Track Shorts 2018: Boston Weekend and Opening Outdoors

2016 Boston Marathon Women's Start. Photo: PhotoRun.net

With the winter we’ve been having in the Northeast, maybe we should be extending the indoor season a little longer.  It’s hard to think about the outdoor season when the tracks are still snow covered.  At least we have some early spring road racing to keep us busy.  And there’s a “blooming” calendar to look forward to.

Let’s Talk Boston

This weekend is a celebration of running in Boston that culminates with the Boston Marathon on Monday.  That features many top Americans, particularly on the women’s side. We’ll be focused on Deena Kastor, AB board member, mom, author, motivational speaker as she returns after an almost three-year hiatus from marathoning.  Alas, we will be missing ABers Dathan Ritzenhein and Sara Hall due to injuries.  Besides the marathon, there’s a 5k and an invitational mile on Saturday. ABers Shannon Osika, Lauren Johnson, and Amanda Rego will be in the mile and Reid Buchanan is in the 5K. Great to see you back Amanda! Soon-to-be ABer Molly Seidel will compete in the 5k.

Early Spring Classics

Ah, the familiar names – Cherry Blossom, Cooper River Bridge, Chuckanut (it’s a classic to us anyway).  ABers were out in force at Washington’s Cherry Blossom 10-miler with Biya Simbassa placing 8th in the men’s race while Samantha Bluske, Katy Moen, and Susanna Sullivan took 9th, 12th and 23rd respectively in the women’s race.  At the Cooper River Bridge 10K, Kaitlin Goodman was 10th overall and for the second straight year, the first American.  And out in Washington State, Gina Slaby and Maria Dalzot took on Chuckanut Mountain Ridge, from whence the Chuckanut 50K takes its awesome name.  Gina was 3rd while Maria was 6th; they were 30th and 36th overall.

Some races don’t have as classic a moniker or reputation as those above, but they are still worthy competitions.  A trio of ABers were getting us psyched for their upcoming participation in the Boston Marathon with high placings in their tune up races.  Sarah Crouch took the measure of the field at the Dallas R&R half marathon while Nicole DiMercurio was winning the Virginia Beach half marathon.  Dathan Ritzenhien took second in True-ly competitive NYC half marathon.  Dathan was just 3 seconds behind winner Ben True but did edge out Chris Thompson and Tashome Mekonen by two and three seconds respectively.

Reid Buchanan stepped outside of his comfort zone and made a serious attempt to win the Crescent City 10K.  Though he would finish 4th, he was the top American at 28:58.  Reid lamented that the leaders “went out at an extraterrestrial pace, pretty absurd pace, and I just couldn’t hold on.” Still, a good accounting for him in his first road 10K.

Steeplechase and Triple Crown Aren’t Just Horse Races

ABer Sarah Pease knows this.  Her bona fides in the steeple are well-established and she just competed in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running.  By competed we mean kicked butt.  She won the 5K on March 10, the 10K on March 24 and the 10-miler on April 7.   Therefore, by the transitive property of math, she also won the overall title as well.  By over 6 minutes in fact.  For me the only question is why have I not heard of this event before this year?

On the Track

We don’t mean to be too provincial but it really is hard to get excited about the track and field season when you’re still shoveling your sidewalk.  Still, we would be remiss in not reporting some fine early season performances.  Clearly recognizing the benefits of better weather, Kyle Merber went Down Under and posted a nifty double in Brisbane, going 1:48 and 3:37 (with a 53.9 to close no less).  No, they don’t run the opposite direction on the track in the Southern Hemisphere.  And at Stanford (also a much more hospitable clime) Craig Lutz opened with a 13:45 5k and Breanna Sieracki steepled 10:10.

On the Whole, I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia

Yes, we know that’s not exactly the quote but it still works.  USATF held the World Team Race Walking Championship Trials in beautiful Fairmount Park in Philadelphia (I’m serious, it is beautiful).  Maria Michta-Coffey impressed once again by not only qualifying to compete in the World Championships in May in China but she turned in the sixth fastest 20K walk in US history.

Looking Forward

Stuff is about to get real.  The next four weeks are loaded with all kinds of goodies.

Of course, there is Boston this weekend.

On the track, we have the Drake Relays (4/25-28) and the Penn Relays (4/26-28).  The first weekend in May features the annual quest for distance event PR’s at the Payton Jordan Invitational.

Then there are two more events in the USATF Road Championship Series.  On April 24th, Des Moines is hosting the road mile championships and on May 6th Pittsburgh is the site of the half marathon championships.

And what to make of this event?  Despite being home to many fine milers, there has never been a sub-four run in Santa Barbara County California.  Kyle Merber will be part of a group that also includes Leo Manzano that hopes to remedy that.  Before the assault on the four-minute begins, ABer Tyler Andrews will attempt to make news in the 50k, looking to break the American record of 2:52:47 or even the world standard of 2:43:38.  Tyler’s been training at altitude in Ecuador in preparation; you can get more background on this endeavor here.  All this takes place on Friday April 13th at Santa Barbara Community College’s LaPlaya Stadium.

Fired up. Ready to go. . . We're less than 12 hours from the start of the #TimeToFly50K! The training is done, the carb-loading is complete, and now it's just time to get one last good night sleep here with my "oxygen blanket" at sea level before going for it tomorrow. I'm so grateful to have gotten to the point where I can go to sleep with butterflies in my stomach because I have the opportunity to set a world record in the morning. I'm not sure I ever really believed I'd be in this situation, but I've been lucky to have been pushed and supported by so many wonderful people over the years that here we are. . . Whether we get the record or not - and I do mean to say "we", because this is a team effort, even if it's just me out there running - this has already been a fantastic trip. I've met some amazing athletes and people, got to see what the @HOKAONEONE family looks like up close, and remind myself how truly lucky I am to have this sport bring me so much in life. Thank you to all of you who have been there for me and supported me over this amazing journey. I hope that tomorrow is another big step for all of us and whatever happens I'll be grateful to have you all there with me along the way and by my side at the finish line. . . PS - If you want updates, follow here on IG for (maybe) a live stream in the morning and on twitter (@tylercandrews) for live splits. Race starts at 7:30am PDT. . . #HOKAONEONE #TimeToFLY #nuunlife #striveperu #HereWeGo #flatbruce

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All good enough to make you forget the long winter.

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