Ryan Hall Hoping To Have "Best Stuff Ever" at 2012 London Olympic Marathon
With Plantar Fasciitis Problems Behind Him, The Fastest Marathoner In American History Is Getting Excited For A Possible Third Special Day in London on August 12
By Robert Johnson
July 16, 2012
"I'll probably do something like 20 x 400 on Monday - at a lot faster pace than marathon pace - like 10k pace or something. But it's a little hard to do that at altitude," said Hall. "I also need to do another 15-mile tempo run. I think that's my bread and butter. I know if I do like three of those I'm good to go. And I need another long run," said Hall who said he does almost all of his runs in Flagstaff when he's there and doesn't do a lot of high-low training although he will occasionally will "go down to Sedona to do short track stuff."
Wife Sara Fails To Make Olympics = More Training Time In Flagstaff For Hall
Hall's wife, Sara, recently failed to make the 2012 US Olympic Track and Field team in the steeplechase, as after putting herself in contention at the bell (4th place), she ended up eighth. Hall clearly was disappointed by this result, but there may be a silver lining in Sara's disappointment - more time at altitude for Hall.
"It was a real bummer for us. It was rough couple of days for sure. We just totally believed she was going to qualify. She was in a perfect spot - emotionally, physically. So when I pictured going to London, it was always with her. We were super bummed out and (her not making it) changed some things (for me)," when asked about what he felt about Sara's failure to qualify, particularly since Sara had talked about how she was really looking forward to enjoying the opening ceremony on July 27th with Ryan. "(The opening ceremony) kind of lost it's appeal that way."
"Knowing myself, I thrive being at home so I'm going to go over later. I'm going to go over on August 4th and arrive August 5th," said Hall, who added he's following the "same protocol" he did in terms of travel prior to his two appearances in the London Marathon. "I like to get over there a week early."
I asked Hall if he thought the British fans might adopt his white face as someone to cheer for if he's having a good day and contending in the Olympics.
"I don't know if I'll get a home field advantage like I do in Boston or New York. My recollection of my two runs was just of the crowd being super loud - I don't remember them cheering for me in particular."
Will The London Weather Suit Hall?
With the 2012 Olympic marathon being in London instead of, say, Beijing in 2008 or Brazil in 2016, Hall doesn't need to worry about oppressively hot conditions and that's something that pleases Hall very much.
"I'm so stoked that the Games are in London. I don't like running in the heat. That's why I never do summer marathons. I'll take a cold day over a warm day. I think it should be ideal. They briefed us at the Olympic marathon summit and gave us the statistics - there is a 50% chance that it might get up to 70 degrees. That's going to be heaven for me," said Hall when asked about whether he was doing anything specific to get ready for the conditions one might expect to find in London. For the sake of comparison, the temperature at the start of the 2008 Olympic marathon was 70 degrees, with 72 percent humidity and the temperature rose to 84 degrees.
"I think even more important than (the temperature) is - the atmosphere on the course is going to be electric - lots of narrow alleys. I think there is going to be a ton of energy on that course. I think I have the potential to run really quick if some guys get after it early on."
Two Previous Runs In London Were Both Special
Hall has good reason to expect a super loud and electric experience during his run in London as he's twice run the Virgin London Marathon, which covers some of the Olympic course, and both times he came up with inspired performances.
Hall's first run in London was his marathon debut in 2007.
Hall didn't get the win or a top three finish but he certainly gave US fans a shot of adrenaline as he had the lead at 35km (resulting in one fellow competitor to famously say after the race about Hall: "That guy has balls, man."):
In the end, he ended up just 43 seconds out of first in seventh in 2:08:24 - making himself the 2nd fastest American in history in his marathon debut.
Hall returned to London the following year with a ton of hype (LetsRun.com even flew over to cover the race) and had a truly magical day. The lead pack, which consisted of some of the greatest marathoners in the history of the sport including former world record holder Pault Tergat, 5-time marathon major champion Martin Lel and the future Olympic champ Sammy Wanjiru, went through half-way on world record pace. Hall was right with them and then he did the nearly unthinkable - he asked the rabbits to pick it up as he thought the pace was lagging. In the end, Hall ended up with his record-eligible marathon course PR of 2:06:17 (5th place).
"Having had success in the London Marathon previously does make it more exciting to return. I have lots of good memories on that road. Whenever you have success in a place it always gives you the warm fuzzies when you return," said Hall when asked about his previous success in London.
What's After The Olympics & The 2012 ING New York City Marathon?
After the Olympics, Hall is already committed to the 2012 ING New York City marathon.
I asked him if he might at some point step away form the marathon and focus on some shorter races or even possibly try to realize his high school dream of a sub-4 mile (Hall ran 3:42.70, which equates to 4:00.xx in the mile while in HS in 2001, but never broke 4:00 at Stanford).
"That's always a possibility. I'm always open to that, but right now I'm kind of stuck on the marathon. I now know how important working on speed is for me."
"My little bother Chad (who won the Foot Locker HS national championships in 2007 and just finished up his eligibility at Cal Riverside with PRs of 3:45.65, 14:11.12 and 29:54.71) is up here training with us full time. He's already pushing me on the interval sessions a lot. He'll help bring out the speed side of me. I think I really need to spend a long period of time to getting back to my speed."
What About The Shoes?
Before the interview, I posted a thread on the messageboard where I asked you - the loyal LetsRun.com reader - ideas as for questions I should ask Hall. Someone on the message board pointed out that in 2008 Asics made Hall some specially-designed shoes out of rice husks for the Olympics. Were they doing something special for him 2012?
"Those shoes they made for me were sweet," said Hall, who added that the tech people in Japan who watched Hall run and measured him told him he "ran like a girl cause my hips were inverted."
"(But) I have kind of gravitated to the HyperSpeed as I love that shoe more than my custom shoe. So what they did was they allowed me to go to the US headquarters and design the shoes with the colors as I wanted, so now I have those (three different pairs of) shoes. Today, I ran in them and tried them out to see which color scheme I like best. I've got to decide as I can't really stop every 5k and change shoes," quipped Hall.
Author's Addition: After writing the piece, I emailed Hall to see if I could get some picture of his shoes and asked him if he wanted LetsRun.com to put the shoes up to a vote so he could get feed-back from the LetsRun.com audience. Hall wrote back, "Good idea with the kicks. I was going to keep it on the DL until the Games but I think it would be fun to have a poll and have people vote on which pair they want me to race in. I'll take pictures now and send over your way." He then snapped some shots on his iphone and sent them our way.
*So Come Back Tomorrow And Help Ryan Hall Pick His Racing Shoes*
More: *2007 London Coverage Here & Here *2007 London Marathon Photos
*2008 London Marathon Coverage *2008 London Marathon Photos
*MB We are about to interview Ryan Hall - any ideas for questions
*MB Discussion of NY Times Feature on Hall: Best Quote from the NYTimes Ryan Hall article: "Hall has yet to win a major marathon."
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