Saturday, June 30, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 7

Early morning 8 mile run, down the Rexius and Amazon Trails (or is it the Amazon and Rexius? I can never remember). After turning back near the base of Spencer's Butte, I see this guy:

Ryan Hall, 2:04 marathoner and 2x Olympian
Mr. Hall does a lot of things well, like run fast. What he doesn't do so well is sweat. I didn't see a drop on him. And his wife ran a gutty 5th place or so in last night's steeplechase.

Coming through the parking lot near the South Eugene track, I stop a guy and ask for the time. While he fiddles with his timepiece, I notice he's probably wearing another $300 worth of gear and shoes. Very fashionable for a Saturday morning, and about $600 total in attire. Yet, after a full minute or more, he can't seem to find how his very expensive watch actually monitors clock time. He has lap pace, heart rate, calories burned, altitude, tire pressure, hot tub temperature, and NASDAQ ticker symbols, but he can't find the most basic reading of all.

Never mind, guy. Didn't mean to confuse you.

And for the next guy on the trail: can we please pass a constitutional amendment banning males from going shirtless while wearing heart rate monitor straps? It just looks stoopid.

Both Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh ran in the 200m semi-finals yesterday; they are the ones who dead-heated for 3rd place in the 100m final, a debate has yet to be decided. In the 200m semi, Felix runs 22.30 to advance to the final. In the next heat, Tarmoh runs....22.30. Oh, no, not again.

All right, you two; KNOCK IT OFF!!
Ran out for coffee and a paper. Got stuck behind a convoy of ElliptiGo riders. This was the primary training mode for one Lauren Fleshman, 5000m ace who has been without the full use of one leg for months. She rode this funny-looking beast all the way to the Olympic Trials Final. That woman has some stones, all right.

110HH Semi: Jason Richardson, defending world champ, gets a break in the rain and a favorable tailwind. He's absolutely killing the field off the last hurdle on his way to a super time. So what does he do? He shuts it down! I scream, "NOOOOOOO!!"

He runs 12.98, 0.11 sec off the world record, and he could have been VERY close if he kept going. Oh well. He runs the same time in the final, behind Aries Merrit's 12.93. Great times. But no David Oliver; after a phenomenal 2010 season, he didn't make it back to the same level. Real shame.

Oh man. I feel so bad for triple jumper Walter Davis. He was in third place and needed to reach the Olympic standard distance on his last jump. He pumped himself up, started running, and just as he took off.....

The crowd erupts when a female high jumper clears a big height. The outburst happened when Walter was actually airborne before his second take-off, and it completely disarmed him. He landed well short of the required distance.

That's lousy. When there is crowd noise before a running event, the starters will delay the race until it is quiet. Not so for field events. Sorry, Walter. Not my department.

Women's 200m final: Allyson Felix blows away the field and finally settles the 100m tiebreak question. If she doesn't back out of that slot and give it to Jeneba Tarmoh, things will get ugly among the two friends. But I'm pretty sure that's what will happen, because Jeneba is getting interviewed by NBC near the finish line. And about 10 feet behind her, in plain view of the camera, is a rather good-looking Meet Operations volunteer who subtly edges his way into the picture.

Lots of great articles and debate online. The aforementioned women's 100m tiebreaker, whether Eugene should be the permanent home of the Trials, things like that.

And who 'deserved' to get third place in the women's 5000m.

Lucas (on the right) went for the win with three laps remaining, and hit the wall hard on the last circuit. Conley (on left) was in 8th place at the bell, lacking the Olympic qualifying time, but decided to at least try for third place. She'd then be able to say she (sort of) made the Olympic team.

Down the stretch, Lucas enters the unfriendly town of Rigor Mortis and struggles, while Conley lays it out there and gains 50 meters plus 2 inches in the final lap. Tremendous finish.

Later I see a diatribe by Gabe Jennings, winner of the 2000 Olympic Trials 1500, in which he says Lucas should be the one on the team because Conley 'ran a wimpy race - got lucky.' Implying that the runners who wait and kick are unfairly letting the front-runners do all the work.

I've never bought this argument. If you go off the front, your goal is to run everyone else into the ground. If you hold the gaps, you win. If you don't hold the gaps, you lose. Some people run better at the front, some run better from behind. Some have brown hair, some have blond. It is what it is. Very simple, very fair.

