Interview #5 - Miles Brackenbury

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Miles Brackenbury interview by Steve Weiler, Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Steve Weiler: Hey Miles, tell me something nice!

Miles Brackenbury: Hey Steve! Something nice that I've experienced recently was a race! Not your typical race but a fun one with my little neighbours down the street! They're 3 and 5 years old and we've started doing races from opposite sides of the street. It's a highlight of my day (even though they usually win)! It's only about a 50m dash but these boys can race forever! Back and forth. It's great to see that young energy and excitement. They both will tell you they're the fastest ever.

SW: That's great to hear! How did you first get into running?

MB: Probably the same way as my neighbours! From chasing the older kids up and down the street! My true intro to running and racing came in grade 3 when I joined my school's running club lead by Bonnie L'abbe! Ms. L'abbe had the best environment to get elementary school kids hooked on running while being healthy and active. We would meet in the park in the morning before school, do some running and then play some games! If you were interested in racing Ms. L'abbe took a team up to Fort Henry where I raced my first Cross Country meet!

SW: And I'm sure that set you up well to enjoy running with the KCVI team?

MB: You bet! I've been running ever since! I was very fortunate to go to KCVI where there is a remarkable running legacy! Simon Whitfield is a KCVI graduate and when I started in grade 9 I got to look up to back-to-back OFSAA Champion Cameron Linscott. Running at KCVI was where my love for the sport really grew! When I started high school I was playing every sport under the sun. The enjoyment I got from running at KC helped me decide running was the sport for me!

Photo (l to r): Miles Brackenbury, Matt Scace, Paul Riek, and Matt Johnston

SW: And was it during your high school years that you developed a pre-race fajitas routine?

MB: Haha yes it was! Whenever I'm out of town for a race I look for the spot with the best fajitas! The first time I tried it I thought I was playing with fire, I was worried how my stomach would respond on race day. Surprisingly the race went really well and fajitas have been my go to ever since! The team meals with KC and Physi-Kult are always a great time, even when fajitas are not on the menu.

SW: You ran a great 3,000m time of 8:37 back in February when a group from Physi-Kult travelled down to Boston. How did that race play out for you and were you satisfied with the result?

MB: That was a really big race for me because I was coming off of a disappointing result in Windsor. The atmosphere at Boston is a special one and I definitely felt it during that race. Having the opportunity to be in a heat that is evenly matched and with a bunch of guys whose soul mission is to run fast is motivating and exhilarating! In that race I knew that if I hung on I would PB, so I went out controlled, not worrying where I was in the field and I never let the guys in front of me pull away. Midway the doubts set in, but all those guys around me kept me moving forward. I was thrilled to break 8:40 and shave off a big chunk from my pb. Always looking to improve though and seeing my training partner Matt Pardo throw down a 8:25 was inspiring! It was the perfect way to cap off the indoor season!

SW: You mentioned previously that you had a falling streak back in 2018, what happened there?

MB: To be honest, I'm not sure what happened, I think just a stroke of bad luck! It was the end of my 2018 XC season and I managed to take a tumble 2 races in a row! If started at OFSAA where I was running my last XC race for KC. The race started and within the first 200m the guy in front of me went down! Being a steeplechaser I hurdled him and for a split second I felt like Superman! Unfortunately when I landed I lost my balance and fell as well. I got a spike to the hand and I have the battle scar to this day! I managed to get up and run, but it was certainly not the race I'd hoped for! Little did I know I would fall again in my very next race, but at a much more convenient time. At AC XC on Fort Henry I had a great race until the finishing stretch. I was neck and neck with 2 other guys when my foot caught on the finishing mat! I fell face first into the ground! Luckily it was at the finish, but I did need a few stitches on my forehead. I haven't had a tumble since (knock on wood), but those races taught me the importance of getting up and laughing it off!

SW: Originally coming into this spring, you were hoping to have a big breakthrough in your running and potentially make the World Junior team. Instead, you're dealing with a pandemic while at the same time playing a key role in trying to get coach Boyd reinstated at Queen's. I applaud you for how you've handled things, showing maturity beyond your years; can you please share what you've done to stay positive and focused during such dark times?

MB: For sure. It has certainly been a tough couple of months! I think one of the most important things to help stay positive has been allowing myself to be upset first. I know that sounds weird, but it has helped me to have a good cry and get frustrated instead of ignoring my emotions. As much as I want to be positive all the time, it has been helpful to get out my negative emotions. Once I've sat with these emotions I usually run. A run always manages to brighten my day and clear my head. Listening to my favourite music and dancing around the house also puts me in a positive mood and Dwight Schrute from the Office can always give me a good laugh. In the end, I've learned to acknowledge what I can and cannot control. I can run and speak up for what I believe, but lots of other factors are out of my control. Right now it is enough being able to run, having good health, being with family and standing up for what I believe in.

SW: That's great advice, thanks for sharing Miles. Do you have any favourite ‘conversations on the run’ or any memories that you’d like to share before we get into the Finishing Kick (series of short questions to finish the interview)?

MB: Conversations on the run are some of the best conversations I've ever had. Last fall I had one of my best ones when we laughed so hard we had to stop running! I don't even recall the topic but the memory will last forever. Currently I've been having fun spotting porta-potties on the run with Matt Pardo. Where there's a construction sight there is often a porta-potty to save the day! I can also learn a lot from running conversation. I love how each 'Conversation on the run' can be fun and games or an enlightening experience!

SW: Alright, now for the finishing kick - cake or pie?

MB: 100% PIE! Any kind of pie will do! I actually baked one last weekend!

SW: Pie, oh my! What is your favourite running route?

MB: I love running to Cartwright point! It's a great route that runs across the causeway and onto a beautiful trail tucked in among some beautiful waterfront houses.

SW: Complete the song lyrics:
1. It's been a long time
a) coming
b) since I left my home
c) running

MB: I think it is a), but the runner in me says c)

SW: They are both correct, and it's well worth the wait.
2. Don't tell me
a) how many laps we have left
b) what the poets are doing
c) that they're talking tough

MB: Worth the wait indeed! Hmmmmmmmmm c? But I can relate to a

SW: C (and b) are correct. 3rd and final complete the lyrics:
3. Armed with will and determination, and
a) having a nice time with my friends
b) grace, too
c) mithril armour

MB: C! I don't know that I have much grace, but I sure love having a nice time with my friends

SW: While that would be valuable amour, it would not complete the Tragically Hip lyrics, which were b (a was also acceptable). Okay, you just finished a tough workout and you’re really happy with how it went; how do you celebrate?

MB: Probably run the cool down too fast for starters! Then eat some pie with friends!

SW: And final question, what is the most valuable kind of ship?

MB: Friendship cause it never sinks!

Photo: partial Queen's XC team

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