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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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

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,

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Walking on glass

This one will be short. Why? Because for the first time in my adult life, I don't have much to say. I've typecast myself as a writer of long, illustrious posts in the past while. This one will unfortunately not live up to expectations. Most of my ramblings have been locked away in another writing project on which I am currently working, and it has got me excited! More on this in a few months. This post will only answer the Maine questions.

In contrast to the summer of 2015 that saw me flirt with the local road racing circuit a bit more than I should have, the summer of 2016 was rather uneventful. Following a semi-breakout block in which I focused on the 1500m, the main goal was simply to load up the legs with mileage. I did that in July, but it has been a different story since then. Strep throat, ghost shin pains, and annoying cases of peroneal/achilles tendinitises (tendonii?) took the fun away from my supposed favourite time of the year, XC prep. Luckily, for the last 7 days, I have been running well and healthy. Since I have little to no recent interesting and concrete stories to share this time, I will share pieces of my mindset entering this fourth and final year with the X-men.

Q- Am I fit?
A- I'm not unfit. I've been fitter. Maybe this is good. 
Do I think I am in the best shape of my life? Maybe not quite, but I am close. The amount of workouts (or lack thereof) I had to do to feel close to the top of my game excites me. I think there is a lot of room for growth if all goes well. I find solace in the fact that I at least should avoid burnout. I have peaked early a few times in the past, so perhaps a late start is a blessing in disguise.

Q - How does the team look?
A - Promising
As a predominantly senior team, we know what makes each other tick. Pushing each other in workouts has become second nature, and I count this as a huge advantage. But, as every seasoned XC runner knows, a good team on paper is not everything. Consistency and durability dominates our sport, and the real questions will only be answered in two months. For now, we have one race result under our belt, and things look fine.

Q - Do I want to win the individual AUS gold medal?
A- Yeah.
So do, like, all my friggin roommates. So does God knows who in the conference. The individual battle will add some spice to the season, having no clear and away favourite picked out just yet. The good thing about cross country is the following: by wanting to outdo each other, we will only get fitter, and this benefits the team. So, at a time, I want to be as fit as I can to hand a whooping to the best versions of Neuffer, Scott, Cal, and friends, but also to assure that these guys are on the strongest team possible. I'll be damned if they don't think the same way. It is also worth mentioning that after running with the same guys for 3 years, I have become comfortable losing to them in knowing the extent of the effort they put into the sport. There is no hiding that we are all competitive guys, but we have learned to use that trait to our advantage over the years. The overarching goal is the success of our team, and we are all fully invested in this purpose. With this special group, it's now or never.

Oh yeah, last thing. This is my message to all the Trackie trolls out there. If you have enough time to post repetitive and foolish predictions on that website, I imagine you take the time out of your day to read this blog too. Here are the real predictions.

Dark horse: Josh Shanks
Dark horse II: Lee McCarron
Dark horse III: Connor McGuire
Best name: Addison Derhak
Best hair: Jake Wing
Father time (Riley Johnston memorial): Jeremie Pellerin/Scott Donald
Voice of the conference: Jonathan Peverill
Biggest hype men: The entire Memorial Men's cross country team
Best Angus: Angus MacIntosh
Fishbowl friend award: Will Russell
Rookie of the year: Who knows, they're rookies. They're all stupid! I may have been the dumbest one of all and I turned out ok!

And please will you all stop throwing Graeme Wach under the bus. He's a decent guy who does not deserve this kind of treatment. Looking at you, "AUS scout."

Wishing you all a long and healthy season,

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Thoughts of a Hermit

Good things come in twos. Crosby and Malkin, Ernie and Bert, Chuck et Albert etc. That was good enough logic for me to compose this blog in two parts. If you are short for time, enjoy the first half, as the hardware precedes the software. If you want a glimpse of my inner thoughts, hang tight.

