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Well, I failed to do predictions for Berlin last summer, so I might as well weigh in for the indoor championships that start…um, in about 10 hours.  So first I have to issue a caveat: this is my first year really following indoor track at the world level, so I’m still new to the game.  Also I’ve been busy and distracted.  And I’ll think of another excuse, unless I do really well and then I’ll say it’s because I’m awesome and know lots.  Anyway, this is for Rachel. 🙂

Men:

60 Meters:  Ivory Williams seems to be out, due to being an idiot, so that opens up the field a little bit.  I see 5 guys with a chance: Daniel Bailey, Dwain Chambers, Nesta Carter, Lerone Clarke and Mike Rodgers.  Throw out Clarke, and you’re down to four.  I think Bailey’s young but real, so I think it goes like this:  Daniel Bailey, Mike Rodgers, and Chambers for the bronze.  (I hope Nesta nudges his drug-addled ass, though)

60 Meter Hurdles:  This is down to Terrence Trammell and Dayron Robles.  I say Trammell, Robles, Svoboda.

400 Meters:  Batman!  Bershawn Jackson takes this, I think.  He looks unbeatable this year.  Could be a USA sweep here, but I don’t want to rule out Gillick from Ireland.

800 Meters:  Ismail Ismail looks monstrous so far; really tough to beat.  I see him coming in ahead of Boaz Lalang, with Abubaker Kaki third.  Eastern Europe has a couple guys that can fly, but these three are just too strong and too swift.

1500 Meters:  Wow, where to start?  Kenyans and Ethiopians, oh my!  Laalou, Iguider, Keitany, Gathimba, Mekonnen, Gebremedhin, Ruiz, Ali…so many strong runners to choose from.  This will be a monster race.  In the end, I think Mekonnen’s got the kick, then Ali, then someone else…I’m not even going to try.  This could turn into a quick race.

3000 Meters:  Kip!  Bernard Lagat is in phenomenal shape, you guys.  He’ll have a battle with Tariku Bekele, Sergio Sanchez, Augustine Choge, and Sammy Mutahi.  This is the showcase race in my opinion.  I think Choge is unstoppable, Lagat brings home a silver and Sanchez makes Spain proud.  But truly, this is wiiiide open.  Expect a tepid early pace and a screaming close over the last 1200 meters or so.

Women:

60 Meters:  Nobody is even in the same class as Carmelita Jeter and LaVerne Jones-Ferrette.  Jeter wins, Veronica Campbell-Brown in third.

60 Meter Hurdles:  I so want my girl Lolo to win this, but I don’t think she’s all the way back just yet.  Priscilla Lopes-Schliep continues her bombardment of the sport, followed by Lolo and Seattle native Ginnie Powell.

400 Meters: Allyson Felix takes her new Nike duds to a gold, with Debbie Dunn and Firova following.  If only Sanya Richards-Ross was here!  #sweep

800 Meters:  Kinda loaded here!  Russia is (suspiciously) loaded, especially, with Savinova and Zinurova posting super quick times.  I see a quick race shaping up, with Meadows edging out Anna Pierce, with one of the Russians in third.

1500 Meters:  Maryam Jamal, Gelete Burka, Gezahegne and Jelagat make this as loaded as the men’s 1500.  It’s Burka’s crazy fast kick, Jamal, and Gezahegne.

3000 Meters:  Can anyone run with Meseret Defar?  No, anyone cannot.  Sentayehu Ejigu has challenged her, and I think is well positioned for silver, with Vivian Cheruiyot grabbing bronze.  I think Defar pushes the pace early to try and break those two, and it’s going to turn into a rout – possibly a one-woman rout.

I’d love to cover the field events for you, but I just don’t have the know-how.  I know it’ll be nice to see Blanka Vlasic give us a primal scream again (Oh, how I’ve missed you, Blanka), Ennis dominates the Pentathlon if she’s healthy (Fountain and Dobrynska duke it out if not)

Okay, girls and boys, that’s it!  The fun starts at 6am PDT tomorrow on Universal Sports, so let’s all get on there and clog up the intertubes!


