Wednesday, August 15, 2012

17 Days of Ups and Downs

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks. During the Olympics, I was living a double life: staying up late to watch the best athletes in the world and waking up early to work on becoming my own version of a better athlete. During the in-between hours, I ignored the internet and any Olympics news until I could watch in prime time. I crawled under a rock and stayed there, glued to every athlete’s move, under the complete power of Bob Costas. My anti-internet campaign, combined with every free moment filled with workouts or watching people enjoy the fruits of their own workouts, made it difficult to blog. To make up for it, here’s a summary of ups and downs of the Olympic days from both my spectating and running perspective.

Friday July 27:
Nothing like enjoying decadent dessert
while watching the fittest people on the planet.
Spectator Teal: Opening Ceremonies. I was dead set on watching them, having fallen asleep during the famed Beijing Opening Ceremonies, only to hear for weeks (and years!) afterwards how amazing they were. I don’t make that mistake again. But as expected, the Opening Ceremonies are pretty weird and not even in the British humor Monty Python kind of way. (That comes in the Closing Ceremonies.) Worse yet, the NBC anchors can’t get over how the Queen just parachuted into the stadium with James Bond, when that was clearly a (poor) job of camera editing. Still, I’m excited it’s the Olympics and make festive brownies to kick them off. 

Saturday July 28:
Runner Teal: I meet some of the GRC girls for a long run. We chit-chat through a leisurely 12 miler. Nobody kicks my butt. Oh yea: long, slow running, this is the part I’m good at.

Spectator Teal: In my excitement, I make a rookie mistake and start too fast.  I watch fencing and archery and am glad to see Misty May and Kerri Walsh are back. It won’t be the last I hear of them. (It will be the last I see of archery and fencing.)

Monday July 30:
Spectator Teal: Missy Franklin, the sweetheart of the Games, wins gold less than 15 minutes after swimming a semi. It’s unprecedented, sure, but given how many events swimmers can compete in I start to wonder how that’s possible. Why is the recovery so much faster than track? 

Tuesday July 31:
Spectator Teal: In the afternoon, I overhear my coworker screaming “He only lost by a stroke!!” Ingeniously, I put two and two together. Later, I watch Michael Phelps lose by a hair. I decide I need to start wearing headphones during key racing times. The women's gymnastics team wins gold, and my 8 year old self leaps for joy.

Wednesday August 1:
Runner Teal: My track workout is terrible. I’m exhausted and can’t get in the rhythm. I’ve eaten all the brownies, the lure of archery and fencing is gone, track has yet to begin. I hit a mid-race slump.

Friday August 3:
Spectator Teal: Track starts! I crawl deeper under my rock. Runnersworld and basically every site I ever go to are now strictly forbidden. Fortunately, the only other race that I hear about before watching is Bolt winning the 100m. If anyone had told me the results of any longer races, I think I would have slapped them. Fortunately, I have very kind and understanding friends and family, who don’t like to be slapped.

Saturday August 4:
Runner Teal: I get in my long run on Saturday in anticipation of the women’s marathon Sunday morning. I try to do some of the final miles fast. I bomb. I’m only slightly comforted by the fact that I do a variation of this workout every season and the first attempt is always a disaster, but I’m still upset. I come home and bang out an entire strength workout that I almost always skip.

Spectator Teal: Hours later, I’m tuned in to the (Live!) men’s 10k with my aching legs propped up on the couch. Until the final laps, when Mo and Galen put on such a thrilling race that I’m jumping up and down, screaming, and (in my eyes) willing them to an amazing, unforgettable 1-2 finish. I celebrate with more screaming, jumping, clapping, tearing up. Somehow my neighbors don’t call the cops. Best moment of the games, hands down.

Sunday August 5:
Spectator Teal: Apparently there are two reasons I get up early on weekends: to run and to watch running. At 6 am, I’m glued to the TV and the women’s marathon, the event I’m looking forward to the most. But slowly, on the rainy and twisting streets of London, my hopes for Kara and Shalane fade. Shalane hangs tough for a long time, but fades hard. They finish 10th and 11th, and in a touching moment Kara, the more seasoned marathoner, picks Shalane up off the pavement and they walk arm and arm away from the finish.

