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  • 2010 In Review

    Posted on January 20th, 2011

    What a year 2010 was. Much of it didn’t go as planned for me, up to to the final days in December (more on that later), but it was still a great year. Being the blogger that I am, I like to chronicle and review most everything. These yearly review posts (see 2009’s review) are an easy starting point for me to find and remember events of my past. Hopefully you will find this interesting and informative, as well.

    2010 started off with an injured knee that I thought some rest and rehab would fix up. I used this as an opportunity to work on my swimming, swimming more than 20,000m in a week for the first time, and did a 200-800 swim test in 2:39 and 12:13 for meters. I soon realized that normal rehab wasn’t going to make my knee any better, and decided I would have to get surgery.

    While this was going on, I started the application process to graduate school. A few semesters earlier my adviser suggested that I pursue a masters degree instead of wasting my time taking five years to get an undergraduate degree. I took her advice, applied, and was accepted a couple months later.

    I finally had surgery to remove Plica in my left knee in the beginning of March. The doctor was able to successfully remove the Plica (which was the biggest he had ever seen) and I was on with recovery. Within a couple weeks I was starting to jog again and back to running, swimming and biking with some consistency a month after surgery. Six weeks after my surgery I was back at it, almost in full force, logging over 14 hours in a week.

    My Spring semester was incredibly busy. Honestly, I don’t know how I would have been able to finish my school work if I was traveling to competitions. So in that sense, I guess my injury was a good thing. Part of my requirements for graduation was a group project for my senior capstone. We worked with a cancer research lab on campus to develop an automated Petri dish filling machine — my contribution to curing cancer. The project was a success and my group actually won a prize at the UGRAD Symposium.

    Around this time I was beginning to bike more regularly, and even made it up to Snowbowl. I had just received a new video camera from my cousins as a graduation gift so I made a short video of the ride.

    My Farfar ("father's father" in Danish) and me after my graduation

    In May I became a graduate of Northern Arizona University! I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics. I had a lot of my family up there to show their support for me. What a great time I have had at NAU and I am happy that I will be returning for a masters degree.

    A bit later I was in Davis, California to see my sister-in-law become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine! While there, my family sat down to watch my teammate David McNeill compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5000. I vividly remember watching his inspiring race, yelling at the TV, and just being in awe of what he has accomplished. How fortunate I am to have trained, raced, and befriended someone like him.

    Chris Baird, Jordan Bethke and I went 3-2-1 overall.

    The Summer of 2010 was all about triathlons for me. I hit the training hard and raced three different races. My first was a very short sprint at Pt. Mugu called the Admirals Cup. I finished 2nd behind friend and “training partner” Chris Baird. Next up was the Breath of Life Olympic distance triathlon in Ventura. This time I took home the W, finishing ahead of Chris and Jordan Bethke, who competes for Cal’s triathlon team.

    My final race, and I think my best of the summer, was at the Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard. I rode a great bike leg and ran very well. I actually thought I was leading the race, and even crossed the line thinking I had won. Unfortunately Andrew Haberkorn, who started in a wave behind me, ended up finishing 6 seconds faster! Such is the nature of amateur triathlons, a good lesson learned.

    As the triathlon training winded down, I did a little review on my triathlon training for the summer, looking specifically at my swim (I swam a 2:13/10:10 200-800y test), bike and run training. I am a stats guy who likes to reflect. These posts showed that.

    And speaking of reflecting, the Fall of 2010 provided lots of opportunities for that. I am happy that I realized that early on in the season, which inspired several of my blog posts. The first of these being my one piece of advice to runners: always keep a training log. In an attempt to make as many memories as I could from my final cross country season, I started a feature called “Getting to know The Lumberjacks” in which I interview my teammates, asking them 20 questions. I posted six total, including Tim Freriks, Andrew Belus, Sarah Raber, Matthew Coloe, Eric Lynch, and Lauren Hill.

    Stanford Invitational

    I finally ran my first race at the George Kyte Classic in September. A few weeks later we raced at the Stanford Invitational, setting a new 8k PR of 24:15 — it looked like my knee was going to make it through cross country season! Next up was Pre-Nationals. Before the race I talked a bit about my ambitious goal for the season: to be an All-American. Prenats would be my first opportunity to really see if it would be a possibility. In the end, I had a good race, and finished 38th, just 6 seconds behind where I wanted to be.

