Tuesday, 19 July 2016

State of the women's 800m and thoughts on the Tely 10.

Hey friends, how goes it? We certainly didn't get much of a down week after the trials as we were treated to the Monaco meet as well as some other smaller meets taking place in Europe like the one in Heusden where we saw Souleiman run a super strong 3:31 and Hill running a 3:35. We also saw the final selections made from the Ethiopian Federation naming their squads from the 800 and up. The only big surprise to me was leaving Keljelcha off the team over 5000, to me that's a big mistake as it's going to be a kickers race and he has the best wheels of anyone they could draw from with the exception of Mukar Edris, but hey, maybe they know something I don't. Regardless they have a fantastic squad going to Rio. Anyway, I'll talk briefly about our local Tely 10 which is coming up this Sunday and then look at the craziness that's going down in the women's 800m.

Tely 10 thoughts and who's looking good.

Here in Newfoundland there is no bigger race then the Tely 10 mile road race. This is the 89th year of it's running. A lot of people try to make observations and predictions but unless you are actually competing against the competition you really have no idea where people are and it's just making guesses based on other races. You don't really know if the athletes were using said races as workouts or all out efforts, then you've got the fact that 10 miles is a pretty awkward distance and favors strong half marathon runners or strength based 10k guys/girls.

On the men's side this year there's one guy who should be considered the heavy favorite but I suspect I'm the only one who thinks this as he's known as a steepler. That guy goes by the name of Ryan Brockerville. He's run 30:30 for 10k on the roads, an 8:34 steeple and a 3:52 1500, (He's likely in 3:43/44 shape though, that was a slow race from the gun, he's run 1:50 for 800 and 3:44 for 15 before). I mean, if you think anyone else on that start line has those credentials then you clearly aren't following the sport closely. He's in his prime and is ready to run. I'd obviously have picked last years Tely champ, Matt Loiselle if he was training like he was last year or in 2012 when he ran 48:08 but I don't think he's going to be starting the race as he's had some injury struggles, but if he does I'm sure he will run well. I don't know what kind of shape Graydon Snider is in as he's raced infrequently in 2016 and seems to be taking up joggling. He ran a 17 low 5k while doing so and according to his blog can run mile repeats in 5:10 without any drops. If he's on at 100% he's in the mix as well and will do well if the pace is hot early, using his strength to grind people away. Then you have Colin Fewer, who's one of the best runners to ever come out of Newfoundland, the guy has competed at world cross running against Bekele so you best believe he has some tricks up his sleeve. He's also won 8 Tely 10s and owns a PB of 49:43.

The race could go many different ways depending on who wants to lead and how fast it goes from the gun, but one things for sure it's going to be an exciting race.

On the women's side it's pretty cut and dry. My Saucony teammate Kate Bazeley is a class above the rest and should win by about 3 minutes if she has a good day. Behind her you have lots of great athletes like Anne Johnson who's run 35 high for 10k this year, Caroline Mcilroy who's gone well under 60 minutes before and races everything from 400m to 100km. Chasing her down will be another strong pack with the likes of Karen Stacy and Katie Wadden among others. It won't be as close as the men's race but it should be exciting non the less.

Understanding what's happening in the women's 800m.

So before I even get into this let me be clear. I firmly believe that both Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba aren't doing anything wrong. They were both born this way and are simply competing in a sport they both love and excel at. I personally believe they have a right to compete naturally, without being forced to take anything such as testosterone blockers or any other substance that some might think would level the playing field. My thoughts stem from the fact that I don't feel like it's fair for these two athletes to compete against other women who don't have the same hormonal advantages that both Semenya and Niyonsaba have being intersex athletes. One poster on letsrun.com who writes for www.sportsscientists.com said it best "the presence of the Y-chromosome is THE single greatest genetic “advantage” a person can have". 

I'm going to post a link below to the article/blog entry on sportsscientist.com below, it's incredibly well written and you'll glean far more from that then anything I'll say here. I do want to just talk about the fact that we need a fair playing field, if not why are we even bothering to hold a race? We don't know how fast Caster can really run, my hunch is she can certainly go under the current world record, (Which is very suspect at 1:53). How she looks closing out the last 120m of an 800 is like nothing I've ever seen before.

