Jon Gugala sent this piece on Amy Hastings to us this morning session, which was wonderful! Amy Hastings, one of our faves, has a double secret, well kind of secret plan to do well in the 10,000 meters. We want Amy Hastings to do well. Well, read Jon’s story and you will get it! You just have to love the title!
Amy Hastings gutting out finish, 2012 Oly Trials, photo by PhotoRun.net
Flying Pigs, Unicorns, and Amy Hastings in the 10K
by Jon Gugala
The 10,000-meters was never Plan A for Amy Hastings.
Hastings, who competes for the U.S. in the women’s 10,000m this evening, had her
initial sights set on the U.S. marathon team at the Olympic team trials in January.
And despite the fact that it was only her second time running the event, she was
arguably the most gutty in the race, being the aggressor repeatedly in her attempt
to dislodge any of the Big Three, which included eventual trials champ Shalane
Flanagan, runner-up and former Arizona State teammate Desiree Davila, and
America’s Marathon Mom Kara Goucher.
But Hastings couldn’t break any of them, and when Davila made her own push for the win,
it was Hastings who found herself drifting off the back. She would finish fourth in
2 hours, 27 minutes, 17 seconds, just 15 seconds off her debut best from 2011 and
just over a minute off an Olympic spot.
So Hastings made lemonade, winning the trials 10,000m in an event so weak in depth
that she pretty much just had to finish to make the team, being one of only three women
with the Olympic “A” standard. (The other two U.S. representatives, Lisa Uhl and Janet
Cherobon-Bawcom, did not finish in the top three at the trials, only advancing because
of their standard. This does not bode well.)
There’s no doubt that Hastings is in over her head in the event; she’s competing against
the right and left fists of Vivian Cheruiyot and Tirunesh “The Baby-Faced Assassin”
Dibaba. The former is last year’s world championships double gold-medalist in the
5K/10K; the latter is the defending Olympic champ in both events. Both have
PRs light years ahead of Hastings.
So what do you do in this situation? You put on your game face, maybe rattle your saber,
contemplate the improbable, and get ready to hurt.
“The hardest thing in the 10k is it’s so easy to loose focus when things start to hurt,”
Hastings says in an interview with FloTrack. “It’s just not losing focus and making
sure every step is a good one.”
That focus has been made easier, Hastings says, because of marathon training. The longer
runs have required a longer focus, and now 6.2 miles seems tiny in comparison.
But the odds are long. What has to happen in the race would be for Dibaba to make an
insane mid-race move–say a 2:08 800m around 6K. Cheruiyot would obviously cover, and
she could probably hold on for second. But the rest of the field–which includes two
more Kenyans and two more Ethiopians–would need to go with her, and they would need
to be in over their respective heads. Hastings, meanwhile, would have to not go,
instead running her own race and then look to scoop up the wreckage of the pack
one by one on her way to the bronze.
And then the Van Halen brothers featuring David Lee Roth on lead vocals would
perform the Ethiopian national anthem.
This strategy is not exactly guts, and anyway that’s not exactly Hastings’
strategy, from what she says: “This is the one to take a risk. When it comes
down to it, this is the race where fourth place is the same as last place,
so you might as well go for it.”
You can believe her if you will; Hastings has already told some whoppers to
the assembled press, including this gem: “I’ve been waiting to feel the pain
of this 10K for four years.” (In actuality, Hastings has probably been waiting
to feel that pain since January 15, the day after her Olympic marathon
aspirations officially died.) The marathon is without a doubt her future,
but the 10,000m is her present, and if she does follow her predictions
and does make a move with the leaders, hers will at least be a glorious
Is there a possibility? Hell, there’s always a possibility: “I know I’m the
underdog right now in this race. I might not even be an underdog; I’ might just
be counted out,” Hastings says. “But as long as I get there and give myself the
best possible opportunity, crazier things have happened.
“I’m going to go for it and see what happens,” she says.
“I think it will be good.”