First, lets hit up some hard results

May 7th - ANS Open meet - 1500m - 3:56.9
May 14th - Boston New Balance Twilight meet - 1500m - 4:00.8
May 27th - Totally Official PEI All-Comers meet 3000m - 8:30.6
June 22nd - NTL Aileen Meagher Classic - 1500m - 3:52.22
June 24th - East Coast Games - 1500m - 3:52.28

As you can infer from these results, I only really started hitting my stride later in the season. I think there are a few reasons for that. Ever since coming back from my year of sickness and injury, I have gained an affinity for racing. I think this sentiment was a by-product of the motivation that I drew from my rapid improvement. When I began achieving times that my longtime-anemic mind perceived impossible, racing was so satisfying that it almost became addictive. I was warned about the perils of over-racing by some smart people. This awareness helped me make peace with the idea of staying off the racing scene for almost a month following the PEI open meet. The decision payed dividends. After four weeks of rounding the StFX track, DJ O'Regan and I began our road trip towards Halifax.

Aileen Meagher Classic

This was my first time competing in the International Section of this NTL meet, and the experience was great. I lined up with the second slowest seed time in the field, but I was not intimidated. In the weeks leading to the race, I had the pleasure of training with John Corbit, who has gone 3:47 for the 1500m. Going from training with a group of guys that I consider equivalent to me in terms of speed, to training with someone considerably faster than me pushed me to a new intensity during workouts. By training with John, I came to know what to get ready for, so the competition itself did not startle me. And it shouldn't have anyway. We split 800m in 2:06. Pedestrian for them, very manageable for me. I ran most of the race in the vicinity of Little Peverill (Brother of Big Peverill), Jean Marc Doiron (alias coach JMD) and Will Russell (alias Wu-tang Will). As the pace intensified in the last lap, I found myself chasing Jean Marc, and his presence helped me kick in the last 100m. This brought me to a new PB of 3:52.22, and put me in 6th place in the strong field of 9. I also finished 4 seconds behind Mike Tate, who won the race. Last time we raced a 1500m, I think he beat me by 12 seconds. Based on my research, assuming the trend of me gaining eight seconds on Mike stays consistent, I will beat him by 4 seconds next time, and by 12 seconds the time after that. Better stay down in Utah and far away from me, buddy. Big thanks to Will, Lizzy, and Michaela "Orange Blur" Walker for their hospitality. Maybe I should thank Rusty Matt McNeil as well, I don't know. Need a source on this. 

With Olympian Jenna Martin
After 2 shiny new PBs
A bit of post-race debrief

East Coast Games

After a fun night with the Dal crew, DJ and I grabbed our new PBs and fled for Saint John, NB to meet with the MacMackins at the track for a little shakeout practice. Tell you what, there is nothing I wanted more than to get dropped by Nick like a sack of PEI potatoes on some 100m strides after a 4 hour car ride. Unofficial 11.7 wind-aided 100m for him. I definitely did not crack 12. We then retreated to Quispamsis for the night. I was amazed by two things. The first was the amount of deer that hang out in their backyard. The second was how closely his mother Patti follows track and field. She is an encyclopedia (shoutout to Patti if you are reading this)! Love you Mom, but you have some catching up to do. 

Fast forward to the race. Meet Director Bill had assembled a field that had to be one of the strongest ones Atlantic Canada had produced in years. Graves, Grimshaw-Surette, Doiron, MoSpeed Pellerin, Russell and MacMackin, among others toed the line. The pacing was brought to us by both Mr. BSL, and the author of the well-acclaimed best seller, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown. Like on Wednesday, we crossed the 800m mark in around 2:06. From there, I took the lead. For a while, I thought I had taken the field by surprise, as I wasn't hearing anything behind me. Little did I know, Wu-tang Will was creeping up on my shoulder, and passed me with a lap to go. With 150m to go, he still had the same gap on me when I saw Nick's pain-distorted face pass me, then Will. At this point, it became an all out kick match. Somehow, though slower than 11.7, my last 100 gave me the win in 3:52.28, edging Nick by just a hair. Gotta say that it was a cool feeling to win in a field so close in speed with a good amount of people in the stands. While cooling down, I came to the realization that this was one of the moments I will think of whenever I catch myself wondering why I do it all. I had just won a strong race, and a fun night with the whole racing crew was awaiting me. It made the last few months feel worthwhile. I think this ties in well with part 2.

