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Posts Tagged ‘dathan ritzenheim’

The speed these women and men throw down is inconceivable to me. Intellectually, I understand the numerics behind a 4:55 or 5:33 pace, but I have absolutely no physical way to ever know what that feels like: how fast my legs would have to switch places, how brief a period my feet would touch the ground, how the wind would ruffle my hair, how hard my heart would beat.

For most of the competitors in the field at the Olympic marathon trials, getting to the trials will be the peak of their running career—no small feat, with “A” qualifying standards at 2:19 for men and 2:39 for women, times most humans take to run half the distance. Consider the fact that probably 95% of the qualifiers hold down full-time jobs while training for the trials, and it’s no wonder I saw so many runners on Memorial Drive (who clearly had no chance of winning) wearing some sort of smile on their faces, even up until Mile 23. Just getting to the game is the fulfillment of the dream. The equivalent for a runner like me is qualifying for the Boston Marathon enough under the required time that I actually came away with a bib during registration.

But there’s that top 5% of runners, the professional elite, who might even take it for granted that they are going to the trials. Men like Ryan, Meb, Dathan, Jason and Brett; women like Kara, Shalane, Desi, Deena, Tera and Magda—the prize in their eyes isn’t a bib for the trials, but a spot on the United States’ Olympic marathon team. That’s not to say the other 95% doesn’t hope for and train for a daring and stunning performance that will earn them a spot on the team as well. No doubt, many of them made tremendous sacrifices on the slight chance that January 14, 2012 would be their miracle day.

When we watch the Olympic trials, we are observing a rarified talent unleashed across a range of ambitions, and that is what makes the race so emotional, so thrilling, and so unforgettable.

The beauty of the circuit course is that as fans, the athletes could pass us as often as eight times. We not only get to monitor the progression of the battle between the elites with enough frequency to really feel the drama, but we also get to know the pack runners. Normally I give chicks who race in skirts a hard time, but at the trials, I gave the woman in the hot pink skirt with ruffles and a matching hair ribbon props—she dressed up for her debut on the national stage, and damn if I didn’t cheer for her each time she zipped by me.  Then there were the Storage twins, and the woman whose last name was Sunshine—you know I cheered my guts out for her, even though I was a little covetous of her name. And the men? Well, I admit that I was admiring their gorgeousness right along with their speed. Fernando Cabada? Hel-lo! And how awesome was it to see my old favorite Andrew Carlson up there in the mix of the top 10? It was very awesome. My heart gave a twinge each time Stephan Shay, who was racing the trials in his brother Ryan’s memory, sped by.

I knew who I wanted to come in first: Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila. Even though they both had the top qualifying times in their divisions, I still felt like they each had something to prove to the world—Ryan because he is self-coached, and Desi because she has toiled away in the shadows of Kara and Shalane for so long. (It was a terrible flashback to the natural laws that goverened my high school when the gorgeous blonde won the day over the girl-next-door brunette in this marathon). Ultimately, the men’s and the women’s races were very similar, in that the runner who led for the majority of the race came in second because they were overtaken in the last mile or so by the eventual champion. Even as I was watching these pros fiercely compete with each other, I knew that they have a deep respect for each other, and that many of them are friends and teammates. This is a beautiful thing, and is a way of relating with other humans that I greatly admire.

Later, after @tejasrunnergirl and I had cheered and tweeted from just past Miles 5/13/21 and Miles 7/15/23, we watched the televised coverage of the race. Even though I knew the outcome, I could not help myself from shouting out loud for Dathan to reel in Abdi and earn back the third place on the team, and for Desi to crank it up and overtake Shalane in the final half mile to win instead of place. I got all choked up when I saw the men’s leaders begin to overtake the trailing women racers, because these women were cheering Ryan, Meb, Abdi and Dathan. And also: imagine what a twisted pleasure it would be to say, afterwards, “Oh yeah, I was totally lapped by Ryan Hall!” Watching Ritz, the fourth men’s finisher, collapse into tears once he crossed the finish line was nearly too much to bear; I felt squirmy and bereft, his private grief was painfully honest. How does Amy Hastings reconcile the bitter disappointment of fourth place after leading several miles—will she be able to ever stop replaying the vision of Shalane, Desi and Kara hugging triumphantly, draped in American flags right in front of her eyes, as she trundled across the finish line in fourth place?

