Friday, 29 May 2015

Ottawa Race Weekend - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

-Ahh not bad I ran a 10k in 32 min


Above is an excerpt from my hilarious twitter account that I advertise way too much (that's @cyresy_10 by the way). Where does this quote come from? Well, yeah. From EVERYONE. I guess nowadays 10k just doesn't cut it. Don't believe me? Just walk into the nearest Running Room and you'll know what I mean. Just hang tight by the water bottle belts and intermittent tales about 'mile 21' or 'Meb what's his name who won Boston that one time' will resonate with the flow of an old-time nursery rhyme. The most popular distance in running is attracting more and more runners by the year, and in consequence, 10k's are not cool anymore, 21.1k's just half impressive, and you may as well just walk down your driveway and grab the mail if you were planning on running the 5k. Yeah, somehow, someway, running longer must be becoming easier because the marathon is becoming mainstream. So to all who contributed to the ubiquity of the question, 'Why are you going all that way just to run 10k?' here is my answer. I'm not running to finish it. I'm running to finish it fast.

And I started fast, so I was half right. More on that later.


The trip itself was a blast. I don't know of any other university XC team that is tight enough to set up a massive rendez-vous in the nation's capital, veterans and rookies alike. Even after two years, I often take a step back and realize how lucky I am to be a part of this X family, and it is something I never take for granted. Us maritimers were beautifully hosted by the locals who showed us the city and gave us food and shelter when we had run out of money. Couple insta pics validate how much fun we had because, of course, if no pics are taken, did it really happen?

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Some post race tourism

On another note, it was awesome to experience the professionalism and extensive organization of the race itself. From the race expo to the elite tent, this event exhibited a level of know-how like I had never seen. Believe it or not, PEI had never held a race quite this big. We soaked it all in by buying running apparel and meeting new people at the expo and also by taking full advantage of the free banana tray in the elite suite. 

Speaking of meeting people, I need to return a shoutout. This one goes to the guy behind the blog and the Saucony running kit, David Freake. You had a nice fast one in 31:53 and I didn't see you once on the course, so it must have been ballsy! It was great meeting you and learning from you this past weekend and I really look forward to racing again in the near future. He is definitely worth the read - strong insta game as well I hear. 


So this is where I talk about the race. Ok, so 32:21 is still a PB, and I don't want to sound ungrateful because the running Gods don't like that, but I was shooting for faster. After a 15:03 5k and a 49:13 15k, along with many good workouts hinting towards something more like 31:30 to 31:45, I was left somewhat disappointed when death entered my legs at 6km. The last 4km were painful and brutal and made me want to quit running in its entirety. I went to the well and got buried with the donkey. Looking back now, I can only tell myself that what I had all spring, I didn't have on that day, and that's ok. If I lay it out on the line 10 times out of 10, and I only get what I want out of my effort 8 or 9 times, I still like my odds. 

So why the bad day? This may have been the most important race of my spring, my best shot at a huge PB. Maybe I tapered too much. Maybe I didn't sleep or drink enough. Maybe it was something else altogether, but I won't beat myself up about it. The positives of this trip vastly outweigh the negatives, and I'd rather win than make excuses so I'll drop the pondering. However, this weekend made me realize how weary my body has become. Having barely taken any real time off since November, I think it's time for a short break. 

On a more positive note, shoutout to Cal and Neuffer, my 2 roomies for the trip who both dipped under 32! Looking at a time like that should make you both feel super pumped for XC, as I am!


Photo credz to Liz MacDonald

Hey ya can't always look good

Onward, upwards and a bit to the side

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Those 3 words

60 long treadmill minutes have finally passed. Sweating, I glance at my faded reflection in the window overlooking the Evangeline ice surface. 3 words come to mind, and this time, they are not 'tall, dark, and handsome.' No, these 3 words are no joke. They are as beautiful as they are dangerous, calming as they are overwhelming. These 3 words can put one's guards down quite quickly, as their virtue is just that - they represent the ending of a physical and mental war. To me, they represent a past mistake that I do not want to replicate. I walk to the locker room, change my shoes, and begin walking home as these words still dance in my head. I eventually force them out, but they come back in. I succumb to them and enjoy a moment of bliss. Staring at my shoes, I slowly let them out: I did it. 

