Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Olympic Marathon Trials - Houston, Texas

Last year during marathon weekend, we were the host city for the half marathon championships and instead of being held on Sunday as they normally are, they were held on the Saturday prior, on what was the first shot at what the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials course would be (it ended up changing).

As early as one year out, volunteers were selected for the Elite fluid stops along the course, and during that half marathon championship, we tested how we would operate on the actual Trials day.  It was great fun and since the likes of Ryan Hall etc. were actually running in the half marathon championships we actually had real elite fluid containers to 'practice' with.  If you want to read more about all of that, I have it under the Label: USATF and possibly the label: Half marathon championships (sometimes I forget to set a Label to a post).

Anyway with the change in the route, where I was last year was not where I would be this year.  And my 'job' had changed which I was perfectly ok with! 

Instead of actually standing behind a fluid table, I worked hospitality for that particular site of tables/volunteers.

What this meant is that my alarm went off at 4am as I had to be at a certain locationby 5am to load my vehicle up with enough breakfast tacos, coffee, orange juice and bananas to satisfy 100 volunteers.

With Memorial Drive due to shut down at 5:30am this shouldn't have been an issue, but since SBux wasn't ready with the LARGE carafes of coffee, we had to wait and thats where I was ever so thankful for this little baby:
"Let her through!  She's got a red tag!!"

Yes indeed I had that All Access pass and thank the baby Jesus too!  Because getting all of that food/drink to the site downtown (our set up was at the 3/11/19 mile mark of the route) would have been mucho difficult.
As it was, only one police officer in DT pawned me off to the officer at the next block, not really caring that I had All Access or not :O)

Let me tell you one thing:  they had downtown locked down and locked down early.

It was nice just to roll up and unload all the goodies and the volunteers were so thankful it being cold (low 30's) and windy.

What was also nice about our station is that it was mostly BCRR folks, and we were lucky to have not one but TWO heaters for warmth.  That is if you werent working an actual table.  Once I was done unloading and parking, I pretty much stood around, talked to cute fireman, stayed warm and watched the Trials unfold right in front of my eyes.
Hospitality Tent (my work station for the day)

The porta cans were just a bit down under Memorial along Bagby, and as MK and I were going there, there were times were just lone runners would be running down the middle of the street...

The elite fluid stop was also right along Bagby as well (there was a turn here so the Red Station was split along 2 diff roads), and the Occupy Houston area is here, so I took a picture on our way back to our station

Lovely...just lovely  :O)  I had on 2 pairs of socks, tights under my jeans and 2 long sleeve shirts under my super thick 2008 NYC marathon finishers hoodie.  I was so snug as a bug!  Even though we had heaters, I rarely used them.  I was more interested in the race even though there wasnt always runners in front of me to cheer for!

Elite fluids have arrived!!!
Each box is for a table that is numbered and each compartment is for a specific athlete.  They usually decorate or mark their bottles so that they are easy to spot, but each athlete knows what table and what spot on that table is assigned to him.  Additionally athletes will also sometime put the color pipe cleaners on their bottles to use as a 'grasping' mechanism.  Easier to grab instead of trying to wrap a hand around the body of the bottle.  Since both the men and women ran the same course and 15 min apart start time, each table had boxes for M and for F and once the elite males went by, then and after the back of the pack guys would go by, they would get ready for the females.  If you werent considered an Elite there were tables at the very end for water and Powerade

Looking down McKinney towards the 3/1//19 mile marker.  This is the direction they would come from each loop, then you could jump over one street to wait for them to pass by again (but it would be a while since they were just beginning the loop of Memorial/AP).  We always knew when they would be coming soon as we were at the corner and could see when they were at Bagby and Allen Parkway
Pre-Race - MK - Poor thing she froze the entire time and even spent too much time in front of the heaters which resulted in very red/chapped thighs.

Discarded fluid bottles.  I snapped several pics of these after the first pass, and finally determined that the blue one was Mebs.  He is my dreamboat and I just love love love him...and there are no words for how I felt knowing that he 'beat' Ryan Hall...not just beat him, but spanked his booty.  :)  I know it wasn't about 'winning' on this one, but ... yeah ... you know each one of all of them wanted to beat the other one...

And speaking of my man!!!  This was taken on the 2nd pass I think...
Meb!  Meb!  Meb!

