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

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