Mmmm, I just wanna curl up with today’s news like it’s a warm blanket.  Yeah, it’s that time of year.  Indoor track is starting, world level cross country is getting serious, and the pros are coming out of their training/hibernation and starting to test their wheels again.  Sprinters talking smack about each other (knock it off!  Just run!). Tweeters tweetin’.  Daily 10-miler updates from Meb, Kara’s off getting knocked up, Shalane’s prepping for a half, Geb’s aiming at his world record in Dubai (again).  Oh, it’s delicious…

Today’s shocker was seeing Kenenisa Bekele drop to fourth in the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country race.  The great Bekele, widely considered a candidate to supplant Haile Gebreselaisse as the greatest runner of all time, had a slightly sub-par season last year by his standards, and wasn’t really a factor today, finishing nearly 40 seconds behind winner Joseph Ebuya, and wasn’t even competitive with the second and third-place finishers, Titus Mbishei and Eliud Kipchoge (another favorite who slipped back).  I think this is probably just a blip and he’ll be motivated to stomp the bejesus out of these kids on the track this summer, but it does make you wonder what’s up.  He’s too young for declining skills…is he thinking too much about legacy and hurting himself in training?  I think it bears watching.

On the women’s side, it was nice to see one of my favorites, Tirunesh Dibaba, pull out a comfortable win over Vivian Cheruiyot (seriously, all these East African women are wonderful – I love watching them run, and they seem genuinely very nice).  The Brits showed their continued progression to worldwide competitiveness with Yelling outsprinting Scottish youngun Stephanie Twell – a superstar in the making – for fourth.

Meanwhile, indoor track is ramping up in the states.  Arkansas, Texas A&M, Missouri and Purdue all have meets today – of course, this early in the season you see the big guns dropping down in distance for speedwork and a lot of freshmen and sophomores getting their feet wet.  Still, Arkansas already produced a few automatic qualifying marks.  Next weekend the UW Indoor Preview starts the local season – I saw Amy Yoder-Begley, Kara Goucher and Galen Rupp at this last year, and got the first glimpse of the dominance that would define Jenny Barringer’s last track season.  Who’s coming this year?  I’ll try to find out and update!

And later this month, Bernard Lagat goes for his 8th Wanamaker mile title at the Millrose Games on the 29th, and my girl Lolo Jones returns to the track to hurdle in Glasgow on the 30th – here’s hoping she’s healthy again and returns to her 2008 form!  Lots of time for a broadcasting career – I wanna see her run.

Okay, time to close out this rambling return to my writing…I’m just so excited, so much to talk about!

Adaptability


Today was a learning day, and I think we all need these once in a while.  After enjoying a 12 oz sirloin at Ruth’s Chris last night – first steak since late ‘08, and oh lordy it was good (but coulda done without the price tag!) – I had to keep to my training schedule and pull a 9 miler out of the can today.

Well, Murphy’s Law hit me from all sides.  I was up ‘til 5 watching the women’s WC marathon, slept 4 fitful hours, drank coffee and had a donut, failed to consume any useful calories, and sat around until 2:30 before I ran.  Once out the door, it took 10 minutes of wandering the neighborhood and rebooting my iPhone before the GPS could find a satellite, my Achilles throbbed from the first step, RunKeeper shut down mysteriously for a mile so I lost my time and distance, and construction had closed the trail I was running, so I had to abandon my meticulously pre-planned route and wing it (with my distances all thrown to hell after the RunKeeper nonsense).  At what I took to be 6ish miles in, the ol’ hamstrings decided they’d had enough, a mile further along my toes alerted me that my shoes are 1/2 size too small for long runs, and I spent the last three miles walking a minute for every four I ran.  And I finally gave it up a mile from home and walked in.

