The Week That Was In Running: May 28 - June 3, 2012
To read last week's LRC Week That Was, click here.
June 5, 2012
A lot of a great action last week as there was a great Diamond League meeting in both Rome and Eugene. We already gave a lot of insight into those two meets when we recapped Rome and when we recapped Eugene (Day 1 Recap, Day 2 Recap). We can't spend too much time looking back this week as we've got to get ready for NCAAs and two more Diamond League meetings this week - one on Wednesday in Oslo, and one in New York on Saturday.
First we start off by looking at some pics of some hot teenage prodigies, then we take a look at alcoholism in Kenya, before wondering if Bernard Lagat is past the prime as well as Kenenisa Bekele. Along the way, we take a subtle dig at NCAA distance-only factories, get words of wisdom from James Li, Usain Bolt, Bernard Lagat and 40-year-old sub-4 man Anthony Whiteman. We also wonder if Alysia Montano can win gold and compare the PR races of all the American born the sub-13 performers in Kennedy, Rupp, Ritz, Solinsky, and Tegenkamp .
Oldest To Youngest
Quick, please tell us how old you think the following three people are:
Okay, how about you re-arrange them according to age?
Or how about this - which one of them isn't a teenager?
Alright, the last question is unfair as all three of them are teenage prodigies. The guy on the far left is 19-year-old baseball star Bryce Harper, the guy in the middle is 19-year-old GBR sprinter Adam Gemili and the last guy is Kenya's 17-year-old 800 star Leonard Kosencha.
What's our point? Only that all male teenage prodigies are probably fairly advanced physically and look experienced. Given the fact that there has been rampant age cheating by African countries in the past, we know Kenya doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt, but we felt a little bit guilty in agreeing so readily in our Rome recap with the Diamond League announcers that Kosencha does seem to be "experienced" looking. Yes, he looks old, but does he really look any older than the two other teen prodigies? Admittedly, they are 19 and he's supposedly 17, but you get our point.
7 Quotes Of The Week (That Weren't Quote Of The Day)
Alcoholism in Kenya
"It is now official that Central Kenya is drinking itself into oblivion, The Standard can authoritatively reveal.
Most affected are men, including the married lot who no longer have conjugal relations with their spouses, leading to fears schools might be extinct within the next 10 years as birth rates fall."
- Opening two paragraphs of an article in Kenya's The Standard on alcoholism in Central Kenya. According to the article, 34% of men in Central Kenya are alcoholics and bars outnumber schools by 20%. This doesn't have anything to do with running, but considering the death of Sammy Wanjiru was alcohol related and the problems other Kenyan runners have had with booze, it helps put it in a larger societal context. As for not having conjugal relations with their spouses that is a completely different matter.
Coach James Li Explaining Why He Gave Bernard Lagat A "Measured Routine" In College (And Showing That He Understands College Running Perfectly - If You Are At A Distance-Only Factory, You Can Simply Throw Eggs Against The Wall & See Who Doesn't Break)
"When you have 10 good runners you probably can afford to hammer them. I couldn't afford to do that because if
my one guy got hurt, we weren't going to be very good."
"A lot of times, coaches need to be careful about what they do. I'm not a factory. I cannot manufacture champions. The best thing I did for him was that I didn't push him too hard or mess him up or ruin him."
The quote from Li comes from a nice LA Times profile on Bernard Lagat.
Sometimes It's So Easy An Elementary School Kid Can Grasp It/Usain Bolt Explaining On What Enabled Him To Go From 10.04 To 9.76 In One Race
"Since I've been in Europe I've not been sleeping regularly, so after Ostrava I made sure I started going to bed earlier and eating right. I've been trying to get a lot more sleep and eating better."
Bolt was full of great quotes last week. In fact, the one above from the BBC might have only been his third-best quote of the week.
We loved this quote that he gave to The Independent that showed perhaps the #1 attribute Bolt possesses - confidence:
"Even if I lose every race up to the Olympics it doesn't matter because I know that I have one focus and that is just to go to the Olympics and do great things."
