Thursday, July 15, 2010

Andrew Bumbalough Joins KIMbia Athletics Family

Andrew Bumbalough will bring a broad range and impressive college credentials to KIMbia Athletics, after completing his career as a Georgetown Hoya. The Tennessee native has logged top-notch personal bests of 3:38.23 for 1500m and 13:30.77 for 5000m, against an 8th place finish in the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships, making him one of the more versatile athletes to come out of the US college ranks.

Previously, Bumbalough — which is pronounced with a long “O” sound — represented the United States in 2006 at the IAAF World Junior Championships, both in cross country and in track and field as a competitor in the 1500m. This season, he placed third in the NCAA 5000m final, before coming to US Nationals and taking third among all senior men, sandwiched between KIMbia runners Tim Nelson (2nd) and Brent Vaughn (4th), in the results.

We asked Andrew to share a bit about himself as a person and as a runner.

What first attracted you to running?
Like many other runners, I started out playing soccer before I took on track full time. I played soccer from kindergarten through 8th grade and began to realize I could play the entire game without feeling tired while my teammates would experience fatigue in the later stages of the match. An observant and energetic young coach asked me to quit soccer and start running full-time because he saw my potential to be a very good high school runner. Marshall Smith and later Charlie Harper would serve as my coaches and mentors throughout high school, inspiring me to work hard, dream big, and never, ever put limits on myself. They made me believe that I could win a state championship, a high school national championship, an NCAA championship, and even one day be on the podium at the Olympic Games.

What is your favorite running memory?
I am in this sport because I am a competitor. While I have had some great runs in scenic spots throughout the world, I would be lying if I said that my favorite running moment wasn’t a big win or great performance. One of my favorite races, though, was actually a relay that our team didn’t win or even place in the Top 3 in; it was just a unique situation that I’ll never forget. It was the DMR at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I was charged with anchoring duties on the 1600m leg. Everything was going great until our 400m and 800m exchange went awry and the baton tumbled to the track and rolled down the bank into lane one, coming to a rest on the rail. Our 800m guy ran a solid leg, but at this point we were in last place by a good margin. I got the stick and knew I had some major work to do if we were going to have a respectable finish. I went out in 56.x then 1:56.x by 1200m I had moved us back into 3rd place. With 200m to go I thought we were going to finish 2nd or 3rd but the big move I made early in the race came back to me and I got passed by two teams in the final stretch to finish 5th – splitting 3:56.1. Maybe it wasn’t my best race ever but it certainly was a lot of fun to see what I could do despite the less than desirable circumstances.

What is your favorite workout?
Only about 10-15% of my training is race specific work. Most of the year is spent building strength through tempo runs, threshold runs, and long runs. When we move into the time of year where we get to run ‘race pace’ in practice that is a lot of fun. I love VO2 max workouts – probably because they are few and far between in our training calendar. But something like: 5x1200m or a ladder 400, 800, 1200, 1600 and back down are fun for me.

Would you describe yourself as a running fan (or running nerd) growing up? And why or why not?
No, in fact, in my high school practices kids would talk about running history – names that I should have probably have known but didn’t. I would always have to ask “Wait, who are you guys talking about again?” In some ways I felt like the kid in The Sandlot who didn’t know who “The Great Bambino” was. Eventually, I caught on to some of the more important runners in US history. But sometimes when I am having conversations with same group of guys now, I’ll have to pretend I know what they’re talking about and then Google it later.

You have a 3:38 PB, but also placed Top-10 at NCAAs in cross country: do you see your future being more as a miler or more in the 5k and up?
I think that the 5k will be my event now and down the road. The first 3 years of college I ran almost exclusively the 1500m. Coach Henner believes in developing speed, building strength over time, and eventually moving up to longer races. I think I have benefited a lot from this approach because one of my greatest assets now and in the future is my ability to close out a longer race (such as the 5k) really fast.

What are your goals as an athlete, in this year and, let’s say, in five-years’ time?
Ultimately, I just want to see how good I can be. Now that school is over, I am able to devote 100% of my time and energy to becoming one of the best in our country, but also with the intentions of being a player on the international scene. I don’t want to just ‘make it’ in our sport. I want to be a guy that is going to be mixing it up with the best out there on a consistent basis. The next two years are World Championship and Olympic years, so making those teams and competing well at each of those events are the short term goals. However, the more immediate item on the table is building a big base of fitness to get stronger and faster over the coming months and years!

If you had to compare your personality, as a runner, to any historical figure, who would that be?
Though he is a figure of writer Mark Twain’s imagination, my running personality would be best described by the life and times of Huckleberry Finn. Huck Finn is both unassuming and adventurous – deftly maneuvering himself around life’s challenges at the pace that best suits him. He lets others do the early work, painting the proverbial fences, while waiting to make his play. But somehow, Huck seems to find a way to end up where he wants to be – even if that is at his own funeral: alive.

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