Graham enroute to an All-American 9th place finish at Foot Locker. (Photo by Don Rich)
Welcome to Track Chats 2012! We continue with All-American Thomas Graham from Cary Academy in North Carolina. Thomas ran in the collegiate 5000m section 2 at the Raleigh Relays and finished 6th with a US#15 All-Time clocking of 14:11.66. Check out more from Thomas below!
MileSplit - 14:11 in March! How does this set you up for the rest of your season, ahead of the game now?
Thomas - The race today was a huge breakthrough for me, so to start it just gives me the confidence that I was looking for going forward. I ran really poorly at the Brooks PR invite, where I'd run pretty well the year before, so I was down about that and not sure really what kind of shape I was in. I think that today most importantly gave me an idea of my capabilities right now and going forward.
MileSplit - When & how did you get started in track & field?
Thomas - My friend Alex wanted a buddy on the MS Cross Country team back in 7th grade, and conned me into joining. I hated him for a little while, but it was probably a good decision.
MileSplit - Person/people most influential to your success in track & field?
Thomas - My coaches, Conrad Hall and Derek Fenton (for XC and track respectively) have obviously guided my career the most with their daily presence. The two both push me in really different ways, but I've always been sure to take everything they tell me into account. Also, Ian Dobson, a 2008 olympian who I met at summer camp my sophomore year, is a big role model. I really liked running at that point, and wanted to keep it up in college, but he was especially encouraging because he showed me what it meant to be a successful runner, and also how down to earth and cool such a fast guy can be.
MileSplit - Your favorite track & field event(s)?
Thomas - 5k for now, because the only two times I've raced it they've been challenging but had good outcomes; I've never had a terrible, miserable one like I have with basically every other track event. Also, I like the 4x4 because it's so exciting and competitive and team-oriented.
MileSplit - Your track & field event coach(es) and what they mean to you? -
Thomas - Like I said before, Conrad Hall and Derek Fenton are both really experienced, knowledgable coaches. They push me and help me to reach new levels of success, but also are really accessible and I feel like I can talk to them about anything.
MileSplit - Keys to your successful track & field training program?
Thomas - A long-term build-up that includes a ton of miles (about 80 a week) and hard long runs. I think the most important key is that I really enjoy training and putting in the miles, so what a lot of people view as the hard tedious part is the fun part for me. There aren't a lot of days I'm not excited to go run.
MileSplit - Your favorite track & field meet?
Thomas - Footlocker Nationals, because of the history behind the event, and also because of the sweet vacation you get once you're over the stressful racing part. That doesn't really count as a track meet though, so probably the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix from this past indoor season. Getting to meet the pros and experience what it's like to run a real professional meet was amazing.
MileSplit - Your favorite performance in track & field?
Thomas - Chris Solinsky's 10,000m American record a few years ago was probably the most incredible one I've ever seen. Nobody expected him to come out on top, and he blew past the supposed winner(s) in the last 800m like they were standing still.
MileSplit - Track & field athlete(s) you most enjoy competing against?
Thomas - Anyone who comes in seeded ahead of me, or with a faster time, or that is considered to be a better runner. I like to compete with the best, and I've definitely seen it bring out the best in me.
MileSplit - Your greatest experience in track & field so far?
Thomas - Probably the race tonight. I don't think I've ever been in such a competitive field and felt so relaxed, or had such a big breakthrough, all at the same time. Also, the new NC State track is sweet (it just got renovated) and it's 10 minutes from my house, so a bunch of friends came to watch.
MileSplit - Goals for the 2012 track & field season?
Thomas - I still haven't broken 9 in the 2 mile, so I'd like to do that (hopefully at Arcadia next weekend). Other than that, I just want to compete well at Nationals and finish my track career off well.
MileSplit - Long-term goals in track & field? -
Thomas - Represent my future college, Stanford, well, and hopefully set myself up for some All-American performances along the way. With so many ridiculous athletes coming along now, it's probably a little bit of a stretch to shoot for NCAA titles or anything like that, but as long as I'm a part of the sport continuing to get better, that'll be cool.
The Fun Run
Do you like ice cream or italian ice…
Thomas - Lots of ice cream.
Do you like shorts or jeans…
Thomas - Shorts.
Do you like Boggle or Twister…
Thomas - Boggle.
Do you like Facebook or Twitter...
Thomas - Tweeter
Do you like going out or chilling at home...
Thomas - Depends on stuff.
Do you like sun or snow...
Thomas - Sun, just not beaches.
Video of Graham's 5k courtesy of Flotrack