Part 2

Warning: This is a rant/ramble. As a runner, I get to interact with many other runners. A major topic covered in conversations is training habits/methods/purposes. This is my elaboration on the topic of commitment to training. This passage is however blind to the issue of injuries. If any injured people are reading this, the perspective is definitely different. I think I voice my most concise opinions when I write them down, so this is just as much for me as it is for anyone else. Feel free to read and opine!

"Do you have what it takes to make it to the next level?" As beings of the 21st century, we have all heard this phrase that gets thrown around by hockey coaches, strength trainers and so on. So much so that it has almost lost its punch, its meaning. Because of its overuse, this phrase only represents a vague idea that is lost in translation between the messenger and the receiver. These so-called levels should be defined to the seeker. If not, the question itself is empty. While at different magnitudes, I think anyone has what it takes to improve. What some people may lack, however, is the ability to understand how to do so, or even the ability to commit to the idea. So, when trying to separate "the men from the boys" or whatever tacky expression these same hockey coaches use these days, the question should be remodeled. It should be "Do you know how to get to the next level, and if so, do you want to do it?" A bit less ring to it, but far more accurate..

Two months ago, by committing to this idea of placing more importance into my running, I gave myself an opportunity to reach one of these "next levels." Instead of going home to my family, I decided to keep living under the roof of 18 Greening, in Antigonish. Instead of applying for full time work, I opted for a part time job that is easy on the body. Why these changes? My choice of lifestyle at the time was widening the gap between how much attention I was attributing to my running, and how much attention I WANTED to attribute to my running. Lately, I made the conscious decision to invest myself more into my training. I started choosing good meals over bad ones, choosing sleep over nightlife etc. By no means do I make every right choice, but I am improving in my consistency.

Going from one level to the next in terms of investment made me ask myself the same two aforementioned questions. The first: Do you understand how you could take it to the next level?
My answer included some broad concepts (include more strides, pay more attention to your pre/post run routines, go to sleep earlier) and some more specific ones (ditch Kraft Dinner). I did not make vows, I just set some general guidelines for myself to try and follow, most of which I had never payed attention to before this training block. 

The second: Now that you know how to do it, do you want to do it?
My answer was yes. This part was tricky. Anyone can convince themselves they are going to be dedicated to their plan, sticking it out for months is another story. That is when the understanding part becomes important. If you know why you are doing something, you will be more motivated to do it. 
If it sounds this way so far, be advised that this ramble is not about, or meant to come across as, something along the lines of "what it takes to become a champion." Far from it. In my own terms, I am not a champion (a champion is invested at 100%), so the last thing I want to do is to instruct others on "how to become one" when I have not yet experienced the required commitment for myself. I have, however, noticed a trend in my attitudes towards running. I am slowly beginning to attribute more importance to it, in a healthy way. My current level of dedication is making me happy. Simply put with the help of arbitrary numbers, being 60% invested into running made me happiest in my second year. Being 70% invested into running made me happiest in my third year. Being 80% invested into running is making me happiest now. 

After exploring this concept of self-reflection for a while now, I notice that what an athlete should strive to avoid is disconnect between desire and the actions taken. Everyone has probably encountered a person who dreams big, but cannot produce big results because they do not make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their goals. To use an arbitrary numbers example, they want to run times that they could achieve if they were 80% dedicated, but they are in fact only 50% dedicated. Another example of the disconnect would be an athlete struggling to reach their goal because they are actually doing too much, and it is hurting their short term and long term development. Another thing I notice from interacting with members of either side is that neither is satisfied with their experience with running. The troubling part is often that an athlete on either side cannot recognize the disconnect. Once an athlete can realize they are not doing what it takes - again, not to "be the greatest," but to reach their goal - they become aware. Once someone is aware they are not doing the right thing to make them reach their goal, they will change that. This is why awareness is so important.