Conley took the Olympic slot because she wisely judged her ability and did not try to go faster than her body would take her, at least until the final lap. And she wasn't even thinking of making the team, she just wanted that third place! She got the team, too. This was Jon Anderson '72, Bill McChesney '80, and Amy Begley '08 all rolled into one.

And then, we all got to see this:

And this.

Very cool.

Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 6

Finally, a slow (ish) day.

Only one final of interest, the women's steeplechase. And it's the last event.

One thing I didn't consider when there are 20,000 people in the stands each day; many of them are from out of town. And many of them will be clogging enjoying the local amenities.

Like the swimming pool. I'm off to do some laps, but there are bodies everywhere. Slow people in the fast lane, fast people in the slow lane, and a guy with a mohawk who is literally swimming over everyone.

Then it's off to the Fan Festival. Nike, the major underwriter of the Trials, has a neat display with the top three placers of each event updated as we go. Here's an interesting shot, six days after the women's 100m dash ended.

Notice the big empty spot where third place is. They still haven't figured it out.

Disclaimer: no one could forsee a dead heat down to the 1/1000 of a second. And their solution makes sense (except for the coin flip option). It's just a shame.

But not a constitutional infringement, so chill out, people.

As I stepped into the onsite Nike Store, a guy asked me where I bought my hat:

Not this hat, but I just love the picture

Sorry, sir, this type of hat is only for meet operations personnel. He looked disappointed.

Color me important.

The 1500m semi was held up a few minutes due to a false start in the 110 hurdles. Protocol is that no athletes can be on the track while another running event is in progress. So the distance guys sat down or stretched out for the duration.

They looked like a bunch of kids sitting on the grass at the park. Especially the one guy who spent the time vigorously attempting to pop a pimple on his knee.

Then there's AJ Acosta in the second semi, sporting what looks to be a cross between a mullet and a cowlick.

And I felt kinda bad for the folks in this tent, especially when the winds were unfavorable:

Hey, I told you, it was a slow news day.

Olympic Trials - Day 5

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 5

The first half of the Trials are done, and we've been quite waterlogged. Up until today, I really wish I were running on a nice warm beach somewhere.

But this morning in Central Oregon was dry and clear, perfect. So I went out for a little 11 mile trot and enjoyed the weather.

Incidentally, many thanks to CDH/BDH and JK/DK for their long distance running advice. After I struggled through another marathon, all four of them told me to do more LCD; that's Long Chill Distance. Good way to build strength, and you won't get injured as easily.

Today's run was EASY. Legs feel springy and resilient. Best of all, what I thought was 9:30 pace was almost a minute faster! It works.

Thanks, guys.

Back to the track, long before the events began. It was so quiet and peaceful.

Then it got busy.

Women's 1500: Jenny Simpson, World Champion, looks pretty tall and stout on TV. In person, she's tiny. But the wheels are there.

Men's 3000m Steeplechase: Central Oregonian Max King has an outside chance of not finishing last in the final (his words, not mine). He qualified for the Trials with the 24th fastest time (the last qualifier), runs well in his semi-final to advance, and then....


He stayed mid-pack in the final, drifted farther back at times, then absolutely exploded with 600m to go. He passed a huge number of runners in the last 300m; the man was just flying. Then Max crosses the line as the 6th fastest Steepler in the country!!!!

What's amazing is that he hadn't been training for the steeple. All his running has been focused on trail races and ultramarathons. Extremely hard to do this well without specific workouts.

Couple weeks ago, he won a trail half marathon by mere seconds. Very odd; he usually wins by minutes. But I didn't know that, the night before, he achieved the Trials qualifying time at a race in Portland, then drove 4 hrs home to arrive past midnite, then woke for an 8 am race that he also won.

The man is a machine.

Oh, yes, he set a personal best in the final too. Beforehand, I noticed that the rain had started falling (again). Perfect; Max runs well in sloppy conditions, and he proved it again. He looked more comfortable than when he ran three seconds slower in the semi. He said he felt better today, and ran a smart race by holding his pace steady while everyone else surged and died.

Then he did what all good Central Oregonians do after a tough workout; get the liquid replenishment done in a most Central Oregon way:

Outstanding job, Max King!

During a break, I had a beer spilled on me by an ex-Olympian. What an honor.

