Monday, 21 May 2018

While I'm High

A year ago, I finished my career as an X-Man.

A few days after that, I moved to Halifax for a summer of running. I was tired and broken from seasons passed, and became injured shortly after moving.

Three months later, and now nine months ago, I moved to Windsor with the hopes of recreating the momentum I had found in the blue and white singlet.

It took nine months.

On May 20th 2018, an appropriate full month late, I am high. I am training, racing, and running personal bests with our great crew at UWAC. I have finally reached a good level of fitness at a location and time of year that allows me to jump into strong fields and challenge PBs on a weekly (or at least, bi-weekly) basis. I think I will be ready to reach my season's goals in the upcoming block of racing, as I feel that this fitness is still coming along.

More importantly, I am mentally dialled in and fully enjoying the process of the season.

Most importantly, I am friggin healthy (he says, as he reaches down to knock on his wooden desk).

I used to think it a bad omen to write in such an optimistic tone, because it could, like, get me jinxed or whatever. But, even though I do not like to rest on laurels and/or yannys (sorry I had to) - undergrad Wall of Narcissism notwithstanding - I see the value in taking a moment to appreciate a good string of training. It's ok to acknowledge the high, for it will serve as a reminder of how good it feels when we fight to get high again. 

In other words, I think it's healthy to quickly stop and cherish the distance already travelled every now and then, as long as it does not distract one from the work ahead. It's healthy to recognize a high. Take it as a snapshot of the journey - a token of the grind.

So, without further ado, below is my latest snapshot:

Race 1- April 20th - Jesse Owens Invitational 5000m - Ohio State University - 14:36.88 (PB)

Season opener. Had a good field to race with. I set out to click off 70 second laps, and more or less did so. I was excited about that one, as we had barely touched speed yet. 
At Ohio State University


Race 2- May 4th - Oregon Twilight - Hayward Field - 3:51.65 (PB)

We had an excellent training camp down in Beaverton, Oregon, during the first week of May. With the help of Coach Gary, strong and flexible pianist Nick Falk, and cat-loving, selfie-taking fellow blogger Steph Aldea, I got through a few big workouts and many stunning nature-filled runs. Song parodies were made, ankles were rolled, and I ate my first ever Chipotle burrito on the Monday, and then my second ever on the Tuesday. Delicious. 

The race at Hayward Field was surreal. I hopped on the back of a fast section and let the venue work its magic. This meet was one of the last ones to be run on this version of the historic site, as the stadium is getting renovated for the 2019 World Champs. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to race here before they take it down. A few pictures of our trip:




What an ass.

This pic would be better with a Cut by Nate
Chills walking onto that track


Race 3- May 19th - Johnny Loaring Classic - Windsor - 3:52.25

All day, I tried to hype myself up to run sub-3:50. By the time my positive self-talk took on a Shia Laboeuf-esque quality, I figured it was time to leave the house and head over to the track. The technique got me through a few quick first laps, dragged on by some quick Speed River-ers and Old Reliable (Falky - seriously, he's like a Honda Civic), but I faded in the last 300m. I was a bit disappointed, because I really think the fitness for sub 3:50 is there. It will be for next time.

So that is the first half of my summer season, and I am happy with it. I needed a tangible reminder of why I cared for the sport so much, and these training days - this high - have given me that. I really enjoy writing about running, and watching it, but I was yearning to experience it all first-hand again: the agony of speed workouts, the thrill of running a personal best, the highs and lows of a full season. These past few months reintroduced me to the competitive side of running, and made me hope that there is still plenty of room to grow as an athlete. Obviously, I could walk away from the sport right now cherishing the friends made, the rap videos created, and the collection of mentions of my name on Not Trackie's Twitter account, but I would remain sorely unsatisfied with my competitive career. Just that thought makes me realize that I want to stay in it for a while.

To keep running well and improving, I need to uphold this level of consistency. I want this high to be no high at all, but rather a state of equilibrium that can be more or less maintained for following seasons. I have been dedicating more time than ever to injury prevention and body maintenance (no, not shaving my legs, @AlexNeuffer /@AndrewNebel/ @NicholasDalessandro); lots of rolling and activation exercises before every run have been key.

