The Week That Was In Running - May 17 -  May 23, 2010

By LetsRun.com
May 25, 2010

To read last week's LRC Week That Was, click Here.
To read any 2010
LRC Week That Was, click Here.

Last week was light in terms of domestic US action, but we've found plenty to talk about. In roving the globe from Shanghai to Daegu to California, we find time to rip the new Olympic 2012 mascots, wonder if long years are in store for top US pros Shalane Flanagan and Jacob Hernandez, catch up with Lukas Verzbicas, give out free coaching advice from Jerry Schumacher and bow down to the great Japanase sprinters and introduce you to Shota Iizuka.

Last week, a ton was written about the fact that Floyd Landis said Lance Armstrong doped. Since that's been covered extensively elsewhere, we won't comment on that in our weekly recap other than to say that we'd have been more surprised if Landis said Lance Armstrong didn't dope than did. If you want to read about the Landis/Armstrong doping allegations, click here for more coverage.

Embarrassing London 2012 Mascots Unveiled
We'll start things off by making fun of the Olympic 2012 Mascots which were unveiled last week. The whole concept of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to come up with some ugly looking mascot is beyond us but apparently a rite of passage for all Olympic organizing bodies. Why not just have a user submitted contest?

Otherwise you end up with embarrassments like this:

The 2012 Olympic mascot Wenlock and Paralympic mascot Mandeville pose for photographers in the playground at St. Paul's primary school in London
Thankfully, we aren't the only ones mocking the horrendous creatures. They are being referred to in the Canadian press as "walking alien penis creatures" or "terror sperm?"

What term do you think fits better?

But not everyone is mocking the mascots. Amazingly, the New York Times had a long article that explained how the mascots which "are meant to evoke the spirit of the Games and the host country, but also connect children with sports" actually achieve that goal. The 504-word article included the following unbelievable quote from former Olympic great Seb Coe: "The one thing that came out of our research with children is they weren't looking for a cuddly toy or something human, but for something rooted in a very good story."

And that certainly wasn't the most ridiculous quote. We loved this one even more:

"Biology and technology are fusing," said Edward M. O'Hara, the chief creative officer at SME, which creates logos for professional and collegiate teams. "It's certainly not the same model as previous mascots, but as a concept, they are right in line with what appeals to youth."

When we first read The NY Times article, we honestly thought it was a satire piece.

The good news is that the mascots supposedly only cost a few thousand dollars to design as compared to the £400,000 ($573,000) they spent on the Official London 2012 logo, which some thinks looks like an oral sex act:

More: *LRC MB: Hey Brits, What is Up with Your Olympic Mascots?? *Are London's Wenlock and Mandeville the most bizarre Olympics ... *Canada pokes fun at 2012 mascots *NY Times Explains The London Mascots To The Masses *Australia: Thumbs down for the London Olympics monsters*Official Mascot Video *What goof designed these mascots?*2012 Mascot Design Rife with Symbolic Messages

The Top Pros Go To Asia
With college competitors in the US taking the week off to get ready for Regionals the opening round of NCAAs, the biggest action came last week from Asia, where there was a high-quality meet in South Korea in the stadium that will host Worlds in 2011 as well as the 2nd IAAF Diamond League meet in Shanghai.

If you want recaps of what happened where, please see the following links.

LRC Recap/Results: Bolt Smashes Competition, Fast Distance Races Headline Shanghai Diamond League
*LRC Photos  *
Bolt 19.76 Video *Shanghai Meet Writeup From IAAF *
Bolt Tells Gay He Can Chase The Records

Boards: Bolt 9.86 In Daegu
*Recap Bolt got a bad start before running hard to an 9.86 victory on a day where most times were not fast. See the race video to the right. (Shorter Video (1:00))

But our goal is to analyze and there wasn't a whole lot to analyze. Maybe we'll try comparing some of the distance results to the US all-time lists to show you how amazing it is if an American ever medals. In the women's 5k, six women ran 14:44.90 or faster. for comparison's sake, the American's women 5,000 meter record belongs to Shalane Flanagan (more on her below), who has run 14:44.80.

In the men's 1,500 in Shanghai, 7 Kenyan men ran 3:33.99 or faster. In world history, only 12 people born in the US have ever run that fast (16 overall), as shown by the following list.