Women's 5000m: Julia Lucas goes for the win with a lap to go, then starts tying up on the last turn. 2 runners go by, and Julia begins to stagger. Kim Conley busts her last 100m and outleans poor Julia for 3rd place, while sneaking under the Olympic qualifying standard by 2/10 of a second. Agony and ecstasy separated by an eyelash.

Conley edges Lucas for the final spot

A friend noted that if Julia had simply maintained her pace over the last lap, she would have placed 2nd or 3rd but wouldn't have pulled Conley along; Conley would not have gotten the time standard otherwise. And Lucas already had the qual time in her pocket, so she shot herself in the foot by going for it. Ouch. But you gotta try.

And Lucas's husband had to watch all that, then run his own 5000m final immediately after. His mind was obviously elsewhere. Tough day for the Lucas/Dobson family.

Lauren Fleshman ran with honor. Her IT band problem prevented her from training more than 10 miles per week for months, yet she made the Olympic Trials Final. You want her on your side in a fight.

After one race, a runner stumbled through the finish line and lay gasping on the ground near my feet, completely exhausted. When he sat up, I noticed that he had a really bad skin condition, or lots of orange colored moles on his back. Odd, since he's fair-skinned. Then I realized that the moles were actually tiny pieces of the rubberized track that stuck to him while he was lying down.

Rupp wins the men's 5000m and finally takes down Prefontaine's Olympic Trials record from 1972. Only took 40 years. But Rupp's race was electronically timed, while Pre's was hand-timed (slower reaction time when a thumb is pressing a stopwatch). So it's still a tie, sort of.

Olympic question; name the two long jumpers who qualified for four straight Olympic teams.

1) Carl Lewis (too easy)

2) see below

Martha Watson 1964-1976 Olympic Long Jumper

Great day on the track!

Olympic Trials - Intermission

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Olympic Trials - Intermission

Don't know about you, but after the insanity of the Olympic Trials' first four days, I needed some time off.

Instead of driving 130 miles in the driving rain after a 14-hour day, I spent the night in Eugene and woke at 0345 to get home. Fortunately, the Tuesday papers were already available at that early hour; at every Trials, I get each day's sports section for personal archiving.

Upon my arrival home, I see a another stack of local papers as well. Kristen saved each one for me, including the Sunday NY Times, which had a wonderful article on the US decathletes and their potential sweep in London.

The paper was dated 24 June, Sunday, and it talked about a potential 1-2-3 US finish in the Olympics. Eaton, Clay, Hardee, in no particular order.

One more glance at the date, then I just shake my head. The US team was decided the day before, with Bryan Clay NOT making the team. And yet, the day after, here's this glowing article.

I understand the need to occasionally (ok, most of the time) pre-write articles in order to meet production timelines. But couldn't someone have held the article and maybe confirmed the content BEFORE printing it?

The NY Times looks awfully stupid right now.

Then I turn a few pages, and they redeem themselves with a fanstastic article by George Hirsch, who I believe was a big-shot at Runner's World Magazine. He penned an article describing his first spectating gig, at the tremendous Helsinki Olympics of 1952.

Specifically, he talks about Emil Zatopek, the otherworldly Czech runner who had a fairly good Olympics in winning the 5000m, 10,000m, AND the marathon. That's a trifecta that has never been duplicated.

The marathon was his first ever, and he ran it as a lark. Then he ran everyone into the ground while saying, "The marathon is a very boring race."

Yes, this is another guy I've been reading about since age 10. Emil had this horrendous running style, described by many as a man running as if a javelin had pierced his ribs. Head rolling, eyes squinting, arms protecting his midsection. It made you wince just watching him. Oddly enough, his form in the marathon was quiet and efficient, as if he was a different runner on the road than on the track.

Regardless, he simply destroyed his opponents. His 5000m Helsinki win is considered to be one of the alltime best Olympic races.  And here's a fabulous Addidas commercial featuring Emil.

I'd love to see a side by side comparision of Emil and, say, Bernard Lagat. Night and day in terms of stride economy. But when asked why he doesn't run more glamorously, Zapotek shrugged and said, "I thought the only goal was to win the race."

Classic words from a former soldier who used to train in combat boots. And when the communists took over his homeland, he had a choice of supporting the new government or cleaning toilets as an outcast.

He took the janitor's job.

Great man.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 4

Every single morning of this incredible event, I wake up and say, "it can't get any better than yesterday.

