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He finds racing is way easier than pacemaking.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
After acting as a pacemaker at last Sunday’s Kim McDonald Memorial 10,000m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University, Chris Solinsky took a moment to look back to his American record performance at the same meet exactly one year earlier. Ironically, he found that pacing for Nike Oregon Track Club teammates Matt Tegenkamp and Tim Nelson was more difficult in its own way.
“Racing’s way easier,” the plain-talking Solinsky said. “I just didn’t want to screw up. I got a stitch at eight laps, like really bad (I think I was a little bit dehydrated). It started getting uncomfortable enough that I didn’t want to screw up the pace.”
But Solinsky was ultimately successful. After averaging about 66 seconds per lap at the front (a 27:30 pace), he stepped off of the track at 5000m, and Nelson and Tegenkamp went on to finish fifth and sixth in personal best times of 27:28.19 and 27:28.22, respectively. Even so, Solinsky’s coach Jerry Schumacher chewed him out for dropping out before the agreed 6400m.
“It started getting uncomfortable enough where I didn’t want to screw up the pace,” Solinsky asserted. “Hopefully, I wouldn’t screw them up by jumping off too early and running too fast or too slow.”
A year ago, Solinsky came to Stanford in the shadow of NCAA and national 10,000m champion Galen Rupp, whose stated goal was to beat Meb Keflezighi’s USA record of 27:13.98. Rupp accomplished that, running an excellent 27:10.74, but he would finish fourth behind Solinsky (26:59.60), and Kenyans Daniel Salel (27:07.85) and Sam Chelanga (27:08.39), who set an NCAA record. Solinsky’s time was startling, given his size (he later joked it was a “fatty record”), and that it was his debut at the distance. At Stanford last Sunday, he felt some of that excitement from last year.
“I was actually thinking during warming up that I was really glad that I wasn’t racing,” he said. “Just because there could be a little bit more of an expectation than I would have wanted for coming here and just getting the (Olympic “A”) standard, which is what these guys’ mission was for. So, yeah, it was cool just to be back on the track; I hadn’t set foot on the track since that night.”
Solinsky has limited his racing this year in terms of appearances, but each of his performances have been strong. He opened up with a personal best 3:54.52 indoor mile in Seattle last February, then went to Melbourne, Australia, and ran a solid 13:10.22 for 5,000 meters, finishing behind Bernard Lagat and Australia’s Ben St. Lawrence. Solinsky also ran a personal best 3:35.89 for 1,500m at the Mt. SAC Relays last month in Walnut, Calif. Last Sunday’s pacing assignment was only his fourth outing of the year. Despite being the American 10,000m record holder, he’s only run one 10K in his life.
“This night didn’t hold as much magic for me,” he quipped adding, “these guys did awesome, and I’m glad I could help, even though it was incomplete.”
For next month’s Prefontaine Classic and USA Outdoor Championships, both of which will be contested in Eugene, Ore., just south of where Solinsky trains in Portland, the former University of Wisconsin star hasn’t yet decided which events to enter. The Prefontaine meeting has both a two-mile and a 10,000, and Solinsky would be a podium favorite in either the 5,000m or 10,000m at the national championships. He said it all depends on his training.
“I haven’t decided the distance yet, either the two-mile or the 10K,” Solinsky said. When asked about which event he would run at the national meet, his response was the same: “Don’t know yet, 5K or 10K. It’s all up in the air with how training goes. I’m trying to get as may high mileage weeks in as I can. Whenever I start breaking down, we’ll start bringing it back and evaluate where the strength is for the season.”
Although Solinsky won multiple NCAA titles while at Wisconsin, he has yet to win an open USA title at any distance.