Jason Byrne (flrunners.com): Matt, thanks for allowing me to talk to you. You have recently made it official with Colorado State. When exactly did you sign and what other schools were you looking at?
Matt Cianciulli: I signed about a week and a half ago. I had only visited Colorado State, Georgia, and James Madison (officially), but I took unofficial visits to about ten others: William and Mary, NC State, Princeton, UVA, and a few more.
JB: What impressed you most about CSU?
MC: I really wanted to be in the mountains and at altitude. I think they probably have the best cross country team in the country who has no foreigners or Footlocker finalists (on the team). Del Hessel is one of the greatest coaches in the country, and I have a lot of respect for him and the program. I just want no regrets for my running coming out of college.
JB: Any indications on the mileage or workouts he wants to have you do this summer?
MC: I am planning on moving out to Colorado on June 15th after Nationals and, depending on how I adjust to the altitude, he will base my mileage off of that. We do strictly mileage and no track over the summer.
JB: Okay but speaking of Footlocker finalists, you probably could have been one. I would have to put blinders on not to ask you what happened. You have been silent about it for a long time, but going into the fall season you were considered pretty much unanimously the top distance runner in Florida. And then you disappeared off the map. People have been wondering all season. It has been one of the greatest mysteries in our sport this year! What happened to Chinch?
MC: Yeah...I had a fantastic summer! I spent almost three months in North Carolina, and I was by far in the best shape of my life. I came back to Florida and things were not going well for me. I was always tired and could never get in any good training. I got bloodwork done and everything showed up fine. I knew something was wrong because I was always tired and it wasn't until the week after States that I found out I was anemic.
MC: It is an iron deficiency which causes fatigue and can only be detected through a special feritan test. It is actually extremely common for runners.
JB: What are its symtoms and causes?
MC: Not a lot of iron in your diet--I was semi-vegitarian for a while--and over-training....(pause)....The only way I can explain the symptoms is to compare it to doing a cooldown after a hard workout. You are kind of just out there flopping around with no strength. Buy hey, all runners have set backs and it is the champions who perservere.
JB: What did you have to do to overcome the disorder of anemia?
MC: I take liquid iron (ferrous sulfate) mixed with orange juice and I also started to eat more red meat, but I have started to cut back on my iron supplements because I am back running strong.
JB: Are you fully recovered now?
MC: I had a good improvement of about a minute and a half in seven weeks of road racing (5000m...going from 16:40 to 15:05 during the winter). I tried to just race myself back in shape to see the improvement and it worked well.
JB: Your anemia was not diagnosed until after the cross country season. But you ran almost no regular season meets in cross country...was it just frustration that kept you off course?
MC: I knew something was wrong.. I could tell I had something wrong with me. I had some conflicts with my former coach too, but a lot of it was just frustration and simply not having the energy and not knowing what was wrong or what to do about it.
JB: How as it been between you and your team? (former team, excuse me)
MC: There were a lot of guys who were very understanding and they were truly blessings, but there are also a lot of other people out there that will bash you when you show weakness. I think more than anything it was simply just a humbling experience and I thank God for that. It really opened my eyes to who my true friends were.
JB: So here you are fully recovered and at the top of your game once again--in shape--but you are still not running track! Why?
MC: Well part of it was that I disagreed with my former coach about a few things--which is a private matter between he and I that I won't discuss in detail out of respect for him. After cross country season was over I was getting healthier and I was training on my own. I went up to Indoor Nationals, which went fairly well, and the team had already started training for Outdoor...I had to do a lot of things on my own (including picking a college which is the hardest decision in the world) and by that time I was self-dependent, happy, running better, and liking the way my future looked.
JB: You see your former team doing really well...You see your former teammate, Sammy Vazquez, doing some great things on the national and state level...And you see the state series going on now. How does that feel to be a bystander this season? You ever want to go in and strap on a uniform and run again your senior season? I guess, for me, it's just hard for me to imagine how you can walk away from that.
MC: I am very proud of Sammy, he has ben running amazing. Talking to him last year, I told him that...he would be a way better miler than I ever was. I always want to throw on a uniform and race. I am probably one of the most competitive people in the world! However, I have to do what I feel is best for me. Things are going very well right now, I am training great, and I will still have some opportunities to race. State isn't everything, you have to look at a far bigger picture.
JB: So you're saying your high school career is not over? Are you going to be participating in any post-season meets?
MC: Unfortunately, Golden South is the same night as my graduation, but I plan on doing a few meets including Nationals in North Carolina.
JB: Are you already qualified and entered at Outdoor Nationals?
MC: I qualified but I will enter when I know what race I am doing for sure...it will most likely be the 2 Mile.
JB: Any goal you have set for that race?
MC: Yeah, I have some in my mind, but I really need to see how the next few weeks go.
JB: How is your training going right now? What kinda mileage are you putting in?
JB: Okay, so now for the hard-hitting questions...What do you think about Lee Stephens hitting 1000 posts on the message board?
JB: Dragon Ball Lee.
MC: Oh Okay...him...haha. I don't stop by the message board too much anymore but I think that if people train as much as they post, America might be a better distance country--not just you, Lee.
JB: Isn't it true that you once said "That Lee needs to get a life...he is wierd and slow...and he's crazy if he ever thought he could take me in an 800"?
MC: No, I do not believe those words ever came out of my mouth, I have no right to talk in the 800. ** But off the record, Jason, I do think Lee is missing link. When he doesn't shave he looks like sashquach, and plus I think he's a wussy, who is slower than a snail on morphine. Plus what was this about that he was going to beat me at your race the other weekend--hmmm...where was that snail? Oh yeah, he was staring at my back! **
** = We got a little libral with our paraphrasing in this "off the record" portion of the interview. Okay, well in honesty, Chinch never actually said that part between the "**"s. But we're pretty sure he was thinking it--call it poetic liscence.
JB: Word is born.
MC: I do think it is funny how everyone thinks they know the story of my life and people IM me online and ask weird questions and say that they heard it on the message boards. I heard I hit 200-plus mile weeks??!?!?!?
JB: Okay, Matt, one last thing: Any message you'd like to give to everyone out there?
MC: Yes, I would. Girls come and go, friends come and go, coaches come and go, in life nothing is guaranteed. There have been two things in my life that have always been there for me. The first is God the Almighty and the second is the open road to run, which you should be runnign on right now! Enjoy life... Train hard... and don't let others define who you are.
JB: Okay, Matt, thanks for the interview. It's been a pleasure talking with you as always. I hope to see you at the occassional meet even after your big move out West.
MC: Hey thanks a lot, Jason. Best of luck to you too!
JB: Stay in touch...and always be an F-L Runner!
MC: Cool! Are we done?
JB: No! We're not done until I say we're done, CHINCH! Okay, now we're done.