All-Time USA 1,500 Meter List:
3:29.30 - Bernard Lagat*
3:29.77 - Sydney Maree*
3:30.54 - Alan Webb
3:31.01 - Jim Spivey
3:31.52 - Steve Holman
3:31.76 - Steve Scott
3:31.93 - David Krummenacker
3:32.94 - Lopez Lomong*
3:33.1h - Jim Ryun
3:33.28 - Chris Lukezic
3:33.33 - Leonel Manzano*
3:33.6h - Joe Falcon
3:33.72 - Seneca Lassiter
3:33.89 - Paul McMullen
3:33.99 - Steve Lacy
3:33.99 - Todd Harbour
*indicates born outside the US.

What Is Wrong With ...? (Jacob Hernandez And Shalane Flanagan)
As the professional track season continues to get under way in full swing, we are making it a vow of ours to point out some of the struggles of some of the top-notch pros. In the major sports, the media criticizes athletes probably as much if not more than they praise them. Why not at least have a little of that in running? Far too many in the running media just write boring puff praise piece after puff praise piece.

Not us.

Two weeks ago, we pointed out the struggles of Jeremy Wariner this year. This week, we'll add the names of Jacob Hernandez and Shalane Flanagan.

Admittedly, we're holding both of these runners to incredibly high standards, but hear us on out this. Flanagan ran a 15:04 5,000 three weeks ago. That's a GREAT outdoor opener for nearly any American but Flanagan. But a 15:04 outdoor opener certainly isn't amazing for a 14:44 performer. Remember, Flanagan is someone who opened up in 14:47 indoors in 2009. This week, Flanagan raced again - admittedly it was at 1,500, which certainly isn't her distance - but she only managed a 4:10.24, not great for someone who ran a 4:05.86 in 2007.

Now, for all we know Flanagan is doing a ton of mileage as she prepares for her marathon debut and is just racing underdistance for variety's sake and speed work - much like Galen Rupp did before becoming a total monster last year. That might be the case, but we're just pointing out her two sub-par times to sort of say, "Hey it's certainly not going to surprise us if this isn't a PR type of year for Shalane. She was less than impressive last summer after she switched coaches (from John Cook to Jerry Schumacher) and it looks like that might be the case this year again." Knowing nothing about her training, she certainly  to be reverting to her pre-2007 type of form when she was a 4:09/15:05 pretty good American, not a 14:44/30:22 Olympic bronze medallist.

Another stud who looks like they might not PR in 2009 is 800 standout Jacob Hernandez. In 2008 and 2009, Hernandez was the man who slayed Andrew Wheating at NCAAs before getting injured outdoors last year. However, his first full year of a pro hasn't been good so far. Admittedly, it's very, very early for a pro 800 guy but his indoor season only consisted of two 1:49s. Outdoors, he's run twice and not finished faster than 1:48.07, which was a time that got him 5th in his heat last week. All of this for a guy who has a 1:45.31 pb and for someone who opened up outdoors both in 2008 and 2009 with a 1:47, with a 1:47.58 (2009) being his slowest outdoor opener during 2008 or 2009.

Wheating and Hernandez both ran their times last week at the USATF High Performance meet at Occidental College. It seemed like nearly ever top North American-based middle-distance pro showed up and raced. Full results are listed below in case you missed it. Race videos here.

USATF deserves a Thumbs Up for putting on such a meet.

