The Week That Was In Running: February 13-19, 2012
February 23, 2012
On Thursday morning when we got into the office, we asked ourselves, "Is it worth writing the week in review when it's already almost the end of the following week?"
It reminded us of our training days when we'd get home late at night - say 8 pm after the end of a long day - and ask, "Should I really run again today? Is it worth it?" In those situations, we'd ask ourselves, "Are we truly exhausted or injured or are we just being lazy and looking for an out?"
We don't want to be lazy, so here goes.
Performances To Remember From Last Week
When picking a Performance of the Week, we don't necessarily pick the fastest performance of the week or even a winning performance. What we are looking for is what we always look for in track and field - and that's significance *Side note: The sport is all about significance really. Think about it. What gives someone glory? Winning the most important race - normally the Olympics.* From last week, it was easy to pick out the Performance of the Week:
1:59.10 - Time for Pamela Jelimo in a runner-up performance in Liévin, France.
Do you remember Jelimo? Honestly, college or high school runners who recently just became serious fans of the sport may not even know who Jelimo is, as she's been AWOL for three years.
In 2008, Jelimo started the year as a totally unknown 18-year-old Kenyan with a 54-second 400 PR. Her first year of 800 running was one of the greatest 800 seasons in women's history.
It all began with a 2:01 victory in the Trials for African Champs. She proved that wasn't a fluke by winning the African Champs in 1:58. Then she followed that up a 1:55 world junior record in Hengelo. If that wasn't enough, she'd twice run 1:55 and twice run 1:54 before winning Olympic gold in Beijing in 1:54.87. Before her undefeated season was over, she ran 1:54.01 and also picked up a cool $1 million for herself as the only winner of the Golden League jackpot.
But as quickly as she rose on the scence, she fell off of it. You can see all of her post-2008 800s in the chart below and they aren't pretty.
Pamela Jelimo's 800s Since Her Undefeated, Olympic and $1,000,000 Winning 2008 Season
Last year, when LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson was in Kenya, he met one of Jelimo's former coaches at a charity function. The coach said he would go get Jelimo for an interview. But then he came back and said she couldn't come as she needed to milk the cows.
At the time, Robert said he thought to himself, "Why in God's name is someone who won a million dollars milking their own cows? Why don't they pay someone to do that so they can focus on training?"
Apparently, Robert wasn't the only one thinking this, as Jelimo's management team has moved her from her hometown to Nairobi so there will be less distractions (and she ran a nice 52.0 in Nairobi). One thing Americans don't realize is that even Kenyans who aren't milking the cows often have trouble focusing on training at home, as there are constantly people coming by asking for money or assistance in some fashion (that is one reason why 2010 ING New York City marathon champ Edna Kiplagat likes to train part of the year in Boulder, Colorado).
Last year, Robert was told that Jelimo was on her way back. And it now looks like she is. We'll probably find out soon enough if she's truly back as when she's on her game, she is truly dominant.
In 2008, counting the Olympics, she ran 10 races outside of Africa. The slowest was 1:56.23. Since Beijing, only two women on the planet have even run 1:56.70 at all - Caster Semenya and Mariya Savinova.
Fans won't have to wait long to find out, as Jelimo is running world indoors next month.
Farah Gets Beaten At 2 Miles
The other big news was Eliud Kipchoge beating World Champion Mo Farah at 2 miles. One year ago, no one would have thought anything of this, now its considered a big upset even though Kipchoge was the 2005 World Champion at 5,000m. We don't place too much stock in it. Both guys ran fast and it's February. What they do in August is what matters. Kipchoge may have a tough time making the Olympic team. Realize the weekend before, both Edwin Soi and Augustine Choge ran 7:29.94 for 3,000m and Kipchoge was only 4th in the race in 7:32.03.
Videos of both races below. The video on the right is pretty crazy. Choge and Soi have the exact same time, yet everyone acts like for sure Choge won. A very interesting finish.
Mo Farah Gets Beaten By Eliud Kipchoge
Augustine Choge And Edwin Soi Both Run 7:29.94 And Everyone Acts Like They Knew Choge Won
Male Performance Of The Week/Nick Symmonds' Medal Prospects Drop
In the same meet that Jelimo ran 1:59.10, Poland's Adam Kszczot ran 1:44.57 in the men's 800. That is really, really good. It moves him up to #3 on the all-time world indoor list.
1 1:42.67 Wilson Kipketer 1997
2 1:44.15 Yuriy Borzakovskiy 2001
3 1:44.57 Adam Kszczot 2012
4 1:44.71 Joseph Mutua Mwengi 2004
5 1:44.75 Ismail Ahmed Ismail 2009
More importantly for US and Nick Symmonds fans, it's a bad development, as it means as much as we hate to admit it, Symmonds' medal chances are dropping as we speak.