Wow, right?  A hundred reasons to just turn around, go home and call it a day.  We’ve all these days, and we all know that temptation to just bag it.  But this is where the lesson comes in.

I adjusted my stride, just a bit, to try and go easy on the Achilles.  It didn’t solve the problem, but it let me run.  I found a new route to run.  I got to practice guessing at distances.  I got a good idea of some things I need to improve on, so I can work on them and not be surprised if they come up in a race.  And I learned that “Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd has a near-perfect running cadence.  Who knew?  In short, I adapted.

This is the beauty and the difficulty in running; dealing with obstacles thrown in our path when we’re already tired and hot and sweaty and hurting.  It makes us feel weak at first to be thrown off stride, but ultimately we feel and are stronger for overcoming it.  We have to adapt to the situation as it unfolds, because it’s unpredictable – our legs can hurt, it can be too hot or too cold or start hailing or our bowels can refuse to cooperate.  So we learn to focus on what we can do, and not what we can’t.  What we did, rather than what we didn’t.  It doesn’t matter that I didn’t run the last mile; I did run the first 8.75!

What did I learn?  That I can run nearly nine miles, no matter how bad I feel.  And that I can almost hit goal pace, even with a good dose of walking thrown in.  That my sense of distance needs some practice.  And that my pacing is getting much better.  These are good things, and as I hobble around for the next 24 hours with sore legs, I’ll remember them, and be ready to attack it again on Tuesday.

105 days to Vegas! (powered by Zappos.com!)

The big ol’ training plan


So here it is, in case anybody wants to follow along (I’m calling this accountability for Switzer, btw – the more people know what’s expected of me, the more I’ll, uh, not want to be exposed as a slacker), the training plan for the Vegas half marathon.  (powered by Zappos!)  I downloaded it from Runner’s World, but I put in a few tweaks to fit my schedule and ability, but there are the goals.  I’m using Google Docs for this, despite my employment with a competitor who shall remain unnamed, so it’s a big experiment.

For your enjoyment, click here for the full plan, and this week’s progress (so far) can be viewed below!

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tRPRZ44N7JtTG0A1rP1NiAA&single=true&gid=1&range=A1%3AK6&output=html&widget=true

First tempo run!


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Okay, so I took most of July off with a yanky achilles, then was just lazy the first two weeks of August, so I’m just getting back into it.  Today I did my first tempo run in about two months, and it was tough!  In hindsight, having the entire second mile of my tempo portion be uphill into a wind was…unwise.   I wound up walking a bit, but the first and third miles were close to pace.

The plan: 1 mile warm up, 3 miles @ 6:55 pace, 1 mile cool down.  The reality: 1 mile warm up, 1 mile @ 6:52, 1 mile @ 9:45 (see?), 1 mile @ 7:20, and .77 mile cool down.  Given the long layoff, I’ll take it.  Next time maybe I do this on a track so I have some consistency, or just find some level trails. 

On another note, Run Keeper Pro on the iPhone is kick-ass.  I programmed the workout, and while still telling me my pace, distance and total time every five minutes, it also tells me when to speed up and slow down as part of my interval or, as today, tempo run.  Bad ass!  Plus, it lets me do this:

http://www.runkeeper.com/pub/act/SGd8SLEFKfLiTRctqRoR/map


Well, it’s that time of year again – the leaves will turn soon, and it’s time to leave the road and start running trails.  I’m lucky to live in, um, or near, Seattle so I can join one of the largest cross country teams in the country, Eastside Runners XC Team.  For those of you paying attention, yes, I was on the team last year, but only ran one meet and then the “incident” happened.  I suspect this year will be a bit more rewarding, what with 50 pounds less on the frame and a bit more speed in the legs.

