LANE 9: HOUSTON, WE’RE BACK
It’s been nearly a year since we’ve done this but Lane 9 is back. It’s opinions you didn’t know that you wanted to have from CITIUS MAG co-founders Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding. It’s been a while but Chris and I decided to fire up the ol’ blogging chops again in 2019 to give some thoughts about the biggest performances in running.
This week, we’re breaking down the performances at the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon. Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei ran the fastest half marathon ever on U.S. soil with her 65:50 win. 44 American athletes ran times that qualify them to compete in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. In the men’s half marathon, Shura Kitata of Ethiopia outkicked Jemal Yimer to win by three seconds in 1:00:11. Albert Korir and Biruktayit Degefa were the men’s and women’s marathon winners in and 2:10:02 and 2:23:28, respectively.
We’ve got some thoughts on other major storylines that came out of the race…
Reed Fischer Gets A Good One
Chris Chavez: No agent. No sponsor. No problem. The former Drake standout didn’t get much attention or hype before the race but was listed with a 62:57 personal best from his run at the Indy Monumental Half in November. With months of training under Tom “Tinman” Schwartz in Colorado with Tinman Elite, he was able to get down to 62:07 to finish as the top American on Sunday. Fischer put himself on the map with a third place finish in the 10,000 meters at last summer’s U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He’s taken well to the roads and definitely looks the part of someone who could add intrigue at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. We’re taping a podcast with Fischer soon and will get a better idea of what his race plans or thinking are before Atlanta. 2016 was a very interesting case where there was a lot of excitement over the runners who had fast half marathon personal bests but had yet to run a marathon. Those names included Galen Rupp, Diego Estrada and Sam Chelanga. Rupp, who ended up winning the damn thing, was the only exception of debutants who did well. Estrada and Chelanga did not finish. Granted, the weather was very hot at the trials in Los Angeles but the hype around Estrada was because he ran 60:51 at Houston in 2015. This makes me weary to take a half marathon performance in Houston, a year out from the trials with a grain of salt. My question to you, Scott: Given how we’ve seen these half marathoners fare in their first marathon. Why do you think Reed would be a good marathoner and why do you think he won’t be?
Scott: I think Reed has certainly made a name for himself these past 12 months and he had a great one today. There is no reason that Reed can’t be great at the marathon and if he enjoys the training, he could make it his event. One corollary that I generally caution against is extrapolating half marathon performances to the marathon. I think the marathon can be really tough and some runners, even ones who excel at the 10,000 meters and half marathon, so I don’t think someone gets a free pass in the full after running a great full. With that said, Reed has a good build for the distance, as well as a great profile for it. He seems to be able to sustain large training blocks well and gets more comfortable as the distance gets longer.
Chris: A spring marathon is probably not in the cards for Fischer, unless he’s a late entry to a field like Boston. It wouldn’t be out of the question for him to maybe run Grandma’s Marathon or a smaller race just to get the 26.2-mile feel before Atlanta. Is it an early take for me to think that I can see Fischer being fairly comparable to someone like Scott Fauble? Time will tell. Fauble’s half marathon personal best is 62:18 from the 2018 Great North Run and is a 2:12 marathoner. Just spitballing for now.
Scott: I don’t hate that comparison! Fauble is another guy who puts in a lot of training and seems to react positively to compounding efforts. That seems to be a key part of doing well at the distance; stay healthy for a few years and get in good mileage and big efforts and the race will come to you.
Jim Walmsley Runs 64:00, Qualifies for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials
Chris: Literally, no room for error. Are you ready for the take that I heard immediately after the race?
Scott: Oh, baby. Let me hear it!
Chris: Someone said to me, “Walmsley just showed how soft 64:00 as the standard is.” I texted it to our very own Stephen Kersh, who ran that time to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and he lost his shit. Stephen said, “That’s the weakest fucking take. People need to let joy into their hearts. Appreciate cool things.”
Scott: Yeah, that just seems like some pretty low level gas-lighting.
Jim is now one step closer to making an Olympic team and causing a full-blown LetsRun meltdown and it’s beautiful. https://t.co/hnh1qKAIl5
— Stephen Kersh (@StephenKersh) January 20, 2019
Chris: What’s the most impressive part of Walmsley’s performance to you?
Scott:The thing is, all of these top trail athletes are really talented. Look at David Laney, that guy can rip too. David was another case of a pretty much straight from college to pro-level trail running, after training in Ashland, Ore. for a few years. He’s a guy, similar to a Max King, who had elite level chops in college, was a multi-time DII national champion – except unlike King, went straight to the trails. I would have put Jim down for a 63:30 to a 64:30, so I’m not all that surprised. Were folks thinking that he would go out and run 67:10? That is crazy.
Chris: The thing about Jim on Sunday was the fact that his tracker was not working for most of the race. It said, “Jim Walmsley – DNS” I knew it had to be a mistake. The man races in extreme heat and awful conditions all the time. Unless there was a freak injury (like Kerry Wood of the Cubs in 2007 when he slipped out of his tub), then he was definitely going to be out there. So for a while, we didn’t know if Jim was even racing. Then, his tracker went on and he was projected to finish at 64:04 with just about 5K left to go. Then the television broadcast was awful so it was just a matter of refreshing splits and the tracker. Then I saw 64:00 and had to check if that’s good enough to get in. Sure enough, it was. The crazy ways we have to follow this sport.
