New Balance Nationals
By Jacob Thomson
My trip to New Balance Nationals began with another long car ride. I headed to North Carolina on Wednesday morning. We stayed with one of my mom’s friends, who we also stayed with when I go to Foot Locker South. They lived about an hour and a half from the track at North Carolina A & T. I didn’t race until Thursday night so I spent most of the day Thursday hanging out with our friends. I was signed up to run the 5K on Thursday and then come back and run the mile on Saturday.
Once it came time to head to the track, I met up with my buddy Patrick Gregory. We found Kentuckian Kyle Covert and warmed up together and got ready to go. The race officials called us to the line and the race started. I wanted to just sit with the front pack throughout the race. I sat in 3rd or 4th for the first 7 laps before I started to give up a little gap. My biggest problem in national caliber races thus far has been giving up too big of a gap mid way. I realize this, and I am working to get better and manage those gaps and be ready to cover mid-race surges mentally and physically. With 500 to go I moved up to 3rd. After that I decided I might as well man up and go for 2nd. And with 250 to go, I passed 5000 indoor National champion Daniel Lennon. Jake Leingang won the race in 14:27. I finished 2nd with 14:34. Jake had a 14 second gap on me going into the final 400m, where I closed in 61 to make up a lot of ground. I had splits of 4:35, 9:22, 14:04, :30. If I would have managed the mid-race gap better, things could have gotten a little more interesting the last 1K. I wanted to be around 14:30 so I was pleased with my race, but not satisfied. It did feel good, though, to beat some guys who beat me at Foot Locker and start to close the gap on Jake a little bit. I feel even more confident going into cross country season now. After the race I cooled down with Jake, Daniel Lennon and a few others. It’s nice to be around other guys who put themselves through the same things you do everyday.
Friday I spent most of the day sleeping and lounging around the house. I went out for a little shake out run and some strides. I was extremely sore. My calves felt like they were going to explode. I tried everything I could to loosen up, but it didn’t really work. I was still pretty sore when I got to the track Saturday. Jake and I warmed up together, and then we checked in and got the race started.
I sat in 3rd the whole race until the last 200. I tightened up and a whole group came past me. I fought to stay in the middle of them through the finish line. I made a dive/tumble/collapse across the finish line to finish 6th in my heat. I was pretty happy that I finished All-American, or so I thought. They took the top 6 finishers and set us aside. Then after 15 minutes of waiting, they read off the names of those to be recognized as All-American on the podium. We were then told that 2 guys from the heat earlier in the day had broken into the top 6. So I ended up in 8th place overall. The finish was so tight; the video doesn’t really do it justice. Places 2-10 were all within .91 seconds of each other. I closed in 60.05 the last 409m (for the full mile) and went from 3rd to 6th. After the race I cooled down with Sophie Chase, Ahmed Bile, and Zavon Watkins. We hit the road and headed back home after that. We stopped at a hotel after about 3 hours and finished the rest of our drive up in the morning.
I am writing this on the way home from the lake. I have enjoyed a little break, but I am ready to get back into the grind next week. Over all I was pretty happy with my double at Nationals. It was a great way to cap off a very busy junior season. I am looking forward to finishing out my high school career. As July 1st approaches, I will start the college search. I am not sure where it will take me, but whatever path I find myself going down I will never forget where I came from and how many people helped me get this far.
PS: Wesley Frazier is a boss! Her quadruple was unbelievable. She ran 16:51 in the 5K for 3rd on Thursday, 10:13 to win the 2 mile on Friday, and on Saturday she ran 4:48 in the mile for 2nd, then came back 20mins later to split 4:48 for the 1600 leg of the DMR to help her team finish 4th.