Last night was our first team meeting, where we got to mingle a bit and cover the bases – team captains, who and how to pay, team uniforms, how to register for races, etc.  I am pumped!  I love track, but there’s something so unique in XC – the changing terrain, different challenges in every race, and given the time of year, you can deal with anything from heat to sub-zero temperatures.  It’s a sport for the hardy, with the added benefit that you tend to run in beautiful locations.  And entering a new age group, the 40-49 division, opens up some new competitive territory for me.  Let’s face it, the odds of me competing with 25 year old guys running sub-15:00 5Ks are slim.  But if I can get under 20:00 consistently, I should at least be able to help my age-group team score, and that’s what it’s all about.

Now, onto something a little more serious…

I’ve been following the World Championships in Berlin, and the women’s 800 meters has an unusual bit of intrigue – the gender of the gold medalist has been called into question.  Apparently, she improved her PR quite suddenly this July from 2:04 to 1:56, and when the IAAF saw photos of her, they asked South African officials to investigate her gender.  See why here or here.  I think, visually, there appears to be a legitimate question, and the rapid appearance of dominant ability in this person is at a minimum suspicious.

But here’s what concerns me.  This is an 18-year old kid, however the gender issue is resolved.  Why was this released to the press the day before the final?  Why not just keep the info behind the scenes until the IAAF has their answer, and then release it?  Does this person deserve no dignity?  Even the IAAF officials, from their statement, don’t believe this is a case of fraud, but rather of someone who may think of herself as a woman but not, biologically, be one.  And this 18 year old kid has had this played out on global television.

Watching her face prior to the final, filled with defiance, and the lack of any joy after winning a world title, just broke my heart.  Even at the medal ceremony, it was obviously bittersweet at best.  If she turns out to be clean of any doping issues and biologically female, what good has been done here?  We’ll have someone whose crowning achievement, what should be a moment of unsurpassed joy and pride, has been stripped by a public whipping that no one deserves.

Of course, if she has doped or is biologically a male, the question of fairness is moot – she doesn’t deserve the medal.  But that will still not change one salient, oh-so-important fact: this is an 18-year old kid, who will carry what’s happened this week the rest of her life.  Are there no adults in the IAAF or the media who could’ve thought better of this?

Vegas training has begun!


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Today is the official start – 111 days out – of my training for the Vegas half…excuse me, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon powered by Zappos.com.  {rolls eyes}  I’ve run it before (badly and slowly), several years ago, and bailed out at the 6 mile mark about 3 years ago, but I’m going all in this time.  I mean, aiming for a 1:30 half marathon all in.  And with that, I introduce you to my newest toy, Runkeeper.com! 

It’s an app on the iPhone that uses GPS to track your mileage, speed, elevation, and uses audio cues to keep you up to speed on your progress.  It also provides links to the workout (you’ll see this shortly).  A lot of this is in the MapmyRun app and software, the main advantages seeming to be the audio cues and real time elevation tracking.  I prefer the MapmyRun social media tie-ins, but RK seems to work okay with Facebook, although I haven’t been able to get it to tweet yet.  Anyhoo, I’m off to see District 9, but I can’t leave without offering up my first RunKeeper workout:

UPDATE: Since I’m not convinced that worked, and it only appears to be a map link if it did, >:-( here’s the scoop: 3.66 miles around Bellevue at 8:16 pace – 8:45 first mile, 7:45 second, 7:37 third, then I struggled with a 9:38 pace the last .66. 

http://www.runkeeper.com/pub/act/TcIQ39efT6guf14p0pXc/map


Where the hell have you been, Switzer, you say? Well, you’re right to wonder, but I don’t appreciate your tone. The truth is, it’s been…an odd year. Let’s see – where to start? Tell ya what, let’s make this a multi-parter. I’ll tell you where I’ve been, and later I’ll cover why I started this blog, and why I’m writing it now.

Okay, sooo…after I made my last post here almost a year ago, cross country season started. It did not go well. I was fat, out of shape, not nearly as ready as I thought and hoped I was, and it was all around humiliating. And the truth is, club teams say they welcome runners of all abilities, but the word ‘welcome’ is in the eye of the beholder. But that’s okay, I expected some humiliation along the way – you plow through and become stronger for it. What I did not expect was the photo.

