Des Moines Diary: Deep thoughts from Day 1, considering the 10,000 meters

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One of the traditions at the US Champs are the geeks who follow the 10,000 meters. Now, on the word, "geeks". I use the term "geeks" as a badge of honor. There are sprint geeks, jump geeks, throw geeks and distance geeks. I am a track geek. I can appreciate a great series in the hammer throw or javelin as much as I can the pole vault and 10,000 meters. Right now, I am praising the 10,000 meters.

Huddle_MollyFH-USAout18.jpGMolly Huddle wins 10,000 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net

Consider Molly Huddle. A beautifully orchestrated race on Thursday night, June 21. Molly has now won 27 U.S. national titles. She has won four straight 10,000 meter races. The 10,000 meters is a 25 lap game of chess. The pain is, well, excruciating. 1972 Olympic gold medalist at the marathon (where he set 10,000m AR twice, in heats and final), Frank Shorter told Kenny Moore that running the 10,000 meters was similar to cutting one self with a very sharp knife. The pain builds in the 10,000 meter race. Huddle gets that. Her tactic is to build from the 5,000 meters, and make the pace so difficult that she has reduced her competitors to a few as possible. In Des Moines, Molly Huddle hit the 5000 meters in 16:14, and ran the final 5,000 meters in 15:39. Marielle Hall was with Molly with 1200 meters to go. Then, the race got intense, a 72 lap, a 71 lap, and a 63.4! A final 800 meters in 2:13.58, and Molly Huddle tore the last lap up, winning title 27 for the fine runner. The field was fantastic and makes American women's distance running fantastic to watch and observe, from the veterans like Marielle Hall, Stephanie Bruce and Molly Huddle, to the next generation of Emily Sisson and Molly Seidel, to the triathlete turned distance runner Gwen Jorgenson.

Lomong_LopezFV-USAo18.JPGLopez Lomong, Shadrack KIpchirchir, 10,000 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net

Consider Lopez Lomong. Lopez carried the flag in Beijing. His victories outdoors in 2009 and 2010 over 1,500 meters, his indoor title at 1,500 meters also impressed. But, the most impressive race, in my mind was Lopez Lomong's foray at 5000 meters at the Payton Jordan in 2012. He miscounted laps and ran a 53 lap, then, had to find the energy to run one more lap, he did and ran a super time, 13:11.63. That year, Lopez made his second Olympic team, this time at 5000 meters. In 2014, Lopez won the US Indoor title at 1,500 meters. Lopez Lomong is very new to the 10,000m distance, having debuted at the 2018 Stanford Invitational, where he took second in 28:21.37 on 30 March 2018.

At the 2018 US Championships, Lopez Lomong, a man who has run a 1:45.58 for 800 meters and 3:32:20 for the 1,500 meters, just observed. The lead pack went through the 5000 meters in a pedestrian 14:51. Lomong told the media post race, " I am learning still about the 10,000 meters. I just listened to my coach (Jerry Schumacher)." And listen he did. Lopez has a deadly kick, and the second half of the race, pushed by Shadrack Kipchirchir, was about trying to finish in something but second place. The second half was run in 14:07, and that did drop most of the field, but not Lopez Lomong. Lopez used a last lap of 54.16 to cement his first title at 10,000 meters. In that victory, Lopez Lomong made history: he became the first man to win the 1,500 meters and 10,000 meters at a U.S. Championships. His smile, post race told the entire story!

Lomong_LopezR-USAout18.jpGLopez Lomong, the satisfaction of victory, photo by PhotoRun.net

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