Kszczot was the man who finished 6th - one spot behing Symmonds - at Worlds last year. But Kszczot is only 22 and really seems to be just coming into his own. After Worlds, he ran a 1:43.30 in Rieti. That's very fast. It's nearly a half-second better than Symmonds' PR of 1:43.76.
Who do you think has a better chance of medalling? The 22-year-old Kszczot with a 1:43.30 PR who just ran 1:44.57 indoors last week or the 28-year-old Symmonds who opened up outdoors last week himself with a 1:47.44?
More: Poland's Adam Kszczot Runs 1:44.57 And Moves To 3rd On World All-Time Indoor List Ethiopia's Mohamed Aman (the man who beat David Rudisha) was 5th in 1:46.80. Olympic bronze medallist Edwin Soi ran 7:32.56 for 3k to beat out 12:53 5k man
and 20+-year-old Isiah Koech (7:32.89). Koech's time got him the world "junior"
World indoor silver medallist Abdelaati Iguider won the 1,500
in a WLing 3:34.10. Mariem Alaoui-Selsouli ran 4:03.67 to win the 1,500 (Brit Steph Twell was ninth in 4:11.65).
Those Whose Stock Is Rising (They Had A Good Week)
1. US High Schooler Alana Hadley
Hadley set a US single-age record for 15-year-olds by running 1:16:43 for the half marathon in Myrtle Beach, obliterating the old record of 1:21:23 held by Lauren Smith, who formerly ran at Arizona and now runs for Stephen F. Austin, winning the 2011 Southland Conference individual XC title and narrowly missing a qualifying spot for NCAAs.
It's also worth noting that Zola Pieterse (yes, Zola Budd) ran the marathon in Myrtle Beach. The 45-year-old ran 3:00:14.
2. Dathan Ritzenhein
The 12:56 5ker didn't race last week. So why did he have a good week? It's simple, really. One of the all-time greatest talents in US history, but also one of the all-time most injury prone runners as well, did something very simple.
"I got out my spikes for the first time in two and a half years," blogged Ritz.
If Ritz is healthy, there is little doubt he is one of the world's best.
But he's often hurt and not able to train.
Do the math. He got his spikes out last week for the first time in 2.5 years. Well, February 28th is the 2.5-year anniversary of Ritz running a then-American record of 12:56.27 for 5,000. So Ritz fudged by about two weeks, but you get the point.
Let's hope he stays healthy.
More: Ritz Blog: It's Good To Be Boring
*Denver Post catches up with Ritz who is excited to get back to the track: Ritz "I still think I'm one of the best runners in the world." "Back in 2004 when I made my first team in the 10K, I made it by default, because I was one of the only people with the (qualifying) standard. Now there's just a whole slew of people who have it. I still think I'm one of the best runners in the world. I should have a great chance of making it."
3. David Torrence
The US 1,500-meter runner opened up his 2012 campaign last week with a 3:35.66 1,500 win at the Sydney Track Classic. The time is the 2nd best of his career (PR is 3:34.25) and is faster than Torrence ran all of 2011. So he has to be pumped about that.
One thing we won't call it, though, is a world leader like everyone else is calling it. Several people ran faster last week indoors, which is harder to do.
More: Sydney Track Classic *Results
Kiprop 1:45.9, Rudisha 45.61, David Torrence 3:35.6 Wins
Weekly Free Coaching Advice
"I make my athletes rest. We do cycles and within those cycles I incorporate rest. Athletes, mainly distance athletes, they don't want to rest. They think if they miss one mile, they're done. Within the system I have it just naturally repeats itself and they're forced to take a rest ..."
Recommended Read: A 5-Minute Chat With Southern Utah Coach Eric Houle Southern Utah and Houle have produced LRC sensation Cam Levins this year and a few years ago, it was Jess Baumgartner.
9 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quotes Of The Day)
#1 - "The average week can truly be uneventful for most people. But I take pleasure in the mundane. The bulk of training is not going to make a good tv reality show, but for the avid track fan, it is probably the stuff we like to hear about most."
-Dathan Ritzenhein blogging about an average training week.
More: Ritz Blogs: "I got out my spikes for the first time in two and a half years."
#2 - "I wanted a better life to help my family. I wasn't born with a golden spoon in my mouth; it was a really tough life. So many times, we had no money to even get to school. I'd have to find empty beer bottles to sell and spent hours carrying water on my head because we had no water at home. It gave me strength which helps me today."
- World 100m champion Yohan Blake talking in a fantastic profile of him by Ian Chadband of The Telegraph, who travelled to Jamaica for the piece. We enjoyed learning that Blake still plays cricket every weekend.