I don’t have a link to this photo, as it seems to have disappeared from the intertubes. But I can describe it, because it lives on with crystal clarity in my mind. I went to the Sundodger Invitational to support my Eastside Runner teammates. I was not fast enough to run in this meet, which was okay with me. I love the sport, so I had a blast watching college athletes from NAIA Division II up to the eventual NCAA national champion UW Huskies run, and the club runners were right in the mix. Nobody on the team knew me, so I didn’t really chat with anyone, but again, no big deal. I was new on the team, I can be a little shy, and they were doing other things. What I found out later was that I had inadvertently stood in the shot while some photos were being taken. When a link to the club’s photos of the event went out, I happily looked through – hey, running photos are kinda awesome! I came across one that I glanced at, but didn’t look that closely. The caption said “I love the look on the not-so-fit guy’s face as he watches these Kenyans fly by!”. I looked up to see the poor fat guy being made fun of, and was horrified to realize that I was that fat guy.

Well, I will say this. I had never experienced such a deep blow. I don’t know why it hit me as hard as it did, but it did. I stopped blogging, stopped running, stopped everything. After a couple days, I decided to do something about this, and started looking into the 20/20 Lifestyles program at my gym – basically, you pay assloads of money to the club in exchange for six months of a dietician, doctor, personal trainer twice a week, and private and group therapy. My company pays most of the cost, but that still leaves a couple grand coming out of my pocket. I decided, to never feel like this again, to walk across my house without getting winded, to never feel ashamed of big clothes fitting snugly, to not fear the beating of my own heart – well, no price was too much. I perked up and was excited about this new direction in my life!

You can feel the other shoe about to drop, right? It did. I went through two physicals (to make sure I was unhealthy enough to qualify for this, but healthy enough to not die in the process), two blood tests, and all sorts of paperwork, only to find at the last minute that I had the wrong insurance. Suddenly, I was out in the dark again, and wouldn’t get the help I so obviously needed until I could change my insurance, in three months.

I’m sorry to say that this put me in a depression like I’ve never felt before and hope to never feel again. It lasted from October into January, and I was just destroyed. I hated being fat, and desperately wanted to go to the gym, but I was borderline qualified for the program, so couldn’t risk getting any healthier. I refused to take blood pressure medication, wouldn’t work out, and ate even more than before, which is saying something. I ate things I didn’t want, WHEN I didn’t want. Eventually I could see others looking a little embarrassed, so I began to eat normal meals and snuck out to McDonalds after they’d gone to sleep, and would eat in my car. There is no way to explain the shame and hurt of sitting in your car at 1am, eating a burger you don’t want.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Switzer was not cut out for supporting someone going through this type of trauma, and couldn’t be with someone she thought of as fat, lazy, unwilling to fix these things, and depressed, and found another Mr. to love – I finally moved out on January 29 of this year. So, to add to the shame and hurt of being Mr. Fat Guy, I had become Mr. Single Dumped By His Wife Guy. (I promise, this story cheers up) Prior to that date, however, I had started to make some changes on my own. I stumbled on these little tuna salad with cracker things – they’re $2 each, and all self-contained. I found little puddings. I forget what else I ate at this time, but the point was, while other things had gone out of my control, I found I could control one thing – what I ate. And while I felt weak in other aspects of my life, feeling hunger that I’d imposed on myself felt strong. So I started eating small portions, identical foods and amounts, at the same time every day. And weight started to come off.

In January, I started to run again, and this time enjoyed it. I actually kicked it off with a race on New Year’s Day (see the photo!) I was struggling to run two miles at 10:00 pace, but I was doing it, and it felt good. In February, I’ll admit that the stress compounded and I made some poor eating choices (essentially, I became obsessed with the weight loss and stopped eating), but I was running 4 or 5 times a week and added boxing to the regimen. By the end of February I’d dropped from 198 lbs (207 on January 1) to 182, and was able to run up to 4 miles at a 9:00 pace. In February, on the days I ate, I took in under 1000 calories.

