Pastry chef Janet Fu McDevitt still likes to bake (and eat), while finding time to become an elite Masters runner.
IS IT A COINCIDENCE that Janet Fu McDevitt considers 5K and 10K races “my sweet spots”?
The pastry chef whose resume includes the W Hotel and the Salish Lodge is also a dedicated runner whose achievements include a national title. To be precise, she won the age 40-44 division of the USA Track & Field Masters 5K Cross Country Championships last year, and she regularly logs impressive race results.
On her “Masters Mama” blog, the twin passions come together, as she writes about training regimens and team spirit along with chocolate cakes and croquembouches.
Masters Mama blog
Her official slogan: “Run. And eat pastry.”
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A Bellevue native, McDevitt was a high-school runner who continued the sport as a decorated student-athlete on her college team. She followed her economics degree from Barnard College with a job in publishing, realized soon “I really hated working in an office all day,” and interned at New York’s Bouley Bakery to see whether her interest in baking could translate to a professional career. Culinary school followed, then jobs at Bouley and other venues before she returned to the Northwest, where she worked with pastry star Sue McCown at the W.
Throughout her baking career, “I always kind of ran to keep in shape,” McDevitt says. She enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until the youngest of her two children started school that she found “some space to have a life again” and returned to serious training.
Collegial running partners helped her achieve her top form on Bainbridge Island, where she lives and works part-time baking pastries for Metro Market Catering. She was invited to join the Bainbridge Runners for track interval workouts soon after moving to the island from Seattle, and she’s also on the board of Go Run!, a nonprofit program for girls.
In 2013, invited by Club Northwest to fill in at the national club cross-country championships in Bend, Ore., “I had two weeks to prepare … I ran a really horrible race,” McDevitt recalls. But it made her wonder: “What if I actually trained for that? Could I be at least a little more successful and not totally fall on my face?”
Her running times now are better than they were in her younger competitive running years. The difference between running as a college student and as a Masters competitor? “You need to pay more attention to your recovery, for sure.” She runs 35 to 45 miles per week, five days a week now, and takes one day completely off.
Runners need fuel, but her mileage hasn’t much changed the way she cooks and eats. “I always have been committed to fresh, healthy, whole-food type of cooking,” she says.
“Very recently I’ve been trying to pay more attention to how I’m fueling, and up the protein a little and that kind of thing, but I’ve never been super-awesome at eating for performance,” she says. “The kids are still young enough that I’m more focused on, ‘What am I feeding the family?’ ” (Most recently, when we spoke, that did include a birthday cake for her daughter, and putting together some frosting to demonstrate piping skills to a third-grade classroom.)
Her big hope is to qualify for a Masters exhibition race in July for the 2016 Olympic team trials, a 1,500-meter run.
Beyond that, “I think my goal is just to stay healthy and see how hard I can train,” she says. “Really, my goal is to stay healthy. I think as a Master that’s the bottom line.
“I feel good when I run, and so I guess the races are icing on the cake.”