Interview #9 - Lyndsay Tessier

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Lyndsay Tessier interview by Steve Weiler, Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Photo: Lyndsay and Ben

Steve Weiler: Hey Lyndsay, tell me something nice!

Lyndsay Tessier: Hey Steve! Thanks for doing this! I have discovered an absolute and pure joy of walking. I have lived in my condo for 5 years now. It backs onto a ravine - a place I avoided on account of my fear of snakes and stories of coyote sightings. In general though, I’ve never been much of a pleasure walker - who has time for that? Lol. Since getting Ben, I have had to acquaint myself with walking and the ravine and ventured into it for the first time in 5 years, about 6 months ago. I cannot believe all I have been missing and have overlooked! I find nature is the one place that remains unchanged - which has been especially crucial as we try to navigate through life’s changes these days. And yes, I run and am outdoors all the time, so what’s the big deal? Walking is different. It’s meditative in important and different ways than running. I notice things, I find and appreciate beauty in things I would have paid little mind to while gasping for air during a workout. In my backyard ravine Ben and I have discovered countless trails, rivers, ponds, wildlife, and secret green spaces I’d have otherwise never known existed. When we enter the ravine every morning, I actually feel as though I am being teleported somewhere peaceful and soothing, where my busy thoughts slow and my senses speed up. It has truly been soul food.

SW: Lucky Ben! Can you write a bit about how you first got into running and then what led you to get more competitive in your adult years?

LT: Sure thing. When I think back to being a kid, I’ve always just naturally and innately loved running. I didn’t have a competitive bone in my body which might have been part of the reason I wasn’t selected for the first cross country team I tried out for in grade 1 I think. Or maybe grade 2. I remember still going to practices every morning before school. My mom asked why I continued practicing when I hadn’t made the team. I told her I just liked running in the neighbourhood. Eventually my mom stepped in and basically begged the principal to let me be on the team. She conceded and I actually did well! I ran until grade 8 very successfully. But even as a kid, I didn’t enjoy the mounting expectation placed on me to win. It took the innocence and joy out of it for me. So I stopped after grade 8 and didn’t begin again until I was 32. A childhood friend told me she was joining a half marathon clinic at the Running Room (in her city). I had flashbacks of elementary school and how much I loved it then, and decided I’d join a Running Room clinic in my city. The rest, as they say, is history.

SW: History indeed, including a Canadian Masters record! Between grade 8 and age 32, what other sports or activities did you get into?

LT: During high school and university I was involved in the sport of socializing and night clubbing lol. In my late 20s I joined martial arts and practiced Kung Fu Kickboxing at the Rising Sun dojo for 5 years. I loved the physical and mental challenge of learning the skills, the testing for belts and sparring. I also attended spin classes quite regularly which lent itself well later on to cycling during injury from running.

SW: Care to share what belts you earned?

LT: In kickboxing the colours were: White/Black/Blue/Green/Red/Yellow (gold). I was a red belt.

SW: You prefer to train alone and, I believe, often quite early in the am; what do you think led you to this preference?

LT: I am an introvert by nature. I genuinely like and need to be alone to recharge. I like training alone because I prefer not to be influenced by anyone else - that goes for easy runs to hard efforts. I absolutely recognize the importance and benefits of teams though. But having said that, I value being able to push myself. To rely on myself. To dig myself out of mental and physical holes in training runs. Every run (to me) is an opportunity to learn about myself. I want to know how I’m going to respond when things get tough. If I’m weak, well then I want to discover how to make myself stronger next time. In marathons there are inevitably times I find myself alone. I want to have the confidence that I can be my own coach, therapist, and cheerleader on course without depending on outside sources. And when I find myself running alongside someone in a race, it is such a fun and unique boost! I enjoy early mornings because they’re quiet and peaceful. I like the idea of sneaking off to work my ass off while the rest of the world is sleeping.

SW: And, in normal, times, what time is an 'early' morning run for you?

LT: I'm out the door to run (after walking Ben) no later than 6am.

SW: I had the great pleasure of watching your Worlds race with the Langleys and your coach (Boyd); it got pretty loud! I’d love to hear how the race played out in your words.