In March, I got down to the low 170’s, and even peeked under 170, and rediscovered my ability to run on my toes and use a quicker stride. I signed up for races to give myself a target goal. Also, after an embarrassing fainting spell at boxing, I started eating enough food – and PROTEIN – to keep the machine going and suddenly found myself with abundant energy, and even managed to run 6 miles a couple times. I started eating closer to 1600 calories a day, and felt like I was gorging myself to do it!

In April, I got down to the low 160’s, made more tweaks in the diet, adding some calories back in and moving some protein around. I also started to accumulate miles, and got up to 10 miles for my long runs.

By May, I was ready to race. I locked in at 162 lbs, and was running consistent miles, long runs around 8:45 – 9:00 pace and shorter runs around 8:20 pace. I finally added an interval workout – 2 x 1600 in 7:45, with an 800 jog between. Well, I ran one at 6:37 and one at 6:45, and knew that things had really changed. I was ready for Bloomsday.

Bloomsday is a 12k in Spokane, with Doomsday Hill about halfway in – a hill I was terrified of, as I’ve struggled with hills for the last few years. When I registered, I predicted a 9:00 pace on the registration form, and thought that might be a little aggressive. Even though I’d improved faster than I thought I would, I was still expecting no better than an 8:30 pace if things went really well. As it turned out, I finished with a 7:50 pace

The more important moment in May, though, involved my Eastside Runners jersey. When I got it (size XL) for cross country season 8 months earlier, it was SNUG. Like, embarrassingly, here-are-my-man-boobs snug. I wore it, but I hated it. Well, during my moving around I found it and tried it on, just out of curiosity – and it was baggy on me. Hence, I wore that bastard at Bloomsday just to make a point to myself. And I wore it at the next 5k I ran (in 21:43), in the mile I ran at an all-comer’s (6:37), and in the half-marathon in late June (1:51), and the 5k on my birthday (21:49 on a longer/mis-measured course).

And I’m back. I have my confidence back. I have my assassin back – rather than just slogging through races because it’s what you do, I target people and pick them off for the fun of it. I’m beating people in my club. I’m top 10 in the 40-44 division in my last three races. I can love participating in this sport again, instead of just watching it. I feel, in short, like a runner again. I look like a runner again. I eat like a runner again, sleep like a runner again, think like a runner again. This is what I do. It’s been a weird and at times difficult year, but on the other side of it, I have me, and I’m happy about that. I missed me. I didn’t like being the guy who couldn’t tuck in a shirt or keep up on a walk to the cafe. I like this – I love watching this sport, and I love competing. I think it’s a shame that I had to start beating people before I was welcomed into my running club, and I hope I can use my experience to teach people about that.

Most of all, I’m happy. And I look forward to re-purposing this blog, to tell the story of a comeback, to talk about the sport I love, and to just generally…well, drop 2,000 words at a pop and make you all suffer through it!


>Unless the mood strikes me again.

So, this guy from Australia (I referenced him in last night’s post) called the US Track team a “laughingstock”. I disagree with him, but didn’t take it up too much, because it did seem that our team performed at less than their best. But the more I thought about it, the more it irritated me and didn’t ring true.

Swaggering sprinters? Where? This isn’t Barcelona or Sydney. Tyson Gay is among the most humble sprinters around. Walter Dix just runs, does his job, and takes what comes to him. I don’t recall Usain Bolt running for us – now THAT’S a swaggering sprinter. Our 400 team (lest we forget, we swept the medals in the men’s 400 and 400 hurdles) was about as low-key and businesslike as you can get, Jeremy Wariner’s bad attitude excepted. And the too-frequent failures of our 4 x 100 relay teams in Olympic races continues to disappoint.