Upcoming Races - Though subject to change, there are a few races in which I hope to compete over the next month:

May 27th - Hamilton Open - 5000m
June 13th - Speed River Inferno - 1500m
June 16th - RCLDS 1500m night - 1500m
June 22-23 - Athletics Ontario Championship - 1500m/5000m

And....
I will be making an announcement in the next few weeks, and I'm excited to share this news with the readers of this blog. It involves running, writing, and Antigonish. Three of my favourite things. Stay tuned!


Sending you all four sheets,
AC


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

#BellLetsTalk


Let's not pretend that this initiative and campaign only affects the people appearing in mental health videos and the people expressing suicidal thoughts. Let's not pretend that when we post pictures and tweets today on social media that we are fully sympathizing rather than self-healing. Though I value and believe in the #BellLetsTalk initiative's power to talk people off the ledge, I want to bring attention to everyone else.

We must not dismiss the impact of real conversation on those who feel slightly better after sharing a thought with others - those who do not yet identify with mental illness because of the unfortunate stigma still festering in our society. We can all benefit from a community more open to listening. Though I appreciate that mental illness is inherent to an individual more than it is circumstantial, I recognize that circumstance can be the culprit behind many (though, again, not all) mental difficulties, and nobody is immune. In my message, I do not try to rob the attention away from those who are severely suffering, but I want to bring light to the fluid, often ignored mental challenges most of us experience every day.

I lost my grandmother yesterday. My legs went a bit wonky as I heard a choked up message from my dad on my voicemail asking me to call him back. Immediately, you expect the worst. I knew there was a death - my dad doesn't cry for nothing. She was relatively healthy; it was a moderate shock. Though she was 82, we had gotten her technologically savvy, so that she could communicate with us through FaceTime, since we lived far away. She was also on Facebook, and commented "Bravo, Alex" on any picture I posted, no matter what I was doing. I liked teasing her about it. Losing her, obviously, is tough.

In these times, I call upon my support system. First and foremost, there is my family at home, going through the same struggle. Then, there are my friends and teammates in Windsor, from St. FX, from PEI, Bern's Boys and Gilly's Girls, my 18 Greening group chat, the Floaters, the Flying Frenchmen, my friends from the running community, my coaches, my classmates, and my professors. They are there to talk, to listen, and to get my mind off the bad stuff. They encourage me to run, to write, and to think positively. Awareness from others goes a long way, and to make others aware, one must talk. For one to talk, one must feel comfortable - no matter the severity or nature of the problem.

The #BellLetsTalk hashtag can be bastardized for self-validation in terms of likes and retweets. As well, it can be wrongly publicized when the user dissociates him or herself from their own mental health, and solely project the issue on others. I think we all fight our own version of a mental battle, and whether it originates from inheritance, circumstance, or both, the healing methods are similar. Fundamentally, we are the same - we want to be heard. Therefore, it might simply be the magnitude - and not the presence - of struggle that separates individuals. So, instead of labeling our peers as mental illness haves or have nots, I think it is important to recognize that everyone can use a support system; everyone can use an available ear. People lent me ears today, and for that, I am grateful.

Rest in Peace, Anna Cyr - 1935-2018

AC

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Tales of a crippled Lancer


I'm injured. It sucks.

I hate it. All of it. I hate it with a fervent passion. I don't like pool running, stationary biking, ellipticalating. I don't know if it really helps; I think it preserves my sanity more than my fitness.  I hate having to answer questions about my injury, because I can't give people the answer I want to give them. I'm an inadequate, crippled, vicarious liver. I'm living a lite version of the life I'm used to living, like a drug addict in his darkest days of rehab. I hate watching races and trying to figure out where I would stack up in the field. I hate seeing meets and competitions become missed opportunities.  I hate feeling bad for myself when I'm well aware that some people have had it worse. Being injured is the single thing I loathe about my sport.

Ok I'm done complaining.

The guys, ahem, gals of 832 Sunset have heard enough of that already between my wailings of Need the Sun to Break by James Bay (if you replace the person he sings about with running, it works perfectly).

I'm not sure what happened. I was working out on the Monday after the Western International (yeah I've linked the results... holding on to this race HARD). I felt a weakness in my tibialis posterior. It felt like a strained muscle, so I cut the workout with one rep to go. I cooled down home and felt sore, but when do we not? The next morning, I had trouble walking. My anterior/lateral ankle has since been giving me trouble.