    Any division 1 collegiate cross country runner knows that once Prenats comes and goes, it seems like the season is almost over. Flagstaff was suddenly bombarded with Fall and all the beautiful things that come along with it. The day after Prenats a few of my teammates and I headed up towards the mountain and enjoyed an easy run among the yellow aspens and green pines. I brought my camera with me and made a video that became very popular amongst the team, especially the song. Fun fact: the song in the video, Radical Face’s “Welcome Home,” was such a hit it was chosen to be the final song we listened to before we arrived at the course at nationals.

    2010 Big Sky Champions

    At Big Sky Championships I had a sub par race, but was happy to see teammates Tim Freriks and Eric Lynch step up and make sure NAU won its 4th straight title.

    Shortly following the conference meet, Flotrack posted a “Workout Wednesday” starring the NAU Lumberjacks running repeat miles at Ft. Tuthill. The workout was 6xmile on 7:00 go’s, which is one of our hardest workouts we do. I actually remember being turned inside out for a couple days after that workout. I also have a nice little shout out from Coach Heins in the video.

    Watch more Videos on Flotrack

    Everything I had, one last time.

    Regionals came and went without a hitch, and NAU was headed to the NCAA Championships once again. My final cross country race (at least for a team) was finally here. I realized the significance of the moment and I actually almost shed some tears while talking to my dad just before the race. In the end my goal of being an All-American proved to be just too much. I still improved on my 2009 result, finishing 87th. NAU finished 9th, its fourth top-10 finish in a row.

    After the season was over, I had a lot of fun just being a dude. Two old friends from Simi Valley, Kelcie Wiemann and Michael Cybulski, visited me in Flagstaff and joined me in an adventure to Las Vegas. I spent the holidays with more friends and lots of family — just the way they should.

    Just before the new year came, my right knee (NOT the one I had surgery on) started to bug me a bit so I started swimming and biking to give it some rest. Guess what happens next? Yep, I fell on a bike ride and now have a broken wrist. What terrific way to bring in the new year. So as I write this right now, I am still in a brace, which I will have to wear for another three weeks.

    In the coming days I will bring all my loyal followers up to date with where I’m at right now, and where I want to be at the end of 2011.

  • NCAA Cross Country Championships

    Posted on December 10th, 2010

    We are now over two weeks out from the NCAA Championships, my last collegiate cross country race, ever. I am filled with mix emotions — happy for what I was able to accomplish, a little sad because I know I will never be apart of a team like that again, and so on. One thing I am not feeling, however, is regret. I have none. I have devoted myself to this sport for years, running my first cross country race in 1993 as a Simi Valley Running Rebel. I had to make some sacrifices along the way, missing out on some things and unfortunately putting strain on relationships at times. But if I had to do it again, would I do anything differently? Hell no. I did everything I could to be the best cross country runner I could be.  I will never regret anything. The fictional running hero Quenton Cassidy said it best, or rather wrote it, in a letter to his ex-girlfriend Andrea regarding his final races:

    I discovered early on that the truly great advantage of going all-out every time is that later you don’t have to waste a single instant second-guessing yourself. (Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr.)

    I have made it no secret that this season I wanted to be an All-American, to finish within the top 40 in the nation. Based on what I have accomplished in the last few years it was a very lofty goal. However, when I came to NAU as a recruit in 2005, Coach Hayes, the cross country and distance coach at the time, said something that stuck with me. He said, “I don’t want you to come here if you don’t want to be an All-American.” I knew at that moment that NAU was where I wanted to spend my next few years. Before my final cross country race, these words rung in my head. Could I do it? Maybe not. But I was going to give myself a chance.

    Final stride outs

    I think I will always remember the few minutes just before that gun went off. Obviously I did the normal strides and we clapped it up as a team one last time. But what is really going to stick with me is the exchange I had with my dad about 100m out from the line. He was out taking pictures of us, which is where this one to the right came from. He gave me a hug and told me to have fun, one last time and that he was proud of me. It was quite emotional for me and I fought back tears. He knows this, but I love you Dad.

    The Race

    I got off the line well and quickly tried to find a body to get behind as there was a strong headwind, probably close to 20 mph. Like I had for most of the season, I got out well and was able to comfortably tuck in. These races are tough to judge where exactly you are, but I was probably around 50s or 60s in that first kilometer — exactly where I wanted to be to give myself a chance to potentially move up to that top 40 position.

