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.

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