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

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