And perhaps the best quote of them all. We feel like drug cheats deserved to get razzed on. On Justin Gatlin, Bolt had the following to say to Eurosport: "I don't want to be rude or anything but I think that Gatlin had his chance. It's funny the things he says. I think he has a few guys to get past before worrying about me."
Sometimes It's So Easy An Elementary School Kid Can Grasp It II
"When I was much younger (than 13) I remember watching (the Olympics) on TV and turning to my father and saying: 'Dad, I want to run in the Olympics one day.'
"He looked at me, very seriously, and said: 'Tiffany, you know what? If you continue to work hard then, one day, you will.' That moment sticks out in my mind. It just resonates with me. I was lucky that, from such an early age, my family believed in me. And I had the determination to do it."
- British hurdler Tiffany Porter in an interview with The Guardian.
#5 Bernard Lagat On Why He's Still Going Strong
"In the Olympics, I don't have a gold medal. When I wake up every day, I know this is what I want."
Bernard Lagat talking in the LA Times profile where he appears full of motivation.
Anthony Whiteman - Who Went Sub-4:00 In The Mile Last Week (3:58.79 At Age 40 (And 1:48.28 In The 800 Earlier In The Year) - On The Secret To His Success
"First of all, unlike many athletes, I stopped (competing as a profession) because I felt it was time to stop. I was going to have a family, it was the Athens Olympics and I hadn't quite made it and felt it was the right time to stop."
"It wasn't injury which forced me to stop. It was my choice and I could have carried on. I was doing a good job pacemaking at races, too, but because of where I lived it wasn't practical and I didn't want to miss out on being a dad."
"Athletics is a single person's job and sport and it's very difficult for parents. If you want to fit in your training if you have kids, you have a hard weekly schedule and you also sometimes have to be very selfish."
"Since then I've just kept myself in shape. I'm a personal trainer, so I run around in my job, with lots of nine-minute miles. Then in 2010 I started doing a few more races. I did one, it went okay. So someone asked me to do another. And it just snowballed from there."
That quote from Whiteman came from an Athletics Weekly piece on him before the sub-4 mile but after he broke Johnny Gray's world record for a 40-year-old of 1:48.81. Whiteman was no slouch when he was in his prime. His PRs for GBR were 1:45.81, 3:32.32 for 1,500 and 3:51.90 for the mile. His next goal? "I'd love to get to the final of the British Olympic Trials just to annoy the other athletes," said Whitman after the race to Athletics Weekly.
So kudos to Mr. Whiteman. Running that fast at that age seems inconceivable, but. ... See below.
Kenenisa Bekele Telling LetsRun.com How Technology Is Overrated
"Sometimes you don't need a lot of technology for training. If you are talented, if you are gifted from god you don't need many technologies. Of course technology will help you if you are not so talented ..."
- We loved that old-school quote. (See below to watch this exact clip in the video with Bekele) Bekele is definitely a blue-collar (not a yuppie) runner. Of course, Bekele did build himself his own synthetic track (more on that below).
More: LRC Breakfast With Farah, Lagat, Kiprop And Bekele Those four were center stage at Friday's press conference and we talked to each of them. If you've got some time to kill Saturday morning, take a listen. Bekele took a shot at all of you GPS/Alter-G lovers.
Bernard Lagat (& Paula Radcliffe) Is Almost 40/Has Lagat Lost It?
In looking up some stats on sub-4 40 year-old Anthony Whiteman, a thought popped up into our heads. "You know what, he's not that much older than Paula Radcliffe and Bernard Lagat. What they are trying to do this summer is probably even more amazing."
Sure enough, the stats reveal that Whiteman is just 2 years and 34 days older than Paula Radcliffe and 3 years and 29 days older than Bernard Lagat.
What does that mean?
It means that Lagat and Radcliffe face very tough tasks this summer, but there is hope. Constantina Dita was 38-and-a-half when she won Olympic gold in the women's marathon in 2008 (but no matter the conditions, we promise you the winning time in 2012 won't be 2:26:44 like it was in 2008).