I’ve explained the Olympic marathon trials to my non-running-fan friends as “the SuperBowl of running.” But I’m not sure that’s adequate. The SuperBowl is every year. Football fans get to see their teams play a gameon TV every week throughout the entire 17-week long season. There are bragging rights, money, and Hall of Fame potential at stake—but nothing as theatrical and grand as representing your country in a field of competition that convenes once every four years.

As fans of the marathon, and as fans of individual distance racers, we get to see our favorite athletes unleash their training at most twice a year in the marathon, more only if they also compete in cross country, track, or shorter distances on the roads. More often than not, those races are not on TV. And the opportunities we have to see the best our nation has to offer compete directly against each other? Rarer still. I’m not complaining, I’m trying to explain to you just how unique, dramatic and inspiring the Olympic marathon trials are. I fear my words are not adequate.

My imagination is sparked by these men and women. I am grateful for the way they so thoroughly exploit their God-given talents. Being a fan of the sport has done nothing but enhance both my enjoyment of and my performances within it.

To Meb, Ryan, Abdi, Shalane, Desi and Kara: congratulations! I cannot wait to watch you take on the best of what the rest of the world has to offer in London this August. I’ve already raced those streets—now it’s your turn!

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Although my running of the NYC Marathon in 2008 is  my best marathon experience to date, I still would choose spectating the race over running it. I staked out my cheering corner years ago, at 45th Road and Vernon Blvd, right before the 14-mile mark, and right after the water station and port-a-potties. (Of course this is in Queens.) I now recognize the other folks who cheer there year after year, including the couple with the golden retrievers who bring cartons of tissues to offer to snotty runners (once the fast people come through, they hardly ever get a rejection). This year I was joined by my dear friend and running buddy EN and my TeamFox teammate @nyrunningmom.

I got there at 10 AM, and EN and I passed the time before the female elites arrived cheering on the wheelchair athletes.  When we shout “Go athlete!” the wheeled competitors usually give us back a composed wave, as if they were visiting dignitaries. I always get choked up when the first few racers come by, overcome with the scope of the event and also with all the effort, planning and dreaming that most of these runners put in to prepare. These folks train for 4 months or longer–heck, I know people who don’t even date the same person for that long.

Before we knew it, the street-clearing police were whoop-whoop-ing their way past.  Mary Wittenberg followed, in the lead vehicle (she waved when I shouted “Hi Mary!”), with the motorcycle cops and the press truck in tow. Here they were, the female elites! I will never get over how quickly they pass, as if they were an apparition. Sometimes I even wonder if they hear us when we cheer for them as there is absolutely no acknowledgment. I was shouting my lungs out for Shalane, I was still yelling “Go Shalane!” when they were four blocks away. She looked relaxed and strong, and I was excited that she didn’t really have to share the spotlight with any other top-notch American marathoners. Even though it was the USA Marathon Championships, there wasn’t much noise made about Katie McGregor (who came in second among all Americans), etc. But I can tell you this: no one was looking for Edna Kiplagat– we were cheering for Christelle, Mara, Shalane, Kim and Derartu. This is what I love about the marathon–there’s no calling the winners at this distance. Who predicted Edna for the win? No one! No one was even talking about her until Mile 22!

It was so much fun to root on the American women running in the championship race, since they all had their names on their fancy bibs. This is when I realized that EN is as much of a cheer junkie as I am–to conclude an exciting round of shouting and clapping he would give his goofy laugh of enjoyment, a staccato Huh-huh, huh-huh that after an hour started to bring a smile to my face knowing my friend was getting as much out of this as I was. It felt right, cheering with the guy who had run stride for stride with me through 23 miles of this same marathon.