    Because this race is over two weeks ago now, I don’t remember most of my splits, but I think they were fairly similar to Pre Nationals. I tried to focus on staying inside a pack so I wouldn’t have to fight that strong wind. I know for sure that I came through 5k in 15:12 and saw a very large pack just ahead. I knew that was where All-American was. Unfortunately, it was too much and I was not able to make up much ground in the second half of the race.

    Still, I was having a good race. As far as I knew, our team was running well too. More important than my individual goal was that I was expected to be our 4th man. But then, suddenly at around 6k, my positive outlook for the team’s finish took a turn for the worse. I came by David McNeill, our top runner and one of the contenders for the National Championship. I instantly knew what the problem was: a side stitch. I had seen it before; last year at Pre Nationals. Dave was a fighter that time and I knew he would be a fighter again today. He is a humble, graceful champion and knew we were counting on him to do everything he could for the team. That is exactly what he did and we love him for it.

    Everything I had, one last time.

    The last few kilometers was a dog fight. Battling the wind, constantly surging to bridge the next gap ahead. It was a rough day for a lot of people. The final uphill finish was simply ridiculous. One by one a runner would try to kick away from our pack, but would get swallowed back up because it was just too much to handle. I got to a point where I thought I could last to the finish. Nope. My fate was the same as theirs.  I ended up in 87th place, just breaking 31 minutes. Slower than last year, but 8 spots better. “I couldn’t do what I thought I could,” but no worries. As I said in the opening paragraph, no regrets. Ever.

    As a team we finished 9th. Had Dave not held on like he did, we would have been well outside the top 10. After last year’s 4th place finish, this was a bit disappointing. A year ago, however, I could not have imagined how much would change. Considering all the adversity we faced, collectively as a team as well as individually, I am proud to say I was a part of another top 10 team for the Lumberjacks.

    (By the way, that is 4 top 10’s in a row and 8 in the last 10 years. Not bad for “a little school in the pines.”)

    Results: IndividualTeam | Photos: 12

    Coach Mo, Matt Coloe, Ahmed Osman, Diego Estrada, David McNeill, Andrew Belus, Tim Freriks, Eric Lynch, and Coach Heins: thanks for a great season

  • This Is It

    Posted on November 22nd, 2010

    Yesterday was a great day. It started off waking up from a 10+ hour snooze shortly after 9 am in the bed next two two-time national champion, and fellow teammate, David McNeill. We each had some breakfast while enjoying European Vacation on the television (“What does the Queen do Dad?” “Queens, and vacuums.”). Dave had never seen it. How un-American.

    Around 10:30 we left for the course for our pre race routine. Upon arrival we were greeted by my family! My mom and dad have been so supportive of everything I do since I was a little kid. I have no doubts that I wouldn’t be where I am with their encouragement and sacrifices. They were nice enough to bring along my big sister Jaclyn as well! She was the one that got the family into running to begin with, so it is fitting that she is here to see my last cross country race.

    Course run-through was fine. On some of our past races this season I think we have been a little too relaxed and joking too much. These make for great memories and help bring the team together, but on the eve of the national championships, I think there will be plenty of opportunities to make memories just around the corner. The course looks fast, much like prenats. Perhaps a little less brown, dead grass. It was rather windy, especially on the stretch that spans the start, 5k, and finish. We took note of the wind and commented on where we should tuck in the pack and when to make our moves. Temperature was nice in the 50s and looks to be a little warmer tomorrow.

    After getting our traditional Terre Haute lunch at Penn Station, we just laid around at the hotel until dinner time. Coach Mo picked up Olive Garden for us so we good relax in a hotel conference room together. Over dinner we finished reading Bo Reed’s A Magical Season that we had started on our trip down to Phoenix on Friday. The story tells of the 1988 NAU Cross Country team, one of only two NAU teams to finish within the top-2 at a national championship, and the only team to score a perfect 15 points at the Big Sky Championships. After hearing the story, it was truly magical what that scrappy group of runners from a “little school nestled in the pines.” I hope we can continue the NAU tradition and do something magical today.

    We ended the evening with some kind words from Coach Heins and sharing a few words of encouragement from each other, and then a few of us ventured outside for a short walk. We enjoyed some fresh air together and really took it all in. Last race.

    Yesterday was a great day. Today, in the words of a wise man, “is the greatest day to be a Lumberjack.” I can’t wait.

