The increasingly parochial observations of a casual runner in his fifties. Was "serious" about "the sport" until personal and sociocultural inevitabilities prevailed.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Olympic Marathon Trials Pre...

I haven't been paying much attention to the build-up to the Olympic Marathon Trials that are probably over by the time you read this, probably because I know what most sources of "information" are putting out without having to look and that I would only be dunking the soft, even babylike skin of my ass into a bucket of rubbing alcohol by reading it. What I like best are the profiles they write about "heroes" who squeeze in under the standard by 15-20 seconds and are showing up despite having jobs, kids and other horrific handicaps no one else ever confronts. What I want to see, but would probably have to come up with myself, is a profile of the 2:18:45 or 2:44:30 entrant who does nothing but play video games all day long in mom and dad's basement, but is completely serious about wanting to make the team. Alternatively, we could the inverse, a guy with 2:08 chops who has sort of lost interest in the last two years and is now bagging groceries at Safeway and jogging 10-15 miles a week to keep in shape, but is mostly looking forward to experiencing the Trials with his growing family. That would nail all the possible permutations.
  • Women's race: This one will deviate from the form charts (is that still a term?) more than the men's race will. The course is not precisely what I would call a motherfucker from here, but it's slow, and will seem nigh apocalyptic to a generation of marathon runners who normally avoid courses not run on the equivalent of airport runways (preferably shielded from wind) or point-to-point downhill.

    I'd love to see Molly Huddle make this team, but she seems banged up and will be out by 30 to 35 km. True 21st-century hermit Emma Bates will earn a surprise win, opening up big gap in last 5K after a bold move at 21-22. Desi Linden and Emily Sisson will take second and third, with Kellyn Taylor close on Sisson's heels. Hasay drops early and as quietly as possible. Winning time: 2:27:58.

    The race will go out in 1:14+, yet only 12-15 will be in the pack.
The thing that continues to strike me is how many people believe they need to be part of a formal training group with a full-time coach in order to succeed in this sport. Maybe my personal experience doesn't mean much since I was an everyday hack with a 2:24 PR, but I did my best racing in two distinct periods three years apart in which I was working full-time (more than that, in the first case) and in stable relationships that undeniably made me happier in ways I couldn't appreciate than I would have been otherwise. If you can't find time to run 100+ miles a week when you don't have kids at home, it's because you don't care enough. For some people it's often the difference between being willing to give up three relatively benign but time-sucking nights a week at the bar and not being willing. If you aren't doing at least three to five unplanned workouts in the dark every winter either before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m., there's a good chance you don't care enough to be as serious as you believe you'd like to be, assuming you live in northern latitudes.
  • Men's race: I really like the prep of the NAZ Elite crew. I should admit at this point that I am mostly clueless about things like late scratches because I have only been skimming the news until today. That's why I am calling this a pre instead of a preview or a prediction or anything else. All I can really say is that I posted it in time.

    I think this will be Jared Ward's day, followed by Stenley Kebenei, Scott Fauble, Haron Lagat and Galen Rupp. Jim Walmsley will finish no worse than 7th, and Tyler Pennel will be in top 10. Winning time: 2:13:49.

    Rupp, of course, may still be the strongest in the field despite all of the bullshit and the fact that most people are rooting against him. He has always been incredibly focused. I really won't be surprised if he wins, and with relative ease. But it would probably be best to eject the stank of Salazar from running altogether. I don't see a lot of fans complaining about collateral damage. 
While you'd be right to point out that I was not, and was in fact never expecting to become, an elite runner, I was able to train like one, and multiple examples exist of world-class runners who had full-time jobs or at least didn't feel like they needed to move across the country to get better. I'm not shitting on that choice, but suggesting, strongly, that everything that comes wrapped up in that nowadays is utterly unnecessary. And if you do make the choice to spend your latter twenties ostensibly being a serious runner but instead hanging out in Boulder coffee shops and boasting about 70-mile weeks, well, "Thanks for the entertainment" is about I and anyone of a certain vintage is likely to offer.

I took a look at the list of topics on the front page of a certain message board this morning, and was tempted to fall back on the facile conclusion that most people are blunt-force assholes. Instead, I reminded myself that it's probably the case that most people who contribute thoughts anonymously to that particular part of the Internet are assholes, but that it would be statistically unjustifiable to extend this judgment to the general U.S. population. As much as I've shit on some of the mainstream media op-eds about the running world offered by writers who happen to be women in the past year, at least they've put their names on their nonsense, and tend to be better with words even when the words themselves are bland, whiny and generally insufferable. Any message board in which women are effectively shut out invariably becomes dominated by the monkey element before long. I wonder how many of the pimple-poppers on that board realize they will be fat, bald and the objects of derision of most of the targets of their own criticism by the time they're 40. If they're away from the running world, though, they'll probably be as happy as any of us.

I think the running world was nicer when everyone involved seemed to accept, and even prefer, that no one needs give a shit about what runners do or why. Part of it has to do with the ravenous hunger for recognition people have developed and how thus translates into wanting to be celebrated for basically every life event that doesn't end in an arrest or a divorce. You can't really blame people who were 15 when the Facebook and Instagram plagues were released into the wild for needed to outdo everyone else in ways that look comical to people who remember what the early Internet looked like (and for better or for worse, loaded shit onto it that may still be findable on Usenet groups).

No comments:

Post a Comment