We can all agree that the best/most effective way to run an 800m to achieve the best time one's fitness will alloy is a slight positive split with a gradual deceleration each 200m. I once heard Canova talk about the scientific formula, some of what he said is escaping me now, but he suggested running the first 400 at 93% of your open 400m ability then come back at 89% of your open 400m ability on the second lap. 

Well, if any of you saw Semenya's 1:55 last week in Monaco her last 100m was just ridiculous, she's accelerating and finding another gear the last strait. She's not moving until about 200m to go and this is with the very best girls in the world in the race running in the 1:56's up front. This tells me if she went out maybe 3 seconds quicker at 400 and accounted for a slight deceleration and just ran on the edge the whole time she would be WAY under 1:55, I'd venture to say 1:51 high to 1:52 could be a very real possibility given how relaxed she looked running 1:55.

Competing against this type of athlete makes it very difficult for someone who has a ceiling of say 1:56 which is likely where the girls ranked 3rd to 6th are in terms of genetic potential. It doesn't really seam fair does it.

I really don't know what I'm getting at here or if I'm addressing anything at all. I'm just rambling on but it's something that we need to take a good look at before Rio, because if things stand as they are now, if 8 girls are in the final, 6 will realistically be competing for a Bronze Medal, and to me that doesn't seem right, they train just as hard and sacrifice just as much as anyone else and those girls deserve to toe the line knowing that they aren't limited based on their hormonal profile, but based on the fitness they are carrying into the race itself.

Before I clue this up, I want to reiterate what I said before, I 100% support Caster Semenya, she seems like a great person and is only trying to do what she loves. She deserves our respect in each and every debate we have over this issue. She's actually making the other athletes better, knowing they have to raise their game just to be in races with her.

If any of you guys/girls have any thoughts or comments about this leave them below, or if I've made any mistakes in what I've written please let me know. It's a touchy issue and needs to be addressed correctly. Here is the link the the article I spoke of above. http://sportsscientists.com/2016/07/caster-semenya-debate/

That's all for me, I'll get back to writing up my training next week after the Tely 10, Coach and I will begin to plan out the fall and I'm sure he will have me rolling some big sessions as I get ready for Yorkville, STWM 1/2 and National Cross.

Last point before I get out of here, Shoutout to Ryan Noel-Hodge who celebrated a big birthday there last week, I hear he's cutting some hay today on his family farm and squeezing in runs when possible. And to another one of coach John's athletes, Francois Jarry who rolled a 30:08 10000m in Quebec last weekend, stellar running!

Until next time, keep that chin tucked!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

AC & USATF Trials Wrap Up.

Hey running friends, I hope you are all well and enjoyed watching the Athletics Canada Track and Field Trials this past weekend, along with the USATF trials. We were treated to some amazing performances, some heartbreak, some feel good stories and our amazing sport was on full display. I for one enjoyed it big time. AC named our team for Rio yesterday and of course there was some heated debates about some who were left off but overall I think AC did an excellent job this time around doing away with the A+ standard that was used last time. So in this post I just want to talk about some of the great performances and some of the story lines that emerged from the two trials. Before that though, I need to give a shout out to my boys who ran in Antigonish last weekend at the Highland Games. Firstly the 5 miler which looked to be a great battle this year was taken by Rob Winslow who's a strait beauty, he ran a great race in Ottawa this year too, I'm excited to see him take a crack at his next marathon. He went 2:19:00 last time out in Rotterdam, I feel like 2:16 is in the cards for his next one. He had his hands full in the 5 miler with McNeil and my boy Alex giving chase along with Scott Donald. (Seeing those results made me wish I'd run our local 8km, I was licking my chops looking at the times that were run here locally). The next day featured the elite 1 mile race and the legend that is Alex Cyr just let it rip and left everyone in his wake. The kid is fresh off a couple 3:52's and seems to be having a great summer, go check out his blog on my side bar for a recap of his spring. Shout out as well to Mr. Dewolfe who was also out there spinning the legs. Look for a big fall from that guy, he's more of an aerobic monster and excels on the cross country course and over the long stuff. (I thought I read somewhere he was taking the LSAT, if that's the case I hope it went well big guy!). Anyway, let's get on with this post shall we.

Story lines from the USATF Olympic Trials.