Soon enough then elite men were approaching. I was jittery with the excitement of seeing Haile run by me live and in person. I was also cheering for Meb, Dathan and Jorge. And I am always pleased to see Goumri on the course; he is one of my favorite underdogs along with Merga. I wish I could write you a few flowery sentences describing what it was like to watch Haile in action (when I ran the NYC Half-Marathon this spring, I followed far behind him on the course, and never clapped eyes on him), but it was all over in the blink of an eye (#twss). Little did I know that the big pack of runners would break up nearly the second they began the ascent up my bridge. My bridge, which will forever will be known as the Bridge that Broke Haile. (At least, that is how I will now refer to her.)

For the first time ever, I’d made a sign for the runners. I wanted to be as inclusive as possible, but I also wanted all my running buddies from Twitter to spot me easily. After the elites, the first runner I saw come by was my GMR teammate AN, who spotted me before I recognized him. Then @Lord_Baker sped by with a smile, then Coach Ramon, and then the river of runners started to flow. I saw dozens of familiar runners, including TNT friends, GMR teammates, and Twitter buddies both local and from out-of-town. An excellent moment was when Matt @luau stopped to give me a big sweaty hug and take an actual picture!  I was so excited when I saw my girl @MauraDeedy trot past–she looked strong and happy her first time through the distance. And another marathon debutante, @SharonPaige, ran by me in a bright green shirt, big white headphones, and a look of calm intent upon her face. I thought for sure I’d missed JG of RunWestchester.com fame, but after a while I saw him walking towards me with a half-smile on his face and his hair pleasantly disheveled. His quads had laid down the law a few miles earlier so he was run-walking until he got over my bridge into Manhattan, at which point he would DNF and head home. His plan had always been to stop running around Mile 16, but since he was run-walking it meant that I got to actually converse with him instead of clap and cheer as he ran by. An odd sort of treat–I’d have rather seen JG run by in a blaze of glory, but I was also happy to chat with him.

And so it went, EN and I clapping, cheering and clanging for nearly four hours, until we were dizzy with the ceaseless undulation of runners approaching and departing. The only thing that would snap us out of our zone was when the wind would pick up cold and strong, whipping my sign and numbing my hands. I felt for the runners, who were headed straight into it. Even though the sun was rising, it felt like the temperature was dropping. I had planned to stick it out until 2PM, but at 1:30 most of the racers coming through were walking, with only a few determined souls running. While rationally I understand that every person is on the course with their own set of goals and expectations for the race, it is difficult for me to cheer for folks walking when they are only just halfway through. My heart breaks to see them, because all I can think of is the difficulty that awaits them at Mile 22, Mile 24, or 26 if they are already walking at 14. I know this is simplistic, and I knew that several of my friends were in that walking horde. I hoped they were dressed warmly. I hoped they had brough their cameras and were treating the race as a pleasure cruise to pass the time. I would never want to be out on the course for 7 hours, which is precisely why I admire those who stick it out for that long. I admit it: my thoughts turned towards my warm apartment, and towards the four hours of TV watching I had in front of me (I had DVRed the broadcast of the pro race on NBC). And so, with a final cheer and wave, EN and I hunched into the wind and trudged down 45th Road to the 7 train to find out who had won the professional part of the race, since clearly all the folks we had cheered on this morning were their own kind of winner.

My spectating didn’t end, though, since I spent my hours watching the taped race catching up with all my friends’ race results on Twitter, and tweeting them congratulations. There were more PRs and successful debuts than their were disheartening finishes. By the end of the day, I was amazed at some of the times my friends had thrown down; I was thrilled by the racer’s ebullience and pride; I was affirmed by the achievements and effort. But most of all, I was proud to be counted among them. We were all marathoners, whether it takes us 3  hours or 7 to complete the race. We are all marathoners, whether we run the distance once, or dozens of times.