What did I do, exactly? For starters, I had just run 60 minutes in a row in a routine, nonchalant manner. In contrast, a year ago from today, after only 15 minutes my face would have expressed the trademark exhaustion and redness of Rob Ford's. From then on, my health had returned to normal, and it thankfully showed in performance. In a matter of months, to the public eye, I had went from total crapshoot to AUS medallist in a track season that rekindled my love of running, and winning. This then set me up for a - so far - good spring season. Shortly put, one good season followed another, and I was lucky enough to stay healthy during this time and enjoy new PBs in every distance. In this fortunate string of running, I may have surpassed other people's expectations, but most importantly, I have surpassed my own. Most recently, I entered in a 15km and 5km with the results I was looking for:

5k - May 2nd - Proude Shoes 5km - 15:03

New Saucony Mirage - courtesy of Proude's Shoes

15km - April 25th - Le 15km de Grande Digue - 49:13 (3:17/km)

If you look closely you can maybe spot Matt McNeil beginning his cooldown

This whole year has finally permitted me to re-gain the confidence I once had before the injuries and sickness. One race and workout at a time, it has re-taught me how to deal with pain, how to be mentally strong. I believe those traits cannot be taught at once, but can be picked up through time. Kind of like a Leafs fan slowly latching on to a more successful hockey team.

So, to backtrack, why all this fuss over these 3 words? Why are they unwanted in my regular stream of thought? The answer is simple: Icarus. Now, I was far from fond of English class, but this is one fable that stayed with me. In Greek mythology, Icarus had received artificial wings from his father, but was cautioned not to fly too close to the sun, or they would burn. Ecstatic about the idea to fly, Icarus did just that, and the sun burnt him to the ground. The moral of the story: don't get too greedy; in physical AND mental terms. The last time that I began looking at my achievements instead of seeking new ones, the last time that I uttered those 3 words (2013), I fell drop out of provincials and watch Neuffer break a record hard. Out of all people. Neuffer. Yeah. That one hurt. Where was I? Oh yeah.  

In 2013, in my last indulgence of overconfidence, on the physical side, my newfound swagger (sorry..really tried to find a better word)  had caused me to overthink, overtrain, overdo. Improvement is like a drug; when you reap its benefits, you will get addicted. Being too aware of my fast development caused me to expect it to continue in a linear fashion, and as soon as that was no longer the case, training mistakes ensued. I spent most of my grade 12 spring trying to patch up stagnancy with additional training. That did not end well. That never ends well. 

On the mental side of things, feelings of overconfidence completed a strange paradox. Nourishing this thought that I had become invincible as a runner encouraged me to rest on my laurels and to not chase the next level, being content with the one I had reached. 

Mentally I was confident and comfortable, physically I blindly longed for more. I had it all backwards.

Back to the present, after speaking with a fellow AUS runner back in XC season, I was left inspired. This runner, who is very well respected for his wisdom and his experience exceeding that of his peers, shared with me his way of thinking. "At first, you become the best in your school. Then, the best in your district, and then provincial champion. Maybe someday, you will be AUS champion as well. You can choose to stop there and be content, or to buck up and strive to eventually become the CIS champion. AND THEN, the concept continues. Will you stop there, or take on the world?" 

This notion, taken all at once, seems superfluous and out of reach. But, I believe this style of thinking places an athlete in the right mindset. It allows one to never get too high on oneself, to never be completely satisfied, and that is what keeps one going. Personally, it allows me to never repeat the mistake I made in 2013. It allows me to remain grounded by putting into perspective how much room there is for improvement. So, in the end, what did I do? In the grand scheme of things, not all that much. 

Looking ahead, the next big stop is the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. A group of X-Men and X-Women are hitting it up for good times on the race course and beyond. It will be wild. I, along with Naughty, Hot Wheels and many others, will be running the 10k. 

See you in the Capital

PS - I entered a contest. It's cheesy. But it gives me a chance to win a bit of cash. So, if you have 30 seconds, follow this link  , scroll down to my video, and vote for it by liking it. If you want to listen to a rap about university finances, take 2 and enjoy...