Week after week across Ontario and Quebec Carleton Ravens sprinter Alexandra Telford is redefining what it means to be fast. Almost every weekend the Master of Architecture degree student from Ottawa, Ontario, can be found on the top of the results sheet having broken her own school records.
Telford's stellar season, which follows a shortened outdoor track season due to the ongoing COVID-19, is the result of years of patience and hard work. "I've been doing track since elementary school," explains Telford. "I was always a taller kid who did pretty well, so in grade 9 my parents encouraged me to try the Ottawa Lions." Having spent her early days on the track not far from Carleton at Mooney's Bay, Telford has slowly found her groove in the sport. "The coach at the time was a very accomplished high school and university hurdler, so he got me into it there."
As she transitioned to the sport, Telford at times found herself sidelined as often as she was training. "I've had a lot of injuries, stress fractures and sprained ankles, so I did actually got away from hurdles for my undergrad." Taking the time to listen to her body Telford has matured into a hurdler who has a knack for going fast. "This summer, I got to go back to running the 400m hurdles, and my focus this university season is the 300m, but I do want to work my sprint hurdle technique to prepare for the outdoor season. A 400m hurdles specialist, Telford has shown explosiveness on the 60m indoor track that has allowed her to gain momentum heading into this weekend's RSEQ Championships.
While she admits the 300m is her primary focus, Telford continues to show impressive speed in the 60m hurdles, recently winning the Last Chance Qualifier at McGill in a school-record time of 9.10s. In the 300m event, Telford continued her incredible season winning in another school-record time of 38.95 seconds. Telford's blazing result in an event that isn't her primary focus speaks highly of her potential heading into the conference championship. Currently ranked in the top 25 in U SPORTS and first in the RSEQ, Telford is making big strides on the track.
Most impressive amongst Telford's accomplishments is the fact that she's achieved so much this season despite the restrictions that were in place. Until March 1, the Ravens were unable to use the larger indoor track where they typically train in Ottawa's East end. Instead, Telford spent most of her hours on the high-speed treadmills at Terry Fox or on the shorter indoor track at Carleton. "Being able to do shorter stuff twice a week at Carleton has been very helpful, I also do a recovery swim day in the pool at Carleton." While Telford has been able to take advantage of the facilities at Carleton to train, she admits there were also long road trips just to find track time during the shutdowns. "We were actually driving to Montreal or Kingston to get on an actual track. So Saturday was a full workout day, you were driving three hours, training three hours, lifting and it was a bit nuts."
Despite the long hours, Telford has found balance being able to focus on schoolwork while putting in the hours needed to be among the top runners in the country. Currently ranked 7th in U SPORTS in the 300m and first in the RSEQ, Telford is thriving thanks to time management. "In terms of how busy it is, it's just come down to time management. I just got to know what works for me, listening to my body and knowing when I could work effectively versus when it was time for a nap." Finding those balances can be difficult for any student-athlete, but as she continues her studies, while also being a TA, Telford admits there's a benefit to her studying Architecture. "I'm pretty fortunate that my program is very visual-based. I can jot some notes down and do some thinking while I'm doing something else, but it's been a lot of trial and error."
Telford uses her commute as an opportunity to study or unwind as she uses public transit to get around the city. As resources reopen and her schedule becomes more normal, Telford continues to prepare for her final few meets of the indoor season with a focus on improving her times towards a spot at nationals. "It's definitely still one race at a time, I haven't run the auto qualifying time yet, so that's still a goal, but if I don't hit it, then hopefully the rankings will still be enough to get me there."
Telford returns to the track this weekend at the University of Sherbrooke for the RSEQ Championships where she looks to continue her incredible season by qualifying for nationals.