More: London 2012 Olympics: Yohan Blake gets ready to challenge Usain Bolt for the coveted 100 metres title at London 2012
#3 - "People outside think 'how can they be friends?' but we are, we have fun and a wonderful chemistry. Usain's a unique character, the greatest talent the world has seen, and he helps and encourages me. But training together is good for both of us. When we line up, it is business but apart from that, it is friendship. For me, it is not a rivalry - and I don't think it is for him too. It's just good competition. Nice and excitin'."
- Blake talking in the same Ian Chadband piece on him about his friendship with his main rival Usain Bolt.
More: London 2012 Olympics: Yohan Blake gets ready to challenge Usain Bolt for the coveted 100 metres title at London 2012
#4 - "I think the real issue is the dearth of U.S. track fans under 50.I attended a TrackTown Tuesday event in Eugene earlier this month. The turnout swamped the establishment in which it was held. There were several hundred people there, all passionate about the sport. But you could count on one hand the fans who weren't Baby Boomers or members of the Greatest Generation.
Shoot, most probably saw Steve Prefontaine run in person."
- Ken Goe writing in the Oregonian.
#5 - "And after having tasted the fruits of the NFL's Super Bowl, FIFA's World Cup, and the NBA's All-Star Weekend, I have become more convinced than ever the 'global spectacle' route is not the remedy that track and field - whose history of simplicity and purity reaches back several millennia - really needs."
- Red Shannon writing on Bleacherreport.com in an article entitled: Track & Field Memo: Don't Strive to Be Like the NFL, NBA, WWE. We 100% agree and think it's ludicrous that anyone thinks track could ever be popular like the NFL or NBA anyway.
#6 - "You can't hang a 2:03 or 2:05 or 2:07 on your neck. Hardware you can."
- Meb Keflezighi with a great quote about how victories are way more important than times in track and field. Just as we said above, track and field is all about significance, not victories. Sometimes a time is significant, but way more often, a victory is.
*Transcript Of Meb, Bob Larsen & Mary Wittenberg Teleconference
#7 - "Olympics are all bullsh*t. It's either between a select few who can afford it (lugers, bikers, poloers, show-jumpers), state-aided propagandists (cubans, chinese) or druggies.
How can anyone take such a farce seriously."
- "midatlantic" posting a comment after an Olympic article in The Telegraph.
#8 - "Last year for me to run with basically one leg, I ran 9.7. I can be a lot more dangerous, as long as I stay healthy and get a lot stronger in the weight room."
- US sprint star Tyson Gay talking to CNN about why he's optimistic for 2012.
More: CNN catches up with Tyson Gay, who believes 2012 is going to be a special year for him
#9 - "I think we're getting soft in our old age. Do I love it? No. Do I rather [run at] PG? Yes. But a race is a race whether it's faster or slower than at other places."
- Clarksburg (Md) coach Scott Matthias talking with a smile in a Washington Post profile on how many key high school meets are still run in Baltimore's Fifth Regiment Armory, which was built in 1901, has no places for spectators and is very slippery and doesn't allow spikes or even the long jump or triple jump.
More: An antiquated facility in Baltimore features in the rotation to host important Maryland high school indoor track meets
Listen: LRC Track Talk Live From Kenya LRC Employee #1 talks about meeting Kiprop and Rudisha. Did you know Rudisha was doing the decathlon for a while?
*Science Of Sport's Ross Tucker Looks At Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich & Oscar P Cases
*A Look Back At The Last Time London Hosted The Olympics: The 1948 "Austerity Olympics" The Olympics were a lot different back in the day. Competitors were expected to bring their own towels and an Olympic gold wasn't life-changing. "There was no fuss and my life wasn't changed. I went back to work as a marine engineer on the Monday. I didn't get paid to have days off and my employers considered I was a bloody nuisance."
*5 Minutes With Southern Utah Coach Eric Houle - The Man Behind Cam Levins' (And Jess Baumgartner's Success)
*Blogger encourages track meets to be intimate affairs that "cater to a sophisticated, microbrew and/or wine drinking, nationalist."
*The Telegraph's Ian Chadband Catches Up With Yohan Blake After His 2012 Season Opener - Blake Still Plays Cricket Every Sunday With Glen Mills' Blessing
Photos Of The Week
On Friday, we featured a quote from Runners Tribe's Daniel Wallis piece entitled: Let's Get Intimate - The Future Of Track And Field? By Daniel Wallis as our quote of the day.
But we bet some of you didn't read it. Please do. It got to our pet peeve of everyone wearing the same uniform in track and field. We hate when all of say the Nike athletes are dressed exactly the same in the race. But Wallis pointed out something we weren't aware of - uniforms from different shoe companies looking exactly the same.
As Wallis said, "Last year Reebok, New Balance, and Nike all had red and black racing-kits as a result of pathetic rivalry games by designers and executives jumping around from each company. Uniforms should be catered to a country's flag or national colours - a model applicable to all levels of competition."
