Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘galen rupp’

It meant over eleven hours of travel, but I didn’t really care. The line-up of professional athletes at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix made it worth the trip. Plus, I’d get to spend a good amount of that time with my Green Mountain Relay teammate Mike, the Connecticut half of the twin set that is completed by my friend Matt, podcaster of the Dump Runners Club. Mike picked me up at the New Haven train station and drove us to Boston, and we watched the track meet together. I’ve never run track myself–didn’t start running until my mid-20’s–so I love going to meets with people who have competed on the track themselves, as their commentary help me learn more about the sport. Plus, Mike’s pretty hilarious (don’t tell him I said that).

Here are the superstars I got to see on the track yesterday: Jenn Suhr, Maggie Vessey, LaTavia (!) Thomas, Matt Centrowitz (in his pro debut), Andrew Badderly, Silas Kiplagat, Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, Jenny Simpson, Sara Hall, Shannon Rowbury, Meseret Defar, Kirani James, David Oliver, Tirunesh Dibaba, Lauryn Williams, Morgan Uceny, and Delilah DiCrescenzo (perhaps just as famous for the song written about her by The Plain White T’s as for her running).

Mike and I had seats just inside the finish line, and the Reggie Lewis Center is a small arena–it’s a 200 meter track, and the bleachers are maybe 10 or 15 rows deep. We felt like we were right next to the action. The first event was the Men’s Masters Mile–the winner, Charlie Kern, was totally cute (hey, I only blog about the most essential details of the race here). Apparently, he’s a big deal at the distance for his age group.

The amateur races are adorable–the youth relay, the junior miles, and the high school 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relays. Mike gave the race analysis and I provided the color by critiquing the kids’ hairstyles.

It seems like every track meet I attend, there’s Jenn Suhr trying to break the American Record and the World Record. I don’t understand how she gets so many tries over the bar, and honestly if I was a pole vaulter I’d be so discouraged by her dominance I don’t know if I’d bother to show up. But last night she broke the American Record again (which she set in 2011). So that was cool to be present for.

I was enjoying myself so much that I had great pangs of remorse I have to miss the Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR this year.

The Women’s 800 meter race was exciting not only because of Maggie Vessey in bumhuggers and a racing bra (who Mike thinks is so hot. What’s the consensus here?) but because first and second place both finished with the same time of 2:02.37. Apparently The Maggster had a more aggressive lean at the tape and got the win over Erica Moore (so, less was Moore this time?). Mike was also all jazzed about David Oliver, who ran for his alma mater. When Oliver came to sign programs for the kids, Mike couldn’t help himself, he told me five times what a great guy Oliver was–perhaps the sole criteria being that he’s a Coloradan.

The Women’s 2 Mile race seemed to be more of an exhibition race, a chance for Tirunesh Dibaba to run a low-profile race as she kicked off her season. She won by 30 seconds and lapped most of the other racers by the time she crossed the finish line. Both she and Meseret Defar were like hummingbirds on that track, so slight and sprightly.

So, the men’s 3000 meter race was not at all what I expected. Or rather, Centro’s race was not what I expected. Perhaps I was looking for too much based on the hype of his 2011 performances. But watching him race, I just did not see the zip and ambition in his effort that I’d been hoping to see. It looked like he was just out there looking to hang in there with the pack but at no point did it seem like he was trying to make a move to move up, or flash out towards the finish. He came in seventh (granted he set a PR and beat Badderly, so no doubt I’m being harsh on the kid). The win-place-show was an exciting duel, though. Silas Kiplagat, hot off his win at the Madison Square Garden Open the weekend before, was the favorite but he was bested in battle between Caleb Njiku and Dejen Gebremeskel. 1-2-3 went to Kenya-Ethiopia-Kenya.

The appeal of sprint events is lost on me, but the little girl in me loved the 60 meter race’s post-finish. The women cross the finish line with so much speed that they cannot slow down before they reach the end of the arena, so they run headlong into gigantic mats placed along the far wall. Pow Smash Pow! Now that looks like fun to me–just turn your head so you don’t break your nose.

Talking about hairstyles–not one woman ran in pigtails, though a few kept their tresses unfastened and flowing. Anna Pierce had her hair all entirely hot pink for the Women’s 1000 meter (yeah yeah Mike I know she’s a steeplechaser. Yeah I know you were, too…). Morgan Uceny came in second after having a provisory lead during the middle laps.

In the first lap of the Men’s Mile, Mo Farrah (Mo fucking Farrah!) took a startling tumble, and even though he popped right back up, it took him a few laps to get back in the mix and after tracking in the top 3 for a lap or two was ultimately outkicked by Ciaran O’Lionaird, Taylor Milne and Galen Rupp for 1-2-3. I’d voted (through the text messaging game New Balance sponsored) for Rupp to win. Hey, I’m a sucker for a wonderboy (e.g., Ryan Hall, Alan Webb). In this video on Flotrack, Mo talks about the fall. Mike was so psyched Ciaran won the race, because he’d texted him to win–and Mike ended up winning a pair of New Balance sneakers for choosing the winning racer.

By now you will have all read about Jenny Simpson’s stunning flame-out in the Women’s 3000 meter race. After holding second place and trying to take down Meseret Defar for most of the race, she completely burned out and finished dead last. Sitting in the bleachers, Mike and I could see her strain starting to build in later laps–her face even looked kind of pale and pasty–and to say she faded over the final 4 laps would be an understatement. To her credit, Jenny completely owned up to her performance (how could she not?) in the press conference afterwards, saying, “that’s what it looks like when someone dies in a race.” I was a total fangirl to see Meseret zoom by, basically agog each time she pranced past. I cheered enthusiastically for Hall and Rowbury, too–it seemed like all the Americans (except for Simpson) were happy to hang back at least a half a lap behind Defar, and then ultimately be lapped by her. Hall came in fourth and Rowbury in fifth; again the thrill in this race for me (well, the battle for second place was interesting) was seeing such talent in action just 15 feet from me.

