Week That Was: Millrose, Everything Averages Out To Average, Sub-4 Mania, Florence Kiplagat Nearly Goes Sub-1:05, Drones, Break-Ups And More

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by LetsRun.com
February 18, 2015

Previous versions of The Week That Was – our weekly recap – can be found here. We already gave many of our thoughts on the great action at the 2015 NYRR Millrose Games when it took place.

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What goes up, must come down…..

Isaac Newton once said, “What goes up, must come down.”

Since we’re not sure if Newton was a sports fan, over the years we’ve taken that phrase and applied it to the sport and particularly running with our line of “everything averages out to be average.”

What are we talking about?

There seemed to be one overarching theme last week at the 2015 NYRR Millrose Games: hardly anyone ran as fast as they wanted.

  • American miler Shannon Rowbury, who had run a 4:22.66 mile on a flat track coming in, only managed a 4:24.32 mile on the quick, banked Armory oval.
  • Cam Levins, who had looked invincible in completing a 3:54/8:15 double at the Armory two weeks ago, looked at best mediocre in running 13:33.
  • Nick Willis, who had run a 3:51.61 mile in his season opener in Boston, winning by a ton, only managed a 3:51.46 at the Armory in a losing effort – a time he was disappointed with as not only did he have competition, but he also told us he thinks the Armory track is a few seconds faster than Boston’s.
  • Erik Sowinski, who 2:19.12 for the 1k a week before at the NBIGP in Boston only managed a 2:21.18 in New York.
We didn't get a sub 3:50 but the Wanamaker Mile lived up to its hype.

We didn’t get a sub 3:50 but the Wanamaker Mile lived up to its hype.

“Everything averages out to be average.”

Often in track and field, you’ll see someone run a huge early-season time and think, “man, imagine what they’ll run later in the season,” only to be disappointed that the bigger improvement doesn’t come. Similarly, you’ll often see a person make a huge breakthrough in a given year and think, “imagine what they will do next year,” only to see that they regress.

Whenever someone makes a huge breakthrough, either from year to year or within a season, one thing we are very much aware of is everything had to go right for the breakthrough to occur.

In terms of indoors, the runners above likely all overachieved in their first efforts. Shannon Rowbury wasn’t expecting to run 4:22 on a flat track, she was just hoping for 4:25. So she overachieved but then expected to continue to improve off of that overachievement, which is probably unrealistic. More likely than not, if you overachieve one week, you underachieve the next.

In 2010, Andrew Wheating went from 3:38.60 to 3:30.90 in the 1500 and people started speculating, “imagine what he’ll do in his first year as a full-time pro in 2011.” The reality was, he improved by nearly eight seconds in 2010. Everything had to go perfectly for that to happen so the odds of it going even better the next year weren’t good (Wheating’s best 1500 in 2011 was 3:34.39).

So who had a monster year last year?

Can Hasan Mead Get Under 13:00 in 2015?

Can Hassan Mead Get Under 13:00 in 2015?

One guy that comes to mind is Hassan Mead. Will Mead, who ran 13:02.80 last year, become just the seventh American under 13:00 in 2015? We hope so, but doubt it. He’s had two monster years back-to-back, going from 13:28.45 to 13:11.80 in 2013 and then from 13:11.80 to 13:02.80 in 2014. Having three in a row is very hard to pull off.

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One last thing about Millrose. Almost everything about Millrose was incredible from our perspective– the press conference, the fields (particularly the men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile, one of the greatest indoor mile fields ever assembled), the races — except for one thing that baffles us, there definitely were some empty seats. The fans who were there were definitely into it, but not all the seats were full. Now many of these seats were behind the weight throw cage with poor views, so many people “sitting” there moved down and stood track side as meet organizers told us there were just a “handful” of unsold seats and more than 5,000 in the building.

But come on New Yorkers. Millrose, the best pro indoor track meet in the US, should sell out months in advance. The fact that a city of 8.4 million can’t sell out a 5,000-seat venue is a bit depressing for our sport. Yes, there were a lot of things working against Millrose this year – it was during a 3-day holiday weekend, it was on Valentine’s night and the NBA All-Star game was in the city. Plus it was Fashion Week.

But track as a spectator sport continues to struggle in the US (editor’s note: and this despite the fact Millrose was an advertiser on LRC trying to pack the Armory). If you’ve got suggestions on how track meets (in particular in NYC) can get more butts in the seats, email us at [email protected] Or if you are a track fan in the NYC area and didn’t go to Millrose we’d like to know why as well too.