Scott: I think the most impressive part about Jim is what he likely did before and what he’ll do after this race. A lot of these guys are built for so much more pounding that what the half gives them, I bet he will recover pretty quickly and be back racing soon.
Scott: Meanwhile, a lot of 10,000m athletes take weeks of easy days after races. That’s a testament to these trail athletes, they just keep hitting it.
Emily Sisson Barely Misses American Record By Five Seconds
Chris: Running the second-fastest half marathon by an American woman is a good day for Emily Sisson. It looked like it could’ve been a great day for most of the race since she was on pace through 15K to break Molly Huddle’s American record of 67:25 from last year’s Houston Half Marathon. Sisson finished in 67:30 but things are just about to get interesting. Although they’re training partners, we’ll hear more about Sisson vs. Huddle in the coming months because they are both racing the London Marathon. Based off this latest result: Who ya got? Huddle or Sisson?
Chris: Wait, really? Good. Because I’m taking Molly Huddle and I didn’t want to have to build a case just to be a contrarian. Why are you picking Sisson?
Scott: Why the hell not!? I’ll give her the nod, especially given that Molly has yet to totally figure out the marathon. She ran a great 2:26 in NYC but relative to her other dominating performances in other events, it’s not the same caliber
Chris: Disagree. At this point, she’s got the experience. They might train together but I don’t think every secret will be divulged on Molly’s part. Before Boston, Huddle had that insane undefeated streak on the road against American women. It was snapped due to crazy weather in Boston. Then in New York, the only American woman ahead of her was Shalane Flanagan. As much as I like seeing the best athletes go head-to-head, I hope we don’t between these two until London so that we can continue to build intrigue.
Scott: I don’t hate that line of reasoning but I am here for BOLD TAKES. This could be the beginning of Sisson’s reign on the throne.
Kara Goucher DNF after 31K
Chris: Kara Goucher was running her first marathon since the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where she finished fourth. She dropped out after about 19 miles. On Instagram, she cited a hamstring injury that has been bugging her since 2015. She also wrote: “For now I need to rest, recover, and give it a few days. But I think I’ll be taking my running in a new direction. This hasn’t ruined marathoning for me because I’ve always respected what a difficult and beautiful beast it can be. But this certainly will hurt for a while.” She hasn’t committed to running the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and would still need to run another marathon to try and nab the qualifier.
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Whelp, that was not the race I hoped to run. After 16 miles of loving every second and feeling confident I was going to run in the mid to high 2:30s, I started to feel an old hamstring injury from 2015. I told myself it was in my mind, but 2.5 miles later I had trouble putting weight on it. It was an agonizing decision to drop shortly after 19 miles, knowing I’d have to walk the rest of the way in if I kept going.💔 I have dreamt of finishing a marathon for months now, and was so excited to run down Lamar and run under under the arch. I am so disappointed to not achieve that goal. One of the things I’ve always loved about the marathon is that there are no guarantees, good or bad. I can’t believe I trained so hard to be derailed by something I haven’t felt in 2 years, but I also accept that sometimes life doesn’t go the way we hope. I’d be lying if I said this will be easy to brush off, because when you’ve really worked hard for something, it’s hard to let it go. For now I need to rest, recover, and give it a few days. But I think I’ll be taking my running in a new direction. This hasn’t ruined marathoning for me because I’ve always respected what a difficult and beautiful beast it can be. But this certainly will hurt for a while. Hands down the worst part was not being able to finish for all of you who have been so kind and supportive throughout my career and for my coaches and family who were here supporting me. Thank you @chevronhoustonmarathon for your wonderful marathon, your wonderful people, and despite my sadness- a wonderful experience. What an incredible community you are. ❤️
Scott: You hate to see that. It seemed like she was in a good spot mentally headed into the race.
Chris: Before the race, she said that something around 2:36 was around her goal. She also said that 51% of her leans toward probably not running the 2020 Trials. She was on sub-2:40 pace for most of the race so she could at least make an appearance on the starting line in Atlanta.
Scott: Yeah, man, she’s had a great career. The 2016 Trials were incredible. She proved that she still has it with her charge toward that fourth place finish. I’m not certain that Atlanta will be a wonky course where a veteran could sneak out a spot on the team, but you never know.
Who is Tyler Jermann?
Chris: Scott, it’s getting late and I don’t want to do any more research tonight. Who is Tyler Jermann? I don’t know anything about him except the fact that he was the top American in the marathon this weekend with his 2:13:29. I’m asking you because he’s listed as a Minnesota man. You know every running star from your home state.
Scott: Oh yeah! BTW, I’m claiming Reed Fischer as well. He’s a Minnesota boy. Tyler was a serviceable athlete in college at Iowa State and also really hit his stride with the longer stuff. He trained in Flagstaff, chasing the dream, and recently moved to Minnesota to run with Team USA Minnesota. Actually, I believe he grew up in the suburbs of Chicago – close to where Chris Derrick is from. This race was certainly his big payoff, his last 5 marathons in the past 18 months (WOW!) were 2:19, DNF, 2:16, 2:18, and 2:19. You look at those and think, yeah, 2:16 might be about it in terms of potential. And then, he goes and runs 2:13! A testament to keeping an even keel with what you are training towards and to not be afraid to go after the big one. Just say aloud, see how it feels.
Chris: Here’s something I’ll say aloud…Scott, it’s been a pleasure. i’m glad we’re back to blogging together.
Scott: Me too, friend. Looking forward to recapping next week’s indoor action. I hope Eleanor wins again.