It also means that in general the body goes very suddenly in track and field (and all sports really). An aging veteran like Lagat can be at the pinnacle of his career but then suddenly only a short time later be totally done. Dita is a good example of that. After winning Olympic gold in 2008, she never broke 2:30 again in the marathon, with her best being the 2:32:34 she ran in London this spring.
After seeing Bernard Lagat finish third-to-last in the mile Prefontaine Classic, some of you may be wondering, "Has Lagat suddently lost it?"
We'll admit that thought crossed our minds, but we don't think Lagat has suddenly lost it after looking spectacular in winning World Indoor gold in March like Dita did after Beijing.
It seemingly is too short of a time frame to go from world beater to also-ran. Lagat certainly isn't in the early season form that he was in last year when he ran a 2:48 1,200 split at Penn and then 8:07 for 2 miles at Pre, but the key thing to us is he seemingly is headed in the right direction.
This year at Penn, Lagat only ran 3:57.2 and coughed up a 1.8-second lead and lost to Leo Manzano as Manzano split 3:54.9.
At Pre, Lagat once gain lost to Manzano but this time Lagat ran 3:54.28 for the full mile in the process. Nothing great, but it's better than what he did at Penn by a long shot.
Also, the loss seems better when one realizes the following two things.
i) he was only one spot and .55 seconds behind Silas Kiplagat, who is one of the top milers in the world.
ii) he beat Lopez Lomong in the process.
Just over a month ago, Lomong was the toast of LetsRun.com as he looked spectacular in running a 5,000 in Stanford in 13:11.63.
We guess that people just need to be reminded that everyone in the Bowerman Mile was a total stud and 14 of the 16 people ran under 3:55 in the race. Someone had to finish last - next to last, etc.
A Few Thoughts On Kenenisa Bekele
It may have been stunning for many of you to see Kenenisa Bekele lose to Galen Rupp and others at the Prefontaine Classic. Sure, you probably knew that Bekele's early season form hadn't been top notch but many of you don't have the time to watch the live feeds from Doha and Shanghai and thus reading about it and watching it live on NBC are two entirely different things.
To us, however, Bekele's run in Eugene was a huge positive for him.
Yes, he got dusted by Mo Farah, Isiah Koech and Rupp, but he ran 13:01 in the process, which was a big improvement over his other marks so far this year. Remember, early in May in his opener in Doha, he lost to Koech by 7.57 seconds in a 3,000. Three weeks and a day later he loses by 3.85 seconds to Koech in a 5,000.
That's undoubtedly improvement.
And there's 9 more weeks until the 10,000 in London. And Bekele's currently just 4.5 seconds behind Farah. He made up a second a week on Koech. Do you not think he can make up .5 seconds a week between now and the start of the Olympics?
After thinking about it for a while, we admit we sort of agreed with the thinking of message board poster "The King Reigns!" who started a thread entitled: Do you guys seriously think Bekele won't Win the olympic 10k? Seriously? where he explained his logic as follows:
So many people act like he's done and way out of it, yet he finished 2 seconds behind Rupp and was closing ...
Remember last year when he showed up at worlds and was fat and out of shape. Then, (less than three) weeks later he freaking popped a world leading time in the 10k, while handily beating Rupp? And from what I understand, he's been healthy since that and now will have a full year of healthy training under his belt by the olympics since that race. The dude has TWO MONTHS. I see two possibilities right now.
1. Bekele is sandbagging races, so as to not push the envelope and get injured.
2. He's heavily in training and yet to do specific work, knowing he can very quickly round into form, which he will.
Last year, Bekele missed two weeks of training right before Worlds and yet was getting a world leader by the end of the year. This year, he's seemingly healthy and has nine weeks.
If all goes well, it's hard to imagine he won't at least be in the medal hunt. Beating an in-form Farah won't be easy, but at this point, we'd have to say at a minimum the odds of him at least getting a medal are greater than him not getting one.
And he's much less likely to have an injury setback this year than he was last year because this year he's actually training on a decent track.
Check out what his agent Jos Hermens had to say to Reuters about Bekele's track and training prior to Pre:
"He is the only athlete in the world that I know of who has paid to put down his own synthetic track. The track was meant to be ready two months ago, but it became ready only two weeks ago. So he has just started his real training."
