Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stanford Week: Nelly Tackles the Tough Questions

Tim Nelson is the 10th-fastest American over 10,000m of all time, and is looking for more. He will run the Kim McDonald Memorial 10,000m this Sunday at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, the site of his two fastest 10,000m runs ever… including a break-out 27:36 win in 2009 that launched him just outside the list of Top 10 All-Time Americans. He will race in Stanford coming off of a disappointing 5000m in Melbourne, and a very impressive 3000m indoors in Seattle.

You won the Kim McDonald 10,000m at Stanford in 2009, and came back with another very strong performance in 2010 (albeit one that may have been overlooked in such an exceptionally strong overall field). Do you feel like you’ve got a special thing going with his race or venue? And if so, why?

I’ve raced at Stanford nearly every year since I was a sophomore in high school, and I almost always have run a personal best time, regardless of the event. Also, Stanford is only a few hours drive from my folks’ place, so I always have a cheering section when I’m there. All that to say, yeah, I certainly get excited every time I step on the track at Stanford.

C’mon now, honestly: how mad are/were you at Chris for stealing your thunder last year? Does your quiet surface mask raging currents beneath?

I don’t know if mad would be an accurate descriptor. It was more like amazement mixed in with a little bit of demoralization because of how easily he did it. But that only lasted for a few minutes then I got over it and was happy for him. Honestly Chris deserved all the buzz he got after the race. He really raised the bar which serves to challenge me to have higher expectations about my own performances.

Since your last 10k, you’ve run a marathon and blitzed a great 3k indoors… totally opposite ends of the spectrum. How do those experiences leave you feeling about the race on Sunday?

Yeah, those were two very different racing experiences which taught me two things about competitive running: sometimes, as in the 3K, it can feel really easy, while at other times (more often than not) you have to tough it out. I think going into this 10K I will need to be prepared for anything and be ready to compete no matter how the race unfolds.

How hard has it been for you and the rest of the group (Matt included) to keep his 10k entry under wraps until he was definitely running?

I think my teammates will agree with me when I say I am the worst person when it comes to keeping secrets. It’s a minor miracle that I didn’t accidental let it slip out or post it on the message boards.

Is there going to be extra motivation to beat him, since he’s the rookie at this distance?

Yeah, there is certainly extra motivation to beat him. We may be teammates in practice and travelling roommates, but come race day he’s competition and I want to beat him just as much if not more than he wants to beat me.

Obviously, some of this will depend on your coach’s plans, but would you like to run the 10,000 in Daegu? And, for you, or for any other Americans competing in that event, what do you think it will take to make the team and to be successful in Korea?

I’d love to compete in Daegu in the 10K. As I’ve said ealier we are focused on having a track season and Daegu is the biggest race of the season. As always I know I will need to bring my ‘A’ game just to make the team but I truly believe that American distance running is getting to the point that those who qualify for the world championship teams must be of such a high calibre that at least one of the three distance runners in each event should have a legitimate shot at a medal. It’s an exciting time to be an American distance runner and I’m working my butt off in training so that I’ll have a chance of being part of it.

Tim takes to the track Sunday, contending the Kim McDonald 10,000m along with teammate Matt Tegenkamp and fellow KIMbians Jason Hartmann and Sean Quigley. Stay tuned this weekend here on, as well as to KIMbia on Twitter and Facebook.

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