The reason I bring this up, is because I believe I have finally adopted a completely healthy approach to my running. Because I am aware of what I am doing, and aware that I want to do it, the questions about priorities stop. I know how invested I want to be, and respect that desire. This provides me with mental consistency and purpose. Before making a commitment to searching for the next level, one should try their best to comprehend what this level entails. Improvement does not come by wish or prayer, nor does it come with overworking. I think everyone should take the time to ask themselves these two questions. Do I have an idea what to do in order to reach higher? If so, do I want to do it?

Try it if you’re bored. If you made it this far, you definitely are.


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Indoor Track 2016 - From Every Angle

It's about that time again. The bruises are being treated, the spikes have been put away, and some Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wings pretzels are being consumed by Cal and I. (Yo Snyder's, this is a total attempt at snagging a sponsorship!) Another season has passed. My usual mid-semester lethargy has kicked in with an apparent vengeance, so I guess this leaves me more time to dedicate to two critical things: kicking Neuffer's a$$ in NHL 16, and of course, blogging. I noticed my post following the XC season was well-received, so I am choosing to mimic its format to not upset the readers or worse, the Runner Gods. Formalities at the start, and a bit of freestyle at the we go.

The Preparation

In November, I left the cross country course with a broken body. I was fortunate to undergo a steady buildup throughout the summer. This at a time helped me get fit and ready to race. Looking back, the "ready to race" aspect was perhaps overdone, as I came in pretty sharp, and quickly developed an injury. I spend the most of my season trying to hang on, rather than trying to improve. This hanging on took an important toll on my body, and it took me a good month to get back up to light workouts. Once I recovered, things started rolling well. Most of my preparation was aerobically focused, knowing that we usually allocate enough time to race pace specifics once the season gets rolling. 

The Season

In chronological order...

Jan 19th - ANS Warmup meet - 1500m - 4:02 - 1st
Jan 19th - ANS Warmup meet - 3000m - 8:45 - 2nd
Jan 29th - McGill Team Challenge - 3000m - DQ*** (see below)
Jan 30th - McGill Team Challenge - 1500m - 3:58 - 16th
Feb 7th - Tiger Track Classic - 3000m - 8:29:21 (PB) - 1st
Feb 14th - SMU Open - 1500m - 3:55:71 (PB) - 2nd
It's a good thing I was not asked to walk the line on that night

The Mental Game

Fortunately, (or unfortunately) my track season grew to become eerily similar to my XC season. A few good weeks at the start, followed by the looming of a pseudo-injury. This time, it manifested itself as an annoying case of post-tibial tendonitis in my left leg. At its worst, it hurt to walk around. This then lead me to overcompensate and develop a neuroma in my left foot. This double-whammy brought me to a low point in my season. I was essentially facing the same dilemma I had faced in the cross-country season. The difference, however, was in the reaction to the threat. Looking back at my XC championship season, one word came to mind: average. I did not exactly under-perform at AUS and CIS XC, but did not exactly set the course on fire, either. I suspect this subtle decline in performance was a product of my cutting mileage and workouts in the hopes of making it to the championship. With that in mind, I decided to adopt a more breakneck approach this time around. (This is the PG section of this blog. Kids, don't do this at home.) The choice was simple. To call the season quits, or to attack it with full force, as if my ailments didn't exist. No in-betweens. Naturally, I decided to YOLO it. I cut mileage very slightly, but the rest was the same. I did every workout and ran almost every day. At this point, I had 35 days left to suffer.

I must have had someone watching over me, because my tendonitis healed on its own. Call it Cal Dewolfe syndrome. This helped me stop thinking about survival, and made me fall into a much more positive train of thought. We were closing in on AUS, and all of a sudden, I was healthy and in the hunt for medals (this made me a minority on this year's unlucky X squad.) The last few weeks were very motivating, as I was just coming off a few new PBs, and workouts were feeling good. For the first time in a while, I felt like I was nailing my peak. 