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Florence Kiplagat Does It Again

Florence Kiplagat at Pre 2006Florence Kiplagat Does It Again

The winning times for the mid-d and distance races may have been a tad disappointing at Millrose (we really want to see that sub 3:50 mile) but Florence Kiplagat more than made up for it in Barcelona. At the 25th Mitja Marató de Barcelona, she broke her own women’s half marathon world record of 1:05:12 by running a 1:05:09, setting world records at 15k (46:14) and 20k (1:01:54) en route.

Her 5 km splits were 15:39, 15:33 (31:02), 15:12 (46:14) and 15:40 (1:01:54). At 15k, she was 22 seconds up on her time from last year but had to ease off a bit and missed the sub 1:05 barrier. She told the IAAF:

“I began to believe I could break records at 11km, then I got to 15km and through that was enough, especially as I am preparing for the London Marathon. I also had to ease back twice in the next five kilometres so I was amazed I was still on world record pace at 20km.

“In the final few hundred metres, my coach (Renato Canova) was yelling at me, ‘C’mon, you can do it’, so I just said to myself, ‘Right, we are going for it!’”

It will be interesting to see how the 27-year-old Kiplagat, who initially got into athletics hoping to get a scholarship to a U.S. university, does in London.

Given her CV, which includes a World XC title and the Kenyan national 10,000 record of 30:11.53, both achieved in 2009, it’s surprising that her fastest marathon was the first one she’s finished — 2011 Berlin (2:19:44) — when Kiplagat became at the time just the second woman in history to finish her first marathon under 2:20 (now three have done it).

Last year, she was the runner-up in both London and Chicago but winning 2015 London won’t be easy as Mary Keitany is in great shape as shown by her 66:02 win at the RAK Half on Thursday.

More: Florence Kiplagat Runs 1:05:09 To Break World Half Marathon Record At Mitja Marató de Barcelona That’s 4:58 pace. An amazing run as the course has turns and no other woman has come within 41 seconds on a legit course.
*SPIKES Gives A 13-Point Timeline Of Florence Kiplagat’s Career Leading Up To Her 1:05:09 13.1-Mile WR
*Full Coverage of 2015 RAK Half
*MB: The Future Is Here: Drone Used to Film the RAK Half Marathon
*RAK Half Live Thread!!!

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Video of the Week

Annually, the RAK Half Marathon is the richest and often one of the fastest — if not the fastest — half marathons on the planet. Here, you can read about last week’s race, where Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew (60:05) got the win on the men’s side alongside Keitany. More than who won, the race for us will forever be remembered as the first pro race that we’ve seen employ a drone to shoot video. Boy, was the footage stunning.

We’ve contacted the race organizers to see if we can get more footage as the two video clips below don’t come close to showing you how great the footage was.

Here is three seconds of the drone:

And eight more seconds:

RAK Half Photo Gallery (non-drone shots)

RAK Half Photo Gallery (non-drone shots)

Other races apparently have used drones like the St. Olaf Cross Country Invitational in the States, but the drone in the RAK got very close to the runners and got incredible closeups. Liability concerns in the U.S. likely are a huge issue moving forward.

More:*Full Coverage of 2015 RAK Half
*MB: The Future Is Here: Drone Used to Film the RAK Half Marathon
*RAK Half Live Thread!!!

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Email of the Week / Free Training Advice: Break Up With Your Girlfriend / Start Dating A Boy

On Thursday, we received the following email which included a guaranteed Millrose win for one athlete. The email was right on the money.

I ran for Steve Spence at Shippensburg University. He used to tell us the best way to get ready for a big race was to break up with your girlfriend. He said it would clear your mind and get you motivated. I think he was 49% serious. He might say otherwise. One year I tried it. It worked great. I was angry, I was motivated, I was free. I ran great.
 
Move forward to **Name Redacted**. He was dating track hottie **Name Redacted** (come on guys we need more track TMZ). This was obvious via some Instagram posts and such. Over winter it seems they have broken up. **Name Redacted** was even seen subtweeting (look it up) on Twitter about it. Since then he has set the track on fire. He has a clear mind, he’s focused, and about to win the Millrose Games because of it. Trust me.

For the record, this email’s prediction was right on the money.

When LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson was coaching at Cornell, the conclusion that he and many coaches came to was college-aged males did best when they were on the prowl (being recently broken-up counts, unless the guy was totally devastated). College-aged women were the opposite — they did better when they were in a relationship.

So if there was a courting process between a guy on the team and a woman on the team, the men’s and women’s coaches both benefited -p just at different times. The men’s coach benefitted until it became a relationship — the women’s coach afterwards.

It may be total BS. Let us know what you think on our messageboard.

MB: True or False: Young men run better when on the prowl/recently broken up – Young women run better when in a relationship 

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Speaking of the messageboard, we always laugh when people say pros “don’t go on there anymore.” We know they do as many complain privately to us about the criticism they get on the boards — failing to realize that fan stands for fanatic and that megastars like Tom “Cheater” Brady and Lebron “Choker/Not Clutch” James get ripped all the time. Getting criticized by fans means you are big enough that they care how you do.

Proof that the pros still very much lurk on the messageboard appears below:

MB: Emma Coburn only learned her AR wouldn’t be ratified from postings on the LetsRun Message Board

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Getting Ready For World Cross Country Championships

The 2015 World Cross Country Championships are coming up in Guiyang, China, next month and we’re starting to get pumped for the purest event in all of running.

The Kenyan Trials were last week and taking a quick look at the Kenyan and Ethiopian teams on the men’s side, we are giving the early edge to Ethiopia.

Credentials Ethiopia Kenya
# Sub-13 or Sub-27 Guys 2 1
# Sub-60 or Sub-2:07 Guys 2 1
Ethiopian Top 6 At XC Trials / PBs
1 Tamirat Tola 35:08 – 28:24 road/61:27/2:06:17
2 Bonsa Dida 35:08 – 13:41/28:03 road/61:12/2:12:33
3 Atsedu Tsegaye 35:12 – 27:28/58:47
4 Hagos Gebrehiwet 35:18 – 7:30/12:47
5 Tesfaye Abera 35:20 – 28:21 road/60:32/2:09:46
6 Muktar Edris 35:25 – 12:54
Kenyan Top 6 At XC Trials / PBs
1. Bedan Karoki, 35:08 – 13:15/26:52
2. Geoffrey Kamworor, 35:19- 13:12/27:06/58:54/2:06:12
3. Leonard Barsoton, 35:28 – 13:19/27:20
4. Moses Mukono, 35:51 – 13:19 (World Jr. bronze)
5. Phillip Langat, 35:55 – 27:28 road/61:05 half
6. Joseph Kiptum, 36:02 – 13:30/28:11/60:26/2:09:56

We learned at World XC in Kenya in 2007 that many Kenyans take way more pride in having the individual male champ than the team champ. The individual male champ is the king — like the lion in the jungle. There is no dominant favorite in the list above.

More: IAAF Recap of 2015 Ethiopian XC Champs
*IAAF Recap of 2015 Kenyan XC Champs
*LRC Archives From 2007: 2007 World Cross Country Championships Recap in Mombasa, Kenya: Controlled Chaos

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Tweet / Stat of The Week

Saturday was quite the day for the mile as a record 36 men broke 4:00 — all of them at meets in the United States. Twelve guys did at BU, 10 at Millrose, eight at Iowa State, and six at Washington.

Currently at the NCAA D-I level, 26 guys have broken four this year (29 are sub-4 with flat track/altitude conversions). The milers still have a little work to do as the most NCAA D-I sub-4s in a given year is 31.

Number of NCAA D-I Sub-4 Milers
2015 – 26 (29 counting flat track/altitude conversions).
2014 – 18 (26 counting flat track/altitude conversions).
2013- 27  (30 counting altitude conversions).
2012 – 31 (33 counting altitude conversions)
2011 – 21 (22 counting flat track conversions)
2010 – 20 (22 counting flat track/altitude conversions)

If you like the indoor mile, you might also enjoy this article from last week: Extensive Interview With US Miler, Jim Beatty, The First Person To Run A Sub-4:00 Mile Indoors. Beatty ran 3:58.9 on February 10, 1962, a little less than eight years after Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4:00 mile outdoors.

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More Mile Facts

Georgetown leads the way with four sub-4 milers so far this year. They all did it in a single heat last week at BU. That’s the good news for the Hoyas. The bad news is only one of the four is in the top 16 on the NCAA list – Amos Bartelsmeyer, and he’s at #16 (16 guys will race at NCAAs in the mile).

More: MB: 12 guys – including 4 Georgetown Hoyas in the same heat – go sub-4 at BU!!

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Blake Theroux Tried Twice to Join the Sub 4 Club

Hard to believe, but before last weekend distance powerhouse Colorado, which has traditionally focused on longer distances, had a grand total one, yes one, sub-4 miler in school history. Before Saturday, only one runner ever broke 4:00 indoors in a CU uniform: Stephen Pifer, who ran 3:59.55 in 2006. They now have two as Jake Huysz ran 3:58.13 in Washington (three counting outdoors, a LRC visitor wrote that on June 01, 1974,  Ted Castaneda ran 3:58.4 a week before finishing second in the 6-mile at NCAAs).

It’s worth noting that CU’s Blake Theroux (who has no indoor eligibility and competed unattached) ran 4:00.84 on Saturday at UW (at the Husky Classic), then came back the next day and tried again at the UW Indoor Open and ran 4:00.71. Tough luck for him, not getting under.

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Speaking of distance powers, Oregon’s got three sub-4 milers this year and a new school record of 3:56.43 (Edward Cheserek at Millrose) but that time would only be #3 all-time at Montana State.

Montana State’s Cristian Soratos went into last weekend with a 4:05.18 mile pb (3:43.73 1500 pb), but left with a 3:55.27 pb after running the NCAA leader in Washington. Amazingly, Soratos’ 3:55.27 pb will be only listed as the #2 time on the Montana State website as Pat Casey ran 3:59.76 in Bozeman, Mont., in 2011 (elevation: 4,820 ft), which converts to a 3:54.59 at sea level. Before you think the sea level conversions are absurd, please realize that the NCAA converted Soratos’ 4:05.18 to 3:56.87 (giving him time for having done it both at 4,820 feet of altitude and on a flat track; when Casey ran his time, the track was banked) much to the chagrin of quite a few messageboard posters, who thought the conversion was far too generous. Soratos showed the conversion has merit with his 3:55.27.

The conversions have merit but we know one thing, school records should list the absolute fastest time run. Soratos should be the school record holder at Montana State.

More: MB: Soratos (Montana State University) Runs 3:55.xx!
*January: MB: Cristian Soratos MSU – Runs 3:56 mile

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The sub-4 talk for HSer Grant Fisher will die down for a little bit as he was just third in a college mile in St. Louis last weekend in 4:06.72.

More: MB: Grant Fisher 3rd in 4:06.72 *Video

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Lastly, we do have to point out one thing. Ole Miss has zero sub-4 guys.

Why did we point that out? Well Ole Miss has had a great year in 2014-15. They made NCAA XC for the first time in the fall and then when they had five guys run 4:05 or faster in January, one messageboard poster got carried away and asked, Ole Miss – Best mile school in the country?

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On the women’s side, the biggest significant pb of the weekend went to Florida State’s Colleen Quigley, who ran a 5+ second pb of 4:29.67 in the mile at BU (previous pb: 4:34.80) to move to #1 in the NCAA (and #5 all-time).

More: MB: Florida State’s Colleen Quigley runs 4:29.67 in mile at BU!! Moves to #5 in NCAA history.
Wanamaker Mile Men: Centrowitz Wins Wanamaker Mile In Thrilling Stretch Run Over Willis As Year Of Lagat Continues
Wanamaker Mile Women: A Wobbly Shannon Rowbury Hangs On To Win Women’s Wanamaker By Over 3 Seconds

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Photo of The Week

Since we are talking about the mile, might America have selected its first 2040 Olympic 1500 runner?

2012 Olympics 1500 bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider, his wife Ibtissam, and son Mohamed Mourad Iguider, in Philadelphia last week

2012 Olympics 1500 bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider, his wife Ibtissam, and son Mohamed Mourad Iguider, who was born in Philadelphia last week. Photo by Sami Aziz.

More: Did America Just Get Itself a Gold-Medal Contender in the 1500 at the 2040 Olympics? Wife of 2012 Olympic 1500 Bronze Medallist Abdelaati Iguider Gave Birth To A Son, Mohamed Mourad Iguider, On Friday in Philadelphia

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Recommended Reads

Bob Hersh Responds To USATF Board’s Memo That He Claims “Contains Many Incorrect And/Or Misleading Statements” You can discuss Hersh’s memo here.
RunnersWorld: USATF Versus Its Critics: Who’s Off Track?

NY Times: “Forget Barefoot; New Trendsetter, If Not Pacesetter, Is Cushioning” Articles on Hoka One One running shoes and the new “maximalist” shoe fad. Includes quotes from Leo Manzano and Lauren Fleshman.

Kenyan 2:34 Marathoner Hyvon Ngetich Crawls To 3rd Place In The Austin Marathon; RD Is So Inspired Gives Her Runner-Up Prize Money (includes video) She was winning by a good margin, but collapsed around 2-blocks from the finish and crawled the rest of the way, refusing a wheelchair that was offered to her. The race was won by Cynthia Jerop in 2:54:22. The race director awarded Ngetich the 2nd place prize money despite her 3rd place finish.

Extensive Interview With US Miler, Jim Beatty, The First Person To Run A Sub-4:00 Mile Indoors Beatty ran 3:58.9 on February 10, 1962, a little less than eight years after Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4:00 mile outdoors.

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Quote of The Day and Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s homepage or any homepage, go to our archive page.

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That is it, if you were gone over the weekend. We had extensive coverage and analysis of the 2015 NYRR Millrose Games when it took place.

Questions, comments, please email us or post them in our running fan forum.


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