Some shots I am posting are just random and of no one in particular.  I took so many pictures I just kind of randomly selected.

Lead pack women...first pass.  Deena!  Deena!  Desi!  Desi!!!
Oh how I wish Desi could have pulled out beating Shalane.  Those 2 are great tho, and probably our best chance in London thats for sure!

Random women pack

After the men had passed by for the 3rd time, I took the opportunity to head down to the PoP and snapped this random photo.  The guy was painted up in front but he turned right as I was snapping the photo.

Watching them change the sign from 11 to 19 while I was waiting in PoP line

One of our heaters and John was using the top of it as a warming mechanism for breakfast tacos later in the morning :)

Yours truly...long before the race had started...

I also have video, some that video'd great and then a couple of them are 'rotated' and I haven't had the time or energy to spend on fixing them (not like with pictures where you obviously have the little rotate button! grrr!) ... Anyway, I will post video soon as well!  I know the first pass of the Elite men and then the Elite women came out right, so those will get posted first.

Overall basic thoughts:
  1. Glad about Flanagan and Davila.  Both strong runners and capable of something in London.  Surprised that KG made 3rd to be honest; thought she'd choke harder than she did, but kudos to her.  Hope she can get it together for London but I'm not holding my breath.  She and her husband are whiny butts and I personally think she should have stayed at the 10000m
  2. Davila is my favorite, and I know that it wasnt about 1, 2, 3, but I still wish she would have beat Shalane.  Like Shalane, I just like Desi a whole lot more!
  3. So so so happy Meb crushed Hall.  Another over-rated long distance runner in my opinion, and in my mind Meb can do no wrong.
  4. Devastated that Ritz was 4th and I think had he had 800m more he could have caught Abdi.  That whole having issues taking off that long sleeve shirt was a nightmare for him and I couldnt believe my eyes as I was watching it.  Who the hell wears a long sleeve shirt to a marathon where the temps were as warm as they were????  ugh!!!
  5. We should not be sending Abdi to London.  I think Ritz is the better runner and we have a better shot, but guess nothing we can do about it now
What are your thoughts?


    Christina said...

    My thoughts? There are so many cookie-cutter blog posts about the trials. Yours, however, is awesome. I love that you were there, took awesome pictures, and actually seem to care about the trials. :) Well done.

    Desi is my favorite, too.

    melissa said...

    Love your recap! Thanks again for letting me come with you, I had a fabulous time!!!

    Xaarlin said...

    I wish I was there with you!!!!

    On all your points at the end, AMEN! I really cannot have said it better myself. I love Meb and Desi and Deena. And my heart broke for Ritz. Spectacular recap and photos!!!! :)

    Junie B said...

    As much as I would have liked to have been closer to the finish, I loved doing what I did where I did. It was BRUTAL not knowing what happened in the end, and even though I could have easily found out on Twitter or FB, I purposely stayed off because I wanted to see it all unfold on the delayed showing of the trials on NBC. I kinda had a feeling what had happened just from a few tidbits I overheard, as when they passed by one street over some folks saw who was leading and who was close. I just didnt know how it all ended up...

    It was indeed quite spectacular and being the running geek that I am, it definitely overshadowed my own marathon that would take place the very next day! I was on cloud 9!

    TX Runner Mom said...

    LOL about not knowing the outcome...we had to leave because the kids were being whiney butts, lol! I agree with your thoughts..I too was cheering for Desi and Meb. I *heart* them both.

    saroy said...

    Great recap! I didn't realize that some of the runners didn't get their own specific fluids -- I mean, they're all elite to me, lol!

    Goucher always looks like she's about to fall over, but she was way ahead of Hastings at the end. I don't know how she does it.

    So sad for Ritz. He really made up a lot of ground in the last mile and I think you're right -- another 800m and he would've caught Abdi. :(

    Junie B said...

    Sarah: I probably worded that wrong, as they are all elite to me too; however if they want their own fluids they can have them at each station as each table holds 8 bottles, kinda of in a offset pattern. Each athlete is assigned a table # and a spot # on that table. If i remember correctly each stop had like 25 tables? something like that.

    But if they dont want to have to go through all the trouble of checking in their fluids for testing and what-not then you can just opt for water/powerade. Some athletes didnt want anything at certain tables (thats why the one box up there shows empty places), and then they can have different mixtures for different passes (loops). Make sense?