Friday, January 13, 2012

London Calling

I didn’t think it could be done. But, on a bright November morning in 2010, I awoke to my alarm, fried up some eggs, brewed a pot of coffee and descended into our basement with the Sunday Post tucked under my arm. I was going to watch the New York Marathon.

We all know running a marathon is a challenge. And even spectating a marathon in-person can be quite the workout. But watching a marathon on TV? Surely, there are other more exciting things on Sunday TV.

That morning, I didn’t crease that newspaper once. I sat riveted to the screen watching Shalane duke it out, and willing Meb to hold on to the chase pack. I submitted my NYC marathon entry that afternoon, then I did the only thing left: I laced up and went for my own run.

Earlier this week in my co-worker’s office, I had the generic “what are you up to this weekend” talk (even though it was Monday). Without hesitation, without even a thought to the NFL playoffs or my beloved and woeful Capitals, I blurted out: From 3-5 on Saturday I’m watching the Olympic Marathon Trials.

I watched her face fall. Then it contorted in skepticism. Then the laughing began.
“I’m sorry. You’re going to watch running? For two hours?”

I hadn’t anticipated how this might sound. In my head, the thought of three spots on the line to go to the Olympics -- the Olympics! -- was all the reason I needed. To somehow live through Again to Carthage, and share in the hope, glory, and devastation of these athletes who have dedicated so many miles, so many hours, so many years of their life to just run 26.2 more and the right to do it again on the grandest stage.

And yet, I got laughter as a response. I may as well have said that I was going to watch the puddles freeze outside. But, I’ve had January 14 circled on the calendar since the summer.

When I really became a student of the running game, the 2007 trials were just ramping up. I remember flipping through Runner’s World, thinking Who are these guys? Now, names like Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenheim, Nick Arciniaga, and the Brooks Hanson’s project, are all part of my vocabulary. (Side note: I’ve met two thirds of the 2008 men’s marathon team. Boom.)

The past three weeks, I’ve been in my glory. Between the Flotrack coverage of Davila, Hall, McMillan Elite, Marathon Road, the Running Times feature on the '84 trials, and the Runner’s World online coverage, it’s been hard to focus on much else.

For some, the Olympic team is on the line. For others it’s the culmination of years and years of training just to meet the standard and get to compete in the race.

I will be detached from all electronic communication and news sources until 5:00 tomorrow evening since NBC, in their infinite wisdom, is not live streaming or live broadcasting the race. Rather, they have the “special” from 3-5.

So, if anyone needs me, I’ll be downstairs.

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