Getting to Know T1 High Performance Athlete, Catherine Alcorn
Twenty four years ago two people living in Red Deer Alberta brought home a beautiful baby girl. Their plan? Reinforce the importance of education, the health benefits of sport, and the power of independence and hard work. They registered her in competitive swimming, where she excelled and placed nationally. Her goal was to be an Olympic swimmer in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Unfortunately the universe had other plans. Grade 8 rolled around and while all of the other girls went through massive growth spurts the baby girl who was now an extremely awkward teenager was stuck at a measly five feet. Hours of hard work resulting in a year long plateau devastated our young hero. Coming to terms with the fact that her competitive swimming dream was over, she turned to running. She ran x-country and track and field for her high school and experienced instant success. Little did our ex-swimmer know that despite being able to spend hours in the pool daily, a person shouldn’t spend hours running. Plagued with the beginning of many injuries to come, our hero had to back off from running and try to find something else to fill the empty void. Through the insight of a family friend, the wise parents bought her a road bike for her sweet sixteen and convinced her to try triathlon. They drove her to races across the province, cheering her on as she exited the water first, dropped to last place after the bike and then sprinted her way back up to the podium. Little did they know this was the initial spark of a dream that has only grown with time.
Sport has always been the biggest love of my life. While all of the other kids worried about dating and other childhood problems I was always obsessed with training. The main reason I did so well in school was because my parent’s implemented a rule that if my grades dropped below 90% I wouldn’t be allowed to train until I brought them back up. That was enough motivation for me. My final year of high school I competed in the Canadian Junior Elite Triathlon Circuit, finishing consistently in the top 20. I decided to take the pre-med program at Red Deer College with plans to get into med school after 2 years, compete in triathlon as an elite, find a fellow med school boyfriend, and get married by 24. Life had other plans. After my first year of college, I realized I wanted to be doctor for all the wrong reasons and switched into the Kinesiology program. Triathlon took a back seat as I competed on the College’s x-country and track team, helping them win an ACAC banner as a rookie. I also made the life changing decision to join a crossfit gym. Despite my parents doing the best job they could to reinforce women empowerment and independence I grew up in a town that idealized traditional gender norms. At Ignite Fitness, I witnessed strong women who rejected societies standards. They taught me to be proud of my athletic accomplishments and not to be ashamed of the muscles that accompany intense training. They taught me how to ignore the opinions of others and to focus on my own needs and goals. Triathlon and running started to take a backseat as I threw myself completely into crossfit and Olympic weightlifting.
In 2014, I made the move from Red Deer to Calgary to finish up my degree at the UofC. As much as I loved weightlifting, I started to get the itch to get back into triathlon. I loved the feeling of being able to throw bars weighing more than me around, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of running on an open trail surrounded by trees - or the feeling you get when you dive into a cold lake as the sun rises, or when biking through the mountains. I decided to join the Krono’s Triathlon Club and fully commit myself to triathlon once again. Unfortunately, my first couple seasons with my new club were a bit of a let down. My first season I suffered a stress fracture, the following I dealt with heart problems and then I was sidelined with tendinitis in my foot. I continued to persevere, hoping all of my hard work would eventually pay off. This past season I finally had a breakthrough. Thanks to my amazing coaches Kyle and Lisa along with my sports doctor and chiropractor I was able to finish on the podium at all of the races I competed in.
Currently I am taking a break from school and working full time, with the plan to apply for a Masters of Science in Physiotherapy next year. I want to be able to help other athletes who are suffering and be apart of their sport journey. Sport wise, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am probably going to be competing in triathlons until I die. As crazy as it sounds, I wake up every day and giddily check my Training Peaks for what workouts I get to tackle. The more the better. My plans for this season are to focus on the Olympic distance (with some specific time goals) and maybe dabble in some U26 races. Down the road I see myself competing in Ironman 70.3 hopefully as a pro. Big dreams - but I know I have the right coaches, teammates, family and friends to help get me there.