Wide eyes of excitement got the better of Sydney Thorvaldson this time around. The Rawlins sophomore anticipated this outdoor track season so highly that she started over-training before she even set new state records at the indoor state championships in the 1,600- (4 minutes, 57.20 seconds) and 3,200-meter runs (10:26.53). Thorvaldson admitted that starting her training uptick may not have been the best decision after all.
The phenom distance runner spoke with the Star-Tribune at the recent Kelly Walsh Invitational while she was still resting from a stress reaction in her foot. At that point she hadn’t ran competitively in two weeks, since finally addressing the injury after running at the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles, California.
Thorvaldson remembered feeling a definite pain in the warm-up to that race. She wasn’t happy with her starting pace out of the gate, forcing her to run from behind.
“So I took my mind off it and it didn’t hurt at all once I was into the race,” she remembered. “But once I was done with the race, didn’t even get to my cool-down, it felt pretty bad.”
Thorvaldson ran the 3,200 — with a nagging injury — in 10:12.18. At the time, it was the second-best time in the nation. In the near-month since running that, Thorvaldson’s time has dropped to No. 5 nationally. Her time in the 3,000 that was registered at the Arcadia (9:33.51) as well, however, still stands as the second-best in the country.
The sophomore then waited two weeks before consulting the school’s athletic trainer about her injury. He told her to stay off it.
“But I’ve been swimming and biking, staying in shape at least,” she said. “And I just started running again this week, and that feels super good.”
This injury is the first obstacle of its kind since Thorvaldson burst onto the scene in August of 2017. Since then the distance runner has conquered two state cross-country championships; one cross-country state record; four indoor track and field gold medals, with two state records; three outdoor track and field gold medals, with two state records.
She was dealt a different obstacle in the winter and hurdled that with willpower and a little luck. Thorvaldson was scheduled to run at the 2019 Simplot Games along with her Laramie High teammates when winter conditions closed Interstate 80 West of Laramie. (Since Rawlins doesn’t have an indoor track team, Thorvaldson is able to run for Laramie during the winter.)
The roads cleared just in time for Thorvaldson to make her way through Muddy Gap, and not along I-80, toward Pocatello, Idaho. By the time she arrived on the campus of Idaho State it was a day later than her scheduled prelim running of the 3,200.
“Along the way the roads got pretty nasty so I didn’t know if we were going to make it, then we didn’t think it was going to be allowed for me to do the prelim the night before,” she said. “But it was cool.”
Race officials allowed her to run a qualifying 3,200 alone the night before running in the finals. Thorvaldson’s time on her lonely eight laps qualified her and she eventually broke a Simplot Games record by finishing in 10:19.05.
Nearly three months later, the sophomore excitedly awaits this weekend’s Class 3A East Regional. She rested when she did with hopes of competing in time for the regional meet and, consequently, state. She hopes to run the 3,200, 1,600 and 800, in addition to her role as the anchor leg on Rawlins’ sprint medley relay team.
Resting for any amount of time has been torturous for the sophomore, but a quick workout before the Kelly Walsh Invitational helped her relax for the time being.
“I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to perform as well,” she explained. “And maybe I won’t be at my highest level going into regionals or state, but I definitely think I’m getting better from my injury, and just in general, because I did a little workout this morning just before everything started and it felt super good, everything was great.”
She started her high school distance-running career hoping to just set times that she could improve upon. Since then she’s measured success by setting new marks and breaking records. So, when asked what her expectations would be upon her return, she struggled to think of a concrete milestone. After all, it had been weeks since she ran at race-pace.
But in typical fashion, she eventually mentioned goals that would have been ludicrous if stated by someone else. She hopes to break 5 minutes in the 1,600. She also hopes to not only improve her 3A state record in the 3,200, but beat the all-class record of 10:33.15 (set in 2001 by Gillette’s Alicia Craig).
“But we’ll see how it goes,” Thorvaldson shrugged. “If I’m not up there then I don’t think I’ll be concerned too much. But I hope I’m good to go.”