Runner Teal: After the race, I go for a short jog to shake out yesterday’s run and spontaneous Mo-Galen-triggered plyometric workout. I think about the American marathoners and my heart aches for them. Not only because it’s the Olympics, which I certainly cannot relate to. But because of all the hard work they put in, how they felt they were in the best shape of their lives, and yet (while their performances are still impressive) they’re unsatisfied. I can relate to that. And now all they can do is take time off, recover, and then do it all over again.

Monday August 6:
Runner Teal: I do my full strength workout again. I’m not sure whether I’m inspired by the Olympics or disappointed in my own progress. Whatever it is, it’s working. I continue to do my strength workouts through the Closing Ceremonies.

Wednesday August 8:
Runner Teal: We have a doozy of a track workout, which I’ve been dreading since I got the email on Monday. It’s 6 x 1 mile with a shorter recovery that usual. The paces start slow, but drop frighteningly close to my mile PR. Also, I’m still exhausted. Somehow I make it through five of them right with the pack. On the last, I manage to cling on until the last straightaway, when I fall back but still hit the line in 5:41, 7 seconds faster than our intended pace, and 4 seconds faster than my PR. 

Friday August 10:
Runner Teal: I switch my workouts around and end up doing an easy 12 miler in the morning. I haven’t gone that far before work in a while and I enjoy it, in my weird-masochistic way. While reading about the contenders in the women’s marathon a few days before, I saw a picture of one of them running NYC. Something about the fall colors in the background and the famous course triggered a pang of missing the marathon. Today’s run reminds me again.

Spectator Teal: Final lap of the women’s 1500 and Morgan Uceny falls. Again. I can’t believe it; I am close to tears. She is filled with very real tears, pouring them onto the track. People say she should have gotten up and finished the lap, but I don’t think so. In her situation, I probably would have done the exact same thing. It’s heartbreaking. When will she get her redemption?

Saturday August 11:
Runner Teal: Tempo run. As you may recall, I’m not great at tempo runs, but I manage this one all right. I average two seconds slower than my goal pace, but it’s apparently one of the faster tempo runs I’ve ever done (although it’s on the shorter side) and it was the day after a 12 miler.

Spectator Teal: In the 5k, soon-to-be Sir Mo Farah does it again. I scream and clap but I don’t jump up and down as much. Even though it’s an incredible double, it’s almost like it’s old news to me. Of course he would win again. He’s freaking awesome.

Sunday August 12:
Spectator Teal: 6 am, it’s marathon time again. From the start, it’s obvious Ryan Hall is off. He usually runs in the lead, and he’s falling further and further back. He drops out. Not long after, Abdi is out too. Meb is all we’ve got left. At halfway, he’s in 17th place. Meanwhile, the three vying for medals are clear: Kirui and Kiprotich (aka Kipsang) from Kenya and another Kiprotich from Uganda. The two Kenyans are chatting back and forth and around mile 23 it seems they are finally pulling away from the Ugandan Kiprotich. Ugandan Kiprotich does the sign of the cross, and I think “oh man, he’s praying that he can hang on, at least get bronze.” But the next thing you know, he’s caught the Kenyans and is blowing past. He must have prayed for the strength to make his move, and his prayers were answered. He amasses a lead that he won’t lose, and he gets Uganda gold (its first marathon medal). Meb, somehow, claws his way through the field to finish 4th. He’s a few minutes out of the medals, but it’s no matter. Many people, myself included, may have counted Meb out of this one, but once again he proves us wrong with his tough, fighting spirit. Before the race, he was the American who seemed injured. Afterwards, he’s the only one left standing.

Runner Teal: I take the day off. It’s been an exhausting 17 days.

Dream big,


  1. Spectator Teal's Olympics were way more exciting than mine, and Runner Teal rulz!

  2. watching the olympics alongside runnerteal this time has made them much more exciting and entertaining!