  • Mountain Regional

    Posted on November 20th, 2010

    What a busy week it has been for me. I have on a number of occasions excused myself from writing a race report for a few days because my agenda on Mondays and Tuesdays is normally quite full (on top of the usual school and running duties, I teach a Thermodynamics recitation in the evenings on these days). What about Sunday you ask? Well… God said on the seventh day you rest, right? (surely he wasn’t thinking about running when he decreed that, though)

    But this week had a few extras in it. It was so busy because it is NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK! At NAU the week leading up to the NCAA Championships is full of festivities, such as our last two “workouts,” keeping the media happy with endless interviews (see the video below), and making arrangements with professors for the classes and exams that will be missed on Monday.

    So now that I have spoiled any suspense you may have had if you did not know that we had qualified for nationals, here is my race report from Saturday.

    Our morning in Salt Lake City began just like any other race morning, with a 10 minute shake-out around town. Unlike our last one in Spokane, WA, the sun was up and the team had a more stoic feel. Conference is about winning a title and making memories; Regionals is strictly business. All that matters is that we qualify and prolong our season by nine more days. With this in mind, we decided that as long as we finish within the top-4 we should have no troubles (the first two teams are automatic qualifiers so any other teams to qualify are at-large selections).

    Coach’s instructions were for Dave and Diego to get out towards the front and finish comfortably amongst the top-5, for Ahmed to run smart and hopefully place in the top-20, and the rest of us to be somewhere close to the All-Regional distinction of top-25.

    As the race got underway, I found myself in an unusual position: in the front. I was running in about 3rd position after 400m and came through 1k and the mile mark with the leaders. I would normally not be so aggressive, but I really felt that the pace was extremely relaxed. We came through 1k in 2:56 and the mile in 4:48 – most of these bigger races I go out faster than that and find myself jockeying for position back in the trenches. So, while it was an unfamiliar position for me, I was not worried that I had gone out too hard.

    Just as we approached the mile mark, Diego told me he was going to make a move, and I said, “Go for it buddy.” I tucked in and awaited the pack of runners that was surely going to come around me and close any gap Diego would form. That’s just what happened and I moved back in the race to a place closer to where I belong. Unfortunately I let too many runners by me and probably dropped back to the mid 30’s by the time I reached half-way. Worse than all the positions I had just given up, I really wasn’t feeling all that good. Maybe I had gone out too hard?

    At 7k I was joined by Andrew and reassured with a pat on the back. We know each other incredibly well and I am sure Andrew could sense that I wasn’t feeling my best. Andrew’s gesture woke me up and I hopped on his train. That is what teammates are for.

    We went by Coach Heins and he told us our position was fine, that there was no one around us, and to run the next couple kilometers controlled. Andrew and I did just that and ended up finishing the race strong, passing four or five runners in the last kilometer.

    I ended up finishing 31st in 30:47, which is a 5 second PR from NCAAs last year. It would have been nice to stand on the stage as an All-Region runner, but the truth is we did good enough without it. We finished 4th behind New Mexico, Colorado and BYU. Later that afternoon we would find out that we were the 28th selection to the NCAA meet (out of 31). I couldn’t believe how late in the selection process we finished, but again, another detail that just doesn’t matter.

    Now we are on our way to Terre Haute, Indiana for the big dance. As I noted in my Tears of Joy post, “it will be my final race wearing an NAU cross country singlet, racing alongside six of my closest comrades whom I have shared victory and defeat with, racing in quite possibly my last cross country race, ever.” Sigh. More of that emotional stuff to come before and after Monday’s race.

  • Tears of Joy

    Posted on November 12th, 2010

    Have you ever woken up from such a vivid, powerful dream that you had tears streaming down your face? I can recall several occasions in my life where I have awaken from devastating dreams about losing loved ones, nightmares really, where this has happened. I shake my head for a moment, lay my head back down and happily realize that it was all just a dream.

    IMG_0862Earlier this week, I woke up to something completely different. Yesterday I was telling a couple of teammates about it, and one of them immediately responded, “That is RunPD worthy.” So here I am, writing this blog on my laptop as we make what seems to be a biweekly pilgrimage from our high altitude paradise to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport – this time enroot to  Salt Lake City, UT for the Mountain Region meet, the final step before Nationals.

    Monday night I was startled in the middle of the night by those uncommon, yet familiar, tears coming down my face. I sat up, wiped my tears and gently shook my head. What could I have been dreaming me about that brought me to tears? A national championship.