Five weeks later, I still feel pain when I walk. When I get my hopes up, I try a little shuffle, and then get booted back down to square one. I've since realized that it only heals with total rest. So I'm not really fit anymore, because I can't even consistently kill it on the bike and pool. It's a bitch, and I still don't have a clear diagnosis. As of now, based on a few professionals' opinions, it kind of sounds like an anterolateral ankle impingement, but it's not completely confirmed. So, my chances of running at CIS or even cross nationals are slimmer than Ullman's quads.  Meanwhile, I'm itching to go. I need to explore more courses than just Western. I catch myself thinking irrationally, wondering if I ever will get better, and what I'm going to do with myself if I don't. Sport psychology student, heal thyself!

So for now, it's MRIs, bone scans and sporadic calls to my parents. A support system is important when times like these come, and I'm fortunate to have a pretty good one. My family and my 18 Greening group iMessage have always kept me afloat. On top of these devices, I'm lucky to have come into such a stellar team here in Windsor. I haven't met anybody I dislike (even Paully's alright when he's not trouncing me at NHL 17). This weekend, not only did we host the OUA championships, but we also held a cross-country alumni weekend. Hundreds of former runners were back in town. I got to meet many past Lancers, and it made me realize even further how tight knit this group is. Coming from a little school, that's what I am used to - it makes me feel at home. So from coach Gary's support, all the way down to my bonding with my roommates around the fact that our house is falling apart, I recognize that I'm in a good place (disregarding the house thing... it's a sewage problem, in case you were interested). The people and environment of Windsor put me in a good head space to put in work and get fast here, provided I get healthy.

Some of our boys at the OUA champs. I opted for a warm jacket instead.

But for now, it's a waiting game. It looks like this year will be the first since 2013 that I will be missing CIS XC. I've gotten into the habit of sending off a list of shoutouts following the championship. Unfortunately, they will have to be good luck wishes this year. Think of them as a poor poor man's Not Trackie.

First, good luck to my Lancer boys. The Nibbler, Joey-K, Sparkling Shawn, Senior Pesce Michael, D'Alessandflow, Donkey Rothera, Miniature Horse and Mantis. Windsor isn't coming. Windsor is here - Andrew Nebel

Good luck to Stef Smith. I knew she was the real deal ever since she started dropping 4:15s in the middle of an easy run in Point Pleasant on a hot day of August in Halifax. AFTER an adventure at the Lower Deck. Imagine.

Good luck to the X-Men and X-Women who will be in Victoria. A part of me is always cheering Hail and Hell. Remember the CIS song.

Good luck to my fellow 18 Greeninger Alex Neuffer, and same to Matt Noseworthy of U Vic. Those two have had enough injuries for all of PEI and Newfoundland combined. As far as I know, they are both healthy and racing this weekend. It's like an eclipse or something.

Good luck to the Halifasters racing in Victoria. Shiloh's parents really set the bar high with the BBQ they had in Winnipeg during our last reunion outside of Nova Scotia. I'll be shocked if Tim Longley can replicate it. Good guy, nice hair, doesn't know the first thing about a Broil King.

Good luck to newest UPEI Panther, Lee Wesselius #RedDirtRenaissance

Good luck to Nick MacMackin. He's not racing, but he's slowly getting off the IR with the help of Madden football, Sidekick teriyaki noodles and Eden's latest album on Apple Music. He also won a medal for being smart lately. Nice

Good luck to Angus Rawling. All he's been doing is showing people that he's good enough to be a 14:16 guy. No, they didn't miscount the laps at Senior nationals. Stunts like those only happen once a year (looking at you, Edmonton officials). SO BELIEVE IT ALREADY! THE KID IS GOOD.

Good luck to everyone's favourite Benedict Arnold, Cal Dewolfe. Heard people are concerned for his health in Halifax, because of the way he looks. Get used to it guys, he's just that skinny. Frig, they should see Ullman (two references... too much?).

Good luck to those fighting for that individual title: Yves, Black, Pennock, Daniel, Grieco, James, Justinen (who knows), Yarmuch, and Lutz. Ok yeah I think that's everybody.

Good luck to AP at the AP. Pace yourself, you rookie.

Good luck to Speedgoggles. You're getting usurped by younger trolls, and they can't fill the void you've left. I even grew a stashie in the hopes of a resurgence.

