Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bernard Lagat's magical mile, and my own relief with a mile to go

Last night, I did something I rarely do: put on ESPN.
It was the 103rd Milrose Track and Field Games. I enjoyed just watching all of the different events - and they all ended so quickly! 60M hurdles took less than 10 seconds, 800 meters less than 2 minutes, etc. These athletes are just amazing: they have beautiful, smooth form. Their running and jumping just look effortless. One of the interesting things was that they set up padding on the wall for the hurdlers to run into afterward - since they can't just keep going or stop. It was a little startling at first, watching them crash into the wall, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Anyways, it was inspiring to watch them run.
I was really rooting for Sarah Hall to win the woman's mile - she lost by less than a tenth of a second. She really pushed the pace in the final lap - it was an amazing performance. She was smiling as she was pushing and made up so much time. Wow. I think that both she and her husband Ryan are just good people - their charity work is quite impressive and they have integrated their faith and running into something quite moving.
They showed a few highlights from the pole vault competition, and watching that was an experience. Here's something you probably don't know about me: I tried pole vaulting. Yes, my freshman year of high school I ran indoor track (1500 m) and wanted to also try something else, so I tried pole vaulting. I thought that because I was small I would be able to do it easily. I never cleared the 5 feet bar (I was barely 5 feet myself). My first meet was embarrassing: my parents and grandparents came, and I did not clear the bar (I think I cried, if I remember correctly) and when I ran the 1500, I got lapped. I kept trying and trying with pole vaulting all season and just couldn't do it. I didn't really enjoy running the 1500 either - even though I had enjoyed my middle school XC experiences. Looking back, if I had done the strength training then that I do now, I would at least stand a chance at clearing the bar. I would love to actually have an afternoon where I could try it again. Obviously, I am ridiculously happy with running and my ability to do that, so I'll just let the experts tackle pole vaulting.

I think the most exciting part of the night was watching Bernard Lagat win his 8th Wanamaker Mile - breaking the record of 7, held by Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland. He was tucked behind the leader for the majority of the mile, and with a little over a lap to go, he surged. And not just a small surge, there was so much space between him and the next guy, Asbel Kiprop, who just could not react fast enough to that burst of speed. It was incredible - what an exciting moment for Lagat and his family (he held his 2 little kids after) and for everyone who wanted to witness this big event.
I had a run of my own this morning: 18 miles. I did the first 8 by myself, lots of hills (overall, going from 200 feet to 300 to 6 and leveling out at 200 again). By mile 3, a few flakes started to appear. But I thought they wouldn't stick. By mile 8, it was really coming down. At mile 8, I picked up my friend Sean. That was a big mental boost to have him join me; it didn't feel like an 18 mile run. It was an 8 mile run and then a 10 mile run. While so much snow was coming down, there were still runners out and about on the National Mall - it was so good to see the hardy runners out. With the snow building up, I had to work harder to keep going, and found myself growing tired around mile 14. But, I couldn't wimp out at that point. Then we got to mile 16 (mile 8 for Sean). I told him that I was feeling tired, but that we had to keep going. He commented that a metro stop was close by. But no way. One of my landmarks was in sight - Full Yum (Chinese restaurant), and that meant I was almost done. Then we passed another street that indicated a mile to go. Then the excitement kicked in with just a mile to go. Whenever there's just a mile, there's always hope. 1600 meters - maybe 1000 steps, the end is near, in a good way, and you can sigh in relief.
With that, we crossed back onto campus and conquered our run.

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