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One day I will make a pilgrimage to Tracktown, USA. I will run Pre’s Trail (and no doubt get dusted)… I will go to Hayward Field; I will attend the Olympic Trials (or maybe the Prefontaine Classic)… I will buy a Ducks tee-shirt (this, from a woman who has a 10-minute schpiel on why non-uniform, team-branded clothing is just plain wrong)… and of course, I will stalk Kara, Adam, Alberto, Amy, Andrew, Christian, Galan, Nick, Dan and Dathan…  Dathan has been having an incredible season, setting a new American Record in the 5,000 in Berlin (12:56.27), and nabbed the bronze at the Half-Marathon World Championships in Birmingham, England (in one hour flat, just 17 seconds off Ryan’s AR)… Check out DR’s blog post in which he shares his thoughts about what sets him apart as a competitor (Matty: your comment is adorable)…..who’s heard of the band Stars of Track and Field? Since they hail from Portland, OR, I thought their name was just a clever way to get the locals to turn up to their shows, but actually it is a hat-tip to the Belle and Sebastian song “Stars of Track and Field” (oops B&S are Scottish not Oregonian)…Once, a dreamer of a man told me he wanted to take me to the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field because he knew how happy it would make me…

I’d like you all to meet regular-reader and occassional-commenter leftcoaster (aka BT). She lives in Portland, and ran the Portland Marathon a few weeks ago–it was her first, and she BQ’ed! BT shared with me, via email, “I was just so psyched about how the race turned out and wanted to mark the event in a unique way. The Garmin map idea popped into my head while running… oxygen-deprivation-to-the-brain probably had something to do with it.” Qualifying for Boston was BT’s secondary goal, after her “primary goal of just finishing the race without totally ponking, walking, passing out or puking.” (A worthy A-Goal, no?) Finishing in 4:01:10 at the age of 54, she qualified with four minutes to spare and coming in 19 out of 347 in her age group. I get tingles thinking about all of these age-group aces I have met through this blog, Twitter and actual, real-life. I am inspired by you all, because while I’ll never win an entire race, I can dream of placing in my age group. leftcoaster, congratulations on a tremendous first effort–I’ll be there in Boston this April to cheer you on. Here is the Garmin report of her celebration run.

leftcoaster BQ

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….”And who is this upstart wearing a numbered bib? An American… with pigtails and a pink singlet… sprinting past Mikitenko and Wami… they are stunned by this runner they’ve never heard of nor seen before… wow folks, this is the sports story of the century… look at her pigtails fly behind her as she breaks the tape!!”…..

Oops, wrong post. This is my Flora London Marathon predictions post, not my fantasy post.

Yes, I am getting up at 4 AM EST to watch the live stream on UniversalSports.com.

Yes, I will probably sniffle quietly into my coffee cup as I mutter damn adductor brevis over and over again.

Yes, I will definitely wake up Husband sometime around 6 AM as I cheer from the kitchen table.

Men’s Race (updated 6:30 PM 4/25)

  1. Sammy Wanjiru
  2. Abderrahim Goumri
  3. Martin Lel Zersenay Tadese

When Wanjiru first hit my radar, I was a little put off by his boastful nature. But then, I was won over by his audacity and confidence, despite his young age (he’s 22). I was converted once & for all when he won the Olympic Marathon by training for the heat and humidity, and winning as a front runner, leaving WMM champions dropped and broken behind him. I will always root for him to win, unless he’s running against Ryan. I wish I could pick Goumri to win, as I love love the Underdog, but Sammy’s just got too much going on; I don’t know if Goumri is hungry enough to beat him. @6:30 PM–I just scratched Lel as he has withdrawn from the race due to his hip problems (Martin I feel your disappointment!). I’ve put Tadese in his place instead, who makes his debut for the distance but I like the idea of a marathon newbie taking third and leaving everyone else grumbling. I also predict that Meb Keflezighi will finish in the top ten. Based on last year’s top ten finishing times — all under 2:11:44 — Dathan Ritzenheim has a chance to finish in the top ten as well if you consider his PR (2:11:07) and Olympic showing (#9), but that’s if some of the other faster guys in the field burn out and he turns in another PR. (Also, why did I think Khalid Khannouchi was running this marathon?)