The Championship

1500m - Like a good championship 1500m is bound to be, the metric mile was a tactical affair. We crossed our first 500m on 4:12 pace, with none other than Beef Rawling leading the pack. As the pace picked up after this, I thought it would be enough to suck the juice out of my competitors legs, and oh boy was I wrong. With three laps to go, I was mixing it up in the lead pack with Jake Wing and Will Russell, only to see them pull away quickly in the last 200m, with Will taking the coveted W. By stepping away from this race and evaluating it, I realized I did not run the race that permitted me to win. I knew it was a three-horse race. I knew the other two horses had better top-end speed than I did. My chance at winning was by stringing it out in 2015 Matt McNeil style and hope to win on strength rather than speed. Easy to say now, but in the heat of the race, I had been outraced and outsmarted, For that I give props to the boys from Dal on executing their plan. Still able to take some positives and learn from this one.

3000m- This race made me feel better about my weekend. I ran an 8:36, which is not a PB, but a good time for me in the CEPS. Matt took control of the race early on and opened in a 2:45. I followed in a 2:48, and lost a lot of ground between 1 and 1.5km. I reeled him in enough to get The Look from Lee McCarron (**see below), but was never in real contention. Matt finished in an 8:33, so the gap grew and shortened only to remain the same as it was after a kilometer in the race. I was alone chasing, so it made for a mentally difficult endeavour. Gotta give it to Matt though. I don't think he's lost an AUS 3k since the days of The Black Eyed Peas and Connor McGuire. 

The AUS Top 10 

***Disclaimer: This is not a list of the top performances.

10) Year of The Josh Shanks Redemption
One day, I want to go fishing with Josh Shanks. The guy looks like he could steal fish from a polar bear with a pole and a string. Rumour has it he is building a log cabin in the forest near Chance Harbour, and inhabiting it this summer to train like Cassidy off a diet of wild rabbits and deer. Just a rumour, though. The Bass Pro Shops trucker hat is a nice touch.

9) The Lee McCarron stare
When you run against Matt McNeil on the UdeM 167m track, you will usually run into a problem. The turns are tight, and that makes it hard for you to see how far away he has escaped you, as he is never straight up in front of you, but on another edge of the circle. To gage how close I was to Matt, I had to get creative. He had spaced me early on, but I began closing the gap. I first realized I was approaching him with 5 laps to go, when I spotted Lee next to the finish line putting his hands on his hips. With 4 laps to go, he began giving Matt orders. Then, by the next turn, I saw it. Eyebrows frowned, mouth slightly opened, neck following my stride. That is when I knew that I had made my mark on that race and had proven myself a legitimate threat to The General. I did not beat Matt on that day, but I had, nonetheless, accomplished something. I had earned the look. I had transcended into a new dimension of respect in the realm of Atlantic running. On that day, I became a man.

8) Paul MacLellan's 2833m PB
Blame it on the lap counters, the CEPS air, or something else...People were impressed when the 4th prodigal son unleashed his kick with 200m left in the race. There was only one problem: Paul hadn't realized that a 3000m consists of 18 laps, and not 17. Nonetheless, props to Paul the Reaper for rallying and completing the last lap. 

7) Jonathan Peverill is actually not boring
I don't care what the twitter account has lead you to believe, the guy is almost Dos Equis worthy. From quadrupling on AUS weekend, to pacing a friend in the 3k, to showing absolutely zero amounts of chill in the 1500m fast heat, the guy does it all. Reports saying he is the first man to out-kick Jeremie Pellerin since the 2004 Grand-Digue kids fun run (need a source on this.)

6) Michaela Walker - The Orange Blur
Need to send a shoutout to a fellow PEIslander. Wins best matching award between her hair and her spikes. Her stride was so smooth that a certain friend (who will remain unnamed) confessed to me his unorthodox attraction to her flawless running gait. 

