Monday, January 16, 2012

Another World

"I rallied as hard as I could. I'm in shock. I'm disappointed but need to turn my attention back to the 10K. i kept telling myself someone will come back. They did, but not enough. It's not my coaching, maybe I'm not meant to run the marathon. I want to be a marathoner. But maybe it's not in the cards. I've gone through so much at one point I thought I'd never run again."
The part of this quote that really jumps out at me is "...maybe I'm not meant to run the marathon. I want to be a marathoner. But maybe it's not in the cards."

These don't sound like the words of someone that just ran a sub 2:10 marathon, does it? But this quote is from Dathan Ritzenhein, who finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Saturday, where he fell short of his goal -- 3rd place, which would give him a spot on the team, by just eight seconds. I can't even imagine being that fast...I mean all four of the top men's finishers ran their marathons pretty much
3 hours faster than I run a marathon. Even more so I can't imagine how hard they had to work to be that fast and the possibility of being that fast and it being just not quite good enough, or being that fast and even better in another event to the point that he seems to be considering not running marathons competitively (As fast a marathoner as Ritzenhein is, he's even more elite in the 10K!). I'm completely awestruck.

It just seems like a completely different sport at the elite level. That's true of every sport, I suppose, but it seems more real to me since I actually am hanging onto the bottom rung of this sport and have finished this distance (albeit in over twice the time!), vs. other sports I've tried where the closest I've come to "the bigs" is beer-league softball or 4-on-4 backyard football with my college friends.

Chris and I caught the end of both the men's and women's trials yesterday, and it was impossible not to feel especially bad for the fourth-place finishers, who came so close in this all-or-nothing event; I'm hoping Ritzenhein makes the U.S. team in the 10,000, where his coach, Alberto Salazar, thinks he has a chance to do some damage.

I wish the best to Shalene Flanigan, Desiree Davila, Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and Abdi Abdirahman as they chase marathon medals for the U.S. in London.


After coming up eight seconds short in Olympic marathon trials, Ritzenhein ponders future, Denver Post


  1. I believe what Ritz is saying about being a 10K specialist or a marathon specialist - is holistically looking at how your race times compare at different distances. For Ritz, he has consistently under-performed at the marathon considering he is a <28 minute 10K runner. Some people have marathon times that are substantially better than their shorter distance personal bests.

    Nate Jenkins describes it well in a recent post: if Ritz could get into his <28 10K shape, and then do 6-8 weeks of solid marathon pace workouts (like 15mi at mp - on top of normal training loads) he would start to develop the endurance necessary to run a marathon comparable to his shorter distance best times. Some runners are explosively gifted, but need to develop the endurance (i.e. the ability to use fat as an energy source at marathon pace), and some runners are endurance-ly gifted and need to develop more explosion. And then there are some runners (like you and me) that need to put in a lot more time before we can even begin to think if we are the endurance or explosion gifted athletes :).

  2. I think you're right. I definitely didn't mean to be critical of him and I hope it didn't read that way. It's amazing to me that he's this fast a marathon yet considers another event his specialty.

    1. Is it amazing? I mean every average, recreational runner will mope around like crazy if they run a 10K in xx:xx, and run there marathon 20 minutes off what there mcmillan prediction time is.

      Same principles apply he's just running 5:00 miles. :)