Our sport is at its best when what occurs rarely happens.  Last ditch effort to make the Olympic Trials rarely work out, particularly at the marathon distance.  Lives are put on hold; all energy is put towards a frantic attempt to realize a dream. 

Sometimes it actually works out, and a qualifier is elated as he/she crossed the finish line.  This is the case of Tim Tollefson, age 26, who ran 2:18:26 at the California International Marathon in Sacramento yesterday.

Tim made his marathon debut in 2:29 at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in June.  It was at this point that his running could have nose-dived.  Physical therapy school now required three internships in San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, CA, and Florida.

After missing DII All American honors by one place on three separate occasions while at Chico State, Tim set his sights on the trials.  He had the added incentive that fiancé Lindsay Nelson had already earned her way to Houston earlier this year.

After spending the summer in Mammoth Lakes training with the Kastors and their well-known group, and San Diego, he drove to Florida for his next job assignment.  A planned detour on this trip resulted in a great race in October at the Chicago Marathon, stopping the clock at 2:21:59.  You can hear him talk about it here in his post-race interview.  But could he really drop three minutes in 8 weeks?

At this point I am going to let Tim take over.  Here are his words after his “perfect” day:

 Chicago Marathon: Drove from San Diego to Chicago. Ran a huge PR (2:21:59),  pounded a beer, cooled down, ice bathed and then drove 15 hours all through the night to arrive in Gulf Breeze, FL for my next rotation at Athletes’ Performance which began at 7:45am.  I did sleep at a rest stop in Mobile, AL for 1 hour. 

Gulf Breeze, FL: Oct/November; typical running schedule again was 4:30-5:30 am workouts prior to 8 hour work day.  Perks were I had access to their training facility for recovery purposes; Ice bathed 1-2xday

In the last 15 weeks I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve run with people.  Great mental preparation for the marathon.

Thursday 12/1/11 was my last day at Athletes’ Performance.  Drove from Gulf Breeze, FL to Dallas, TX (11 hours, saved over $200 in airfare!) and  arrived at 1:30am and slept in the back seat of my fiancés Honda Civic for 4 hours in a Dallas neighborhood prior to getting an 8 mile run in and then catching my flight to Sacramento, CA.  Almost felt like nothing compared to the Chicago trip. Friday/Sat visited with my fiancé Lindsay Nelson, friends and family.

Sunday 12/4/11- CIM- Knew people would get out to hard.  Everyone talks about how “easy” it is going to be to run 5:18 pace but inevitably 75% of people get out well under pace and then run a ridiculous positive split or end up DNFing.  I think it’s much better to run a bit more conservative and ensure you are feeling good when the race gets the toughest and walk away pulling something from the experience.  Going into today I thought I MIGHT have a chance to qualify if EVERYTHING fell perfectly.  Our plan was to go out in 1:09:30-1:09:45 and then if things were feeling good try to negatively split it. But, if things didn’t feel good, I could still walk away with a personal best and another marathon under my belt.  It ended up being the former and I went out in 1:09:39 and came home in 1:08:48 (second fastest ½ marathon in my career!)  Things panned out perfectly.  Had a really good group of runners going through about 16 miles, everyone was very considerate as we all knew we were aiming for the same thing, faded to about 4 of us at 20 and then I pulled away at maybe 21 and soloed to the finish.  In Chicago I carried my GU’s in my hand and was really excited when CIM offered the elite aide station to me as I wouldn’t have to carry anything. Turns out, shows my inexperience with this stuff, I had plain water bottles with  powerbar gel taped to each one.  I missed my first bottle because I couldn’t find it on the table, second one I grabbed it but it slipped out of my grasp (luckily a few meters later they were handing out GU and I made a quick right cut to nab one-sorry to the guy I cut off in that frantic dash!) and then missed my next 2 stations.  So I only consumed 1 GU the entire time, definitely not what I had planned.  Around mile 21-25 I started running 5:10-5:12 pace as I felt great and then at just after 25 I began to really feel the distance in my legs.  That last .75 miles felt like a “marathon” but once I saw the clock coming in the finishing chute it all faded to pure elation and I truly enjoyed the last few hundred meters, “airplanning” into the line.  I was greated by Lindsay and could not help but think about all the hard work ti took to get to that point. 

Now it’s time for marathon #3 in 3 months!