Women’s Race

  1. Irina Mikitenko
  2. Gete Wami
  3. Svetlana Zakharova

I like the idea of Irina winning London two in a row; Gete, last year’s WMM Champ, should never be underestimated; and for third place I couldn’t decide between Ludmila Petrova and Zakharova. I ultimately went with Zakharova for third primarily because I think Svetlana is a super name. Do you think her friends call her Lana for short? That’s kind of sexy. Or maybe they call her Zak. Would it be cruel or cool to name your baby girl Svetlana in today’s USA? (Sorry for this strange digression. Blame this.)

Go here for more great info on all the elite runenrs in tomorrow’s race:

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Election? What election? I’ve got a marathon to run (left work early to get my number and chip at the Javits Center)….Thank you friends and family who emailed me about the story in yesterday’s New York Times. It’s interesting, because before I even read the article I was saying how I was afraid the crowded course would bug me….. Mikeroscopic forwarded me a link to this profile piece, with video, about Joe Bastianich (partner, with Mario Batali, of one of my favorite restaurants). Bastianich lost 45 pounds training for the NYC Marathon, and this article details how he got fit and trim without dieting or giving up entirely his favorite piatti italiani… To all my fellow fans of elite runners, the Men’s Olympic Marathon team (golden Ryan Hall, surprising Dathan Ritzenheim, and huggable Brian Sell) will all be in the NYRR booth at the Expo Friday afternoon (specifics HERE)…I also saw, when I picked up my bib today, that Magdalena Lewy-Boulet will be in the Saucony booth tomorrow afternoon (at either 3 PM or 4 PM)… And in somewhat linkable news from my industry, the semi-original approach to flapping up blogger support for books from Thomas Nelson includes this review copy request page….. Rounding up some of my favorite elites for you, Anthony Famiglietti and Shalane Flanagan both won their respective 5K Championships recently, and Kara Goucher (currently prepping for her own big Sunday) won the 10-mile Championship. Who doesn’t love a winner? Or at least a finisher?….

Liz Robbins’ A Race Like No Other was reviewed in the most recent episode (#111) of the Dump Runners Club podcast (grazie, Matteo)…. Liz will also be signing books and answering questions at the Expo this weekend (Crawford Doyle rocks for being the bookseller-at-hand)… And, if you wish to peruse the many reviews that have been popping up for this book, rather than buying a copy and reading the whole thing for yourself (which, um, YOU SHOULD DO), click through the bullets.

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Last weekend was the New York City Half-Marathon (sponsored by Nike). In an earlier post, I complained about the fact there’s no way to pre-qualify for this race, and about the way in which members of the NYRR’s were notified they hadn’t been selected. While I still hold these truths to be self-evident, I was nevertheless looking forward to spectating. The pro field was strong (my faves: Ritz and Catherine the Great) and international in scope; and I could also count on recognizing dozens of running buddies on the course. As schedules would have it, I had to get my long run in on Sunday. So far, I  haven’t found anywhere in Queens where I can get in an unobstructed long run (no way am I dodging traffic for 13 miles), so I knew I’d have to at least head in over the bridge and go up the East River. This made me consider, much to my surprise, about jumping in and running the Half-Marathon course. I could jump in at 0.1 miles, which would enable me to see Dathan and the other elites dash by, and most of the field. But, I have strong opinions against banditing a race, not wanting to take the race amenities and resources from the paid participants, nor to take advantage of all the vounteers and cheering spectators, and also believing that a race run without a bib doesn’t count towards my personal race results, pure & simple. These dog days of summer are getting to me, though, and while logically I know that 13 miles doesn’t even really qualify as a long run in my marathon training, it feels interminable in this humidity. When I decided that I would go against my anti-bandit policy and jump in, it was because I was more afraid of running in the heat all alone than of my guilty, post-race-stealing conscience. 

Early in the AM, I headed into the city with my house keys, Metrocard, and stocked Fuel Belt, determined to tread as lightly as possible on the course. The race course is seven miles in Central Park, and six out through the city, down through Times Square to the West Side Highway to end in Battery Park. I entered the park not really comfortable with my shifty and devious plan, sure that everyone could see I was going to steal the race. But then Ritz came by, in the lead pack, and I was hit with a rush of excitement so strong I almost took off after them. Now antsy, I waited as runners streamed by (I saw one guys with a GMR shirt on), until the 2:20 pace group showed up and I jumped in, looking nervously over my shoulder. The whole time in the park I tried to run behind bunches of runners, in the middle of the course, so race volunteers and officials would be less likely to see that I wasn’t wearing a number. Seriously-I was sure I was going to get thrown off the course and stripped of my NYRR membership card (not that I was carrying it, or any ID, for that matter; if caught, I would identify myself as Jenna Bush). 

