Deep thoughts on Day 1...


And if you have not gotten enough on Day one, an absolutely thrilling start to the 2008 Olympic Trials, please check out our daily RN TV program, featuring Paul McMullen and myself. We're not Katie Couric & Bryant Gumbel, but we are okay....

The press conference after the 10,000 meters last night was an amazing example of the differences between the three distance goddesses who will be representing us in Beijing.

Shalane Flanagan is a fighter, and she is healthy. The value of a healthy buildup, a personality that has been burnt so many times, that if one did not know Shalane, they would feel that she is a bit cautious. Shalane Flanagan is the American record holder at 3,000 meters indoors, 5,000 meters outdoors and 10,000 meters. Her 10,000 was a revelation. But, she was tired and tender after the race at Stanford. Rumours went out about her being injured, but she sure did not look that way last night. John Cook, her coach, knows how to be there, remember, he coached, Abdi Bile, the brilliant 1987 World Champion--he knows how it works. Cook is quite meticulous, and his athletes are fully prepared for the situation. When Shalane was being ignored in the Kara lovefest, John escorted Shalane out. Do not take the term, lovefest as a negative--this
is just a fact. Shalane and Kara are quite, quite different athletes. Yet, when the going gets tough, as with the 4;37 last 1,600 meters that they ran last night, Flanagan and Goucher get tough. When Flanagan took off, putting four seconds between her and Goucher in the last 300 meters, Shalane Flanagan was the speeding train that would not be stopped-it was her race, her championship.

Kara Goucher is a totally different personality. She is relaxed, sees her career as a blessing and a revelation and has complete and utter confidence in her coach, Alberto Salazar, her relationship with her husband, Adam Goucher, and sees the move that Adam and she made to Eugene and Alberto as having a huge upside.

This season, Goucher ran a good 10,000 meters, an okay 5,000 meters, and then, began to move. She ran a 14:58 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, then blasted a 4:06.14 in Vancouver, BC. Goucher raced herself into shape. Her goal in the Trials was to a) make the team. She ran to win, and with 800 meters to go, she made her move and ran gamely until the end. The last two laps were one of the best races I have ever seen.

Now, the human story, the story that most of us were watching was Amy Yoder Bagley. Amy is tough, she is a former Razorback, and she has been through the Miles of Trials, the Trials of Miles, that the fictional Quentin Cassedy lived in Once a Runner, the cult book of books by the inestimable John Parker.

Bagley and Goucher are friends. They were hurt at the same time. Bagley called Goucher to ask about Alberto and why she was running so well. For the past sixteen months, Amy and Kara have trained together.

When I watched them run the five mile tempo run, I was truly impressed by her stride, her focus and her improvement. She was obviously ready to roll, but there was no speed there, just huge, huge endurance and strength.

The key, dear readers to Bagley's race last night was heart, confidence in her training, and focus on her goal. She ran the race everyone else in the field should have, but, for various reasons, could not. Amy Yoder Bagley is the patron saint of hard work and focus, and her race truly set the stage for this Olympic Trials. Take the chance, challenge and see what you can do!

Chelsea Johnson clears 4.72 m, Stacey Dragila at 4.70 m

Speaking of getting some last minute competition, Chelsea Johnson, who had jumped 4.68 recently, just did 4.72 m or 15-7.25 at the Los Gatos, California All comers this past Thursday night.

Stacy Dragila jumped 4.70m last weekend!

The fanfare around the stadium has really added, for many of the fans to the Olympic Trials festivities. Sacramento was superb for two Trials, but so far, the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and this is from an allergy poster child, has been excellent.

Great crowd at the PCS/Villard Street Pub/Oregon Micro brewery/ Wine Festival on Villard Street, about 550 meters from Hayward Field last night. Ron Wayne, Pat Devaney, Mike Fanelli, even Joe Rubio, Jeff Shaver (just out of the chinese prison), Toby Cook and rumours fly that Mr. Green and the Men from Modesto could surface tonight. Coaches clinics are planned next week, and a chance to meet the American distance gods-Bob Schul, Billy MIlls, Jim Ryun, George Young, and others next week as well.

One of the real treats at this meet is seeing old friends. So, on Friday, I had the pleasure of catching up with Jacqueline Hansen, who along with Janet Heinonen and Joe Henderson are part of the main reason why distance races actually happen for women around the world.

Jacqueline was coached by Lazlo Tabori, one of the great Hungarian runners coached by Mihaily Igloi. Tabori missed an Olympic medal in Melbourne by inches, and as his country of Hungary was being brutalized by Soviet troops, defected to the United States. Lazlo coached many of the most fascinating American distance runners of the late 50s and 60s and 70s-Jim Beatty comes to mind.

In 1975, Jacqueline decided to run a marathon. Lazlo gave her a workout, where she ran two miles during seventeen miles of intervals, in just around five minutes. He then put his arm around her and said, " You are ready." Jacqueline ran 6:02 a mile that day, and when she hit 20 miles, she ran 5:55 a mile for the last six, to crush the world record. The picture of her, finishing eleventh overall, is shows a joyous athlete having accomplished her goal. She does not run anymore. " I walk now, listening to NPR every day."

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