If he's just started his training, it's officially time for everyone not named Mo Farah to raise the white flag.
Kenenisa Bekele Says He Has Time to Be Ready for London
Props to Bekele for taking the time to learn English!
Bekele himself seemed upbeat about his prospects before the race (and we want to point out his English is pretty good now, so you might want to watch the interview with him to the right. We have it starting in the middle which was the most interestin part. At the beginning all the questions were on his new track). When asked specifically by LRC's Wejo if he had enough time to be ready for London, Bekele said, "Yes I have enough time. Of course only if no injuries come. I am afraid only of injuries."
After Pre, Bekele did not go through the mixed zone (memo to IAAF and meet directors, make it mandatory for athletes to address the media just like NBA players in the playoffs, more on that below) and he sat in the athletes tent with agent Jos Hermens talking to him. So there was some specualation he was disappointed with the run. Fortunately, Kevin Selby of flotrack tracked him down and Bekele said that he was happy with his progress, "I think it will be ok. My future is bright." We won't have long to find out as Bekele is running another 5000m tomorrow in Oslo. Bekele said he would do one more race after Oslo before the Olympics.
Speaking of Farah, one thing that greatly increased his Olympic gold odds last week (and Galen Rupp's medal odds) was the fact that it has been confirmed that 2011 world 10,000 champion Ibrahim Jeilan, who hasn't been seen this year, is out with an injury. However Farah admitted to LRC he had no idea who Jeilan was last year until after he won worlds
Stream Of Consciousness/3 Few Random Thoughts About Pre/Rome
1. Looking at the finishing times and seeing Galen Rupp 12:58.90 and Matt Tegenkamp 13:24.74, it's probably hard for some to remember that Tegenkamp still has a better 5,000 PR than Galen Rupp.
Less than three years ago, in Sept. of 2009, Teg ran 12:58.56 in Brussels. We decided to take a look back at the five American-born runners to break 13:00 and see how competitive/close to the win they were when they ran their PRs. Rupp was the closest to first.
1. Galen Rupp - 12:58.90 June 2012 - 1.92 seconds behind winner (3rd place)
2. Chris Solinsky - 12:55 53 - Aug. 2010 - 2.07 seconds behind winner (5th place)
3. Dathan Ritzenhein - 12:56.27 - Aug. 2009 - 3.95 seconds behind winner (3rd place)
4. Matt Tegenkamp - 12:58.56 Sept. 2009 - 3.55 seconds behind winner (7th place)
5. Bob Kennedy - 12:58.21 Aug. 1996 - 13.12 seconds behind winner (5th place)
Tegenkamp was justifiably unhappy with his run last week, but we gotta give him a Thumbs Down for storming through the media area without talking to anyone. Shouldn't that be a requirement of running in a meet just like it is in every other sport?
But we gotta give him a thumbs up for realizing the error of his ways and tweeting "I walked through the media w/o giving an interview & n other sports I would be fined. Send ??(if any) And I will respond tomorrow.". Very impressive Matt. Kevin Selby emailed Matt questions and Matt responded here.
Oscar Pistorius and even athletes like Sara Hall get it. Good race or bad, they realize being visible is what pays the bills and they address the media no matter what. Thanks to Matt for doing the same.
The bad for Teg isn't all bad. He really only ran horrible for the last three laps - something like 3:24 for his last 1,200 - as he was on the back of the lead pack with 4 laps remaining. So he was on 13:09 pace with 3 to go. The Kevin Selby interview is worth taking a look at (you can read it and don't have to hear one of those annoying ads on page load before you even hit play) as in it he says he's starting to realize at age 30 the best he can expect day in day out in the 5000 is 13:10-15. Not that he can't ever pr at 5000m, but it would take a perfect race.
2. Can we take back what we wrote a few weeks ago about the dream of an American born mid-d or distance gold being dead?
Alysia Montano ran very fast for an opener.
3. It's hard to compare the Ethiopian and Kenyan 10,000 Trials.
There were plusses and minuses for each country if you are trying to figure out who has the better prospects for London.