5) Shayne Dobson's peanut butter cookies 
If you didn't run into Shayne and snag a peanut butter/chocolate cookie, you missed out. Not sure how he made them, but they seem to have been working for him lately. He gave my sister the recipe, so I am hoping that I, too, will make a national team soon. 

4) Jeremie Pellerin's Power Pants
Ok, I can't simply spot him at a race and not talk about The Pants. The quickest Acadien I know has been wearing them since that 2004 Grand Digue kids fun run, and they haven't lost their glow. Still waiting for him to try on the top part of the Power Rangers suit. If he does, we will all be in more trouble than we already are.

3) Jake Wing and Bridget Brennan
Need to mention something about the MVPs.
Bridget: The only individual on the X team who has my pain face beat. Watching her run that 800 was downright scary. I think she should challenge Tim to a race. 
Jake: You may have beaten me in the 1500, but once Neuffer gets his guitar tuned, Stu learns something other than Itsy Bitsy Spider on the keyboard, and Lee cleans his pots and pans, we challenge you to a battle of the bands. 

2) Angus Rawling serving the lunch
Borrowed the saying from our Laval friends, and we do not use it lightly. When I say Beef served the lunch, I mean he served the MF lunch. His silver medal performance in the 1k made everyone wonder how there even is room for his legs in his shorts. 

1) The team 
Gonna go soft now. The best highlight for me was to reconnect with our big track family here at X and to take on the conference as a whole. From seeing Shawn Costello chuck a weight around, to keeping up with JM&JT's successes in the Hept, to reminding Beth and Allie to kick with 150 to go, the season has been memorable. Track and field is particular in how it unites athletes on polar ends of the athletic spectrum. Despite the difference in the nature of events, there is a mutual understanding for one another, as everyone is on the habitual mission of improving on past marks. The atmosphere that is present among this team on championship weekend is something to behold.

The Future This part, I will keep rather brief. I believe this time of year is the most spontaneous and directionless for a university runner. There is no immediate or obvious reason to hammer workouts. Even less are there expectations placed on us concerning what distance to race or what event for which to peak. In a way, that is what makes it exciting. As of late, we have been concocting a recipe for success here in Antigonish. These next few months will be used to explore the spring racing scene, with Senior Nationals being on the long term radar, before re-entering into the faithful XC buildup. 

The Pics

AUS 3000m

AUS 1500m


AUS 3000m

AUS 3k podium pic
AUS 1500m
4x800m relay
Can't write this without paying an appropriate tribute to my teammate and roommate who has fallen in the tumultuous ring of fire this season. Wishing him a hose-down and fast recovery. #CrispCity2016

The Tunes

Sunday, 22 November 2015

XC2015 - The Aftermath

8 days have passed
2lbs have been gained
60 perceived lbs have been gained
1 cold has been caught
About 20 blurry pictures have been deleted off my phone.

Yeah, I guess this is what we call the fallout. The hangover that follows the cross country season is dire. I can't say I've experienced it before, as this is in fact the first season I finish (or conquer, really). I am having trouble pinpointing my emotions when I reflect on my season, and maybe this is why the descent back to reality has yet to happen, and why my current chocolate covered almond consumption would put Graeme Wach to shame (this is probably untrue).

As you may have inferred, 8 days marks the time between the present and the CIS championship. It isn't much, but it was enough time for me to reflect on many components of the season. It has been said that eventual perceived outcome is 10% circumstantial and 90% reactional. With respect to this, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to interpret this season as a whole. Now that the spikes have been put to rest, I can choose to focus on the positives, or to dwell on the negatives. In my own mind, neither approach does my season justice. I recognize that I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience, but I also realize I need to familiarize myself with the mistakes I have committed in training. This post helps me critically evaluate my training plan, and I believe this is instrumental, as failure to do so can be costly.

