Interview #6 - Matt Pardo

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Matt Pardo interview by Steve Weiler, Friday, April 24th, 2020

Steve Weiler: Hey Matt, tell me something nice!

Matt Pardo: Hey Steve, thanks for doing this! Something nice that has happened lately has been my discovery of Strava and team vlogging. Social media for runners… I can’t believe I’m just joining this platform! It’s a great way to share running routes and stories digitally without burdening my general social media with too much running content. I’m definitely a social runner, so I’ve had a pretty difficult time adjusting to everyone not being together. Strava has allowed me to connect with current and past teammates across the country and provide support and comradery during these tough times. Then there’s the Hobby Jogger Vlogger initiative Queen’s teammate Matt Scace started. The entire team is in a Facebook Messenger group chat and sends short vlogs about how their runs have gone, funny core challenges, or anything else. It has been a fantastic way to stay in touch with the team.

SW: That's great; it's helpful to have the support of teammates at a time like this. Can you describe one of your favourite recent posts with us?

MP: Last Friday, Miles and I headed out to the Reddendale Ramble course for a workout before this week's time trial. Miles accidentally locked his keys in his car, so we sent a pretty funny vlog to the group while we were waiting for his parents to show up with the spare set of keys about the situation we were in. Other great vlogs have involved funny core challenges, self-haircuts, and pet interruptions!

Photo: Queen's Men's XC pre-race group hug

SW: How did you first get into competitive running?

MP: I played just about every sport growing up, so when I was old enough, I joined my elementary school's track and cross country teams. The joy and success I had in the school running system led me to joining Windsor Legion Track and Field Club in grade 6 and I've been running and coaching with them ever since.

SW: You stepped away from competitive running during your undergrad, but started back up in 2019; why did you step away and what led you back to competitive running?

MP: Yeah, prior to coming to Queen’s for my BEd, I hadn’t raced competitively since ACXC 2015 when Kingston first hosted. I stepped away from competitive running to focus on my studies, work more hours as a tutor, and the lack of a team as many of my running friends were away at other universities and I chose not to run for the University of Windsor. During this time off, with the exception of 2nd year, I kept myself in decent shape, still doing lots of mileage and workouts whenever I had the time. Once I heard that I had gotten into the accelerated BEd at Queen’s, I knew I would need to find people to run with in Kingston (social runner). I tossed around the idea of trying out for the team, but eventually decided that I would just get to know the guys and run with them on their off days instead. However, that quickly changed. Call it fate or luck, but on the second day of my program’s orientation in May 2019, I happened to sit next to the one person in my program on the Queen’s team, Nate Dehghan. Not recognizing each other at first (we raced a lot of club together in high school), we introduced ourselves as we were waiting for a lecture to start and our conversation quickly turned to running. He quickly remembered who I was and told me I had to try out for the team. I met with Steve Boyd later that week, and we planned out a summer of simply healthy mileage and no workouts (sorry Steve, I definitely did a few). A few months later I hit the team standard in a time trial and the rest is history. Getting back into competitive running has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

SW: Fast-forward 11 months from meeting Deghan and you just a 5k time trial on a certified course this morning - can you walk us through that session?

MP: Yeah, we made the decision to go bright and early to try and avoid the swarms of incapacitating mayflies. Ended up running 15:17 the hard way splitting 3:03, 3:07, 3:07, 3:00, 3:00. It was a lot windier than expected and it seemed like it was always coming at me no matter what direction we were going. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this morning turned out, but I'm eager to drop that time over the summer and hopefully even get a session in on the track if the restrictions start to ease up.

SW: If you looked back at where you were a year ago, do you think you could have predicted being in this kind of shape in April 2020?

MP: Haha not a chance! I never thought I would get back into the shape I was in high school, let alone much better shape. I only have the amazing team and coaches I had this past year at Queen's to thank!

Photo: 2019 OUA XC Men's Bronze (L to R) Pardo, Brackenbury, de Lange, Kanko, Deghan, Kirby, Flood

SW: You had quite a significant race at the 2019 OUA XC Champs. Can you re-tell what happened that day and the significance of that individual and team performance?

MP: To be honest, I was very unhappy with my individual result that day. However, it turns out the 6th runner does matter to a team score sometimes! Queen's and Windsor were tied for bronze and it came down to the 6th men for a tie breaker. Thankfully I didn't have as bad of a race as I felt I had because I beat Windsor's 6th runner and we were awarded the OUA bronze instead of them. It was a fantastic feeling that I could help the team in that way and definitely helped distract me from my individual result.

SW: Did you find some individual redemption two weeks later at USports XC?

MP: Absolutely. Although USports XC didn't go as well as OUAs for the team, it went a lot better individually. It was a tough race, but I ended up running myself into a scoring position on the team finishing 65th. This was a pretty big accomplishment because coming into the season I figured I would be an alternate or 7th man for the team. USports XC was a good way to cap off my "freshman" university season and to springboard me into indoor track.

SW: And what was the highlight of your freshman indoor track season?

MP: Honestly, the entire season was like a dream. It had been years since I had last ripped workouts on an indoor track but my training partners and I were killing it. I had only ever raced one 3k in high school and it was more for fun, so I was a little intimidated with how the season of racing 3k's would go. Our first meet in Ottawa I ran a huge PB of 8:38, closing in a 62. My jaw dropped when I saw the result and when Boyd told me that I'd be sub 8:25 by the end of the season. Sure enough, I ran 8:24 in Boston which I still can't believe. That time got me into the fast section at OUAs which was amazing because I didn't even think I'd qualify. Despite the race not going too well thanks to some terrible circumstances, it was still a great experience. Oh, and racing in front of my family and friends in my hometown at the Lancer meet was a huge bonus too, even though we didn't get back to Kingston until 3:30am and I had to teach the next morning.

Photo: Pardo in action (right), followed closely by teammate Miles Brackenbury

SW: Well done and congrats! Okay, final stretch of questions coming up: what is your favourite running route?

MP: My favourite running routes in Kingston are Little Cat, Cemetery, the golf course, and the K&P trail. Clearly I like to get off of the pavement whenever possible.

SW: You just finished a tough workout and you’re really happy with how it went; how do you celebrate?

MP: Lots of laughs on the cool down with the boys and a big glass of chocolate milk once I'm home!

SW: Alright, now complete the song lyrics: 1. 'Cause I've got friends in
a) very good shape
b) low places
c) hiding

MP: b) Low places. Great song. But I've also got lots of friends in very good shape!

SW: 2. Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you’re
a) standing still while others run by
b) standing with your feet on the air and your head on the ground
c) standing outside the fire

MP: c) standing outside the fire. Another classic.

SW: 3. Seen my share of
a) broken halos
b) broken course records
c) broken hearts

MP: I'm going to go with B for this one. Course records are great to watch.

SW: I'm accepting both A and B! Final question, what is the most valuable kind of ship?

MP: Companionship and friendship, because who doesn't love some company from a friend while on a run

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