Two hours is a long time to spend doing one thing, but it's even longer when you're sitting still watching someone else do something. Yesterday, NBC set aside two hours in the afternoon to show a taped delay of the US Olympic marathon trials, which, quite frankly, was awfully nice of them to do. While people love the Olympics, they're not often that interested in how we got there, and certainly not that concerned about one race that takes hours to complete.
I remember running track and thinking that the two mile was probably pretty boring for everyone in the stands, so I can't imagine how dull it must be to watch me trudge through 26 miles of road race. Fortunately, I've got extremely supportive and resourceful family and friends who want to be there to cheer me on, but can also find a coffee shop or some other entertainment to occupy them during the down time.
Still, I found myself glued to the television for the duration of the broadcast, despite my partial knowledge of the outcome. You see, I didn't know the broadcast was on a taped delay, and I made the mistake of signing on to Twitter to follow along. Fortunately, Coach Higdon managed to warn me that others were plastering the walls of the internet with spoilers before I found out too much information. I wanted to watch the race and appreciate the strategy, and drama, and the surprise. If you're planning on watching later, be warned, here be spoilers.
Still with me? Cool.
The women's race didn't wasn't much of a surprise in their top three of Flanagan, Davila and Goucher. I was a little surprised that Desi didn't put up more of a fight for first, but she knew that she'd qualified, and I suppose there's no point in tiring yourself out just yet. I wondered if Deena Kastor was going to make a push, but as I say, I wasn't all that surprised.
The men, on the other hand, were not at all what I expected after about mile 20. Until then, it was pretty much what I expected, with Ryan Hall running like he could be doing anything else. He was surrounded by a progressively smaller pack, eventually consisting of Dathan Ritzenhein (who seemed to be waiting for someone else to make a mistake), Meb Keflezighi (who, to me, looked exhausted before mile 10), and Abdi Abdirahman (whose job, it seemed to be, to antagonize Hall). I wasn't surprised to see Ritz drop back, though he seemed to be hanging on, hoping for a mistake, and Abdi had been too active throughout the race, so I wasn't shocked to see him fade (and almost get caught by Ritz). What amazed me was Meb, who I thought was going to drop early, who instead ended up pulling away.
I watched the Ryan throughout the race, and the man simply never looked tired. Every move seemed to be effortless, and as he pushed the pace and jostled with Abdi, it was always like he'd just started running. He and Abdi really appeared to enjoy the race, but every step seemed to be a challenge for Meb. He was an afterthought in third place while the other two jockeyed for position, and yet it was his patience and restraint that won the race.
There's no question that Hall is the best marathoner in the country, but I'm going to enjoy the event this summer in London. We've got three women who can absolutely compete, and a few guys who will, at the very least, be fun to watch. I just hope that NBC gives me a chance to actually watch it.
And that I remember to stay off Twitter.
3.98 Miles (with First Dog)