This post is also a way of reminding myself why I love what I am doing. When running becomes forced upon rather than sought after, it becomes harder to romanticize. To lose sight of the simplicity of the sport in the over-glorifying lights of the CIS is inevitable at this time of year. Coupled with a tireless class schedule, the fall is a recipe for disaster. Healthy bodies showing promise in all of September crumble under physical and mental strain, and even thinking becomes laborious. So, to finally gain perspective by sitting back and reflecting on what exactly happened, in a sense, is therapeutic.

However, for now, focusing on lighter aspects seems timely. At CIS, I've had the pleasure of meeting many fellow runners who told me they followed my posts. Now that I have concrete evidence that this blog has real readers other than my mom and sometimes Cal and Neuffer, I will try to include something for everyone. So, in no particular order, I present to you my season from a few different angles. Feel free to jump around.

The 2015 Cross Country Season in pictures

2015 AUS-RSEQ Interlocking meet

2015 RSEQ Interlocking meet All-Star team
Moncton Invitational

Moncton Invitational 
Front row (Left to right) - Jeremie Pellerin, Jeremie Pellerin, Jeremie Pellerin

2015 AUS Championship

AUS Banquet - Community Service award winners - Ft. Father Stan
AUS All-Stars #833in14
We abducted a new Xman in Laval in BuddyBuss
Dropping beats with DJ Scotty D
Xmen and Xwomen 2015-2016

CIS 2015
CIS AP 2015

CIS AP 2015

The 2015 Cross Country Season in Results:

September 26th - StFX Invitational 8k - 6th - 27:11 - 
October 3rd - RSEQ-AUS Interlocking meet 8k- 6th - 25:40 - 
October 17th - Classique Universite de Moncton 8k - 2nd - 26:04
October 31st - AUS Championships 10k - 4th - 32:21
November 14th - CIS Championships 10k - 39th - 31:43

The 2015 Cross Country Season in Pros and Cons

Pro: I sidestepped the StFX XC Mononucleosis scare of 2015
Con: I did not sidestep whatever weird virus Paul MacLellan picked up from a local Dairy Queen Boutine.

Pro: I was healthy in time to participate in the StFX invitational in which we drew straws to determine the order of finishers.
Con: I only picked straw #6

Pro: Our XC rec hockey team is above .500
Con: I forgot how to dangle and snipe, and consequently, I cannot celly.

Pro: I saw Oldster making it rain dollar bills. 
Con: I did not make a bet with him.

Pro: I made a rap. 
Con: I am not a rapper.

Pro: I went on a run with Lee McCarron once this year.
Con: I twisted my ankle.

Pro: 3 out of the 5 Greening Boys made it to the AUS/CIS start line.
Con: May Stuart MacPherson's ITB and Alex Neuffer's shinbones rest in pieces.

Pro: I found my shade of Just for Men (medium-dark brown)
Con: My facial hair game still heavily relies on Just for Men. 

Pro: I made an appearance on JDM's prestigious twitter page.
Con: I did not make the cut for Muchachos and Mustachios.

Pro: I got my picture taken with Taylor Milne.
Con: I got my picture taken with Taylor Milne.

The 2015 Cross Country Season in Shoutouts

Shoutout to the boys from Calgary for finally getting my name right. Hope you all fed Rome some Gatorade on Sunday.

Shoutout to Les Boys à Laval for a strong showing across the board. Vous nous avez démontrés comment vous roulez toujours!

Shoutout to Alex Bussières for being our tour guide in Laval, and for practicing his english.

Shoutout to Jake Wing for getting his own version of Hotline Bling stuck in my head.

Shoutout to David Freake for the quality coverage of the CIS on here -

Shoutout to JDM, the modern-day CIS Hype Machine.

Shoutout to Matt McNeil and Alex Wilkie. Cause sheesh.

Shoutout to Angus MacIntosh for almost mastering The Pain Face.

Shoutout to Matt Noseworthy - fastest hair growth in the CIS.

Shoutout to Jeremie Pellerin - Best accessories in the AUS (power pants, sunglasses, wool hats, terminator arms. etc.)

Shoutout to Pierre Dumouchel and Blair Morgan for hanging on after an AP FFTF.

