I’m beginning to notice a pattern – I am the only person (so far) on Team FLR without an advanced degree. I guess I better step it up! I’m so excited to share Dr. Dokic’s profile. Read below:
Perky: Your name is beautiful. How do YOU pronounce it, and where is it from?Follow-up: what brought you to College Station, Tx?
Tatjana: This is my name spelled correctly in Serbian:
Latin: Tatjana Đokić
Cyrillic: Татјана Ђокић
First name: tah-tee-YAH-nah
Last name: dJo-kitch (Like Jo-kitch, but with a rolled D sound leading into the J sound).
The name has a Roman origin, but it is mostly present in Slavic countries today, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria…
I come from two small countries in Southeast Europe. First one is Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was born in the capital Sarajevo, but only spent few years there. Last summer I decided to revisit my birth town, and ran a 22 mile race starting from Sarajevo downtown, climbing 6000 ft up the mountains Trebevic and Jahorina. Most of my life I lived in Serbia. My hometown is called Novi Sad. It is the most beautiful town in Serbia, and known as the capital of Serbian culture. I moved to College Station in 2012 to pursue my PhD in Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Perky: You’re fairly new to running. When did you start, and why? How has running changed you?
Tatjana: I started running in September 2016. Many people have heard about a half of this story. What I usually say is that I was living very unhealthy, smoking pack of cigarettes per day, eating junk food, possible few other bad habits also… And I say that, after about 10 days since I quit smoking, I went for a run, felt great about it, and decided to do that instead of smoking. That is all true, except for the real reason I started running. Now, the full truth is that I met my boyfriend Tim, fell madly in love, and decided no more messing around. I have to be the best human being I possible can be, for him.
Running brings so much happiness in my life. First of all, I meet so many amazing and inspiring people all the time. My running mates are truly my family.
And with me being so far from my actual family, they just make life so much better. I have also learned to love the life in so many new ways. Just spending more time outside and enjoying the nature brings a smile on my face every day. I feel so much healthier, energetic, and a little bit as a superhero all the time! There’s always new achievements and crazy future challenges to look forward to.
Perky: Like many elite runners, you’re also an elite academic. Why do you think PhD work and trail running are so compatible? What about elite academics leads them to also be runners?
I think that PhD is kind of like an ultra-marathon for your brain. It takes a very long time to master. I would say that all ultra-marathoners and PhD students have one thing in common, they are ready to spend a lot of time and effort in achieving their goals. For me balance between academic life and running is really the key to happiness and success.
Perky: You’re fresh off of your first 50k. Tell us a bit about that experience.
Tatjana: I absolutely loved it! I love the longer distances. Less pressure to go fast always results in me having more fun during the race. I saw five alligators! How cool is that? The whole experience is magnificent: camping with fellow runners, waking up super early… this was actually the first time I had to start the race while it’s still dark outside. Fun! I didn’t feel any pain up until the last few miles of the race. I was so lucky to have some really great company at the end to push me to the finish line, Wayne Schlosser and Rohit Kumar.
Perky: What are your top 5 must-haves for running? Favorite gear, fuels, prep-habits, etc.
Tatjan: 1. Carbs! Lots of it.
2. Great company. Being part of a team makes all the difference. I was very lucky to be chosen as one of the First Light Racing Team members this year, next to some amazing people. I am amazed and inspired by all the efforts put by our FLR team and Chris Adams. I’m also a member of two other groups: Brazos Runners Club and BCS Triathlon Club.
3. Shoes: Altra Escalante for road, and Altra Timp 1.5 for trail
4. Smart watch: Garmin, I have Forerunner 735XT
5. Music. If there are no people running with me I love listening to some rock and roll.
Perky: There is a lot of discussion lately of gender equality in racing. As a female athlete, what is your personal experience in the trail community?
Tatjana: From time to time we see people doing something that was believed to be impossible. There is one thing I’ve noticed to be a rule in those cases. The moment one person does it, many start to follow. I think a lot of gender inequality in general comes from this false belief that some things are just not possible. In my short time on trails I’ve already seen many instances of ladies wining the overall race. I recently ran a TROT race Jackalope Jam, and 72 hour race was won by a lady Jean Hofschulte. Last year at The Green Ultra at Millican our Laura Huning (also a super cool FLR ambassador!) won the 25k race. I think we need to spread the word about all of these achievements. For many ladies out there just believing it is possible could make all the difference.