1 - Bernard Lagat is simply amazing. After a DNF in the 10k he came back looking great in the first round of the 5000 and closed in 53 taking the win in his heat and then in the final came from way back to close in 52.8 in a 13:3X race to take the win. That's his 5th Olympic team which is unreal in a sport like track and field. If the final in Rio is anything like it was in Beijing last summer being a high 13 minute kickers race he could be in the hunt for a medal. Ndiku hasn't looked good at all this year so for my money I see it coming down to guys like Edris, Keljelcha, Farah and then maybe Lagat, granted Iguider is doubling and has ridiculous closing as well so we will see but this was a memorable trials watching Lagat make the team. 

2 - Brenda Martinez showing unreal guts and heart to come back and earn a spot on the 1500m team after the 800m final which saw her stumble and miss out on the team. Brenda embodies all that is great about track and field and is a fantastic role model for girls coming up in the sport. The 1500m team consisting of Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury and Brenda Martinez is a serious group of athletes, all are in sub 4 minute shape and in a tactical race have a shot at a medal. if Genzebe Dibaba runs and is healthy she can't be beat at 1500, and Faith Kipyegon in also on another level but any of these 3 Americans on a good day could make a run for the bronze.

3 - The women's 5000m team isn't very strong at all when compared to their 1500 or 800m teams. This is  a weird event on the world stage, you have a women in Almez Ayana who is in world record shape and can run a sub 8:30 final 3k if need be, then you have Genzebe Dibaba who can also run very close to the WR and close ridiculously fast. After that, there's plenty of East Africans women who can run 14:25-14:40. So what do you do then when your sending a team without Molly Huddle who's the only American women who could potentially run anything in the 14:3X's. It's a really strong event and there's a reason Huddle and Infeld are only running the 10k, you have to either be able to grind something in the 14:2X's or close in sub 60 in a 14:50 type race. I'm happy to see the 3 girls make it, especially Abby who seems like an awesome person, but this is a very hard event to compete in. 

4 - Lashawn Merritt has WHEELS!! He looked fantastic in the 400m and unreal in the 200, Gatlin had to dig into every reserve he had to edge him at the line. I'm really excited to see him doubling in both the 2 and 4. The US have a very strong team in all the sprints as usual and should definitely bring home some serious hardware.

5 - Matt Centrowitz is as silky smooth as they come. Well, we got exactly what we expected in that 1500, Centro proving he is a class above, striding away looking like he's jogging running 3:34 flat, Andrews closing like a train and a battle royal for 3rd similar to last year, this time with Ben Blankenship taking it from Leo. The men's 1500 team isn't as good pound for pound as their women's but it's still very strong. Centro is for sure in the hunt for a medal. (We will know more when we see how fast people run in Monaco). 1 thing I will say, and it's not me taking a shot at Jordan Mcnamara as he seems like a great guy. But like I said a few posts ago when he ran at Oxy, took the time to stare down CPT who had front run the race and then out-kicked him coming from way back.......what goes around comes around. He was pretty happy with himself in that race and talked like he was in unreal form, that may have been his shot at the olympic standard and instead of pushing the pace with Chuck he just went for the win. Like I said after it happened, he will be watching the final from home, while CPT is racing the worlds best at the Olympics. In this sport, nothing is guaranteed, you have to seize every opportunity, Jordan, like a lot of other Americans should have got the standard before the trials and then only focused on coming top 3 with less pressure on time.

Thoughts on our Olympic Team and the trials.

1 - Looking at the team that was named, I'm pretty heart broken for Rachel Cliff and Jess Smith. In my mind both did enough to display they can run at the Olympics and hold their own. Part of me wonders why an athlete without the standard would purposely beat an athlete who has it when they know full well they can't go and are taking someone else's spot away. I mean, I get it, if you can run the standard and another athlete can't you should be able to finish higher then them at the trials. Maybe I don't know all the details or some people can negotiate for sponsorship based on how they do at nationals but to me it seems crazy to do that. 

2 - Our team as a whole seems to have really grown in both numbers and strength since 2012. Just looking at where we are and the rankings of some of our athletes, in addition to the improvements they have made it's really an exciting time. We sometimes get a little jaded, myself included when we watch the worlds best on the diamond league circuit, but we have some unreal talent and I, for one, am excited to watch them all compete.

3 - I'm very upset/sad that Sheila Reid isn't going to Rio. Now, that said I'm pumped Hilary is, she's such an awesome person and ran well all year. She deserves it 100%. I guess this speaks to the depth we have now. But part of me would love to see Sheila at 100% lining up in her best event at the Olympics. In 2012 she had to run the 5k, I was hoping to see how she stacked up against the Americans. She looked really good so far this year running that 4:03. It's the same thing with Cam Levins, I know he's struggling right now but I don't see why you couldn't still let the guy run the 10k. He's the CR holder and might be able to get back into mid 27 shape come Rio. I hope he comes back strong later this year and gets into some races in Europe.

