1) When and how did you get into running? What other sports have you played?
I played a little bit of of soccer in elementary school and in 8th grade I dabbled in football but it was never really my thing. My mom was tired of me sitting around the house and demanded that I go out for cross country my freshman year. At first I wasn't a huge fan but I began making pretty good progress with it and kept coming out.
2) What were some of your accomplishments from your freshman year in both xc and tf? PRs?
I recall that I kept making huge strides with every race my freshman year. My first time for a two-mile on the season was 15:30 and I kept whittling it down until I ran 12:20 at the DFAL frosh-soph championships and took 17th. I was almost top 7 for the frosh-soph team then. I ran a 5:15 1600m time trial during the xc season and in track I had an unfortunate injury that kept me sidelined for the entire season.
3) As a young runner on the Campolindo xc and tf teams, who were the runners that were role models for you and you tried to emulate?
When I was a freshman, the seniors on the team at the time were extremely encouraging and got me very dedicated to improving as a runner. Nate Cox, Michael Brondello, Colby Pines, Robert Pulford, Tim Baffi, and Ross Geiger were all runners that I tried to emulate.
4) Is there a particular race that you remember that first gave you the confidence about your potential running success?
Our second-to-last race of the 2008 season was a meet against Dublin and Dougherty Valley. I remember going all out and finishing the race ahead of a lot of kids that would normally beat me at the time. I think my time was 10:56 but the course was a bit shorter than two miles. My mile pace was 5:45, which was a whole lot faster than anything I had previously run.
5) What were your highlights during your junior season in both sports?
My junior xc season was really my breakout season. The races that I'll remember most are the Stanford Invitational where I came out to surprisingly lead my team and contend for the win. Unfortunately I took 2nd to Forrest Schaffer of Petaluma. The other race that I'll remember from that season is the State Championships. I really surprised myself at this race and ended up taking 5th overall in 15:31 and just barely edged out Luis Luna at the end. In track my most memorable race would have to be the Arcadia Invitational. I was in the seeded 3200m, which was the 2nd fastest heat and I got 18th with a time of 9:18, which ended up being my PR for the season.
6) You missed the state track and field meet in the 3200m. by .07 last year. How did that race help motivate you as you headed into your senior season in xc?
That race was such a huge disappointment for me that I resolved to never suffer through anything like that again. Afterwards I just felt like I hadn't run the race with any sort of courage and I believed myself to be fitter than all of my track and field times indicated. I was single-minded throughout the summer and going into my senior xc season to win NCS and the state meet. I ended up surprising a great deal of people by taking NCS but I did come short at the State Championships, but not for lack of courage.
7) What were your proudest achievements during your last season in xc (individual and team)?
My proudest moments both individually and as a team were definitely at the North Coast Section Championships. I was able to upset the favorite, Luis Luna, which not a lot of people saw coming, and my team won and set the record for the fastest team time ever run on Hayward Park. We edged out our 2008 squad by 2 seconds for the record and overcame a very strong Piner squad.
8) Tell us a little about your winter training and what you did to help you prepare for this track season. What was your typical average miles per week?
Over the winter we did a lot of base mileage and tempo work. The top runners on my team hit 65-70 miles on our peak weeks and had a lot of fun getting fitter in preparation for the coming season.
9) Tell us a little about your coach Chuck Woolridge and how he has helped you develop in the runner you are today.
I thank God fairly often that for all the schools that I could have gone to and for all the sports that I could have tried out, my miserable freshman self somehow landed in Chuck's xc program at Campolindo. I can say with a lot of confidence that I wouldn't have come nearly as far without his guidance. Even when it looks grim at times, his style of training has always paid off for me in a big way.
10) As you look back at this season's track training, what do you feel have been the key workouts for you that have helped you improve your track times from 400 through 3200?
I think that my Achilles-heel coming into the season was my leg speed. Last year in track I ran 2:03, 4:22.8, and 9:18 in the 800, 1600, and 3200 so speed was clearly an issue. To address this over the winter I started doing rope stretching and rolling out every day to hopefully build my explosiveness and I tried Epsom Salt baths to keep my muscles loose. I am also integrating power cleaning into my weight room circuit. I think that all of these things have really improved my leg speed. So far this season I've hit a PR at every distance, the most recent one being the 4:11 full mile.
11) In regards to your race yesterday, what was your plan going into the race and how did the race unfold?
My plan for the race yesterday was to try to grab our 1600m school record of 4:15.7. I hoped to run consistent 63.5s to wind up at 4:14. But I was also determined to not be afraid of winning the race should I feel it in my power to do so. I was able to surprise myself by going faster than my intended splits and closing quickly to grab the win and a huge PR in a very competitive field. I began the race trying to be conservative while the leaders took it out fast and then I reeled them in and was able to get the win in the last couple of meters.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
I guess I'd like to give a shout out to Luis Luna. That guy is a machine and he's my favorite person to race. I've gotten a lot better by chasing him through the last two years and I've really enjoyed the rivalry that's developed between us, even if it is often one-sided in his favor.
In addition to that I'd just like to thanks my family, friends, teammates, coach, and the running community for all the support they've given me. Thanks guys!
Thank you very much for your time Thomas! AJC