Interview #11 - Cleo Boyd

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Cleo Boyd interview by Steve Weiler, Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Photo: Cleo Boyd at 2012 World Junior T&F Championships

Steve Weiler: Hey Cleo, tell me something nice!

Cleo Boyd: Haha, well the nicest thing I've got going on right now is that I've been living with my niece--who just turned one--ever since Covid 19 closures and distancing went into effect. So I've been able to see her every day and have been able to see first hand her first steps and have heard her first words... She's incredibly cute and fun and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend so much time with her.

SW: You'd mentioned having baby songs stuck in your head recently; what's a song that your niece likes that you think could break-through into mainstream play?

CB: Hmm they're all pretty awesome... she's really into head shoulders knees and toes right now and my brother (who's really musical) has all kinds of remix versions he sings, some of which I truly believe could become mainstream hits... maybe I'll talk him into recording a couple of his best variations.

SW: Sweet! Okay, back to the early days - how did you first get into competitive running?

CB: I actually can't think of any clear starting point to my interest in competitive running... some of my earliest/best memories are of cheering for my dad at road races so running always seemed like the most cool sport to me and I feel like I always had a sense that I wanted to do it... I used to make my dad time me for loops around the park when I was like 7 so maybe that's where it all began.

SW: Can you describe your attempts to qualify for and your experience at the 2012 World Junior T&F Champs?

CB: Oh yeah so my first attempt at the standard for the 3k was at a smallish meet that we set up here in Kingston and Leslie Sexton (you might have heard of her) came down to pace me (which I was thrilled about because she has always been one of the people I look up to in Canadian distance running). So that attempt was close but no cigar, I think I ran 9:35.00 and the standard was sub 9:35. Obviously I wanted another crack at it after being so close so we drove down to London I think a week later so I could have another try with Leslie pacing again. I remember it feeling incredibly hard and I fell off the pace somewhere in the middle but somehow managed to squeak under the standard with a 9:33. I was pretty excited as I had spent the whole year struggling with injury and the goal of making world juniors had seemed like a long shot.

And then in terms of my experience at world's, it was the most fun thing I had done in running to that point, I still look back on that trip as one of my fondest running memories.

SW: A couple quick notes for context: the Kingston attempt was quite windy and Becky Pieterson paced the London attempt, with Sexton racing. Your only official race for this year was a 15:56PB 5k in Florida – let's hear a recap!

Photo: Cleo Boyd, Steve Boyd, and Will Norris at 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials

CB: Oh that's right. You're better at remembering the details haha. So the race in Florida was a lot of fun, it was a smallish laid back event on a beautiful course that went right along the ocean. The race itself wasn't that eventful. I went out (maybe a little too quickly) with a big pack of guys who inadvertently blocked the wind for me haha. And then I spent the second half of the race just trying to hold off the group of women behind me and I did! So I won and got a pb and was all around really pleased. The most eventful part of the whole thing was that I barfed at the end which was a first for me... so I was a mixture of horrified and a little embarrassed and also really proud that I had pushed myself that hard haha.

SW: You surpassed that time in a solo time trial on a certified course last month; can we get another recap?

CB: Haha yeah so that's another one that's kind of lacking in exciting details unfortunately... basically I just ran as hard as I could haha I didn't even really look at my watch or anything. I had my dad biking beside me which made it mentally a lot easier... and the rest of my family stationed themselves at different points along the course to give me a cheer so that was really nice. So yeah, I was really surprised and obviously pretty pleased when I finished and saw I had run such a big pb!

SW: You're going back to college for PhD in history! Where are you going and what will you focus on?

CB: I'm going back to UVA in Charlottesville, Virgina where I did my undergrad! My focus is on 20th century US cultural history and in particular on the social movements that shaped that century.

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

CB: Hmm... I think I might have too many good memories to choose from... let me think...

One of my best recent memories was watching my partner, Will, compete at the US Olympic Trials this past February... My dad and I made the trip to Atlanta together to watch and the whole thing was incredible... from the sheer size of the event, to all the emotions you could see athletes going through during the race to the fun all the spectators were having... and of course the fact that it was the biggest women's field in history.. the whole thing was pretty moving to watch/be a part of. It was an example of our sport at it's best in my opinion. And to top it off Will had a great race and we spent the rest of the trip down south celebrating with too many good beers.

SW: Alright, ready for some lightning quick Q&A?

CB: Yes! I'm ready!

SW: Favourite running route?

CB: From my parent's house--Old Front Rd into Lemoine Point and back!

SW: What’s a recently read book you recommend?

CB: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace--it's incredible on every level.

Photo: Clara Langley and Cleo Boyd

SW: Complete the song lyrics: 1. I didn't know what I was in for when I
a) left to have a nice time with my friends
b) left for the community center
c) signed up for that run

CB: c) signed up for that run! also laid out in the sun haha..

SW: 2. You can love it, you can leave it; they say you're nothing without it
a) don’t let them keep you up
b) don't let them keep you down
c) don’t let them keep you out

CB: b)!

SW: 3. It was quite early one morning
a) that I realized I was more of an evening runner
b) when I met Dylan Thomas
c) hit me without warning

CB: c)!

SW: Penultimate Q - Clara Langley is
a) awesome
b) awesome
c) awesome

CB: Ha... awesome... the most awesome.

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

CB: Friendship, of course.

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