Shoutout to the boys of UPEI in their inaugural season. Big things to come for the boys in green!

Shoutout to DJ Scotty D, DJ O'Regan and to Raymond and all our other faithful callers.

Shoutout to Graeme Wach and whoever runs the Graeme Wach instagram account. Well done.

Shoutout to the Boys at 18 Greening for a good house showing and for all being dusters at NHL 16

Shoutout to coaches Bernie and Kevin and manager Brenda for all their help along the way.

Shoutout to all the X boys and girls for another great year together.

Shoutout to Taylor Milne.

The 2015 Cross Country Season in Analysis:

Ok, this is where you stop reading if you aren't about the training talk. I am still trying to decide whether I finished the season on an upswing or on a downswing. The matter is the following: I placed best against my competitors in my first meet of the year, Interlock, coming off two weeks of no running at all. Following that meet, my results were still good, but the edge that I seemed to have on that day was gone, or at least less sharp. This could mean that I had gotten worse, or my competitors had gotten better. Either scenario should be enough to send me thinking about why that is. In my mind, the three indicating questions I must answer in baptizing a training block as good or bad are the following: did I get injured, did I get burnt out, and did I stagnate?

On one hand, I can favourably answer these questions. I ran pretty well to extremely well for my current capabilities from June to mid November. I was able to run all the races I wanted to run without suffering from obvious burnout, and consistently ran PBs . On the other hand, things could have gone better, as technically, I was injured. Since the beginning of September, to suppress a looming stress..uhm.. reaction (trying to avoid the F word), I enrolled in the Lee Wesselius School of Reduced Mileage and Intensity. I averaged just over 60km per week. This is including the two weeks I took completely off. I know for a fact I was never burnt out, simply because I was not running nearly enough. While I can infer that my competitors improved, and by way of this, reject the hypothesis that I went backwards, I still need to figure something out. Why did I not improve with them?

This has become a common theme in the last few seasons for me. I seem to come to fitness quite quickly, only to keep the same level or slightly worsen by the end, rather than nailing a peak. I could hypothesize and question about many things, like the lack of miles in my legs, but I believe my answers will only come with experience. A couple things I want to look at closely include my amount of summer racing, which this time around, was rather substantial. I also intend to change my way of tapering a bit, among other things, but that is mostly for me to figure out by visiting different aspects of training.

Inside these aspects lie the eternal questions that only each individual runner can answer for themselves - to go fast or slow on easy days, to run two or three workouts per week, when to pick it up and when to tone it down, etc. It is very easy to collect theoretical answers, but to choose those that work well with the individual is another dragon to slay. I guess in my case, I have a lot to learn, but I believe I have grasped the most important idea, and that one is to always be flexible, and to always be learning. Being stuck in one's ways is probably the most detrimental approach to training. With this in mind, I will work on different things in order to not only keep the early season edge, but to try and build on it.

Moving forward, a recent hot topic on my mind has been mileage. I am entertaining my own version of bravado, which has nothing to do with bench press, but rather how many miles I could run in a week. The thought of jumping into 100+ mile weeks is enticing, as there is an attractive quality to the idea of training rigorously, and going beyond all that is presently logical inside my 20-year-old runner's body and mind. I'm talking about a lifestyle change that would put everything secondary to running. One of complete dedication, without distraction of any kind. Nothing is more foolproof than simply out-training your competitors, right? (Aside from a plethora of injury and burnout possibilities...). It is tempting to throw rationality out the window and just completely immerse oneself into one's sport. Countering this rather radical idea is the one of balance and patience; the one of slowly increasing everything over years. I believe if this extreme lifestyle is for me, it will find me eventually. For now, a slow gravitation towards it seems like the healthiest option.

So for now, these are the extents of my thoughts in training. The fact that I have become increasingly interested in my next training phase is a good enough indicator for me to put those chocolate-covered almonds away and to reboot. I wish to convert these thoughts into results in February in the land of 167m ovals. I leave you on a high note, or notes, rather.

The 2015 Cross Country Season in Music