Women's 800 Women's 1,500 Men's 800 Men's 1,500
Section  1                                                     
  1 Alice Schmidt 2:01.68
  2 Geena Gall 2:02.16
  3 Heidi Dahl 2:02.36
  4 Rebecca Johnstone 2:03.63
  5 Lindsey Schnell 2:04.37
  6 Nikeya Green   2:04.81
  7 Melanie Hardy 2:08.38
  8 Krishna Curry  2:09.73
 -- Joy Eaton  DNF
Section  2                                                     
  1 Trenierre Clemment-Moser 2:01.33
  2 Morgan Uceny  2:01.88
  3 Shannon Rowbury   2:02.02
  4 Jenny Barringer  2:02.12
  5 Erin Donohue 2:02.34
  6 Laura Hermanson-Januszew 2:03.67
 -- Ashley McLaughlon DNF
  1 Nicole Edwards  4:06.34
  2 Jemma Simpson   4:06.39
  3 Shalane Flannagan   4:10.24
  4 Amy Mortimer  4:10.82
  5 Lindsay Gallo   4:11.34
  6 Marina Muncan   4:11.60
  7 Julia Howard   4:12.71
  8 Sara Hall  4:13.00
  9 Barbara Parker  4:13.18
 10 Francis Koons  4:16.00
 11 Lindsay Allen  4:20.32
 12 Lauren Hagans 4:20.52
 13 Jaime Canterbury   4:22.08
 14 Kara June 4:29.12
 -- Erin Donohue DNF
Section  1                                                     
  1 Matthew Petrocci  1:48.99
  2 Brendan Mahoney   1:50.26
  3 Jonathon Simmons  1:50.31
  4 Nick Thornton     1:50.64
  5 Scott Crawford   1:50.80
  6 Rico Greenhouse 1:51.17
  7 Jason Graney  1:51.24
  8 James Hatch  1:58.50
 -- . Drew      DNF
Section  2                                                     
  1 David Torrence   1:47.37
  2 Moise Joseph    1:47.60
  3 Ryan Brown   1:48.26
  4 Sean Tully   1:48.54
  5 Matt Scherer  1:48.76
  6 Mike Carmody  1:49.02
  7 Ruben Twijukye 1:49.07
 -- Floyd Thompson DNF
Section  3                                                     
  1 Duane Soloman 1:46.48
  2 JJ Johnson 1:46.53
  3 Tyler Mulder   1:47.08
  4 Cory Primm  1:47.40
  5 Jacob Hernandez 1:48.07
  6 Prince Mumba  1:48.88
  7 Brandon Shaw 1:52.97
 -- Deon Bascom  DNF
  1 Leonel Manzano 3:36.74
  2 Russell Brown  3:36.89
  3 Will Leer    3:37.26
  4 Steve Pifer   3:38.94
  5 Garrett Heath   3:40.05
  6 Liam Boylan-Pett   3:40.15
  7 Ian Cronin   3:40.44
  8 Kyle Alcorn  3:40.68
  9 Daniel Castle   3:40.75
 10 Robert Novak  3:40.90
 11 Darren Brown  3:41.55
 12 Alex Ruiz   3:43.32
 13 Jordan Horn   3:43.78
 14 Bolota Asmeron   3:43.98
 15 Sean Brosnan 3:45.03
 -- Marlon Patterson  DNF
 -- Hakon Devries   DNF

Weekly Free Coaching Advice (Courtesy Of Jerry Schumacher):
This week's free coaching advice is simple. Sometimes, by not worrying about your time and just racing, you end up with an amazing time. So focus on the competition, not time, and you're much more likely to get the time that you want.

If you don't believe us, then believe Nike Oregon Track coach Jerry Schumacher (who we mentioned earlier is also the coach of Shalane Flanagan). He said the following to competitor.com about Chris Solinsky's 26:59 10k:

That is something that came easy to Chris this race, because he had never run a 10,000 before. It was uncharted territory for him and so he was able to forget about the whole element of time and worry about the competition. It will probably be harder for him to do it the next time out, but if there is anything he learned from it, he learned that not worrying about time was the way to do it. He knows. I’ve been telling him this for years. It’s just not easy to do under most circumstances.

It's worth noting that Schumacher himself wasn't worried about time at all and didn't even start a watch when the race began (of course that's easy to do when you know the race is going to be rabbitted by two very talented Kenyans and then Galen Rupp himself).
More: The Man Behind The Magic

Quotes Of The Week #1 & 2 (That Wasn't A Quote Of The Day):
"I have a better chance to make the Olympics in triathlon than I do in track and field, at least for 2012. I'm training for that now, and if I keep working hard, I'll get there. That's what I'm thinking right now, but it depends on how everything goes over the next few years. I might still be a runner in the future. We'll see."

- 17-year-old phenom Lukas Verzbicas, who may be one of the greatest running prep talents in American history, talking about his immediate future in the sport in a nice feature article on him in Running Times. In the article, it was revealed that Verzbicas ran a 5k at age 10 with no training and hammered the first mile in 5:30.

In that article, his mother Rasa, who was a former national record holder at 3k for the Lithuania, had this great quote as well:

"You know, an Olympic gold medal is 95 percent very hard work and 3 percent talent and 2 percent good luck," says his mother, who had PRs of 8:56 for 3,000m and 4:09 for 1,500m when she was competing in the early 1980s. "So you've got to work, work, work. You can be a great talent, but if you're not working, you're not going to make it."