By the time we exited the park (which couldn’t have come soon enough-the hills were annoying, and the trees blocked any chance of a breeze, leaving the first seven miles airless and numbing as we all trekked the loop we’ve run on hundreds of times before), I was a little more relaxed. I had come across some training buddies I knew, chatted with a few women who were running their first ever Half, and seen my old TNT coaches cheering from the sidelines like mad. I tried to demurely trot by these cheering squads, hoping they wouldn’t recognize m-since I wasn’t racing I didn’t want to steal any of the encouragement intended for real competitors. In the same vein, I apologized profusely whenever I bumped into anyone with a number, and tried my best to defer to them on the course-I didn’t want to get in the way of their race when I was just there to rack up the miles on the way to November 2nd. Are these attitudes too much? Maybe I took them on to hide the plain fact that I was a hypocrite; stealing the race even though I have so vociferously argued against that very thing in the past.

I ran the last few miles with SR, a TNT teammate from the Winter 2008 season. It was great to catch up with her, and have someone to chat with. I passed MZ, the team captain from our Green Mountain Relay and ran with her for about half a mile; she was in town from San Francisco for work and was a jump-in runner just like me, except without the guilt. My old student (and fast marathon runner) AL was cheering for his teammates on the sidelines, so I trotted over to him for a quick hug & hello. (Props to AL for hugging my sweaty self.) And then, we were at the finish line, just like that. I let SR run ahead and cross the finish line; she had a fantastic race and has gotten so much stronger as a runner since Disney. My training run took me 2:16:51 for 13 miles, about where I wanted to be given the heat. 

Once out of the recovery area, I walked straight to the subway, where I stretched on the ride home. It gave me a taste of what it must be like after the NYC Marathon – all these sweaty runners splayed all over the subway cars, congratulating each other, snacking on potato chips, sipping Gatorade and apologizing for leaving puddles of perspiration on the seats. Man did that AC feel good. I got home, ate, drank, showered, and took a three-hour nap. So did my guilty conscience.

I have to say, I am glad I tried banditing. It’s definitely not for me–I really did feel badly for taking up even the tiniest bit of anything that was intended for the racers. But, at least now when I get on my high horse about it, I can speak from experience.

Here are some race reports by other bloggers. Run Dangerously welcomes a guest blogger, Marathonomy created his own half route, NYC Fly Girl gets in her mileage and her spectating, Kat wears her purple proudly, Runner NYC reviews the music on the course, Famous Ankles gives two fantastic spectator reports (part one has photos of the elites), Trakmaniac at Crazy Bandana races (and bonks) just a week before the San Francisco Marathon, Quinto Sol runs his half in the same model sneaker as Haile Gebreselassie, and Cowboy Hazel sets his speed at “full intensity.”

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I’ve been waiting for these track and field trials since November, when I watched Hall, Ritz and Sell win their tickets to Beijing as they steamed around Central Park. Even though not every event provided for surprises, there were enough dramatics at the finish lines to make me happy. As you could guess, I’m  not so interested in the sprint events (all that work and training for less than a minute’s worth of running? I just don’t get it), and the filed events fascinate me the same way the giraffes do at the zoo. But the middle- and long-distance events are what get me cheering and on the edge of my seat. Herewith, snippets with links to my favorite moments of the trials.

6/27 Galen Rupp owning his home track in his heat of the men’s 5000m semifinal… Shalane and Kara living up to expectations in the women’s 10,000m final (kudos to the organizers for kicking off the meet with an exciting final on day 1)… and Amy Begley leaving it all on the track as she pushed herself to not only come in third, right behind her training partner Kara, but also to make the A-Standard time for the event in the same go. I admit it, I got a little choked up on her behalf. And I loved how she and Kara jumped up and down together like excited high schoolers who were going to the prom with the football star.