On the drive back to New Haven, Mike got lost (instead of heading towards Rhode Island we ended up by Salem, MA) so I didn’t get home until 2:30 AM! Admittedly, he drove much better than I remembered from the relay in 2010, and I was grateful for his company. Despite the crazy travel involved in getting to the track meet, I am so glad I went. I saw some of our nation’s and world’s best runners do their thing, live and in the flesh, right in front of my eyes. Track meets of this calibre are hard to find around the country, so we’re really lucky in the New York area that we get a few each year. The SuperBowl is tonight, but as far as I’m concerned the Grand Prix was much better entertainment.

Read Full Post »

It’s my birthday week on the blog, which means I’m going to post every day, Sunday through Saturday. This is the first post of the week. My actual birthday is Friday.

This morning I woke up when most of the other people who were up at that hour were stumbling to bed: 5:30 AM on a Sunday is the hour of golfers, runners (racers or people running long in July and August), and people who party on Red Bull.

I was heading in to Central Park to spectate the NYC Half-Marathon since the elite field was superb, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to catch such talent doing that thing they do best, live and in the flesh. The subway service changes conspired to get me there late, and the NYRR was very strict about who had access to the starting line; since I didn’t have a racer’s wristband I wasn’t granted entry. So I just took entry: I was the lady in mauve corduroys and a black puffy coat clambering up the stone wall and hopping the wire fence at 96th Street around 7:15 AM. But soon enough I met up with @ericasara and @FitChickNYC. I’d never met Fit Chick before, so it was a treat to put a name and face with the Twitter handle. While we were waiting for the race to start I snapped this picture with my Blackberry, it’s the area where the elites were hopping around and the lead vehicle was gearing up. There was a Very Serious Vibe going on, with lots of NYRR people barking orders. I love this behind-the-scenes crap.

It was impossible to take pictures or even really pick the elites out at the start, they were all smushed together and just two feet away from us. Bear with me as I add all the crappy Blackberry photos I took today to this blog post. After some light debate about what is an appropriate cheer for runners at Mile 0.01 of a half-marathon (surely “looking strong” isn’t right), we strolled across the lower half of the reservoir to pick up the elites at West Drive and 87th Street, except we missed them by about 2 minutes. I immediately turned around and headed back to the East Drive to try and spot them at Mile 6.5ish. I had some great memories of watching the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007; I crossed back and forth nearly eight times during that circuit course race. The trials were right before I started my blog so I never wrote about it, but that is one of the specific moments I point to when I explain how I first understood the excitement and drama of the marathon.

When I saw the men come by this time, I was disappointed to see how far back Ryan, Meb and Abdi were. I missed Galen all together, but I did give a big shout for Jason. Then we all kicked the dirt for a while until the women showed up, and it was nice to see Kara tight in the lead pack. I was curious how the rest of the race would play out, and tried to keep up on Twitter as I

zoomed downtown in a yellow cab to catch the last 200 meters of the race at Franklin Street and the West Side Highway.$26 later, I arrived just in time to hop up on a concrete barrier to cheer as Mo Farah and Gebre Gebremariam sprinted by in a battle to the finish. And Galen! Mo took the win from Geb in the last meters, it was very exciting, and Galen was a solid third place. What a tickle, this track star placing in this world-class half-marathon ahead of his distance running compatriots. Later I learned that he ran a time which qualifies him for the Olympic Marathon Trials; wonder if he’ll go for it at this distance or if he’ll stick with his distance track events.

In an eerie echo of Boston 2009 (when Americans took third place in the men’s and women’s races), Kara finished third place, behind Caroline Rotich and Edna Kiplagat. This time though she didn’t look nearly as destroyed as she looked at the finish in Boston. Her finish was 2:06 off her PR (1:06:57) and 34 seconds off her time at Lisbon which was her tune-up before Boston in 2009. I am looking forward to cheering her on from my usual spot at the finish line in Copley Square next month; I still want to see her win a major marathon.

After the hullabaloo of the pros coming by, I stayed and cheered until I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering anymore. I saw RJR, CB and EN come by, but I had to throw in the towel because I was chilled to the core. It took me two hours to warm up! No doubt it was a great day for racing but as a spectator, we had it rough. While I always like seeing the elites, and I was glad I was there to give a few of my friends a boost, I think I would have been just as happy watching the race on my laptop; I would have seen a more thorough story of how it all played out with the elites, at least.

All in all, once I’d defrosted, I realized it had been quite a day in the world of distance running, and in the world of TK’s running. As I watched the pack start to come across the finish line, I remembered the best part of cheering at races. I love the way it stirs up my own desire to race, and perform. I love that moment, when the excitement and expectation for a race ignites within me, and I turn my primary focus to training; I love when it takes over my life. By the time I’m done cheering at Boston, I should be ready to dive in to base building for my Fall marathon. Soon, it will be my turn to own the roads.

But for today, congratulations to all the racers who owned the streets of Manhattan and finished the NYC Half-Marathon today. I know RJR set a wicked PR, and Galen has perhaps given himself a taste of what another kind of racing could be like for him.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »