Monthly Archives: February 2016

SHE SAID YES!

I hope you all got to see the Trials.  Takeaways are that the young athletes in the United States still have a whole lot of work to do.  But not all is lost.

Here’s a couple of fun facts.  I texted El Jefe before the race that the winning time would be 2:11:15.  Drats!  Missed it by a whole 4 seconds.  What I didn’t predict was that it would be Rupp.   Jared Ward nipped one of my favorites (Puskedra) to make the team.   That graybeard Meb might be the biggest story of the day.  His 2:12:20 the new American Masters Marathon Record.

On the women’s side, Shalane and Amy obviously the class of the day.  Training partners that executed their plan to perfection.  Add Desi and this is the best American women’s marathon Olympic team of all time in my opinion.  And the oldest.

61 men dropped due to the heat.  49 women dropped.  Only 3 men and 4 women ran personal bests.  Over half the 105 men that finished ran slower than 2:28:00.  Over half the 150 women that finished ran slower than 2:51:00.

The crappiest course I’ve ever seen offered by an Olympic Trials.  Littered with shattered dreams.

Make no mistake about it, the second most important reason that LA got the Trials was their promise of a national television audience.  Huge $$$$ for everyone except the athletes.  What did the runners get?  A ridiculous 10:00 am start time.  The first most important reason LA got the Trials?  Insider information here:  To bolster their bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

But first, 2020!  Anybody out there?

Closer to home.  The 4th annual Two Rivers Valentines Day Runs were a smash.  Johnny Rutford now owns the men’s 5K course record 15:15, Colin Morrissey was next in 15:41.  For the women Michel Solan Davy set a new mark of 20:39.  In the 10K Cory Logsdon put up a new mark for future racers to chase, 33:42, Gina Schmidt posted a 44:01 to put her name in the books as the first course record holder.

The best news of the weekend?  The announcement at yesterday’s Valentines Day start line that She Said Yes!

 

 

LENS

I’ll be glued to the Olympic Trials Marathon tomorrow morning.  This year’s Two Rivers Valentine’s Day Runs getting the blessing of the Patron Saint himself with the scheduling on Sunday.  Good Clean Living.

Linda urged me to dazzle you with my prognosticate skills, keep it current she said.  “No one wants to hear about the old days” were her exact words.  But I’ll offer you a peak behind the scenes if you continue, the Trials through another lens altogether.

Every December for 10 years.  Listening.  Discussing and debating.  Deciding.  The USA Olympic Marathon Trials Standards.  And, as part of an athlete’s rights of USATF membership, the opportunity to appeal near misses to the WLDR Executive Committee.  Every December for 10 years.  Heartbreaking stories mostly but some truly bizarre ones too.  I was a perfect 0-for-never, you either run the standard, or you don’t.

Ever couple of years, sitting with the Race Directors of the NYC Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Boston, Akron, St. Louis,  all the USATF Bigs.    Brokering deals for our athletes, always an eye to jumping the prize money- it was a mere $175,000/gender when I took over the Champs program.  How much?  How to split?  And trying to keep everyone happy.  Now long ago and far away.

The ’08 Site Selection Committee.  Visiting the bidding cities, hearing their best pitch for the athletes.  Boston brings in Mitt Romney to have supper with the committee.  His success with the Winter Olympics a boost to  their own bid.

Trials weekend in St. Louis ’04.  Learning from Boston Race Director.  First time introduced to the “Closed System” approach to road race management.  Later sitting behind a desk at the athlete declarations table.  In order to race you must first check in and “declare” your intent, tight ship and all.  During the process, Chief Legal Officer out of Indy helps me measure logos, using a simple cardboard template, to make sure all the i’s and t’s of burdensome bureaucracy  are satisfied.

The ’08 Site Selection Committee.  Late ’06 and early ’07.   Visiting the  bidding cities.  Hearing their best pitch for our athletes.  Boston brings in Winter Olympic whiz and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has supper with us and boosts an already solid bid.

Trials weekend in Boston ’08.  I pass up a trip to Paris.  To see four years of dedicated efforts turn into the most successful Trials to date.  Privileged to once again work alongside the master, now on his own turf.  The Olympic Trials Marathon on Sunday, follow that with the Boston Marathon on Monday.  One that all future Trials would be modeled after and judged by.

Until Houston ’12 when my old buddies Steven Karpas and Brant Kotch fulfilled a promise they made me in the hotel lobby in Boston years earlier.  They topped it!

Los Angeles ’16.  Prize purse now $600,000.  The craziness around marketing and uniforms now blown into a 1 page USOC Rule 40 that left me slack jawed with legalese.  But that just mere warm up for USOC Rule 50.  An 87 page pdf tome that I passed on.

13 men have scratched, including Abdi  One  of the true characters on the US road scene for the last 16 years (I first worked with him at the Senior Bowl 10K in Mobile Alabama, 2000).  15 women have scratched including Deena and Mary Akor, they too from my era thus long in the tooth and gray of temple.

Now that all the work is done…….

GIDDYUP!

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DREAMERS AND WORKERS

I did dream.  And boy did I work.  From the mid eighties to the mid nineties I thought if I worked hard enough and kept dreaming, I might could punch a ticket to the Olympic Trials Marathon.

Important to note here, without a coach.  One of the things I’d go back and change if I could.  So full of youth and arrogance.  Largely poo pooed the information that was available, thinking this wheel would be easy to reinvent.

I remember the day well when reality set in, the day the dream died.  I cried just a little.

Saturday’s USA Olympic Marathon Trials are the largest in the history of the event.  373 runners.

These Are Not your dad’s trials.  In the 70s there was a simple rule for the Trials.  The 100th fastest Marathon time in the U.S. was the cutoff.  Period.  No B standards, no petitions by near misses.  No excuses.

Saturday’s Trials are a different beast altogether.

211 men have qualified.   A mere and disappointing 86 men qualified by running the marathon standard of 2:19:00.   27  hit the A standard of 2:15.  125 men qualified by running the requisite sub 1:05 half.  Half marathoners are considered to have met the B standard, so 27 A qualifiers and 184 B qualifiers. Remember this one?

Zach Hine 1:04:48 B Twin Rivers Ymca Freedom Run Valley NE USA 9/7/2014

Here’s a stat I am proud of for personal reasons:

246 women have qualified.  198 by running the necessary 2:45.  42 hit the A standard of 2:37:00.  48 women achieved the B qualifier by running sub 1:15:00 for a total of 204 B qualifiers.

Some will say the women’s standard is too soft and thus explains the disparity in numbers.

My muy, muy unpopular position is that both male and female standards, both A & B, are too soft.

Remember this is from the guy that dreamed and worked.  And then went into the very highest echelons of administration within our sport.  And listened to America’s very best athletes.  Shaped my opinions based on their input.  That the more difficult the standard, the harder they will work to meet it.

Those Dreamers and Workers!

Thanks to Jason Zakaras for setting me straight on yesterday’s error.  He now represents Team Nebraska (that was one of the things that threw me) and not LRC Racing.  There is no Nebraska Ultra Trails team, it was a failed notion.  Both Team Nebraska and LRC Racing have formed “MUT”, Moutain Ultra Trail divisions within their clubs.  My error was in thinking that they had broken off and joined forces.

What I was correct about is that the are coming after Nebraska Run Guru Elite, the top club in Nebraska and the midwest in the realm of ultra and trails.

And I couldn’t be happier.

 

SOUP TO NUTS

So much news, so few column inches.

Catching up on last weekend’s extended racing schedule, Amber Sargent repeated at the Hickman Animal Run, almost a minute and a half faster than last year.

Our USATF 100 Mile Trail Champs were contested at Rocky Raccoon down in the Lone Star State.  Nebraska’s newest USATF club, Nebraska Ultra Trails made their national champs debut with Tim McGargill (28th, 21:12:41) and Jason Zakaras (29th, 21:12:42) representing our Nebraska Association.

Tim, Jason, Ivan Marsh, Brian Wandzilak, and Neil Wolford, Nebraska Ultra Trails.  Welcome!  Some competition to challenge NRGE’s enjoyment as the top club within those disciplines.

See how this works?  Build something great, crow loudly, and they will come.   Not my first rodeo y’all.   Competition is good mmmmmkay!

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Tim and Jason.

 

 

 

UP UP AND AWAY

Once upon my early years in Omaha I suffered repeated charges of a Napoleon complex.  Little guy with grandiose ambition.  Also gibes about being a jockey but that’s another story.  Yep, little of stature but living larger than life, kind of my modus operandi.  How appropriate then that my little slice is called Waterloo, don’t you think?

Stay with me, it’ll all come together.

That Nebraska Treasure, Ivan Marsh, will make a run for a 10th consecutive victory at the Trek to the Top this month.  No one ever even close.

Back to Napoleon.  After his Waterloo he was exiled to St. Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Five days by boat even today.

Back to Ivan.  The Greatest Vertical runner Nebraska has ever known.  I’d like to see the Wellness Council of the Midlands recognize him in the best possible way.  A trip to St. Helena and entry into the Jacob’s Ladder race.

699 steps from sea level to 183 meters above.  Graham Doig is the record holder in 5:16.78.

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Jacobs-Ladder-021

If the Atlantic Ocean seems a stretch then maybe a weekend in Manitou Springs.

Taken at Latitude/Longitude:38.858041/-104.943936. 1.65 km North-East Minnehaha Colorado United States  (Map link)

I’ve only stood at the base of the Incline, but know a lot of people that have challenged themselves, Up Up and Away!

 

 

FABULOUS FIFTIETH

Superbowl  was just as I’d hoped.  Only regret my dear sweet Allison, John Elway’s VIP Suite Bakery and Pastry Chef last year, wasn’t there.   Loved Lady Gaga.   Didn’t much care for the halftime show or the commercials.  Not surprising as I was too wrapped up in the Competition.  The story of an old man going out on top.  On his own terms.  Sweet.  Why the hell didn’t Cam Newton dive on that fumble in the fourth quarter?  He’ll try and answer that for the rest of his days.  If you, like me, have seen every single Superbowl, the introduction of the MVPs was the best non game segment of the day.

But wait!  More Fabulous Fifty!

I hope you will join me in celebrating with one of my oldest buddies, Sean Wade.  I’ve praised his past achievements, and his current training as he assaults the record books.  He turned 50 on February 3rd.

Lookie here now!  At Saturday’s Boston’s Indoor Mile he set the World Record of 4:23.07!  Breaking Nolan Shaheed’s mark of 4:26.75 from 2002.  The time also bested Shaheed’s Outdoor WR (4:25.04, 2001).  Sean’s mile age grades to a 3:50.1, the Real World Record is 3:48.45.

A couple of hours later he lined up for the 3000.  Sped to another American Record of 8:51.0, again breaking a venerable Shaheed record.  The WR for 50+ is 8:49.37 and he is gunning for that this coming weekend.  He’s been trumpeting his 2016 spring campaign for over a year now, promising world record attempts.  Hubris!  I love this guy.

Four Omaha metro races this past weekend.  The Dalton Gang 5K, 7 finishers, (Terry Hack, 26:32, Linda Kunasek, 29:33).    Ivan Marsh’s Camp Carol Joy Holling Emperyan Ales 5K, 312 finishers (Neil Wolford, 19:43, Barbar Swenson, 26:14).  Omaha Running Club’s Chiller Challenge 8K, 97 finishers (John Slagle, 28:34, Gina Schmidt, 35:59).  The Superbowl Run at Peak Performance, 135 finishers (Ben Shultz, 19:40, Lisa Sieczkowski, 23:23).

With the exception of Wolford and Slagle, the pedestrian performances across the board indicate either poor racing conditions or general malaise or a quickly gentrifying (medium age at the Chiller Challenge was 102) or some other cultural phenomenon that escapes this scribe.

In an effort to “Stimulate the running community to a more competitive culture” I am offering a free entry to any Nebraska Association LDR member to this coming Sunday’s 4th annual Two Rivers Valentines Day 5K and 10K.  That gets you the competition, if you want the wine and chocolates and roses its a mere $10 to cover those costs.

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Fifty years old and the fastest guy in Nebraska!  But not for long!

 

TRIBULATIONS OF THE TRIALS

The clock is tick tick ticking towards our USA Olympic Trials Marathon.

This time, this Olympiad, this race, in Los Angeles.  To everyone that dared dream and made it, good on you.  For those that did the dreaming but not the daring tsk tsk.

Thirty years of experience informs me.  If you didn’t go for it this time it may well have been your last shot.  Sad fact of running at a national level.  You either dream and dare or you stay home.

That is why I stress URGENCY.  This does matter.  Now.  It won’t be too long and you’ll be looking back with your what ifs and shoulda woulda coulda beens.  How many of you will be around making a run for the 2020 Olympic Trials?    Not many, not many.

Good news is that there is always youth.  Exuberance, hubris, juevos, daring dreamers.

Those very few, the very select, with good genes and good coaching, with a strong mind, with a mission.

