Willing to go that extra mile together

Running for health and gold
By: Amanda Calzada Placer Herald Correspondent
-A +A
Going the extra mile has become second nature for Rocklin alumnus and Roseville resident, Tim Tollefson, who recently overcame a staph infection to compete in his first U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. “In a very strange way, I viewed that race as an extremely painful 26.2-mile victory lap for a breakthrough season that resulted in something many people never thought was possible for me,” said Tollefson, who currently trains by running around 100 miles per week. Running competitively was not always the local athlete’s passion. Having been a soccer player, running was originally just a form of conditioning. Tollefson began cross-country his senior year at Rocklin High, after having “succumbed” to the pressures of a coach and his friend, Pat Boivin. “Tim always had talent, but his drive to be his best is what I remember the most. He was one of the toughest, if not the toughest. I think the evolution of his running career is a testament to this toughness,” said current Rocklin High head cross country coach Dan Pereira. Tollefson has fond memories of his high school running career and said his coaches and teammates made every moment enjoyable. He graduated with personal records (PRs) of 2:00, 4:32, 10:28 and 17:13 for the 800 meters, 1600m, 3200m and 5k respectively. He considers his high school times to be modest and specifically “nowhere near good enough to be recruited to a university.” Although his senior year marked the end of his high school experience it was only the beginning of his running career. While at California State University Chico Tollefson transformed from a mediocre walk-on student athlete into a three-time CCAA steeplechase champion, five-time NCAA Division II National Championship qualifier, and most recently, an Olympic Trials qualifier. To date, Tollefson has completed four half-marathons and six marathons. His performance at the California International Marathon in December qualified him to compete at the U.S. Trials in Houston, Texas, Jan. 14. Heading into the CIM, his goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials. He had run the Chicago Marathon eight weeks prior to the CIM when he clocked his current marathon PR of 2:18:26. Tollefson realized he was on pace to qualify when he was running the 20th mile at the CIM. He said he did not want to become over confident, as the final miles of a marathon are a fine line between elation and dropping out. The runner remembers rounding the last corner in downtown Sacramento to finish the final 100 meters with outstretched “airplane” arms as he crossed the finish line. Had 2012 not been an Olympic year, he would have taken the standard time off and raced the next marathon in the spring. He and his coach Mike McKeeman decided to “push the envelope” and give the CIM a shot since the opportunity wouldn’t arrive for another four years. Tollefson is affiliated with the Chico Track Club. Although it has the name Chico it is open to all in the greater Sacramento who are ultra competitive and want to pursue individual running goals. In 2007, his final year at Chico State, he decided to try out for the Olympics. The fact his fiancée, Lindsay Nelson, had qualified for the trials was an extra incentive for the Tollefson to attempt to qualify. The event in Houston marked his third marathon in three months and was a celebration of over 10 years of training and running thousands of miles. In order to make the Olympic team he would have to finish among the top three to qualify. Prior to the race, Tollefson predicted his best-case scenario would b a 2:22-2:24 marathon. He said he began the race at a much faster pace than he should have, partially due to the elite field of competition. The pack he ran against paced a 5:21 average per mile for the first 16 miles (a 2-hour, 20-minute marathon pace). To complete the marathon, Tollefson averaged between 5:40 and 6:10, despite “every mental demon” discouraging him from finishing. He credits his “slow, somewhat embarrassing pace” to both knees bleeding, and that secondary to chaffing from both hip abductors giving out. His completion time was 2:26:58. In spite of his problems, Tollefson said he wasn’t going to drop out since he had been given an opportunity he experience what few ever will. The runner said that under the right conditions he’s capable of running a 2:16 marathon. As for the trials, he was not in top form so his focus naturally shifted between competing and simply enjoying the experience. The staph infection that developed in his foot a week after his CIM run cost him critical training time. For those interested in marathon training, the physical therapist said to build up the training slowly to help maintain a positive experience, and reflect on change from there. Tollefson hasn’t given up, and aspires to toe the finish line at Trials in 2016 as a different and more seasoned marathon runner. Coach Pereira echoed Tollefson’s determination and feels he will be back. “Even though trials did not go as well for him as I’m sure he wanted to, this will not be the last we hear of him. He’s got a great running career ahead,” said Pereira.