And yet it always does.

My interest is always the back story, the behind the scenes stuff that adds all the flavor. There are much better technical bloggers out there, like Conway Hill (The CHill Zone of Track and Field). I'll just keep plodding along in my own little way.

This morning, I can't get into the pool for a workout, so I mosey over to the Hilton to see who's around. First guy I see, AR holder Mr. Lagat.

Explain: he's from Tucson, and occasionally crosses paths with the son of my childhood friend Sue. LP is the blond boy on the left of the small pic, and is a budding track star. Sue sent me the inset picture in 2008, and I got a picture of myself and Bernard holding the picture at the last Trials. Four years later, I find him once more. Bernard, I promise, no more pictures.

Then I turn around. Amy Hastings, rock star 10,000m winner after her crushing disappointment in the marathon trials. With 300m to go on Friday, her face was all pain as she dug deep. Not content with 3rd or 2nd, both of which were in the bag, she took the victory in the last 50 yards.
Amy Hastings
20 minutes at the Hilton and I'm done. Now back to the Amazon Pool and a 4 x (4 x 100m) workout on very little rest. We runners like to have 2 minutes between reps, but the swimmers do 10 seconds.

I hate swimming.

Big day today: Central Oregon's Max King qualified 24th out of 24 to run in the Steeplechase heats. Couple weeks ago, he won a local trail half marathon by mere seconds, very uncharacteristic of him since he's a world champion and usually wins by minutes. Then I find out that, the night before, he made the Trials qualifying standard up in Portland, then drove 4 hrs home for the next race 12 hrs later. Last year, he won a 50k trail run on a Saturday, then the national championship trail half marathon on a Sunday, three states away. He's a machine.

Anywho, I position myself as the athlete escort for his heat, and he's the last one to enter the stadium amid yet another rainstorm. He nods at me, and I whisper, "just a muddy jog at Phil's Trail." He grins.

Then he finishes in 7th or so. I have never seen such focus, grit, and stainless steel. But he needed top 5 for an automatic berth in the final. He still has a slim chance to make it if he's one of the faster non-automatic finishers.

I hustle over to grab my dinner, because the women's 5000m heats are coming up, and I want to see how Eugene's Lauren Fleshman will do. She's basically been training on one leg for months with a bad IT band.

On the way to the food, I do a double take. That's Jesse Thomas, world class triathlete, 2x Wildflower Champion, and Lauren's husband.

Boom Shaka Laka!
Since I'm a triathlete (sort of), we talk for a moment. Then Jesse, the former Pac-10 Steeplechase Champion from Stanford, looks up at the screen and yells. Max King qualified for the Steeple final on time.

Wow. 24th out of 24th coming in, and now he's 11th best and still in the mix, only 4 seconds behind the leaders.

Iron, I tell you. Pure Iron.

Then Lauren Fleshman, with less miles in her legs than me, absolutely guts her way into the 5000m final. According to her website, her bum leg has been permitting her to run a maximum of about 10 miles. Per Week!

Women's 800m final, 5 runners under two minutes. Geena Gall runs a brilliant race to finish 2nd, she's one of the best closers out there. Alysia does another 55 second first lap, and I silently beg her to start slower next time. 55/62 is no way to run, but what do I know?

Now it's beer time.

Huge day.

Olympic Trials - Day 3

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 3

I assumed that today's truncated event schedule would be anti-climactic, so I added some other activities. Literary license, you understand.

And I was exhausted last night after a 9 mile run and 8 hrs on the track (all in rain), so I expected to take a day off today. But I felt fine upon waking up, so I went out for an easy trot.

And now, back to the track....

First order of business was to find Mike Holloway, Olympic Team Coach and Head of the University of Florida track team. Go Seminoles! No, wait, it's the Gators...

For some reason, he kept calling me Josh. And it turns out he knows someone from my hometown. Small world!

I handed the camera to a woman under an umbrella (the sun actually made an appearance). Then I did a double take; the woman was Valerie Briscoe, tremendous runner who was Michael Johnson before Michael Johnson, winning the 200m/400m double in the 1984 LA Olympics.

Next up; someone told me to find Kellie Wells, 2nd place in the 100m hurdles. She needs to see a doctor before she sprains her face from smiling so much.

Right after Kellie, some guy in the food court asks me where the smoking area is. I tell him it's in Boise. He wasn't amused.