We can only bask in Tanner Fruit’s and Mike Morgan’s origin from Nebraska this time around.   Mike gone now 12 years, Tanner taking his talents to Boulder.   No male or female Olympic Trials qualifiers from Nebraska proper.

I find it difficult to believe that no one from Nebraska is talented enough for the standards.

Ah, the tribulations of the trials.

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM

Two ways to look at things.  Pick your own reality.  Its All Good.

The city of Omaha has emerged from its paucity of marathoning.  The Omaha Marathon that most of you recall, sacrificed on the alter of greed, was never any good in my opinion.  Not through lack of effort on the part of the Omaha Running Club.  They volunteered and staffed and manned and gave all they could.  I had a lot of dealings with the old race director, found her amiable and utterly lacking in road race management skills.  The slick trick that pulled the marathon out from under the running community a stain that will long be remembered.

For 2016 Omaha will have 3 marathons, The Heartland Marathon (Omaha Running Club), The Omaha Marathon (HITS Saugerties, NY), and the just announced Nebraska Marathon (Joe Sutter, Omaha).  Not so fast.  Two and a half marathons actually.  The Nebraska Marathon spends a significant amount of miles on the Iowa side of the Pedestrian Bridge.  Which is a fine thing as far as everyone is concerned.

None a true road race.  Those sidewalks, I mean trails, ok sidewalks, that make up so much of each showing what battles race organizers in Omaha must face.

My dream for Omaha remains, a closed road course marathon.  Until we pull it off we will always be on the hind teet of regional relevance.

Just one marathon.  Done the right way.  Its up to you Omaha.  Dream a little dream.

MALIBU, CA - JULY 19:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Corey Feldman attends his birthday party on July 19, 2014 in Malibu, California.  (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)

 

 

ITS MY NATURE

Most Nebraskans were either hunkered or bunkered yesterday.  Some serious snowfall out on our little slice to be sure.  White out conditions, howling winds, mounding drifts, sounds like my idea of fun!

A bit of a mid day break gave me the opportunity to scoop a quick loop for the girls daily constitutionals.  Interesting fact, most everyone that raises laying hens uses artificial lighting in the winter, tricks the hen’s natural inclination to reduce production relative to the amount of  daylight.   But not the Bar None.  We let the ladies go through their broody (non laying) period, but have found manipulating other variables allows for increased output.

Chief among these variables are, wait for it…. diet and exercise.  By making sure our girls still get fresh greens, still get out and spread their wings, they don’t need to be fooled with artificial stimuli.  Picked up 13 eggs from 24 hens, a remarkable ratio for early February.

I’ve railed against the artificial for years, another prime example of how natural is better.  In the country, there is no room for preening or primping or waxing or whitening or botoxing or lipo-ing or dipping or clipping or tucking or nipping or implanting or enhancing.

In the country, Real is better.  Its Natural.  Its Nature.  My Nature.

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The girls happy to be out of the coop.

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Legs, and Dusty and Mrs. Butterball with the lead at the top of the curve.

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And its Okra in the homestretch with Dusty and Butterball rounding out the major placings!

NICE BY THE FIRE

Firebox stoked and some good reading materials by my side.  Leadership the topic for today.

My favorite client is co-founder and owner of Convergence Coaching.  I’ve known a lot of travelers in my life but have never seen anyone cover so many cities and so many miles in so little time.  Regularly.  She flies cross country  consulting with captains of industry and business leaders and those whose hands are firmly on the corporate wheels.  Keeps them fired up and always moving in the right direction.  Pretty amazing lady.

Referred by a stranger, I’m not sure if she was led to me or I to her.  I get a great benefit from Jennifer Wilson.  Reinforcement that a couple of my Major Pillars are spot on.  Pillars she has seen empires built on.

In It To Win It.  Lordy, those words have beckoned everything from greatness to guffaws.  Publicly and frequently declaring intentions of excellence is indeed a prime factor figured into success.

Icon.  Be your own standard bearer.  Stand for something.  Proudly.  With Passion.  Make it  absolutely clear what your vision is, those that are like minded will heed your call.

My old buddy Sean Wade will be making his run for a sub 4:20 mile this  weekend in Boston.  Fifty years old.  His workout today- 3 mile warm up, 8 X 100 @ 15.5-16.5, 100 jog between each, 8 x 200 @ 29.5-30.5, 200 jog between each, 1 mile jog, 800 meters in 2:08.  Fifty years old.  Giddyup Mate!