Good luck to Eric Wynands. I had no answer to his kick at Western, and I'm still trying to come up with one.

Good luck to Alex Wilkie. It's nice to see him back. He was guzzling down chocolate covered almonds faster than Wach after OUA's... he'll be good to go.

Good luck to Mike Rogers. Because he is future, and because he likes to see his name mentioned. Same goes for my man Willy Russ.

Who did I forget? Oh right. Good luck to Taylor Milne.

WHO'S THE KING OF THE WEST SIDE? WE SHALL SOON FIND OUT.
AC




Monday, 7 August 2017

Icarus - My Canada Games Nightmare

In Greek mythology, it is thought that a talented craftsman named Daedalus patented two pairs of wings out of feathers and wax. He made one for himself, and he gifted the other pair to his son, Icarus. Due to a dispute with King Minos, Daedalus feared his life on the island of Crete. The wings were his and his son's only way of escaping the island and finding safety elsewhere. Before handing the wings to his zealous son, however, Daedalus warned him to use the wings with caution. Flying too close to the sun would cause the wings to burn. Icarus, thrilled about the idea of flying high, ignored his father's warnings and fell victim to the hands of hubris. He flew near the sun, his wings got burned, and he harrowed to the ground.


***

"Hey Cyr, what are the odds you actually medal today?" asked Damon MacDonald, sitting at a table in the lounge of floor 11 of Pembina Hall, University of Manitoba's tallest student residence. I looked up from my phone. Eight guys were looking back at me, awaiting my answer. "Uhh, well that's my goal, I guess." I had been caught off guard with his question. I was in the middle of reading the electronic version of The Guardian and The Journal Pioneer's front page sports story of the day: "Alex Cyr Ready to Run at Canada Games", well written by Jason Malloy. He had asked to write a feature on me, so we had spoken for the better part of an hour, two days prior to the article's release. I seemed to be the headliner for our track team at these games.



I remembered reading a similar feature on Connor McGuire in 2013. At the time, he was the one: the saviour, the medal hopeful, the athlete slated to place Athletics PEI on the map. Whether or not he initially believed it to be possible, the idea of medalling at the Canada Games for PEI had been pounded in his brain by coaches and supporters so hard that anything less than a podium finish would come as failure. He was an AUS champion, a PEI record holder, and the face of distance running in our province. There was only one problem: Connor had been injured. His training regime had been strained over the summer, but the expectations remained the same. He had told no one; his supporters found out the hard way. In front of a sea of fans draped in green and white, collectively ignorant to his recent struggles, Connor crossed the line in 10th place, devastated.

I was 17 and mesmerized. From the stands, I wondered if I would ever be the one to bring the entire PEI delegation to the track, in the hopes of witnessing a medal-winning performance. I wondered if I would ever be the subject of an article on the front page of the sports section.

The time was now. I had waited four years, and was now racing in two hours. I had worked on my credentials. I, too, now had provincial records. I, too, had become an AUS champion at St. FX. My times had become similar to Connor's. That was enough for me to confidently believe in my chance at a medal. Rich had told me: "You have beaten many of these guys before, and you can beat anyone in this race on a given day. So why can't you just beat all of them today?" There was the mindset. I was not a favourite to win a medal, but I had a chance at a medal. That's all I needed. That's all PEI needed. A chance. It was enough to get people excited. Enough to get me excited. I had one shot to race well and go down in history with Connaughton and few others as a Canada Games medallist. "Cyr, we're painting your name on our chests, just so you know," continued Damon. I couldn't tell whether he was joking or not. "Can't wait," I said. I was nervous, but confident. With that, I said goodbye to the guys, took the elevator down from our high floor, and as Connor McGuire had done exactly four years ago, I marched on to my death.




***

"2:50, 2:51!" someone called out as I ran through the first kilometre. I was in the lead group, running comfortably. The pace was hot, but it was what it took to make it to the podium. I refused to step off the gas pedal. The second kilometre was, despite my increasing effort level, slower. "5:46, 5:47!" I had run a 2:56. Quick mental math told me that I was still under 14:30 pace. I kept grinding. By the third kilometre, I had slowed to a 3:04. Russell Pennock and company were out of sight. Soon, Brady Graves passed me. Then, Andrew Peverill. The fourth and fifth kilometres were painful. I blew up. I stepped off the gas pedal and pitifully heaved around the track for a few more laps. I crossed the finish line in 15 minutes and 11 seconds: my worst time in years. My placing? 10th. Never had I been so distraught and angry after a race. The only word I could utter: "F*ck." I left the premises. I could not stand people telling me that I had done a great job. I don't know if some people complimented me out of pity or ignorance, and I could not decide which possibility was worse. Disgusted with my performance, the reactions, and myself, I retreated to my residence.

