Monday, January 16, 2012

Olympic Trials Ramblings

When the gun went off on Saturday…rather, when the gun went off on NBC, Saturday afternoon, I sat in my friends’ basement, helping myself to some chips and salsa, sipping on a Chimay, and thought: this is it.
The 2012 Olympians. Courtesy of
Christmas morning, err, afternoon, had arrived.
As I mentioned last Friday, I’d had this day circled on the calendar for some time. I followed the journeys of the favorites and the hopefuls leading up to race day. I drew on their experiences and used them as my own motivation when storm clouds moved in around my head. The time had finally come and the stories had all merged together on one spot as they always do: the starting line.

Here are some of my thoughts and observations during the Trials: 
  • Blackhawk Down – First off, I love hockey. But part of me died inside when the Blackhawks scored with under a minute to play to send the game to overtime, thereby delaying the start of the Trials’ telecast. 
  • Ctrl+alt+delete – Before heading to my friends’ house, I feverishly worked in our basement trying to set the DVR to record the Trials at 3:00. We had the dreaded black screen blinking “No Signal.” While I laced together a string of obscenities after each Verizon "help" page led me nowhere, I finally decided to unplug the cable box and plug it back in. Why is it always just that easy?
  • My Dad the Faux Spoiler – I went into total media blackout at 9:00 a.m. EST. Though when I spoke to my dad later that morning the following ensued:
“Good morning.”
“Don’t say anything. I don’t want to know. I know it’s over.”
“Yep, it’s over. And I know who’s going.”
“I’m waiting until 3:00, don’t say anything.”
“Actually the women’s race is still going. Last time I checked, a pack of three had broken away.”
“Dad, seriously. Let’s move on. I’m in full media blackout until 5:00 tonight.”
“Well, since it’s running coverage, you could probably still live like a normal person and never know that it went on.”Truer words…but just in case, the Facebook, Twitter, e-mail embargo was in full effect.
  • Wow Me – While this was a “Trial” for the marathoners, I hope that NBC sees that it was a trial for their Olympic marathon coverage too. And they failed. I'm mostly over the fact that there was no live feed (the intro paragraph of this blog aside), but you'd think with the delay between the race and the actual telecast they could have, oh, I don't know, put some splits up!? I thought the commentary was awful. Would it have killed them to flash up mile markers so we knew where the runners were on the course?  These athletes are covering 26.2 miles at 4 and 5-something per mile. Let me be amazed!
  • Michael Wardian’s Ponytail is Everywhere – A cheer went up in the room when we spotted Michael Wardian’s signature backwards white hat and ponytail on the startline; he’s an Arlington, VA-based superhuman distance runner; we then proceeded to tell our, “Well, I saw Wardian at….” stories. Wardian also sprinted to the lead of the '07 Trials just to say he led; I thought Ryan Hall made it pretty clear that there'd be none of that this time around.
  • Double Dip – Wardian ran the Houston marathon the day after the trials too. Dude got his money's worth.
  • Home Cooking – Another cheer went up when we realized the runner leading the women’s race was from Falls Church, VA, just down the road from us. Then in the next frame, she faded. Alas.
  • Wave Goodbye – I rooted so hard for Ritz to stay with the lead pack, especially at mile 18 when Abdi started waving his arms at the crowd. I was ready to wave good bye to his spot. Not a fan.
  • Junk in the Front – Speaking of Ritz, did you see those “shorts” he ran in? Not just the shorts but everything else! My wife traveled to Massachusetts this weekend, and we usually leave those kinds of observations to her. But, I must have channeled her spirit because all of the sudden the words, "Check out Ritz's package," came out of my mouth. There's no recovering from that.
  • Rainbow Bright - And speaking of fashion, Meb's shoes? Whoa.
  • Cold as Ice - Desi looked automatic out there; I know Shalane won, but Desi just looks like a cold killer; she gives nothing away behind those sunglasses (except the lead, ba-zing!).
  • Kenyan Trials – Funniest comment to my last blog goes to runDanrun; run_nyc74 posted: “I just wish Kenya had an Olympic Marathon Trial. I’d definitely watch that. It would be better than the actual Olympics!” To which Dan replied: “The Kenyan Trials can be watched at the Olympics as 3.” 
  • Christmas is Over – When it was all said and done, I sat back and blew out a long sigh. It felt like I was a little kid all over again and I had torn through all my Christmas gifts and it was suddenly over too fast….until we get to see them do it again this summer.
Let the countdown to London begin!

What were your impressionable moments from the Trials?


  1. Alas, I didn't get to watch any of this year's trials - but I watched the women's Olympic marathon trials in-person in 2008 as they were the day before the Boston Marathon. It. Was. Awesome. And while I didn't get to watch this year's trial's, your recap was a worthy substitute.

  2. Seriously. Your feelings were similar to mine overall. I watched it at my aunt's house and wish I had a party to go to for it! The races were great and the coverage...could've been better. I was really frustrated about the delay as well. Here's to London going better! And your friend's comment about the Kenyan trials was hilarious.


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