The Ethiopian trials in Hengelo was run in hotter conditions, but almost to make up for that there was a rabbit.
Because of the rabbit, the pace was more honest at the start in Hengelo (13:29 versus 13:43 first 5k) but not for the back half (27:11 for Ethiopians and 27:01 for the Kenyans).
That being said, the close by the Ethiopians was much better over the last 1k than for the Kenyans, but isn't that what one would expect in a slower race that was very modest from 5k to 9k? In Hengelo, the last 1k leader-to-leader was 2:31.90 with a last lap in the 55 range. In Eugene, the last 1k was 2:33.45 with a last lap of 58.56.
Considering the Ethiopian top three were only separated by .90 seconds versus 3.52 seconds for the Kenyans, we guess we'll give the edge to Ethiopians in terms of greater medal prospects, as that doesn't even count Kenenisa Bekele.
Weekly Free Coaching Advice
Don't Taper Too Much
"I think before big events people back off too much and rest too much. If you're training at a high enough level, your body is used to a tearing down and rebuilding up process. If you come off that cycle too much, I don't think it's a good thing."
- 1972 Olympic champion Frank Shorter talking an a Boulder Daily Camera article where he says he thinks marathoners need to race even during their marathon buildup.
*A Great Profile Of 1972 Olympic Marathon Champ Frank Shorter
*John Meyer: Deena Kastor, mother of running's rebirth, in Bolder Boulder field at 39 Kastor: "I think in the evolution of the sport, I was in the right place at the right time. I have to pay tribute to Kathrine Switzer and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who came before me and really created the opportunities for women to thrive in this sport. And for Joan, for giving me a target on her back, a benchmark in the sport of marathon running so that I have something to shoot for, and to graciously support me while I was doing that."
*In 2009, Julia Lucas Was Close To Quitting The Sport; Now She Has The Fastest American 5,000 This Year (15:08) She's in the 3k at Pre.
Other News Of Note From The Last Week
Meb Keflezighi (1:03:11 ) & Kim Smith (1:08:37) Take RnR San Diego Half Titles Ryan Hall struggled finishing in 65:39. In the post-race interview he sounded pretty down as he thought he could run 61 minutes, but still has plantar problems and now hamstring as well. *Results *MB: Meb 63:11, Hall 65:39, Smith 68:37
Bolder Boulder Was Monday *Elite Men's Results *Elite Women's Results
Mamitum Daska (33:06) Wins 3rd Bolder Boulder - Americans Janet Cherobon-Bawcom 2nd (33:23) & Deena Kastor 3rd - Kenya's Allan Kiprono Wins Men's (29:54) Over Tadese Tola (30:03) Aaron Braun was 4th in 33:09 as the US women were 2nd in the team standings.
*Runner-Up Janet Cherobon-Bawcom Is Winning In Love & Running John Mayer gives insight into how her husband was a teacher in Kenya who fell in love with Janet when returning to the US and delivered a Care package to Janet from her mother.
Robby Andrews Signs With adidas The mid-d star Andrews will run a low key 800m this weekend and then race David Rudisha, Kaki & crew at the adidas Grand Prix next week in NYC.
On The Boards: ROBBY ANDREWS SIGNS WITH ADIDAS!!!
KGB arrests head coach of the Belarus national track and field team for possibly asking for bribes to cover up positive doping tests "An unnamed individual within the athletics setup had attempted to extort bribes of up to $2,000 from Belarus' leading athletes." *More On KGB Arrest
German TV Vindication? 2:11 Kenyan Marathoner Given 2-Year Ban
Ludwick Mamabolo Is First South African In 7 Years To Win Comrades Marathon Elena Nurgalieva secured her seventh victory in the women's race
* Science Of Sport Breaks Down Comrades Marathon Like Only They Can Former 2:06 guy Gert Thys tried to break the course record by 20 minutes sand ended up a DNF but that totally changed the race.