4 - I'd like to see our trials at sea level next time, just so in the distance events if some people wanted to take a run at the standards they could at least have a fair chance at it. Edmonton did a great job hosting and it seemed like a great meet but it just seems like having the trials even at a relatively low altitude isn't ideal for the longer events.

Well, that's it for me guys. I wanted to keep this post solely about the Olympic Trials. Next time I'll chat about my own running, racing plans, etc. I've also got another shoe review coming and we will break down the Monaco Diamond League meet. CPT and Mcbride are running so keep it locked on that meet for sure.

Until next time, stay frosty,

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

A look at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials so far.

Hey guys, how are you all making out with your training and racing? By the looks of it there's still plenty of road races going down and people are getting after some great times. I haven't raced in about a month but it's been nice as I had a fairly busy spring. The big goals for me now will be pointing towards the fall. I'll give myself plenty of time, map out a plan with coach John and be ready to peak again for the national 5km champs, STWM and then cross country nationals. Basically the same schedule as last fall. I'm going to try to hit a race in Montreal as well if I can, possibly the Rock and Roll half or something. We shall see when it gets closer. Anyway, I wont talk anymore about my training or anything this post. I'll get into what I've been up to next time and discuss training and what not. For this post I want to talk about the US Olympic Trials and analyze what has gone down so far and how it'll effect what could unfold in Rio.

Men's 10000m

So this is one of my favorite track events. We knew Rupp was going to be able to win this anyway he wanted as his PB is almost a minute faster then 90% of the field. It played out as I suspected it would with Rupp dictating what was happening up front. I was pretty shocked that Ben True and Hassan Mead couldn't go with any of the moves Rupp made. I knew Korir would have a shot at making the team but I was really surprised at the fitness Kipchirchir had. He's obviously very strong aerobically and looked really smooth the whole way. In Rio he should hope the GK, Karoki and Tanui take it out really hard and it's a sub 27 minute race as that will help him achieve his highest finish. He doesn't have good closing speed as he ran 67 seconds for the last 400 but given the heat he still ran a tremendous race. Rupp looked very strong but we didn't really see much from him on display there at the end as he only did enough to secure the win and closed in 60. I'd expect he will need to find a 54 second last lap in a sub 27 race to have a shot at a medal in Rio. GK and Tanui aren't known for their closing ability but they may be able to make the pace hot enough to drop Rupp before the last lap in an effort to get away from Farah but we will see. He should be considered a contender and is definitely going to be top 5. (On a side note, I'm a huge fan of Ben True, but hearing him say in the post race interview that he figured Rupp wanted to get away early as he may have been lacking some leg speed was just ridiculous. He's pretty high on his wheels after running 3:36 a few weeks ago. He nearly got lapped and clearly forgot Rupp has run 3:34 several times and a 3:50 mile. even with the marathon miles in his legs he has enough speed at the end of a 10000 to light up any Americans not named Lagat over 10k.)

Women's 10000m

This played out like we all expected, Huddle is on another level in comparison to her fellow American women over the 10k. Heck, at the NYC half she split back to back sub 32's on the roads to run a 67 mid half. It appeared as though, her coach, the legendary Ray Tracy, wanted her out front, staying out of trouble and dictating the race. She grinded away everyone other then Infeld by the final 800m and then closed in 2:17 to Infeld's 2:25. As dominant as that performance was however, her chances of a medal in Rio are very slim. The Ethiopian trials were held in Hangelo last week and the 3rd place runner was T. Dibaba....yeah, and she ran sub 30:30.....so Huddle is going to need to be in at least American Record shape and hope someone up front has an off day. It's not out of the realm of possibility that she snags a bronze but everything will have to go perfectly. Infeld and Hall are fantastic athletes but just don't have the strength to run anything under about 31:15 or so.