But the US team a laughingstock? Let’s take a look at the medal count: Hm, US 23, Russia 18, Kenya 14, Jamaica 11, everyone else can go suck it. Hey, where’s Australia in that medal count, Scott Gullan of the Herald Sun? Oh yeah…you got 4. So let’s keep things in perspective. When things go as badly as they did for the Americans on the track and they still beat the second place team by more medals than Australia won in total (and, by the way, won more golds, silvers, and bronzes than the next closest teams as well)…well, I think you could say American dominance on the track is still doing okay.

With injuries to our top runners in the men’s 100, 200, 110 hurdles, 1500 and 5000, as well as disastrous errors in the women’s 100 hurdles and 400 meters, our second, or in some cases third best, still won medals. Men’s 100 (bronze), 200 (silver and bronze), 110 hurdles (silver and bronze), women’s 100 hurdles (gold) and 400 (bronze). That’s a good haul for a team weakened by injuries and mistakes. So perhaps Mr. Gullan should rethink what it means to be a laughingstock.


>Well, that was an interesting week. Lots of ups and downs for the US track team, some trends continuing (Jamaica catching up – more like passing us – in the sprints, continued decline in the jumps, weak performances above 400 meters), some new things emerging, and clear indications that we need to get American track refocused, top to bottom.

I’ll get to that. But first, how did I do at my predictions? Let’s see:

My guess? Flanagan pushes the pace, not wanting to deal with the kick of a Dibaba or the other Africans. Hopefully she doesn’t go out too fast – if she can get in under 31:00, she’s got a medal. Due to my crush (*le sigh*), I kinda hope Goucher wins the whole thing, but I think she’s most likely to finish 5th or 6th.

Success! Flanagan finishes in 30:22 in a fast race and gets a bronze. Kara found herself running under 31:00 for the first time, but still 10th.

Americans will all make the final, but they’re going to get their asses kicked in the women’s 5,000. They just don’t have sub-14:30’s in them

Well, this one’s weird. No 14:30 needed, with the slowest world-class 5000 I’ve seen in…well, ever, but really they just ran tactically bad races. When you’re running 80-plus second laps at the Olympics with Dibaba in the race, you need to GO. You can’t leave it to a sprint. I love me some Kara Goucher, and her kick is fantastic, but she doesn’t have a Dibaba-type kick.

* Sorry, American men! Your Olympics are going to be difficult in the distance events. Predictions:

800: Symmonds makes the final, finishes around 8th. Wheating gets into the semis, Smith doesn’t survive the heats
1500: Hope! Lagat seems unbeatable, but it’s a different year. I’ll be a homer and say he wins it. Leo Manzano and Lopez Lomong might survive the semis, getting the whole team into the finals. Unlikely, though.
3000 Steeple: Um, seriously. Nobody’s making the finals.
5000: Lagat will make the final, and if the field plays into his hands with a slow, tactical race, could win or medal again. My money says we’ll get our first sub 13:00, and no American medals. Tegenkamp and Dobson, enjoy the experience and the semis.
10000: If the race is slower and tactical, Abdi could be in the running, but I think he’s most likely to finish around 5th or 6th. Rupp and Torres won’t be competitive.
Marathon: Hall could surprise and pull off a medal run, but I think it’s not his time yet – 4th is my prediction. In 2012, Hall’s going to blow the field up, though!

Well, let’s see. Symmonds didn’t make the final, but neither Smith nor Wheating survived the heats. So I was, like, 30% right. Lagat failed to survive the semis, running TACTICALLY STUPID RACES. I saw this in Eugene, it concerned me, and it bit him in the ass. Tendinitis or no, you can’t spend all your time boxed in in the back of the pack. So I was way wrong on that. Manzano and Lomong did as expected. Steeplechase – Famigliatti surprised me and made the finals (running a bizarre front-running semi and burning himself out in the process). In the 5, Lagat and Tegenkamp made the finals, but as I predicted, no medals AND the first Olympic sub 13:00. In the 10, Abdi was never really in it, nor was Rupp. Torres was REALLY out of it. But, the race was neither slow nor tactical, so that roughly fits what I predicted. Ryan Hall really shit the bed in the marathon, putting forth his worst effort yet, but it is early and he’s got talent galore. I still say 2012 is his time.