---

I wondered why I had raced so poorly, and why I was so pissed off. Without question, I had an off-day physically. But, I then realized that I had also set myself up for a mental disaster. I had spent four years working on my wings, trying to get closer to my sun of glory. I had become Icarus, and I had flown much too high in a few ways.

-I had abruptly jumped into 3 hard track sessions per week in May, while ignoring the little pains until they became big pains. Rich had no idea I was hurting, because I had not told him. Just like that, I missed a month of training.

-I then came back fast, trying to fit in a whole season of running in the 7 weeks I had left before the games. My body had grown weary.

- I split 2:50 for my first kilometre, having never run close to 14:10 before, because I thought I was fit enough - no, I forced myself to believe I was fit enough.

- Then, I flew too close to the sun in my mental preparation. I stopped feeling hopeful for a medal, and began feeling entitled. I'm not sure how this thought manifested, but it may have had something to do with people's expectations. I consider myself good at blocking out those thoughts, but sometimes they still creep in.

I think my problem stemmed from the fact that I got too caught up in the glamour of winning a medal, and refused to go with the flow in my training. I never modified my expectations for what my body was telling me, or for the time frame I was given after my injury. Then, when I first noticed that my race was not going as planned, and I was slowing down after 2 kilometres, I considered my master plan foiled. One small hiccup and my perfect vision was ruined, and my mindset plummeted. I thought of my chances too good, the possible triumphant moment too great, to miss out on. In the end, I found out that my mental preparation for high-pressure events needs a bit of work.

No better time for a master's thesis in sport psych. I could do it on myself...now that's flying a bit too close.

AC




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Winnipeg Bound!

Keeping this one short. I promise. Gabe Quenneville has been complaining about the length of these posts. As if he even reads them.

I am leaving the Charlottetown airport tomorrow at 8:00 am en route to Winnipeg, Manitoba for the 2017 Canada Games. After some thought, I will only be racing the 5000m on Friday night, August 4th. I was originally slated to race the 1500m as well, but given the feedback I received from my workouts, I am much more 5000m ready than I am 1500m ready.

After taking three weeks off to heal a hip injury in late May/early June, followed by two weeks of minimal mileage and no workouts, I did not feel very fast. I was able to hold on to a solid aerobic base thanks to the Dalplex's crappy bikes and precarious pool schedule. Coming back to the track, a few workouts helped me find my stride again. I felt fit within two weeks. I still don't feel fast.


That likely has something to do with the way we decided to tackle the training block. With the guidance of Rich I decided that, given the timeframe, it would be best to focus on the 5000m until the games to make the transition into cross country racing more fluid.

During this training block, I hit a few high points, all things considered. I won the Highland Games 5 mile road race, one of my favourite racing events, against a field of strong (albeit banged up) runners. I consistently logged 90-100km without re-injury, and began enjoying it again. The good thing that came out of this injury was the rekindling of my love for the sport. I had been healthy for a long time, and had forgotten what it was like to not be physically able to run. Now, I feel fortunate every time I get out the door, and this feeling makes the workload much more bearable.

Highland Games 5 miler


Another high point within this training block was my run of last Thursday: 22 km in the back roads of Antigonish with some good company. Fragile Scotty D made it to 50 and looked good. Mr. Jathan Neffs went for 60 sporting the classic blue and white striped shorts, and this Eric Gillis guy joined me for most of my run. Talking to him about the future of our program at X is exciting, and makes me wish I'd be around to witness the changing of the guard. I can't wait to see how Eric and Bernie whip the guys into shape this year. Along with Angus' amazing performance at Senior Nats, things are looking good on all fronts.