Men's 800m

Firstly, what the heck was going on using a waterfall start? I mean all they needed to do was have 1 guy share a lane....I'll never understand the USATF. Anyway, this was an amazing final. Boris did as Boris does. Take it out hard through 400, make another big push at 600 then try not to tie up too bad coming home. It worked well and he made the team but the miler strength of Clayton Murphy was there in abundance over the last 200m closing in a blazing 26 point!! He was maybe a second and a half back through 400 which was ideal for a 1500m man as he could buffer that 51 high and come on strong with 200 to go. I feel like if a world class miler is in an 800m race that's between 1:43 high to 1:45 they should be the favorite as they can accelerate better then a pure 800m guy over the final stages as they are just trying to not decelerate too much. Pure 1500m runners have such great change of pace and acceleration that they can really close hard on strength over the last couple hundred meters. It was awesome seeing Charles Jock make the team as well. Apparently he rode his bike to the race and then rode it home, an Olympian...what a boss.

Women's 800m

CHAOS....the only word that comes to mind. Wow, that one was unreal hey. When I saw Montano take it out hard as she normally does all seemed normal, other then the fact she was hugging the outside of lane 1 and wasn't on the rail. I don't know if she was baiting someone to try to come inside then close the door on a turn or what but it was very strange, running extra yards for no reason. Then when Martinez just literally burst into lane 2 and really seemed like she was about to take off there was some contact, some clipping of heels and the rest is history. I don't know that Montano had the gas to hold on, in fact I doubt it, but Martinez was a lock to make that team. It's really unfortunate. That said, just like in the men's 800, a miler used their superior strength and destroyed the last 200. Kate Grace looked fantastic getting the win and I'm happy to see her become a national champion.

Things are looking good now for Melissa Bishop. I feel like there's a bronze medal up for grabs between her, Ajee Wilson and Unice Sum. We can all agree that Semenya isn't getting beat by anyone, and Niyonsaba is also worlds better then the rest. (Likely 1:55 shape) But that 3rd spot is up for graps. This is going to be an awesome event to watch this summer.

Who's looking good in the Steeple and 5000 after the heats.

So, we saw the first round of the steeple heats for men and women yesterday. No big surprises really. I do feel like Don Cobral is in supreme form right now and he looked very good taking his heat and getting away from 3:34 man Andy Bayer. I like the team to be Jager, Huling and Cobral in that order. The US has great depth in the steeple. Some good guys like Bayer, Leslie and Kebenie may be watching the Olympics from home this August.

On the women's side it was business as usual. Emma is miles better then the rest and has a eral shot a medaling. (Bronze more then likely as the top two are running 9 flat). But after her I'm torn, I like OConnor and Garcia to get the 2ed and 3rd spot but I'm pulling for Higginson to step up in class and sneak onto the team.

In the men's 5000 everyone who should have moved on did so, but the story of the heats was the 53 second last 400 of Lagat....man, he still has wheels. Granted it was a very pedestrian pace the first 4600m, but the final in Beijing last year was around the same time and Farah closed in 52 to win so Lagat is still very much in the mix. I'm taking Hill, Lagat and Lemong for this team with True in 4th and Jenkins in 5th. This is a stacked final. I hope someone makes it a respectable pace from the gun, like at least a 13:20 type effort to take out guys like Kincaid who can roll the last 400 but wouldn't be much good in an Olympic type race.

Stock Report thus far.

I'll give a little stock report as things seem to be all about the mighty dollar these past few weeks with guys signing big deals and going pro early. (If you have time, check out this deadspin article on Will Leer. It's a good read, I like Will but I think he's gone about this the wrong way. I'd also point out his "brand" is not one that's going to make an employer any real return on investment. Not that 15k a year is a fair market value but you have to play the game a little bit in this business. Don't bash the company writing your paychecks, one that also controls the majority of the sport. Good luck getting into big meets doing stuff like that. Article here -  http://fittish.deadspin.com/will-leer-says-nike-held-him-to-a-contract-out-of-spite-1782928613 )

(These are just my opinions. Others I don't mention preformed where I figured they should like Gatlin, Bromell, Rupp, etc)

Stock Up

Clayton Murphy
Shadrack Kipchirchir
Leonard Korir
Marielle Hall
Don Cabral
Chrishuna Williams
Kate Grace
Charles Jock
Craig Engles


Chris Derrick
Kellyn Taylor
Ajee Wilson
Boris Berian

Stock Down

Duan Solomon
Nick Symmonds
Ben True
Jordan Hasay
Tara Welling
Alysia Montano
Sam Chelanga

Alright guys, that's it for me. I'll be back later this week to look at our Canadian trials and talk some training.

Keep on truckin'