I called for one medal, but predicted we could easily get nothing, which is exactly what we got. Hrmph.

We could win as many as 7 medals at 800 and above for the women, but a minimum of 2:
800: Hazel Clark could go bronze, although I think the field’s just too deep – probably 6th or 7th
1500: Rowbury medals. Guaranteed.
Steeple: One medal. Barringer or Willard, can’t predict who pulls out the bronze.
5000: Sorry, guys, it just ain’t gonna happen.
10000: Flanagan medals, possibly Goucher.
Marathon: Kastor could surprise!

Oy. Nobody survived the semis in the 800; just a terrible performance. I apologize for guaranteeing a Rowbury medal – she was in it, but didn’t have the guns at the right time. She is absolutely good enough to run with those ladies, though. I clearly underestimated the steeple field – an American record apparently will only get you 9th place! 5000, well, I called it. 10, I called this too. In the marathon, whoopsie! Kastor breaks a foot, Lewy Boulet whacks her knee on a bus seat (WHAT??), and that was that.

So what’s up with the American team? Other than Tyson Gay, our sprinters are clearly in a down cycle, but Walter Dix is going to be gooood. Gay had a rough couple months – bad time to strain the hammy and miss some training! No matter, Usain Bolt wasn’t going to be beaten. Nice, gutsy sweep in the 400, and I admit I enjoy seeing Jeremy Wariner get beat, just because he’s such a pouter about it. Lolo Jones (hot hot heat – good lordy she’s smoking hot!) ran so well, the end of her race was excrutiating to watch. Same with Sanya Richards, although she kinda did herself in by going out too fast. Our distance runners continue to be outmatched and unprepared for these meets. Damn damn damn. And the relays! It’s to the point that I didn’t watch the 4 x 100 prelims because this has become a 50/50 chance with the U.S. teams. We’ve got to get our national teams focused on the team portion of the Olympics so this nonsense doesn’t happen – it’s embarrassing and inexcusable.

I think the next four years will be somewhat transformative – they have to be. Doug Logan’s clearly putting a lot of thought into getting the USATF straightened out, I think he’s going to look at our coaching (finally!) and the sprinters won’t let themselves continue to be humiliated like they were.

I don’t agree with the commenters here (idiots), and this guy’s just a douchebag. But, the reality is that our team looked unprepared and in many cases like they didn’t take this seriously enough.

When looking at the Kenyans and Ethiopians compared to our distance runners, the big gap appears to be in the depth of their bench. They have dozens of runners 18 – 21 years old running world-class times – an 18 year old won the women’s 800, 21 year old won the men’s marathon, the Ethiopians had an 18 year old in the men’s 5000 final. They have dozens of kids like this. We have four or five guys, spread around multiple events, all in their mid-to-late 20’s. This is not how you catch up. We have to stop babying our high school runners. The myth that they’ll burn out and won’t have a pro career is just that – a myth. These African runners are running world-class times by 15 or 16 years old, and training at a world-class level. When I hear that a talent like Jordan Hasay is running 30 or 40 miles a week during the season and LESS between seasons, I see an enormous opportunity wasted. I see a talent being wasted. And I only see one of her! It’s great that California had two girls running at a high level last year, but they are few and far between. And they get to college and are still not training at a world-class level, so four more years are wasted. How fast would Jenny Barringer be in the steeple if she trained like the Kenyans instead of getting babied at the college level (yes, I’m aware her training is hard – but it should be harder)? Why should Galen Rupp have to leave college for a year to train for world-class races? World-class training should be part of the college program, not saved for the post-collegiate athlete.

But what do I know? I’m just a guy seeing what’s plainly displayed on my TV screen every time our runners go up against the Africans.