LT: You were there?!?! Oh my! Thank you for watching and cheering! I take such pride in the gathering at the Langley’s. I truly do. On race day, my jitters and worries morphed into sheer excitement. I genuinely love racing and I was so glad the positive vibes kicked in for this race. I spoke to Steve a couple days before the race. He told me to run 3:45-3:50 and so having that in my mind helped calm me tremendously. The gun went off and everyone more or less stayed in a group for the first kilometre. This was extremely settling. I had fears I’d be blown out of the water and so to find myself next to Charlotte Purdue for a bit was like, ok! I’m good! The first three loops were great. I was feeling very comfortable with the pace - which was a big confidence boost! My friends were also on course and so knowing I would see them every loop, was immensely lifting. At around 30k I was still feeling good! Every lap that I was upright and happy was not taken for granted! By the last loop, I still had a positive mind, but the heat was starting to get challenging to fight. My right calf was threatening to spasm and my stomach was flirting with cramps. When I got to this stage, I allowed myself to self talk (I try to hold off/save that that until the bitter end). When I hit the final turn around I was going to all of the places in my mind that would distract me from the heat and discomfort. By the time I saw the finish line I was reinvigorated. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of personal pride in my life.

SW: I was there and it was glorious! You’ve recently had to adjust to remote learning and deadline with tech platforms; how is that experience going at this point?

LT: It is going better now, but it has been a steep learning curve. Learning the new platform has been challenging particularly for primary teachers and students who don't typically use technology and therefore lack familiarity or experience with it. The equity piece has also been very stressful. It's hard knowing that not every child has the same access to technology. But we are doing our best to accommodate everyone. I will admit to losing a lot of sleep over this. 8 and 9 year olds require modeling, demonstration, examples, personalized instruction and feedback; these are very difficult over a screen. 90% of my teaching is in my interaction with the children and I don't have that now. I also appreciate how heavily the students are relying on their parents in the absence of their teachers - parents who are also trying to fulfill their professional obligations. Each week it gets better. I am heartened by the effort I see from my students and their parents. That's all I can ask for and I am doing the same. But it is a process.

SW: I hope it continues to get better each week! You mentioned pre-interview having some close friends ever since Kindergarten; that sounds pretty special, can you share that story?

LT: Gladly! I take so much pride in my friendships with these girls...women. There are 7 of us. We call ourselves the Guildwood girls because we grew up together and have known each other since attending Guildwood Junior Public school in kindergarten. To this day, we speak daily. We have all grown up and gone our separate ways, but the love and respect is deep. We still get together for birthdays and occasions - despite how busy life gets. It's wild to me that many of them have children now at the ages we were when we met. It is an extremely special and I believe rare situation to have friendships over 30 years in length.I'm truly grateful for them. One of the "Guildwood" girls made the trek to Doha to watch the race. The feeling of having a slice of home on the course is something I cannot put into words.

SW: Do you have any favourite memories that you’d like to share before we get into the Finishing Kick?

LT: Honestly there are too many to mention! They have been in nearly every memory I have!

SW: Okay, favourite running route?

LT: My route from home! I could do it blind folded I bet. It's an out and back (about 6k) and then a 13k loop. It's not fancy or beautiful. It's got some hills (that suck during tempos or 1ks) and on city roads. But I love it. I've contemplated moving many times but feel saddened when I think of not being able to walk out of my front door and run "my route".

SW: Things you love - reading, fishing and ???

LT: wine!

SW: Get ready for Roy - complete the song lyrics: 1. There goes my baby, there goes my heart, they're gone forever
a) having a nice time with their friends
b) six feet apart
c) so far apart

LT: c. so far apart - but only the lonely

SW: 2. You're the best thing that I've ever found
a) there’s gum in your hair
b) handle me with care
c) look out for that bear!

LT: b. handle me with care

SW: 3. Oh, there won't be many
a) coming home
b) hold the phone
c) dogs with bones

LT: a. coming home

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

LT: Friendship!


Photo: Marathon women Gollish, Myrand, and Tessier at Worlds

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