We'll give you thumbnails of what he's talking about, but if you click on the photos below, you'll be taken to his article where you can see for yourself. On the surface, it looks like 3 athletes for the same shoe company. Instead it's 3 different companies.
Quotes Of The Day From Last Week/Last Week's Homepages
Note: To see a particular day's homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date on the left. The quote's hyperlink will take you to that particular article - not that day's homepage.
Monday 2/20: "Take away that they have grown up at an altitude higher than the New York Yankees salary cap, and cut through the air like double-edged blades, and a simple reason the Kenyans and Ethiopians kick everyone's butt in distance running is, well, what are their options? ... And that just might be the corollary to why America has never produced very many world-class distance runners. We produce world-class most everything else. Something's gotta give."
"Besides, a post-industrial society is not running's ideal seed bed. Instead, as the numbers attest, running is much better suited there for general health, solace and contemplation. While an agrarian society, especially one formed in high plateaus, represents running’s most fecund topsoil."
"You spend a few hours a day tending the animals and crops, walking along high-country dirt roads for transportation, eating fresh, unpolluted food, and dreaming big dreams in the black night air of winning thousands of life-transforming dollars at races in far flung capitals - like every fourth guy in the village seems to have done - and maybe running tops your to-do list tomorrow, too. By the same token, find yourself drowning in a pool of debt after eight hours scouring mortgage refi offers before scarfing down a stuffed-crust pizza, and your chances of feeding oxygen to working leg muscles at high speed just might deteriorate a tad."
- Toni Reavis blogging on the "culture of running in East Africa" and why they dominate.
- Mo Farah on his 8:08.07 two-mile loss to 2003 World Champion Eliud Kipchoge in a great meet in Birmingham. Farah smashed the European record in the process. A year ago, none of us would have thought anything of Farah getting beaten by Kipchoge. Now it's an upset.
Saturday 2/18: "To have a silver medal under your name (and the 2009 ING New York City Marathon title) and to go without a shoe contract for eight months, put yourself in my position: What would you feel like? I mean, nobody will know except the people who are really close with me. I work every day to get the best out of myself."
- Meb Keflezighi talking on a teleconference Thursday. As for the Olympics, he said, "I already have my silver medal. I can take a little more risk." Meb's biography is still free on the Kindle to Amazon Prime Members. Wejo just read it and enjoyed it.
Friday 2/17: "Track needs to cater to a sophisticated, microbrew and/or wine drinking, nationalistic audience. Yes, nationalistic. ... Locally, people care if Australia is competing against New Zealand, South Africa or whoever.
What they don't care about is a dozen unidentifiable 145lb males running in unison around a track wearing slight variations of the exact same uniform. Last year Reebok, New Balance, and Nike all had red and black racing-kits as a result of pathetic rivalry games by designers and executives jumping around from each company. Uniforms should be catered to a country's flag or national colours - a model applicable to all levels of competition.
- Daniel Wallis writing about what the administrators need to do to help improve the sport. We agree with many of his ideas and have always said if we were the CEO of a shoe company, we'd immediately fire whomever had people compete in identical uniforms.
Thursday 2/16: "You have to be an astute track fan to really understand [1,500m is] about 110 yards short and you're going to add anywhere from 15 to 17 seconds. By the time you do all of that, you've lost a large share of the general public."
- Jim Ryun, talking in an AP article about the "Bring Back The Mile" campaign. The article talks about the group's goals and includes some interesting history behind the mile and the US's move to 1,500/1,600 distances. Ryan Lamppa, who heads the group, says that he'd like to one day see them go to the mile at the Olympics.
Wednesday 2/15: "An Olympic year, a struggling sport dying for attention, and the people who call the shots can't swallow their pride for even a minute. I'd say that this sport deserves every bit of its failure, but these morons are taking the rest of us down with them."
- Track & Field Superfan blogger Jesse Squire, talking about how the USATF has completely ignored the Millrose Games and everything about it on its website, including Bernard Lagat's national record in the 5k. Putting on the USATF Classic in Akransas was great for the sport, but purposely trying to hurt Millrose is not. Ryan Craven also blogged on this issue, saying to USATF, "You may think yourselves clever for not mentioning anything of their achievements while showering praise over your own events, but you do so at the sport's expense." We agree.
Tuesday 2/14: "People outside think 'how can they be friends?' but we are, we have fun and a wonderful chemistry. Usain's a unique character, the greatest talent the world has seen, and he helps and encourages me. But training together is good for both of us. When we line up, it is business but apart from that, it is friendship. For me, it is not a rivalry - and I don't think it is for him too. It's just good competition. Nice and excitin'."
- Yohan Blake, world champion at 100m, talking about his training partner and friend Usain Bolt, the Olympic champion at 100m. The article comes from a great profile of Blake by The Telegraph's Ian Chadband, who went to Jamaica to get to know Blake better. A definite Recommended Read.