropractor at Westboro Chiropractic Clinic

Ryan Grant, Pedorthist at SoleFit

I’ve always believed that athletes benefit most from taking a holistic approach to their training and I have finally managed to find a team of experts who hold the same view. Between Duane and Jay’s magic hands, Sarah’s corrective exercises, John’s strength and conditioning program and Ryan’s recommendation for footwear, I am absolutely sure that I am on the right path! I’ve pressed the “reset” button and am now working on laying the foundation for the next four years.

 So I hope this answers a lot of your questions. I will keep you posted on my progress but I would like to formally welcome Duane, Jay, John, Sarah and Ryan to my team. The road to Tokyo begins!

 

Off-Season begins
24 Jul

Off-Season begins

After some discussion and reflection, my coach and I have decided to end my season. This is certainly not how I envisioned capping off my 2016 season. I’m still feeling emotional but I am starting to recognize what I achieved this year despite falling short of my ultimate goal. They say it’s about the journey –looking back on my journey the past 6 months, I have to say that I am grateful for the many new experiences I’ve had and the personal growth I’ve experienced.

The plan now is to rest for a few weeks and then it’s back to work! I will take the off-season to deal with my back issues that flared up in early May and took me out of the weight room for the remainder of the season. My goal is to be the strongest I’ve ever been when I resume training in LA in the fall.
Thank you all for your kind words ‪#‎ottawabound‬ !

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12 Jul

My thoughts after the Olympic Trials

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey to date. Thank you to family, friends, teammates and members of my inner team (my coach, sports psych, chiropractors, massage therapists), for their unwavering support and encouragement. Unfortunately, my Road to Rio did not end the way I had hoped. I am feeling such a wide range of emotions at the moment that I am finding it difficult to put yesterday’s experience into perspective. It will undoubtedly take me a few days to process everything. But I do know that once I’ve had a chance to do that, I’ll do what “we athletes” do best when we fall short of our goals: pick ourselves up and carry on because giving up is simply not an option.

A lot has happened in the last 6 months that I have not formally announced. I needed time to process and adjust to the changes that have taken place. In January, I had the opportunity to attend a training camp in Los Angeles with some of the best athletes in the world. My time there proved to be extremely valuable and I was invited to come back and train in preparation for the Olympic Trials. Although it was a tough decision to make, in the end it was an opportunity I just couldn’t afford to pass up.

Saying it’s been easy would be a lie. I’ve been challenged physically like never before. Workouts are longer and much more demanding. Emotionally, I’ve had to deal with all that comes with making the decision to move to a new country without my usual support system, in the space of a week. My resilience and mental toughness have been tested on numerous occasions. However, each hurdle I have overcome has made me a better athlete. In the short time I’ve been in Los Angeles, I already feel that I’ve grown exponentially, on and off the track. Although today I have a heavy heart, I know that this is the beginning of a new chapter in my journey as an athlete. There are more teams to be made next year and I’m excited to see the hurdler that I will become after a full year of training with my new coach and my teammates.

Thank you to all of you who have accompanied me on my journey to Rio and who will continue to support me in the months and years ahead. Thank you to my parents for allowing me to pursue my dream. Thank you to my coach for giving me this amazing opportunity to train alongside the best hurdlers in the world. Thank you to my past and new teammates for pushing me and encouraging me. Thank you to my sponsors who continue to alleviate a lot of the external stressors so I can devote myself to my craft.  

Congratulations to all of my friends who will be representing their country at the Olympics next month!

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22 Sep

Cheers to a new year!


This past year just FLEW by! It seems like it was only yesterday that I was talking to Craig, my coach, about my reflections on the 2014 season and my goals for the 2015 season. Fast-forward 12 months, and here I am again, gearing up for a new year, new season and new opportunities. But before I talk about what’s to come let me briefly recap this past season.

The last time I wrote, I was on my way to Europe for a mini circuit. I had 4 meets in 3 different countries. Although things looked promising after my first race, they went progressively downhill from there. After my last meet, I texted a friend of mine to tell him how disappointed I was that the season had ended on such a bad note. I was sad, angry, upset and frustrated. Although I had accomplished so much in the past year, I still didn’t feel that it was good enough. I had not achieved the times I wanted to going into 2016. My friend basically told me to “suck it up” and “do something about it” (i.e. TOUGH LOVE). He said that not having achieved all the goals I had set for myself was not a problem and not a good reason to be angry. “It’s just part of the game,” he said.

Setting goals gives us something to work towards and keeps us motivated. They give meaning to the long hours of training that we put in day after day. But goals are not facts. Just because we set them doesn’t mean that we’re going to reach them within the timeframe we’ve established. If we always reach our goals, then they aren’t challenging enough. Goals are by definition ambitious. Falling short of our goals is what keeps us hungry.

