Note: LetsRun.com's Weldon Johnson (WEJO), finished 25th in the
Men's Olympic Trials. Here he recaps his race:
|I gave myself a chance
|Although obviously, I'm disappointed with my
result, I am not disappointed with my race. I wanted to put myself
in contention to make the Olympic Team, and I did that by putting
myself in the 2nd pack that contained the winner of the race.
By halfway, I was pretty certain the winner would come from my
pack, it just turned out not to be me. All in one can ask for
is a chance to make the Olympics and I gave myself one. Let me
give a full recap of the race.
It was brutally hot
First, the conditions were brutal. After the women's Olympic
Trials, my comment was, "I can't believe the women did not
try and run under the Olympic A standard (the time required for
more than one person to go to the Olympics). The men won't do
that." But now I see how wrong I was. The conditions in
Columbia were brutally hot, and the conditions in Pittsburgh
were terrible. It was extremely hot. I see now that in such conditions
the runners are forced to adjust their pre-race plans because
today it would have been suicidal to try and run under 2:14.
I was a bit surprised to find Todd Williams, in the 2nd chase
pack (the pack that I joined at mile 9) after his comments at
the pre-race press conference that he would decide it wasn't
a 2:14 day when "he was sitting on the curb." However,
I give Todd a lot of respect for recognizing the conditions and
adjusting his plan accordingly. Unfortunately, for Todd (and
myself), the winner who emerged from our pack was Rod DeHaven.
No, I did not miss the start
When I first ran by my Team Wejo fan club (45 supporters adorned
in Team Wejo, LetsRun.com t-shirts) there was some debate between
my coach and brother as to whether I had missed the start. No,
I did not. I just started slow. My first mile was in 5:20, and
my next one was slow too. (I've always seemed to have some trouble
getting going in the marathon). However, I was not too worried.
I was confident in my preparation, and felt I would put myself
in contention. If I never put myself in contention to make the
team, I would be extremely upset with my race, but that would
not be the case.
Joining the Winning Pack
Gradually, I began to run a faster pace and to gain on the
chase packs. The race for the first half consisted of one or
two leaders, and 3 chase packs, and then everyone else. I caught
the 3rd pack that included eventual 6th place finisher Dave Scudamore
(who never put himself in position to win) at mile 7, and the
second chase pack, that had the majority of the top guys around
mile 9. At this point after recognizing that eventual winner
Rod DeHaven, Scott Larson, John Sence, and Mike Dudley were in
this pack, I began to think that the winner would come from this
pack A few seconds later, after also recognizing Todd Williams
and Mark Coogan in the pack, I was convinced the winner would
come from this pack. (Hey I was right, although Peter DeLaCerda
put up a good fight). I decided to quit moving up and run with
this pack until after the big hill at mile 12.
The Pack Breaks Up
During the 14th and 15th miles, the pack began to break up
and my shot at making the team slowly evaporated. After passing
half-way in 1:08:30 I knew that only the winner of the race would
be going to the Olympics. The first to leave the pack was DeHaven,
and slowly it strung out, with myself staying in the back. I
continued to be somewhat confident, and run my own race, feeling
somewhat strong although I was losing some ground.
David Morris and the T.V. Cameras
During the 15th mile, I passed the #1 seed, 2:09 marathoner,
David Morris. I felt sorry for him because he's run 2:09, and
his shot of going to the Olympics were clearly over. To my dismay,
the lead t.v. truck dropped back, and filmed David Morris in
his agony for probably a mile. I could hear the truck behind
me the whole time. Finally, I was glad to not hear the truck
anymore and figured they had left David alone. However, that
was not the case, as I would learn from my uncle that the only
reason the truck stopped was because David had stopped clutching
his stomach in agony. Once they got the picture they wanted they
left him alone.
Olympic Dream Slips Away
Probably around mile 16, I realized that I was not going
to win the race and make the Olympics, as Coogan, DeHaven, and
Larson had left my pack and were ahead of me charging for the
leaders. However, I was still passing people and moving up. By
miles 18 or 19, I was in 12th place and could see 7 guys within
striking distance for sure. The plan along was to make my strongest
move the last 4 miles, so I felt a top 5 question was not out
of the question. Soon, my problems would begin in earnest.
Todd Williams in Agony
Around mile 18 or 19, I passed the favorite of the race according
to the LetsRun.com poll (click here for poll results), Todd Williams. Todd obviously
had given it all he had to win the race from my pack and now
was in trouble. He clutched his side and ran-walk as I went by.
Todd should be commended for running a smart race, and finishing
when he clearly had nothing to gain.
Myself in Agony
During the 20th mile, my slow trip to hell began. I was obviously
running slower now but had been passing people until this point.
However, I began to cramp in my stomach, and soon was struggling
to run at my very slow pace. Soon my pace became slower and slower.
Gradually, guys began to pass me one by one. I even stopped for
10 seconds and bent over trying to get rid of my cramp, and although
it helped a bit, I was running very slowly. All along, I could
not believe more people weren't pasing me. Money was not sufficient
motivation anymore, as I did not even try and put up a fight
as I fell out of the top 20 somewhere in the last 3 miles (20th
place received $1000, and 21st $0). The point now was to finish,
and that's what I did. A bunch of college kids cheering for another
runner were my companions the final 3 miles as they ran alongside
on the sidewalk. I asked them how slow I was runing and they
politely responded that I wasn't running slow. When they told
me I looked good I knew they were lying.
At mile 25, I asked Shawn Hellebuyck (wife of 5th place finisher
Eddy Hellebuyck), who was winning the race. She told me that
"Rod DeHaven had won, and Eddy was 5th." I remember
being shocked to learn they were already finished since I had
been with Rod an hour previously. Not soon enough I made it to
the finish and ended my agony. Each of the last miles seemed
like they were each 5ks.
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