I was.

Curtis Beach! Duke sophomore, and a guy who delivered what may be the classiest act I've ever seen in the middle (ok, the end) of a race. He was well out in front of the decathlon's last event, the 1500m, but was not going to qualify. So he jogged the last straight and stepped aside to let Ashton break the tape for a world record. 

The aforementioned Mr. Beach
Nice job, CB. You'll get your chance.

Women's 400m final. Sanya Richards-Ross has been running very smoothly, so she'll probably win easily. A track luminary from years' past, one with whom I am peripherally acquainted, sidles up to me and asks my prediction.

"49.2 seconds," I say. Fastest in the world this year.

The luminary shakes his head. "49.8 at best," he says.

Sanya takes off, hits the jets with 100 to go, and crosses well out in front. The luminary looks at the scoreboard.

49.28 seconds.

He turns to me, open-mouthed. I shrug my shoulders, palms up, as if to say, "Told you so." 

Luminary Fred Newhouse, my childhood hero, and 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist in this very same event, points at me and yells, "YOU CALLED IT!!" Then he slaps me a high-five.

There are times when you wish parts of your life were captured on camera. Those 10 seconds were one of those times.

Yesterday's women's 100m produced a dead heat for third place. Photo-finish cameras could not place one runner ahead of the other. Indecision. What to do?

Today we get a long-winded resolution. If both runners agree, we'll flip a coin. All other options lead to a run-off. Then it's a dozen ridiculous and hypothetical questions from reporters who didn't listen to the explanation. Lots of repetitive answers.

So I yell my solution: Rock, Paper, Scissors! For an Olympic Berth. How cool would that be?

Not sure if this gentleman agreed, but I had to include the picture.

The 2012 Trials are leading the league in world-class dreadlocks.

Olympic Trials - Day 2

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 2

Wasn't sure I'd have enough material for today. A couple of finals, some semis, and not a lot of intrigue.

Or so I thought.

But I did see a nice loud pair of sneakers among the volunteer crew;

With another forecast of high 50 degree temps and much rain, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at the sheer number of spectators wearing flip-flops out here.

Then there was the guy with dreadlocks literally down to his ankles.

A guy actually breaks a javelin while throwing it. How in God's name do you break a javelin?

I see someone who looks like Mac Wilkins, 1976 Gold Medalist in the Discus. Mac competed with a huge beard, huge shoulders, huge arms, just a lumberjack-looking behemouth. Except this guy I see today weighs about as much as I do. Now he looks like a distance runner?

In Day 2 of the decathlon, Brian Clay hits a hurdle, then pushes the next one down with his hands. Uh oh, that's an automatic DQ. Except the referee lets him stay in. Ok, I suppose, except that Brian also walked across the finish line and gave up massive points. Not good, it puts him 110 points behind third place, although he's very good in the upcoming discus and javelin throws.

But not good, because he still hasn't hit the qualifying standard # of points for the Olympics. So he's pretty much done. I think I may have jinxed him yesterday. Sorry, big guy. Regardless, a gold and silver medal in two Olympics is a fairly good haul. And to his credit, he finished the entire competition instead of ducking out early.

Celebrity sighting: Dick Fosbury, 1968 Gold Medalist, and inventor of the Fosbury Flop. His innovation was an accident borne of frustration; he just couldn't get over the bar in the 'normal' way, so he created a new normal. He and a buddy drove to the Mexico Games in a VW van and basically partied the whole way (before and after). Typical high jumper!

Justin Gatlin wins his 100m semi. The 2004 Gold Medalist looks serious, and about 20-30 pounds lighter. He wants more hardware.

Lolo Jones, she of the 2008 Olympic hurdle stumble, somehow sneaks onto the team after back surgery and does another Happy Lolo dance. She's just thrilled to be here. Again.

Am I crazy, or does Lolo have the best game face in track and field? You do not want to get in her way.

Lolo in flight; watch out!
Kellie Wells also gets on the hurdles team. Talk about obstacles; her mother's boyfriend, a serial abuser, got himself and Kelllie's mother killed in a car wreck. Kellie nearly shut down for good, but kept herself together and is now on her way o'er the pond. Git after it.

And this guy in green had a pretty good couple of days.

Like a world record. That was one loud stadium on the last lap.

