Friday, January 13, 2012

My dream team

Tomorrow are the 2012 Olympic Trials for the marathon. My money’s on Desiree Davila, Shalane Flanagan, and Kara Goucher. I don’t know who of Desiree or Shalane will win, I think the two of them will be fighting to the finish. Desiree is better on paper at the marathon distance: a 2:22 qualifying time (from Boston), a gut wrenchingly close loss in Boston by two seconds, and steady progress that has finally solidified her at the top of American marathoning. But Shalane is FIERCE. She will not go down easy; she likes to set the pace and is tough. She’s only raced one marathon (second place at NYC in 2:28, a harder course than Boston) but she’s also got a bronze medal from the Beijing Olympics (10k), a bronze from last year’s World Cross, and has set a slew of American records.

So my money’s on those two, but my heart is with Kara. She started running marathons about the same time I did (I remember watching her get third and set an American debut record a few weeks after I qualified for my first Boston) and for whatever reason, her story stuck with me. In interviews, she’s honest and down to earth and determined to bring Americans back into the marathoning spotlight. She sets her sights high and she’s not satisfied with anything less than a win. I have watched her disappointing loss in 2009’s Boston (by 9 seconds, for third place) multiple times, and each time I scream at the TV hoping and wishing she’ll somehow go back in time and pull out a win. She ran a new PR (2:24) for 5th in last year’s Boston (behind Desiree, and the 2nd fastest qualifying time heading into the trials) only a few short months after having a baby. She hasn’t had a huge breakthrough in the marathon, but I certainly think she deserves one. She’s tough, and she’s recently started training with Shalane, which will certainly keep her honest. But in interviews leading up to Saturday’s race, she seems unsure of herself (once again, her training has been slowed after returning from an injury.) Everyone else’s answers to questions about preparedness and nervousness were typical and of the vein “I’m confident because my training is better than ever; I’m not nervous, I’m excited; I know I can make the team” but Kara seemed to not have memorized her script. Her answers were honest and nervous, and involved admitting she wasn’t sure she’d make the team.

I think Desiree and Shalane will be fighting for the win the last few miles, while Kara will be fighting off the marathon trials veterans (Deena Kastor, Magdelana Lewy Boulet) and the newbies (keep an eye on Amy Hastings, a 2:27 runner). I really hope she can do it, and can keep her confidence!! I’ll be watching it on TV hours later, but screaming my heart out anyway.

Dream big,

1 comment :

  1. Goodness, reading this over after the race, you really nailed it.

    Maybe you can go to London as a marathon reporter!