6/30 The decatahlon is insane. I never truly realized the endurance and versatility that is needed for this two-day event. All I know is if those athletes ever decided to pull a Scarlet O’Hara, I’m leaving the scene…. Both Kara and Shalane won their semifinal heats for the 5000m… and Bernard Lagat, Matt Tegenkamp, and Ian Dobson comprise the men’s 5000m team (I root for Tegenkamp, who Runner Matt calls the “Brian Sell of the 5000m”); Mr. Kara Goucher dropped out as he was off the “A Standard” time…. but really, what beats this dramatic finish, that sends three Oregon Ducks to the Olympics in the 800m? How can you not love these guys? Nick Symmonds, with his dramatic move to get out of how he was boxed in, moving like greased lightening to the finish, and Andrew “It’s All You Guys” Wheating too kicking like mad, propelled by the crowds, plus Christian Smith literally diving across the finish to take third and simultaneously make the “A Standard.”  Fabulous craziness! Sportsmanship and showmanship, it’s what the Olympics are all about. I’ve watched the clip on NBC’s Olympic website like five times, and each time I have to cheer. 

7/4 Feeling patriotic? Yeah, me neither… In the 1500, despite my doubts, Alan Webb pulled it out to advance to the finals (what, no food poisoning??); Gabe Jennings runs like a determined hippe; Leo Manzano shines; Shannon Rowbury gets a lot of attention; Sara Hall moves to the finals, too; and my dad was rooting for the high schooler who broke the HS AR (Jordan Hasay)… My crush on Kara turns into full-blown unrequited love as she powers through like a warrior woman to beat Shalane in the 5000m. The Olympic team for the event is Kara, Jen Rhines, and Shalane. Notables: the face of victory Kara makes as she wins, and the pigtails Jen styles as she flies through the race. Adorable and fast — see, they are compatible!…. The evening warpped up close to 1 AM (if you were watching the TV coverage on the East Coast) with the men’s 10,000m final. I didn’t know who exactly to root for; I so wanted Mr. Kara Goucher to make it, but I couldn’t help but root for Mr. Personality (Abdi Abdirahman), Senor He’s Not Heavy He’s My Brother (Jorge Torres) and Kid Rupp (Galen, duh).  It’s always fun to cheer for Ritz, and I was still pining for Andrew Carlson, wishing he’d made it to the finals. I wonder how cold the steeplechase water pit was…

7/5 Three afternoon Sierra Nevadas had me snoozing through this afternoon’s OT’s, but I did go back and watch the men’s steeplechase finals on NBCOlympics.com. Love how Fam told Ed Eyestone that he was hoping to emulate Ryan Shay, and give the spirit of Shay’s performance to the crowd…

7/6 The final day of the trials left the men’s and women’s 1500 to be determined.  In the women’s, I was rooting for Sara Hall, but it ended up Rowbury, Erin Donohue and Christin Worth-Thomas.  Rowbury and Donohue train with Shalane (sounds like a workout video: “Train with Shalane”), so it’s cool they’re all going to Beijing together. I saw Erin Donohue at the Women’s Invitational 8k earlier this year…. and, in the event everyone’s been talking about for the past two weeks, the men’s 1500 held little surprises as Lagat won it, Leo Manzano (they kept calling him “the little guy“) and Lopez Lomong coming in 2-3 to also make the team. No Alan Webb, no Gabe Jennings.

I’m sad it’s over, but at least the Olympics are right around the corner.