Quotes Of The Day From The 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 6/4: "So for me the next seven days is just ice, ice, training, ice, ice, training. Simple. The doctor told me to ice my shoulder five to six times a day but I will do it every hour. I will wake up in the night and do it. That is just how I am. It is no big deal, I have woken up at night many times in the past just to do sit ups. Some people say I am a crazy woman, but I cannot afford to have any regrets."
- UK triple jumper Yamilé Aldama talking about her recovery after getting injured during the Rome Diamond League meet. Immediately following the competition, she found out that her father had passed away, but her family waited to tell her until after the meet. Aldama is an extremely dedicated athlete who despite all this is keeping positive ahead of the Games.
Sunday 6/3: "Galen Rupp has arrived as a contender on the world stage. Last night, famed coach Renato Canova said he saw Rupp as one of the main medal contenders for 10,000m, and this run confirmed it. Rupp looked like he belonged. Not since Bob Kennedy have we seen an American-born male distance runner run in a pack believing they could compete and run with anyone. It is a new era and the exchange of elbows with Bekele was a nice little anecdote confirming it."
- LetsRun.com recap of Galen Rupp's 12:58.90 3rd place at the Prefontaine Classic.
- Renato Canova narrowing down his list of who he thinks can medal in the Olympic 10,000 to Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele, an unamed Kenyan, and Galen Rupp. Not bad company for Rupp.
Friday 6/1: "When
I was first injured in October, I held onto my Olympic Dream with a
vise grip. 'I can make this work. There is still time.' The longer the
injury dragged on, the further I dug my nails in, and the more tension I
felt pulling inside me. By the time April rolled around,
white-knuckled, teary-eyed and straining, the dream was tearing me
Frustration reigns supreme when expectations do not line up with reality. It was time to face facts: There isn't enough time. My leg isn't going to heal until I rest. I am probably not going to be an Olympian. Then the only question becomes do I race as a slower, banged up version of me? Or do I drop out?
You might think that these realizations were heart-breaking for me. In reality, they were liberating. I realized I still want to race, Olympics or not. I am open to luck and possibilities. I never, ever, count myself out. I guess I'm just realizing that even if things don't go the way we dreamed, there is value to be found in making adjustments and humbly seeing things through to their mysterious ends."
- Lauren Fleshman talking about making the decision to continue on with her season, even though injuries have kept her from getting in much training in this Olympic year (only 11 miles a week). She'll race her first 10k since 2006 tonight at the Pre Classic. *MB: Lauren Fleshman entered in 10K at Pre
Thursday 5/31: "It's important that I do know what it's like to beat Bolt. The fact I've only beaten him once doesn't discourage me. I compete with him a lot. If I avoided him, maybe like other sprinters have, then the score between us would not look so bad, but I keep trying to compete with him and to find out his weaknesses. You cannot beat a man who keeps trying."
- Asafa Powell saying all the right things before his showdown with Usain Bolt on Thursday in Rome.
Wednesday 5/30: "(German TV's) reporters received hints that there might be doping. They investigated according to the rules of fair journalism. And in the course of investigations, they found strong indications that at least some Kenyan athletes break the rules.
- Peter Schreiber, ARD German TV Nairobi Bureau Chief, writing in a signed statement where the TV station fired back at critics of its report from last week of doping in Kenya. To be truthful, the report separately talks both about "less talented" athletes who can go to a "Healthy Shop" in Kenya and get EPO within a day, and also about many "top athletes" also getting EPO.
Tuesday 5/29: "I've taken a different approach to training since I've left the team. I'm running for a different reason now. I'm not running just to be a part of the team. I'm really doing it for myself now. It's kind of like, I'm here with Alan Webb and he's here for different reasons than I am, but we still have the same goal of making the Olympics.
(Alan Webb) works so hard. Compared to college guys, it's crazy how hard he works. Just what he does on a daily basis. I never thought about walking around the grounds to classes and whatnot as a bad thing, but he counts how many steps he takes a day so he doesn't walk too much and his legs aren't too tired. And I'm like, 'Wow, I never thought about that.' It's just all about little things like that which I took for granted before."
- Robby Andrews talking in a profile of him as part of USA Today's "100 Olympic hopefuls in 100 Days" feature. *MB: Discuss