One of my favorite parts of Saturday was watching the Olympic marathon trials at a big watch party to support a local runner who was going for a PR.
I was mostly stoked for Meb. He's my favorite marathoner by leaps and bounds.
I was disappointed with the marathon coverage in general -- too many times cutting away from the race (for commercials, which I understand, paying the bills and all), but also for little profiles of the athletes -- which would have been awesome on a small inset screen so we could still watch the race. NBC's coverage ended up missing several very significant moves in both races. It would have also been great to have some coverage or info about other runners besides the top 4-5. Oh well, at least it was on TV!
After I knew Meb had his spot, there was very little coverage of finishers on the men's side, and naturally, all attention went to the women's race.
Anyone watching could see Shalene starting to fall apart toward the end, and her training partner Amy Hastings/Cragg (don't get me started on how much I hate female athletes with established careers changing their names) was clearly doing everything she could to help -- slowing down to stay with her, handing her water, clearly encouraging her.
I loved it!
I'm also a huge Desi fan (Linden, Davila, argh, again, very frustrating), so I was excited to see her coming up on Amy and Shalene. And I'm sure Amy was able to see her coming as well.
At some point, around mile 25, as everyone understood, Amy left Shalene in her dust. She appeared to be encouraging Shalene even as she pulled ahead.
And Amy finished so strong, it was awesome! And then she had to just stand there at the finish line and watch runners come around the final turn.
I kept wondering what was going through her head.
Was she just excited that she'd made the Olympic team? Excited about the $80,000 she'd just won? Hurting from just running 26.2 miles and kicking butt the entire time? I was guessing not, she was probably just consumed with wondering where Shalene would finish, what had happened after she'd left her behind, and whether they'd make the team together.
I can imagine she wasn't surprised to see Desi turn the corner to finish second. She had to have known she'd been bearing down on them.
I can just imagine though how agonizing it was to wait to see who would be third. Was she worrying that she'd feel guilty if it wasn't Shalene in third? I wouldn't think she would have any reason to feel guilty, but obviously, plenty of feelings that are unjustified still happen in our hearts. I wonder if she had a sliver of doubt about whether Shalene had even been able to finish. There seemed to be at least a small chance she would stop -- voluntarily or not. But Shalene kept at it.
Amy must have been so relieved and thrilled to see Shalene turn that corner and come down the finish line stretch, and then to see no one chasing her down.
It was an exciting race to watch. I was impressed with how Kara ran. Though I've never felt any particular loyalty to Amy, Shalene or Kara (though at least Shalene and particularly Kara seem to be working hard to build fans), I hope Kara was proud of her finish and feels satisfied in knowing that she's got a lot of great running ahead of her if she wants.
If the race had gone another 2 miles, I wonder what would have happened. Of course there was no coverage of who was in fifth place on the women's side, but if that athlete had been running strong, there's no question in my mind she could have eventually passed Kara and probably Shalene if the race had kept going.
It will be exciting to watch the marathons in Rio in a few months. I certainly feel patriotic, and I'd be thrilled to see any American win either marathon, but I feel more like just a runner, not caring too much who wins, just wanting to see an amazing race and see someone's dreams come true, even if that person happens to be running on behalf of Ethiopia or Kenya or anywhere else.