She's going the distance

She's going the distance

Ask Chelsea Blaase what her favorite running event is, and she’ll you how much she loves the 10,000 meters.

“I’ve always loved it since the first time I ran it,” said Blaase, a 21-year-old St. Joseph native and a senior majoring in kinesiology at the University of Tennessee. “I like the distance. I kind of click with it. I can walk into a race and run my rhythm. It’s a fun race to me.”

But then she’ll tell you how exciting it is to run 5,000 meters on an indoor track.

“I love the indoor season. (The race) doesn’t seem as long because it’s on a shorter track, and you feel like you’re going so fast, and there are so many people surrounding the whole track, it makes it more exciting that
way,” she said.Blog Photo

And when you ask about cross-country, she’ll tell you it is her favorite type of race because of the varied terrain and because “it’s not really about time. It’s all about the competition.”

Blaase has excelled at those distance events at Tennessee. She’s been named an All-American four times — three times during her junior year, for cross-country, for the indoor 5,000 meters and for the outdoor 10,000
meters, and again for cross-country this past fall.

Her latest success: Blaase won the 3,000 meters (9 minutes, 20.57 seconds) and the 5,000 meters (16:22.32) at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 26-27. She’ll run the 5,000 meters this coming
weekend at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala.

“I’m going to go into that race and give it everything I have and compete with everyone around me and just have fun with it,” Blaase said.

A key to her achievements is her willingness to put in the tough workouts that it takes to get to her level. She likes to work hard.

“I like the longer distance workouts where it’s a really hard, solid workout — repeat 1000s or repeat miles. I also like the tempo runs. Sometimes we’ll do 20-minute tempo runs where it’s race pace the whole time. I love that. You feel absolutely exhausted at the end,” Blaase said.

“I love the feeling of working really hard. At the end of a workout, it’s ‘Oh my gosh, I just did that. I survived.’ You have that sense of accomplishment. You know you made vast improvements,” she continued.

Her coach, Beth Sullivan, keeps her in check.

“I tend to push too hard,” Blaase said. “I want to keep my foot on the gas pedal every day. She holds me back so I don’t burn out and stay healthy.”

Blaase finished her collegiate cross-country career last fall, but she still has a year of eligibility left for track. She’ll run next year as a graduate student in exercise physiology.

Her goal for her outdoor season this spring is to meet the 10,000-meter standard and run in the Olympic Trials. When she is done with collegiate running, Blaase would like to run professionally, competing in the 10,000
meters and, someday, the marathon.

“I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without my parents, my family and my high school coaches and the coaches here (at Tennessee),” Blaase said. “As long as you have the support system and the determination, you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner, swimmer and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at http://www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.

Photo: Tennessee's Chelsea Blaase, right, a St. Joseph native, leads the pack en route to winning the 3,000-meter run at the SEC Indoor Meet in Fayetteville, Ark., last month. Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/AP


Get to know Chelsea Blaase

Pre-race food: Spaghetti and meatballs. “That’s always my go-to meal the night before.”

Post-race treat: Pizza. Blaase likes her pizza with everything on it — meat and veggies.

Music: The music that pumps her up before a competition is Fall Out Boy and ACDC.

Books: Two of her favorites are “Once a Runner” by John Parker and “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand.

Future career: Blaase wants to become a physician assistant.

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