Goals aside, this past season was great in many respects. There were several “firsts” and new experiences that will enable me take the next step in my career.

Going into the Olympic year, not much will change. Because I’m stronger, fitter and can withstand more training, the load and volume will increase. But the work ethic, determination and dedication will remain the same. So the plan for this year is the same as always: keep building on the foundation my coach and I have laid, keep improving my times, keep making progress and keep enjoying what I do. The rest will take care of itself.

So cheers to a new year!

19 Jul

Light Up Tomorrow

WOW! So much has happened since my last post. I ran a pb, I carried the Pan Am Torch and I just got back from the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. I am still feeling the effect of jet lag, which explains why I’m writing this post at 5 a.m.!

So for a quick recap….I ran a personal best at the High Performance Meet in Ottawa on June 19th and lowered my time by 3 hundredths of a second. It was nice to do it at home in front of my parents and my coach, Craig Taylor. This was the first time Craig saw me compete this season.

The following week, I had the amazing opportunity to “light up Sparks St” (clever right?) with the Pan Am Torch. I “low key” felt famous for a whole 10 minutes! I ran through a human tunnel surrounded by an entourage of cameramen, police officers and event organizers, then went up on stage and lit the cauldron. What an awesome experience. I felt so proud to be Canadian and so honoured to have had the opportunity to be part of this event. Thank you to those of you who came out and showed your support for the Pan Am Games.

Last but not least, I went to South Korea to represent Canada at the 2015 World University Games. These Games are widely recognized as the second largest multisport games in the world after the Olympics. I stayed at the Athletes’ Village which housed more than 9,000 student-athletes and officials from 170 countries during the 12 days of competition. What an experience. It was so amazing to see people from different backgrounds and cultures come together through sports. I still can’t believe all the work that must have gone into creating this memorable experience for all of us. The South Koreans went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

After a few days adjusting to the new surroundings, it was time to get down to business. Unfortunately, I did not perform as well as I had hoped to. Well, let me not sugar coat it – I ran one of my worst races of the season. I was more than a half second off my best time. I was extremely disappointed after the race but the reality is, an athlete’s journey is full of ups and downs. We learn as much if not more from our downs than our ups. It takes slow races to teach us what we still have to learn and to help us improve our craft. I’ve taken the time to reflect on what happened and have added this experience to my album.

It is always an honour to represent Canada and I am thankful for the opportunity to line up against some of the best athletes in the world. This experience has reinforced my passion for the sport and my desire to aim for the top. I do not take this for granted. I know that I am exceptionally lucky to be able to pursue my dreams and to have such an amazing support system.

I am now gearing up for the last stretch of the season. I am off to Europe in a week for a few more meets. I am looking forward to applying the new lessons I’ve learned and to enjoying the ride!

Check back in at the end of the summer!

29 May

The FISU Games

I am thrilled to announce that I have been named to Team Canada for the 2015 FISU Games (aka The Universiade) that are being held in South Korea in July. The FISU Games are an international sporting event that takes place every two years. Athletes from around the world compete in 13 disciplines including athletics. These Games are considered second only to the Olympics.

Unfortunately, committing to representing Canada at these Games means I am no longer eligible for any other teams this summer including the Pan Am Games as both events will be taking place around the same time. It is a big decision that many athletes have had to face. However, I believe that this is the right decision for my road to rio. Although I will not have the chance to qualify for the Pan Am Games, I am pleased to announce that I have been selected to be one of Ottawa’s Pan Am torchbearers! I am honoured to have been chosen to be a part of the “kick-off” and will be cheering for all of the athletes who will be representing Canada on home turf!

Details of the event

Date: June 30th, 2015

Anticipated segment start time: 14:58

Anticipated segment address: 59-119 Sparks Street

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I will post another update providing more details about the TorchRelay and FISU games later in the month.

Thanks again to everyone who supported me this season! I am off to a great start and cannot wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for me!

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17 May

Season Update

Time for the second update of the season. The last time I wrote, I was off to Virginia and North Carolina for another series of meets. I am happy to report that it was another successful tour. I came home with two personal bests and a lot of positive takeaways. I was home for no more than a week before it was time to fly out again – back to Florida.  I was told that the track I was going to was a “miracle track”! Not sure this constitutes a miracle but I ran two wind aided personal bests!  I am extremely happy with the way the 2015 season is shaping up. There is still a lot of room for improvement and that’s what the rest of the summer is for!

I am really looking forward to resting a little (although I have yet to tell my coach about my plan lol) as I’ve been traveling and racing a lot in the last couple of months.  I am set to compete in Guelph and Halifax as part of the Canadian National Track League Series on May 30th and June 2ndrespectively.

As always, stay tuned for more updates!

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