But, back to the Games. I think I'm ready for a good race, and I'm looking forward to catching up with friends from all over.  Catch my race on Friday night at 6:20 pm CDT (8:20 Atlantic). Here is the link : http://www.trackie.com/track-and-field/TrackieTV/Live/

#PEIStrong
AC

Friday, 26 May 2017

Why I Sucked Pt. III - What Made me Improve

Short answer: Because I was healthy.

***

Longer answer:

Consistency breeds results. Results breed confidence. Confidence breeds consistency in one's methods, I guess. It's like a positive feedback loop. When you're on a roll, it is hard to falter and lose momentum. Think of it this way: when are you most likely to get injured? Maybe this is only true for me, but I always seem to deal with minor pains and strains at the beginning of a training cycle. When I am fresh off a week or two of rest and trying to ramp up mileage or intensity is when my body is more likely to reject the change in training load. Most times, when I make it to the middle of a season with a clean bill of health, I cruise to the end without problem.  I've learned that if one finds a way to begin each season building off the past one without interruption, success, or at least improvement, is likely. That is how I improved over the past years. That is how I ran PBs. But, it is rather when the cycle of consistency breaks, that I leave things to chance.

I let the cycle break after taking nearly 3 weeks to recover after the U Sports 1500m this year. Don't get me wrong: breaks are necessary. But, they have to be done properly. Following this break, I may not have spent enough time in the gym strengthening, or I may have committed errors in the way I tried to ramp up my training load again. It has since been hard to find consistency, results and confidence again. This time, things have not been going my way. A foot problem carried over from indoor season. After taking care of that, my left foot starting hurting again, at a different location. After missing patches of training, I was able to get over this problem and run healthy for 8 days. They were great. But that was not the end. As I write, I am sitting on my porch in downtown Halifax, my abode for the summer, with my legs in the air. I have two icepacks in my vicinity. My summer job starts next week, and my regular training sessions ended last, due to a still-undiagnosed hip annoyance. After a hectic end of school year when running was being balanced with thesis work, classes and senior/graduation events, I now have plenty of time on my hands, and I'm trying to find ways to make use of it. I am very frustrated for two reasons.

1- I decided to move to Halifax for the summer to join Halifast Athletics, in the hopes of running PBs in the 1500m and 5000m, and ride a new fitness to big races such as Senior Nationals and the Canada Games. Though this hope is still well alive, these past two months have done little to reassure me. Other than a strong string of workouts in mid-May, training has, like I said, been spotty. One small injury substitutes itself for another, while I helplessly chase physiotherapists and chiropractors between my rolling and icing sessions. Being injured is being injured, and everyone goes through it, but this timing sucks. I elected to move away from my family and friends on PEI, and away from part of my crew in Antigonish, NS, to blindly move into a new house in a new neighbourhood. At the time of my decision, I still had no job. Put simply, I came here to run. After using my last month at St. FX to have fun and enjoy myself a bit more than usual, the mindset was completely shifted towards running. I wanted to see what would happen if I trained and lived like a professional athlete. Halifax would give me the facilities and 1500m training group that would enable me to do so. As well, moving into a new city would help me escape distractions. For the week I was healthy, things were going smoothly, as planned. I love the training group and environment, as I expected I would. But now, I cannot run, and I am questioning this entire decision.

2- I think my frustration also stems from the fact that I've become spoiled. I was blessed with a clean slate of health, as of late. Since 2015, I was able to compete in every AUS championship and even represent my school on the national stage, after missing my first three AUS races due to anemia and other injuries. I may be the only AUS distance athlete who has medalled in every conference distance championship race thus far in 2016 and 2017.
2016 AUS 1500m - 3rd
2016 AUS 3000m - 2nd
2016 AUS XC - 2nd
2017 AUS 3000m - 3rd
2017 AUS 1500m - 1st

Not because I was better, but because I was on the line and healthy on every occasion. None of my teammates can say that. All had been held back by an injury or burnout at some given time in these last two years. So, maybe this is simply the Regression to the Mean phenomenon in effect. Everyone has their turn. Who knows, maybe this is my turn to be out for a while. The hope that this injury is simply a short term thing like all the others I worked through in this last month, is what keeps me going. That being said, it has been difficult to suck it up and hit the stationary bike after having been away from it for so long. I guess this test is one of discipline.

