Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nastia-mania!

Nastia Liukin had a victory parade this morning in her hometown of Parker, TX. She trains at her dad's gym in Plano, so I figured Parker must be reasonably close but I wasn't sure where it is, until ... duh, 100m from my front door is none other than Parker Road. We're on the west side of Plano, so follow the road to East Plano, then beyond that to Parker, about 30-40 mins away. It's also where Southfork Ranch is.

We missed the morning parade, but Nastia was going to be at JC Penney in the afternoon from 2-4PM. We've already met one all-around gold medalist, and were looking forward to another. We got to the mall at 1:20PM and there was no way we were going to get in line, not with at least 1,000 people in line already. With only a 2 hour window, I didn't think the line would make it all the way. So we decided to just hang out and take pictures when she showed up:



There might have been a few bruised elbows and trampled toes to get those pics, but at least no clothing racks fell over!

In post-Olympic news, there was another track meet last week, the Weltklasse Z├╝rich, and it was nice to see some US athletes win what they missed in Beijing:

- 100M Hurdles Lolo Jones (Olympic 7th)
- 200M (W) Allison Felix (Olympic Silver)
- 400M (M) Jeremy Wariner (Olympic Silver)
- 400M (W) Sanya Richards (Olympic Bronze)

You know, another thing bugs me about sports coverage. The Olympics were a huge hit for NBC, averaging 27.7 million viewers per night. The biggest draws for them - gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Night after night, hands down, no contest. How many world-class gym meets, swim meets, and track meets do you think we'll see between now and 2012?

zero

WTF?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Susan Smoked Me

My legs still hurt from this morning's race. I ran with Susan, both of us using this as a training run, she for Chicago and me because my coach said so. I was under strict orders to stay under a HR in the 160's or so.

We were good for the first half of the half, doing it in 1:02, pretty much on pace, HR below 160. I had to drop back after that, and Susan kept getting further and further in front until I pretty much lost sight of her. From miles 7 to 11 I ran-walked to keep the HR in the "or so" zone.


At the mile 11 marker I said %#*@-it and took off. I started passing people, maybe about 30 or 40 of them. It took almost all of 2 miles to catch up to Susan, but I did, and I finished one step behind her. Unofficially, 2:16:00.

Thanks Susan for dragging me* out there - the company was excellent!

* Beware the revisionist posting over at Susan's world of make-believe blog
!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Men's Marathon

The Olympic Marathons are just awe inspiring. I watched the 2004 Athens marathons from the comfort of my sofa, which led to my first half in late 2004 and my first full in 2005, and I've never looked back.

I watched tonight's men's marathon, again amazed at how fast these guys cover the miles. Knowing now what goes on during a race and how difficult it can be, I felt for 4th place finisher Deriba Merga who looked to kick in another gear at the end and found the well dry. Definitely been there.

While I'm glad NBC covered the race live and in full, the more I think back, the more I feel they could have done a much better job. I thought they spent way too much time on the lead pack, and lost out on all the plots and sub-plots brewing behind. Here's what I would have done, asked, and covered more:

- Where's Stefano Baldini, 2004 gold medalist? What's he doing back there? How did he end up in 12th place?

- How did Ryan Hall pick off runners, moving from the 20's to finish in 10th place?

- What's up with Dathan Ritz running ahead of Ryan for the entire race?

- How did Hendrick Ramaala, 2004 NYC winner, go from lead pack to finish in 44th?

- How did Martin Lel, 2007 London and NYC winner, drop off the lead pack in the 2nd half, and then come back to almost beat a wiped-out Merga at the finish, settling for 5th place.

- Show the view from the chase pack looking ahead at the lead pack. Are they gaining or fading? I think the chase pack is where there's more tension, more heartache. It's where the fight is, the mind games, the struggle to close the gap.

- Despite their overwhelming coverage of the lead pack, when Wanjiru made his move to break away of the lead pack for good, NBC missed it, and we saw Ritz and Hall running through a water stop instead. Their lead pack camera crew should be given an automatic pass to cut back in anytime they see someone making a move.

- Now that I think about it, the NBC commentators told us precious little about the 3 eventual winners. It's like they hardly knew who they were.

What else do you think they should have done?

And London - you can do better!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hola from Puerto Vallarta

Now I remember why I need to keep my job. We’ve been here since Thursday, I got a new tattoo poolside, and I’m off from work all next week. We’re staying in the Marina Vallarta district, with Bahia de Banderas and the Pacific Ocean outside our hotel window. Every day has been spent going between pool and beach and back. It’s been a year since our last beach vacation, and we’re going to make the most of it!

I ran Friday morning. Didn’t pay attention to sunrise time and got up at 6:00 am to pitch darkness. It started to barely lighten up sometime past 7:00 am, and I headed out a couple miles to the main Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio that runs from the airport to town. Once at the main road, I encountered lots of locals heading out or arriving for work. On my return leg, I followed a mass of people and wound up at the Marina itself, which they were using as a shortcut to a major high rise construction project on the opposite side. I continued back to my hotel, ending up on the beach for a post-run dip in the bay.

One night, we took that same road into town for dinner at El Arrayan, a traditional Mexican restaurant recommended by the concierge. It was a simple down-to-earth place, open-air with a small central courtyard. Everything on the menu was recognizable and well prepared with really fresh ingredients, although we declined the daily special – fried crickets. After dinner we walked down to the boardwalk, or Melecon, where we found this wonderful art.

It probably didn’t last the evening, because it started to rain buckets. We caught a taxi back to the hotel, and promptly got stuck in a massive traffic jam. With no A/C, no movement, and high humidity, we had the windows cracked open half-way just to keep from fogging up, but it still felt like sitting in a sauna and shower all at once! Soaked to the bones and going nowhere fast crammed inside this taxi, we just had to laugh off this unexpected adventure!

Tomorrow (Sunday) calls for 1-hr run, more beach, and more pool. Somehow, I’ll survive. The worst part of this trip has been getting tattooed by these artists, and then being forced against my will to pose for this picture. Somehow, I'll survive that too.