    I had dreamt that I was part of a national champion cross country team. Simple as that. I don’t think I have to get too in depth as to why this would evoke strong emotions: it will be my final race wearing an NAU cross country singlet, racing alongside six of my closest comrades whom I have shared victory and defeat with, racing in quite possibly my last cross country race, ever. These were not tears of sadness, like I had felt before, but tears of joy. What a perfect ending to a career that would be. Beautiful.

    Due to some unfortunate adversity, this dream is much more bleak than it could have been. I can say with 100% confidence that we will be racing without Jordan Chipangama, 5th overall at Nationals last year, and Ben Ashkettle, our 3rd man from last year. Heading into the season we looked to be one of the greatest teams in the country, on paper. Now, we are relying on much less accomplished runners – like sophomore Tim Freriks, junior Andrew Belus, and myself – to fill the void. Collectively, this team has made a tremendous effort thus far to do just that.

    This dream – to win a National Championship – is a very distant dream, but as I happily realized just a few nights ago, it is a dream that still exists, and will continue to motivate us until November 22 when we will decide if it is to be a dream come true.

  • Getting to know The Lumberjacks: Lauren Hill & WOW

    Posted on November 10th, 2010

    About a week ago I did another interview at “Thankful Thursdays.” This one was at a fairly new Greek restaurant, Taverna (the gyro dinner is delicious and a steal at $12). Once again I took advantage of the large congregation of Lumberjacks and interviewed junior Lauren Hill. I threw a couple new questions in there to keep things fresh.

    If any of you have suggestions on any questions you would like to hear, or some requests for specific Lumberjacks to be interviewed, leave a comment below.

    Flotrack Workout Wednesday

    The Tuesday following Pre Nationals, Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton came out to watch and record one of our workouts. We did 6xmile out at Ft. Tuthill on 7:00 go’s, which is among our hardest workouts of the season. Fortunately I was able to have a great workout in front of the camera and under the hot lights. I even got a great shout out from Coach Heins, “Jason Pedersen he’s just a grinder. . . He just wants to be on a team that has a shot to do something special in November.” Thanks for the compliment Coach, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

  • Getting to know Eric Lynch & Big Sky

    Posted on November 5th, 2010

    So I have been a little lacking on updates a bit. Since my last post, the team has started our newest of many traditions, “Thankful Thursdays.” Every Thursday, we go out as a team to a different restaurant. We started with sushi, Mexican last week, and Greek last night. These make for great opportunities to do more interviews.

    Last week, at Café Olé, I interviewed Eric Lynch. Lynch, as he is commonly known as, is one of the few people remaining at NAU that started with me in the Fall of 2006. He has always been a great friend and I’m glad he is still around to laugh, run and share “old” times with.

    Big Sky Championships

    The other piece of news is that the mens NAU Cross Country won its 4th straight Big Sky title over the weekend. As a whole, the team ran very well. David McNeill and Diego Estrada continue to impress every time they toe the line. Tim Freriks and Eric Lynch had exceptional days, both earning their first All Conference awards. Congratulations to them.

    I did not have my best day, in fact it was definitely my worst performance of the season. I was our 7th man, finishing in 12th place. I didn’t feel all that bad in the race, which is good. I just didn’t seem to have that extra motivation that is needed to really make you hurt on a cross country course. When I realized this, it was rather alarming. “This was your last Big Sky Cross Country Championship, and you couldn’t get ‘up’ for it?” As I mentioned in my Stanford race report, I have been unusually calm about racing this year. This is my fifth year competing collegiately, could it be catching up with me?

    Sunday, after finishing my long run with Tim and Andrew Belus, I thought about this and I just came to the conclusion that I need to put myself in the right frame of mind just before and during the race. Being relaxed is a good thing, but a little nervousness goes a long way. So during our workouts this week, which were some of our two hardest, signature workouts — mile repeats and “The Lumberjack” — I practiced putting myself in the right mindset. I don’t want every workout to feel like a race, because that will quickly lead to burnout, but when it got tough I told myself, “You want it; you just have to believe.” This will be my mantra over the last 16 days.

  • Pre-Nationals

    Posted on October 22nd, 2010

    Before I get into the race report, I want to say congratulations to David McNeill for his 8th place finish in the 5k at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. Obviously Dave is a huge talent, but he is an even better person. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to train and race alongside him the last few years (even though I am often trailing way behind him).