So now, I'm trying to get myself out of this brooding state of mind. I did not compete for Team PEI at the last Canada Games, and a big goal I set for myself was to be competitive with the best when 2017 came around. The Games are romanticized on PEI, and become a big deal for us. It represented the end of a cycle for me - the end of my undergraduate career. Now, the chance that I make it to the games in peak fitness is shrinking every day. I am trying my best to believe that there isn't a good time to be injured, and that I am not cursed. I could have been hurt for my final XC or track season at St. FX, and that would have been no better. I guess I am writing this to remind myself to stop overthinking about my helplessness over what is to come. We all do it, but it's useless. All we can do is try to maximize our potential one day at a time. I am doing my best to get back on that consistency, so that I can reach a new height, so that I can keep improving. That being said, hitting the shitty Dalplex bikes in 10. See you around.

AC

***

On a more positive note, I want to take this opportunity to send a few birthday shoutouts.

1- (May 26th) This guy is funny and smart and is doing a masters next year to escape the work force so he can have more time to work on his rapping. Happy birthday Scott!


2- (May 26th) This girl is a brilliant, soon-to-be teacher whose excellent taste in sushi is only rivalled by her taste in men. Happy birthday Ellen!


3- (May 26th) This was going to remain a St. FX thing, but I see it's Roman Run Justinen's birthday too. This guy runs fast and can grow a beard and sometimes sends me snapchats. Happy birthday!

(No photo available)

4- (May 27th) This girl's name is Booty K. I miss her and I still don't know her real name. She means business. Happy birthday!








Wednesday, 7 December 2016

XC - CIS 2016

So much has happened before CIS. So much has happened since. I could talk about it all, but sadly, time escapes me. Exams, applications, briefly being social, etc. I have decided to keep it down to basics. Despite getting a good amount of compliments on my blog posts, I have never been told by anyone to make them longer. So, there you go. Also, a new writing project has been taking up a lot of my free time and running stories. More on this later, but stay tuned! Let's jump right into it.

RACE

Brenda Chisholm looked me in the eyes five minutes before the gun. "Be gutsy, Alex" is what she told me. I did not take that comment lightly. That's a woman who has kept Bernie in line for 40 (?) plus years. That's a woman who has seen things. That's a woman with whom you do not disagree. So I listened. I marched my way to the start line, and ran into Scotty. "Cyr, we're bunched up here. I don't want to get boxed in. I'm expecting you to go out hard, faster than the guys next to us." "Ok Scott, got it." I thought to myself, "hey I have pretty good leg speed. Not too many of these guys can beat me over 1500m. I should be able to get off the line faster than whoever is there if I really try. Unless it's like, Corey Bellemore. That would really suck. Nah, what are the odds? I'll be fine." I then check to see who is lining up to my right. Oh sweet, it's Corey Bellemore. (Spoiler: I did win the footrace off the line. He soon passed me. Didn't see him again until that night in one of Chuck's AP busses. He's pretty nice.)

Soon after, we were off. 500m into the race, I was sitting in fifth place. Away from danger, but much higher up than I would eventually finish, and I was aware of this. The individual leading the race was a man who was quoted saying "if you go out in front of Yves, Bellemore and Tree, you're an idiot." That man was Cal DeWolfe. He was jacked up on caffeine and adrenaline, as we all were. He soon settled in a few places behind me. I was told I was in 25th for the first lap. Feeling great, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up the pace. During the next two laps, I was a man on a mission, targeting runner after runner and picking them off. With one lap to go, I was 17th. I'll interject for those who are not familiar with the CIS scene: 170 runners toe the line. 14th is All-Canadian. My placing last year was 39. For my standards, I was in a good place.

Then, it came. Like a hot flash, a wave of lactate consumed my legs. I was quickly passed by runners who had better gaged their effort levels. Rome, Ullman, Racine, Cal, Seneca and company paraded by me and my failing running stride. I was cooked, and crossed the line in 31st. I retreated to my parents' car and sat down for a solid hour, replenishing my debt in oxygen. Never had I pushed so hard in a race. Big shout to Therapist Laura for bringing me back to life.
Snapchat credit - Cullen MacInnis

THOUGHTS

What do I think about this? I don't know. Cal and I talked about how people's interpretations on XC seasons are often skewed because of the overemphasis placed on CIS. I don't want to fall in that trap and quantify my season using one race results, one number. 31. By this logic, last year would then be quantified by last year's placing, 39. In a full year of consistent training, have I only improved by eight places? No way! In some ways, I believe I have made great jumps in the last calendar year. My 1500m time has improved. My AUS race was a good one. I ran workouts faster than I ever have before during this season. So, to limit my self-evaluation to one event, one race, is selling myself short. A high CIS finish is sexy as all heck, but it is not the only way to define a season. Even if it was the only way, no ragrets.