More: Lukas Verzbicas: Boy Wonder

Race Video Of The Week
A new feature in our weekly recap is the Race Video of the week. There are a ton of races every week, but lets face it - many of them are very boring, rabbitted affairs. What is worth watching? This week, it's a sprint race from Japan that Brett Larner of JapanRunningNews.blogspot.com shared with us. In the video below, you will see Chuo University (lane 5, in white) run 38.54 in the 4 x 100 thanks to a monster anchor leg from freshman Shota Iizuka. 38.54 would have won the NCAA 4 x 100 final last year, almost beaten the 2nd American team at Penn Relays (38.50), and made almost any Olympic or WC final. Worth a watch for sure.

Iizuka may end up being a name you want to remember as the 18-year-old has already run a windy 10.22 this year as well as a 20.58 into a headwind.


Recommended Reads
We've mentioned a lot of the Recommended Reads already above but wanted to give a brief mention to the RTimes piece on the coaching success Marcus O'Sullivan and Gina Procaccio are having at their alma mater Villanova. We loved how O'Sullivan admitted how he hated coaching at first as he said the following: "I'd never realized how selfish athletes can be, and I suddenly understood what my coaches had done for me over the years."

The article from Britain on Sanya Richards is definitely worth reading as well.

SanyaRichards Suffering From Bechet's Disease Flare Up
Coaching Advice - Jerry Schumacher Speaks
*Lukas Verzbicas: Boy Wonder
*The Villanova Mystique: O'Sullivan and Procaccio continue the school's legacy

LetsRun.com Quotes Of The Day - Day-By-Day:

"With 250 metres to go I was messing up."
- The skinniest, tallest 1,500m runner of all time, Asbel Kiprop, who had another amazing kick come up short in Shanghai after being in terrible position for some reason with 250m to go. People are saying the rightful Olympic champ is either "an idiot or lacks concentration": thread here.

Sunday: It's a tough trip. Everything about it is tough. It's hot, it's a lot of rounds, and what the reason for it is, I have no idea."
- Oregon men's and women's head Vin Lananna talking about the upcoming NCAA Round 1 West Regional meet in Austin, TX. Register Guard journalist Curtis Anderson uses the words "ordeal" and "chore" to describe next week's meet.

Saturday: "There were times when I could have (quit) and I don't think anybody would have blamed me. It's tough. You put a lot into it and not everyone always gets out what they put in."
- Andrew Carlson, who won his 2nd US road title last week in the US 25k championships (he also previously won the US 15k title in Jacksonville). A member of the McMillan Elite group, Carlson is featured in the Arizona Daily Sun and talks about backing off his racing schedule in order to build himself up for bigger performances.


Message Board Thread Here
More Coverage: ESPN.com Article
*Article Message Board Skeptics Want Lance Defenders To Read
*Landis Email Allege Armstrong Tested Positive in 2002 And It Went Away
*Lance Denies Doping Claims
*Armstrong's Manager Says Landis Needs Help

Wednesday: "I think the plan is to run everything. We'll probably enter all three, and whatever we decide to run, we'll run. If we decide to scratch something for whatever reason, we'll scratch it. I'm ready to do it all. I'm ready. I'm a workhorse. Put a load on my back, and I'll get it done."

"I watched [Acosta] finish the race (5k) and I was in awe. I sat there for five minutes after his race to take it all in."
- Oregon's oft-maligned AJ Acosta before the PAC-10 meet and teammate Matt Centrowitz after the meet. Despite about 8,000 races taking place this weekend, Acosta stood out as he tripled steeple/1,500/5k over a 30-hour span (8:52, 3:41, 13:46) and scored 19 points for the Duck men, who ended up winning by 12 over USC.

Tuesday: "As many as eight intersex women may have been expelled from athletics in the past and I gather that they were warned that if they made a fuss, they would be exposed. So it seems it's not about athletic advantage, it's about keeping the Olympics free of unwanted complications. It sends the message that women must do what men say and if the eight athletes had to be sacrificed, so be it, which I find very disturbing."
- World-renowned sports scientist Tim Noakes pulling no punches in an interview with South Africa's Times where he completely defends Caster Semenya and ASA and says she should be allowed to compete.

Last Week's Homepages
*Mon (May 24) *Sun (May 23) *Sat (May 22) *Fri (May 21) *Thur (May 20) *Wed (May 19) *Tue (May 18)


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