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I’ve had the Healthy Kidney 10K in my calendar for a couple months now, but not to run. Oh no.  This was one to spectate, and even though the course made it impossible for me to see the athletes except at the start and the finish, I wasn’t going to pass up my chance to see world-class athletes do their thing.  Besides, I ran this baby last year. Who was I most jazzed to see? Dathan Ritzenheim (defending champ and member of the Olympic Marathon Team), Andrew Carlson (he won the 15K Championships earlier this year and finshed a close second in the 8K here in Central Park), Marilson Gomes Dos Santos (NYC Marathon champ in 2006), and Abderrahim Goumri (second in the NYC Marathon 2007). Of course, Ritz, the defending champ and course record-holder, pulled out due to illness (I say “of course” because he pulled out of the 8K Championship race several weeks ago, too. He’s such a tease). Really, though, who can blame the dude, no use risking anything with the Olympics coming up. It was still a thrill to welcome back Marilson and Gourmi to NYC after seeing them run our marathon. As far as the people’s part of the race, I was impressed to learn that 17,000 local runners registered for the race!  While I was glad I wasn’t racing in that horde of people myself, I was also a bit glowy at the thought of belonging to such an enthusiastic community. Runners rock.

It was a beautiful day, and even though the thermometer said 50 degrees, it felt wamer given the sunshine and the humidity; the elites were verrry sweaty when they crossed the finish.  The NYRR has this sweet ceremony where each elite is escorted to the starting line as they’re introduced by one of the kids from the NYRR Foundation program. I love watching this because the kids are clearly honored, and shy, and the elites get a kick out of these aspiring young runners. In the photo to the left, you can see them all lined up waiting to be called.

In the photo below are the elites (and a few superb local runners, running for club points) lined up at the start; what a beautiful sight. (L to R: Makau, Kiplagat, Beyi, Gomes Dos Santos, ??, Zaabi, Alemu, ??, Hartmann and Carlson. Gourmi must be further to the left.) I really like this picture below of Jason Hartmann offering the intense Andrew Carlson a sportsmanly handshake.

We all know now that Makau won, 12 seconds behind Ritz’s course record in 28:19; Gomes Dos Santos came in second; and Richard Kiplagat came in third. Carlson and Goumri both finished in 29:51. Click for the official results.

I was a little bummed when the elites skedaddled off the course right away. They hung out a little more after the 8K Championships, gave some high-fives to the fans and whatnot. Kudos to Wittenberg et al for pulling together such a stellar lineup of elites (we do notice, so thank you). Anyway, I took as many pictures as I could, given the fact that my camera is slow as shit.  Click to watch the NYRR video.

Race reports from local runners:

 

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I haven’t run in Central Park since the Manhattan Half-Marathon over a month ago, so it was a real treat to dash up there after work to meet one of my friends from my first TNT season for a social run.

It’s a perfect plan, really.  Work until 6:15, do the quick-change in my office as if I was running home, run up 5th Avenue to 61st Street, and bingo! Not a minute after I arrive my friend DR crosses 5th Avenue towards me.  I of course am in shorts and a long-sleeved tee-shirt, while she has on a hat, shirt, sweatshirt and running tights. But, at least we matched with our blue eyes and brown hair.

As we are deciding how far we’re going to run, D starts fiddling with this massive fob on her wrist.  A Garmin 350.  Curiosity!  I’ve never seen one this up-close before.  It’s extremely large, I suppose to accomodate its extremely large brain.  In any event, 36:08 minutes later, it tells us we’ve run 3.4 miles, which is about .4 miles than D was hoping to run.

We ran up from 62nd Street along the east side of the park.  I know that side of the park so well, and this time it was a pleasure to be out with the packs (and there were a lot of runners on the footpath).  Sometimes, after too many runs in the park, I take its hills personally.  But, tonight I was content to run the familiar road, and enjoy D’s conversation. At one point our old coach from TNT passed us, but I didn’t recognize anyone else out there. We ended our run deciding to make Thursday evening a standing date at the park;  I hope it holds.

Didn’t get any running in earlier this week; work has been extremely time-consuming lately.  I did, however, lock in my preferred Runner slot for the Green Mountain Relay — I’m runner #7.  Over the three legs, I’ll be running 17.3 miles, which are mostly downhill (net elevation change -1,179). And, I plan to run home from work tomorrow, and then take a long run on Sunday (I am not sure if I’ll have a chance to run on Saturday, since I want to watch Alan Webb and Dathan Ritzenheim battle it out in the USA Men’s 8k Championships).

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