Note to the Deschutes Multisport Club; we should sign him up!

Olympic Trials - Day 1

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials - Day 1

Ah, yes. Back in my element. And it's only been four years...

As a Meet Operations volunteer, I have unfettered access to the track and core areas. Unfettered, I tell you.

I need to use that word more often. As in, "the rain had unfettered access to the ground."

It poured all day. Stuff happens.  

Arrival in Eugene and a stop at the grocery store. I'm waiting at the counter for a deli sandwich, when I see a couple of young kids being tended by their grandmother. One of the girls is probably 2 or so. blond and with a tint of Asian blood and quite familiar looking. I suspect I know her last name.

The kids are restless and agitated. Grandmom calms them, then does it again, and again. Kids, I tell you. Grandmom then looks at me, sighs, and says their dad is competing today.


Dad is the same guy who first told me that Michael Jackson died back in 2009.

You need another hint?

He (dad) is the defending Olympic Champion in the Decathlon.

Bryan Clay.

Elaboration: in 2009, I was assigned to the Athlete Services tent at US Nationals here in Eugene, giving the competitors a chance to relax and refuel between their races. In walks Mr. Clay, staring at his smartphone, and announcing to me (ok, to everyone) that the King of Pop is no more.

When I arrive at my host's home, I discover that the good doctor spent hours harvesting cherries from a huge tree in his yard.
That's a lotta cherries. And good, too...
Later, I’m standing near the 1500m starting line, feeling very official, when I see someone crossing the track. Of course, I stop him.

“Sir, do you have the proper credentials?”

“Uh, it's here somewhere,” he says, as he fumbles for his badge. When he hears me chuckling, he looks up with a puzzled expression, then he laughs and punches me on the shoulder.

Last year's picture; today wasn't nearly as sunny
This is Mr. Fred Newhouse, 1976 Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. We met several years ago here at Hayward Field, even though I became a fan of his while watching him burn up the track in Montreal. And as soon as the Cuban embargo is lifted, I’m going to Havana and reclaim his second gold medal. You know, the one that was ‘won’ by a suspected steroid user named Juantoreana, with Fred barely a whisker behind.

BTW, I noticed that today’s 400m heats were slower than the times Mr. Newhouse was running 36 years ago. The man had wheels.


Are there two people in the world who are happier than Amy Hastings and Dathan Ritzenhein?


Both of them were a brutal 4th place in the Olympic Marathon Trials back in January, with Ritz a scant 8 seconds back. And Amy went for the lead at about mile 18 but couldn’t hold it.

So here they were, probably their last shot at London.

What does Amy do? Digs deep, deep deep. Not only did she make the top three, she won with a gritty last 300m. You could see it in her face; it hurt bad, but she wasn’t concerned about that.

Ritz had to place in the top three, AND get the Olympic qualifying time of 27:45. His pal and teammate Galen Rupp took the brunt of the pacemaking duties to make it easier for Ritz. Problem is, at halfway they were well behind the required pace. But Ritz and Rupp (sounds like a shoe store?) hit the gas and made a race out of it. Rupp cruised to an Olympic Trials record with splits of 13:56/13:29, and Ritz had room to spare.

It was heartbreaking to watch Ritz and Amy miss out on the marathon. Lots of effort, and no results. This time around, they made it count.

Game, set, match. Nice job, you two. Now go have some Shepard’s Pie, or whatever the Brits do for carbo loading. You’re going.

Finally, there's bad-ass, and then there is this:

Track Town, indeed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prefontaine Classic 2012

Some thoughts about the meet:

Here's my reaction to the first televised event, the men's 400m.

Current World Champion Kirani James jumped the gun and was red-carded. TV had just gone international, and the first thing the world sees is a red card and a race under protest.

Does anyone out there hate the false start rule as much as I do? One mistake and months/years of work gone. If Usain Bolt DQ's in London, there will be a riot among the fans.

Two options:
  • Change the rule back to a DQ on the second jump
  • Assess a time penalty of 0.10-0.15 seconds for the 100, and more for the 200
The brass talk at length about improving the stature of T&F among spectators. Sending the marquee stars to an early shower is not the way to do it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program....

Clearly, my 9-year-old needs to work on framing her shots.

As I was saying....