    Living in the mountains is hard to beat. (and yes, I am using a measuring wheel while wearing compression socks)

    We left for Flagstaff last Thursday at 2pm and arrived at our hotel in Indianapolis on Friday at about 1:45 am. A solid 9 hour journey. It wouldn’t be so bad, but whenever we travel we have to drive several hours down the mountain to Phoenix and fly from there. That always adds a good 3 hours to our travel. I guess it is just the price you pay to live in the beautiful mountains. Definitely worth it.

    After sleeping in a bit on Friday we made our way to Terre Haute to check out the course. First impression was how brown everything was. I had heard that the area had been in a drought, but I did not expect this. The course was bone dry and quite hard. The consensus was that the races would be very fast.

    The rest of our afternoon and evening were nice a relaxing. We made our usual pilgrimage to Penn Station for some delicious subs and Olive Garden for dinner. Thanks to Coach Mo “Co Mo” for picking up our dinner so we didn’t have to sit at the restaurant for several hours. We had a meeting with Coach Heins about the race and he told us to take some risks and go for it.

    I woke up Saturday feeling good. We went on our usual 10 minute shakeout about 4 hours before the race and I had my usual breakfast: Coach’s Oats with cranberries and brown sugar and a bagel. (my key to success, take note Rube)

    Before my last two races I have felt surprisingly relaxed. In high school I had a really difficult time with nerves before races. At times it got to the point where not racing sounded a lot better than toeing the line. “Why didn’t I pick a different sport?,” I would ask myself while warming up. It was definitely not conducive to racing well and I think some of my improvement can be attributed to a simple attitude adjustment before races. But before these last two I have been much calmer than I had expected. While training, I often think about, for better or for worse, how little time I have left — how few races remain — and I would anticipate this to make me really nervous before each competition. Perhaps this is a result of maturity and hopefully a new mindset will once again translate into big improvements.

    The Race

    Sophomore Tim "Rube" Freriks and junior Ahmed Osman with me on the opening stretch.

    Taking coach’s advice, I decided to get out hard off the line and really stick my nose in it. I wanted to feel like the race was right there, instead of being another guy in the middle of the pack. I hit 1k in 2:46, about 4 seconds or so off the leaders. After a blazing fast opening kilometer, the course winds its way gradually up some hills to the 5k mark. From 1k to about 4k, I was being passed by lots of runners. I didn’t stick with my original plan of competing with the top guys and should have been more aggressive during this part of the race. After the race I spoke with Eric Lynch about it, and we agreed that at that point I should have committed to my fast start and held my own up near the front. Lesson learned.

    I came through the mile in 4:38 and hit the two mile in 9:32 (just 7 seconds off my high school PR). Once I fell back to around 50th or so, I began to move back up and came through the 5k in 15:07. The final kilometers I told myself I am strong, I have put in just as much work as these other guys. This was enough to keep me moving up through the field until I was in about 40th coming onto the finishing stretch.

    Bridging the gap

    The finishing stretch is about 500m long with a gradual incline. On Saturday it also had a bit of a headwind to make it a little more difficult for the fading to hold on. For some reason, I have a knack of getting to this finishing stretch with a nice gap in front of me to the next group. I always spend a good chunk of this stretch just trying to catch up to the pack ahead of me. Luckily there are always a few stragglers, so even if I don’t bridge the gap, I am able to kick down the less fortunate.

    This time I ended up passing a few people and finished in 38th with an 18-second course PR of 24:20. I really wanted to finish in the top 30, but I was only 6 seconds back. I am right there!

    The team finished 4th without Dave (still recovering from Commonwealth), thanks to a MONSTER effort by junior Diego Estrada, leading the team with a 5th place finish in 23:30. Diego has had to miss some training this season, but it is amazing how well he races despite it. He is a very tough racer and Saturday’s performance was very inspiring. Ahmed finished 13th in 23:58, junior Andrew Belus continued his great season by finishing 61st in 24:33, and sophomore Tim Freriks rounded out our top 5 in 75th at 24:42.

    ResultsPhotos

    It looks like we finished well enough that our spot at nationals is almost guaranteed. Assuming we finish in the top-4 at our regional meet in a few weeks, we should have no problem being an at-large selection. As NCAAs come closer, I will take a good look at where I think our team stacks up with the rest of the field, as well as my chances of finishing top-40, and share my thoughts with you.