Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 Highlight: Fasil Bizuneh

chasingKIMbIA star Fasil Bizuneh has been plugging away as a pro for a several years, chipping away at his 10000m PB and creeping up in the results of National Championship after National Championship — the dedication and perseverance of his story make for a true macrocosm of what running is all about. And on August 28th of 2010, all that “chopping wood” paid off in the big way, when Bizuneh won his first US title in Flint, MI at the Crim 10-Miler. Fasil got in-depth with us after that race, as he described what went into his big moment from the past year…

With a breakout national title highlighting your 2010, can you describe your final month of preparations leading up to Crim?
There was a big change in my training circumstances six weeks before Crim. I made a coaching change to Greg McMillan and working with Team USA Arizona here in Flagstaff. I definitely attribute the success I had at Crim to this change. It’s been a night and day difference from what I had grown accustomed to over the previous three-and-a-half years (working out alone & without an on-site coach). We did several hill repeats as well as steady-state 10-mile efforts at Buffalo Park. These steady-states focused on the aerobic threshold and could be labeled more as an optimal effort level than a maximum one (5:15 to 5:25 pace at 7,000ft). I struggled through a 15-mile tempo run two weeks before the race at over 5:20 pace. However, I felt great once I got down to sea level in Flint, MI. I ended up running 4:45 pace and feeling very strong through the finish line: my last 3 miles at Crim were 4:44, 4:40, 4:38.

Anyone who followed you on chasingKIMBIA or now follows you on Twitter knows that you can be a pretty heady guy who sometimes reads some pretty heavy stuff. For better or worse, how do you think that “philosophical hunger,” if you will, has influenced your mental approach to training and racing, as you searched for that first resumé-defining National Championship win?

My literary pursuits have had a large impact in shaping me as an athlete and more importantly as a person. I try to remain humble and open to new ideas and other people’s experiences on this earth. I think this attitude helped me to smoothly transition into Greg’s training philosophy and Team USA Arizona’s group dynamic. I think it would be uncommon for someone who has been involved in the sport as long as I have to make such a dramatic change in their training situation and to see results in such a short period of time.

What do you think made Crim produce a different, winning result for you than previous races?
I have to take into account all of training I have done ever since I was a Fulton Falcon back way in 1994. Running at this level is truly a game of inches. There have been at least five other National championship races where I was in 20 seconds of winning. Everyone is working hard and the little things can make a big difference. Joining Greg and Team USA Arizona was the final touch that I needed to put me over the top and bring home my first national title. I can see my performance at Crim as being the first of many successful races to come.

When did you know you had the race won, and what was going through your mind when you realized you had bagged your first US title?
I had tucked in behind Antonio Vega and Justin Young for the first 7 miles of the race. It was at that point that I made a bid for the win and a gap formed immediately. I knew I had the US title secured at that point and was moving away from them all the way to the finish. There was a huge feeling of satisfaction going through my mind as I ran down the final 400m in front of the crowd. I was especially happy to have such a monumental achievement with my parents present.

After a tough fall that saw him drop out of the Chicago Marathon and, knowing what good fitness he had, then enter the Fukuoka Marathon, only the meet the same result, Fasil is now evaluating potential plans for 2010.

(L to R: Awards at Crim / winning 10-Mile title / US Outdoors 10,000m / working out with his dog Ras)
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One response to “2010 Highlight: Fasil Bizuneh”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg McMillan. Greg McMillan said: RT @kimbia: @McMillanRunning Mr. @FasilBizuneh showed you & Team USA AZ some love in our year-end wrap-up! Gre … […]