I've been joking with the guys lately by telling them that as soon as I cross that CIS finish line (and it's still CIS by the way) I will demand to be called "Alex Cyr, The Miler." I want to spend some time going down in distance to focus on the 1500m. If all goes well, I hope to ride this wave until the summer, and see if I can improve my 800-1500-3000 times. It's just a fun experiment, but one that I am motivated for. Gonna seek out some pointers from Willy Russ and ViJake; the Centros of the east. For now, I am taking a bit of time to recuperate before the indoor season. My main goal is to stay healthy so that I can have a fun last season in the blue and white.

MOVING FORWARD

I intend on reflecting more about this in an upcoming post, so I will not eternalize myself. I realize that I am reaching a transitional period in my running. My time at X is soon over. I plan on pursuing my education and training at a new destination, and where that is, I am still unsure. More on this in a few months. For now, an understanding of whatsoever situation I find myself in is enough. I realize that my undergraduate career is over. I am no longer "expected" to run. To me, this means that running no longer symbolizes a compliment to my schooling, but rather an adult commitment. To decide that I will continue to train seriously is to consciously understand what that entails. Eating better, sleeping more, avoiding negative distractions, etc.

At 21 years old, I can only rationalize a continuation in my training if this means a continuation in the betterment of my lifestyle. The second I notice myself going backwards in my commitment level will be the time I retire from competitive running. For now, my decision is to continue seeking improvement. I want to try taking it to a new commitment level; one I have not yet reached. I am still enjoying the process, so I may as well dig deeper.

SHOUTOUTS

Ok, wasn't going to do these in fear of getting repetitive. But, I heard from a few that they were well received, so let's go at it once more.

Shoutout to Callum Drever for replacing Matt McNeil for best D-floor presence in the AUS.

Shoutout to Addison Derhak for being runner up in this category for his antics with dance floor poles.

Shoutout to Daniel Maguire and Angus MacIntosh, the merciless haunters of new Facebook friendships.

Shoutout to Cal for getting into Dal law and becoming dead to all of us.

Shoutout to Rome for bringing Castaway's Tom Hanks back to life.

Shoutout to Michaela Walker for magically becoming a cross girl

Shoutout to Nick MacMackin aka The Kitty Cat #353in16 #9Lives

Shoutout to John Peverill for bringing the slicked back wide blonde gel-stricken mohawk back in style (or in style for the first time I guess)

Shoutout to G. Hathaway and his boys for great hospitality on XC Nats weekend. Still learning how to #PullAGavin

Shoutout to Gary and the boys at Sunset and Randolph for a great time in the City of Roses

Shoutout to Andrew Peverill for confirming he's coming to X next year (disclaimer: no verbal commitment yet, but he said it with his eyes I think)

Shoutout to Les Boys for capturing the elusive gold on home course. Knew it was just a matter of time before the french prevailed on Les Plaines.

Shoutout to my boys - DBC, Naughty, Ostrich, Fabio, Beef-Goose, Frisky, Silk and Boutine. A memorable year with a rough ending.

Shoutout to our massive cheer squad. I'm sure no other school coming from that far out had quite the support staff that we did. Having you guys spread out on the course made that last loop slightly more tolerable.

Shoutout to Manu #LeSauveteurDuSoir

Shoutout to Taylor Milne, an ageless wonder.


PHOTOS

Speedgoggles
Start line at CIS
AUS Championship

AUS All-Stars (Missing from photo: Lee Wesselius)
Coaches can get krabby before race day
My bosses at the St.FX Wellness Centre, Joe and Gerry. They grew out their facial hair in support of the XC team! This photo is only 2 weeks in, you should see them now!
The boys 
Our PEISAA crew

The Frenchmen ft. Liz
Windsor!



PS  - DJ Scotty D and I had prepared a little pump up jam leading into the race. Turns out, our rapping ability is only good for a 10th place finish..



À la prochaine,
AC