Alan Webb is done, finished. I really hope I'm wrong about this, but I don't think I am. Most of the field went past him in the last turn of Friday’s mile. He hasn’t run well in years, possibly due to lack of continuity in training, coaches, etc… Sad to see, especially remembering him light up Hayward Field as a HS senior with a ridiculous 3:53 mile. And he set the American record in 2007 with a 3:46, a time he hasn't been anywhere close to in recent years.

Alysia Montano looked great in the 800, but splits of 55/62? Somewhere in Tennessee, Dave Wottle is shaking his head…

(Translation: Dave Wottle won the 1972 Olympic 800 with dead-even splits of 53/53, even though he was a mile and a half behind the field after a half lap. Dave is the guy who always ran with a golf cap, the same one that he ceremoniously forgot to remove while the National Anthem played in his honor. He was forever after known by the best nickname ever: The Cat in the Hat).

Justin Gatlin looks good, he’s dropped some weight. Very chiseled. Good time considering the conditions. Walter Dix still looks heavy to me.

Liu Xiang destroyed the high hurdles field (again), and tied the WR with a wisp of wind barely above the limit. No more achilles problems! David Oliver needs answers, and quick. Meanwhile, Dayron Robles needs to fire his manager: a last minute no-show due to lack of traveling papers? You're kidding me, right?

Or was he ducking?

Mo Farah rolled again in the 5000m, with Galen sneaking under 13 in 3rd. Bekele was 4th or 5th, wasn’t in contention in the final 800: I thought he was supposed to be back on form.

In the Bowerman Mile, Lagat and Wheating trotted home at the back of the field. Not too worried about AW; in 2010, he was sick for the early season, then did his NCAA double and tore up the European tracks. I think he’ll be able to contend by late July. Today he ran the slowest-looking 3:56 I’ve ever seen! And a total of 28 runners in 2 races under 4:00.

Almost forgot the highlight of the meet; an appearance by Mr. Steve Ovett, 'his blue eyes like chips of ice.' After saying a few words, he trotted off the track with the same stride I remember from his glory years. My hope for the summer is that Lord Coe enlists Mr. Ovett to run the torch into the stadium before handing off to Sir Roger for the lighting.

(translation: in my formative years, Steve Ovett was one of the monsters of track, just a scary good competitor. He went 3 years without losing a 1500m or mile race. And he's the answer to a trivia question; namely, who was the first athlete to win an Olympic Gold Medal while wearing Nike shoes? Steve Ovett, 1980 Olympic 800m....Lord Coe = Sebastian Coe, Ovett's chief rival on the track, and Coe is the Boss Organizer of the London Olympic Games...Sir Roger = Dr. Roger Bannister, first man to break 4 minutes for the mile back in 1954; he did that while running about 45 minutes per day on his lunch break from medical school!!!).

Good meet! Even with the rain.

Non-track related events from the weekend:
Big Kudos to West Coast Bank! They held a month-long drawing for a free entry for the Hood to Coast Relay (actual cost $1320, plus you need to be selected via lottery). With none of their branches in my hometown, I had to wait until my next trip to Eugene, which happened to fall on the last day of the drawing. After driving 125 miles, I arrived at the bank 1 minute after they closed the lobby, but the manager graciously let me in. When I told him what I needed, he had a blank look on his face. Then he laughed and said, "No one has asked for an entry here in at least 3 years!"

He couldn't find the forms, so he called another branch and had them scan a copy. That's some good customer service! It'll be even better if I win the contest; regardless, I sent a note to the bank's CEO with effusive praise for his branch manager.

Workouts in Eugene:
Friday morning: swam with the Emerald Aquatics masters team at the Amazon Pool. Not used to a balmy 60 degrees for the morning swim; in Bend, it's usually 35-40F at the outdoor pool, with lots of steam rising. Anyhow, masters swimmers are so friendly, especially when they are ripping your lungs asunder. 3 swim workouts this week, have to keep that up.

Saturday morning: drove to South Eugene High, parked the car, and headed south on the Amazon Trail. Nice, comfy, soft bark surface. And rain. But warm rain. Met up with fellow umpire Jeanne near the turnaround, and we reminisced about that ridiculous race called the Eugene Marathon where we both cramped and rigor mortis'd our way to the finish line. Next time, more long/slow runs before tackling another 26.2.

And I got my Olympic Trials mandatory orientation out of the way. Next stop: 22 June and the Big Show in Track Town USA!