CHATHAM, NJ - Bo Raadam was pretty confident that he would better his 16:12 time on the new Greystone course after his initial cross-country run on the 5K layout Sept. 13, when he finished first among a field of 161 runners for Chatham.
"I got a little bit lost the first time," Raadam said. "I knew exactly what I was doing when I started the race and about two and a quarter miles in, I kind of forgot where I was supposed to go, so I started going the wrong way and Colin (Logsdon) was nice enough to correct me. I knew if I didn't get lost, I'd have it in me to run a sub-16 on this course."
And that's exactly what Raadam did this past Monday when he established himself as the first ever to break the 16-minute mark on the Greystone course with 15:59.59, placing first in Chatham's boys cross-country race vs. Mendham.
Bo Raadam is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
In both competitions, Raadam gave credit to teammate Logsdon, who gave him directions on the fly in the first Greystone race and then pushed him down the stretch on Monday when he broke the 16:00 mark.
"This time, it was a little bit different of a race because Colin wasn't with me for the first mile," Raadam said. "The plan was not to go out as hard, but I'm not that great at listening to directions. Colin went out a little bit slower. Going up the last hill, he started catching up to me. He definitely helped me get up that hill. I was feeling pretty tired at that point and you can't see the clock from there, so you don't get the motivation from that. I was kind of running alone and Colin came along and helped me get up the hill."
The new one-loop, 3.1-mile Greystone course seemed to be made with Raadam in mind. It's all downhill for the first mile. A short uphill for the second mile and then down again. The third mile is all a gradual uphill stretch.
"It's more of an endurance challenge than the old course, where you'd have very, short, very steep uphills," Raadam said. "Definitely played to my advantage. I'm a bit surprised I did it this early in the season, but I knew the course was going to be fast. I was kind of hoping for it. You can go into races feeling great and do terrible and you can go into races feeling lousy and do great."
The 17-year-old senior is one of the few Cougar harriers who Chatham coach Patrick Barry tries to keep in check when it comes to training miles. Normally, Raadam would log 75 miles a week, capping his week with 13 miles on a Saturday and 20 on a Sunday. But a foot stress fracture last spring has him cutting back to "only" 65 to 70 miles per week this season.
"He's just a phenom when it comes to his training rate," Barry said. "We've never had anyone in the Chatham program log that many miles. We're trying to make sure he doesn't overdo it."
Switching shoes from a lightweight training model to a minimalist shoe led to the stress fracture in his left foot that made him miss the state sectionals last spring. But he isn't feeling any ill effects from the injury and has returned to his long runs.
"My go-to route is going out through the power lines and then onto Meyersville Road and then through New Vernon and then coming back through Green Village," Raadam said. "Typically it's around 14 miles. My body is handling it well. Everyone says you can choose between doing more miles and doing fast miles. I kind of threw that to the wind and tried doing fast and long. I do my long runs faster than most people would, or faster than most people would advise doing."
For Raadam, those long runs can be a release from the stress of an AP course in which he procrastinates long enough on an assignment and then has to cram in four hours of reading in one day.
"I save all my reading for Sunday when it's due on Monday - and then I go on a 20-mile run and it clears my head," he said. "Running is more impulsive for me. If I don't run, I get a bit agitated. I've become a prisoner to my running log. I have to hit my 65 miles a week. I'll be a point-one mile short and I'll go out and do a 3-mile run."
His teammates and coach are fine with what he does, as long as he stays healthy. His mother, Heidi, has learned to go with the flow.
"(My mother) started out questioning the wisdom of my long runs," said Raadam, who plans on an engineering career. "I'd be asked a lot of questions about where and how long I'd be running. Now I say I'm going for a run and it's 'all right.' "
After getting off to such a quick start this fall, Raadam hasn't changed his goals for his senior cross-country season.
"I just wanted to have a good season, have a good time in my last year and set a good example for the younger people on the team," Raadam said. "This is a great group of guys, Colin (Logsdon), Liam (Cadden), Alex (Williams), Alec Gironda, Jack (Casano-Boris), who is a freshman. I love running with all of them."
Raadam's loftier goal is to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals, which requires a 15:40 time at Van Cortlandt Park's 4K course. In spring track, he'd like to break his best of 4:31 in the 1,600 and crack 9:30 in the 3,200.
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