Galen Rupp is not a scary name. Jordan Hasay is not a scary name. In fact, I can think of few names less scary. One name though that is less scary is Mary Cain. Makes me think about the sound of a baseball hitting a broken in mitt, and screen doors that don’t quite close and an apple pie cooling on a windowsill on a Summer day. Nice things. Nice names. Probably nice people. In reality, those names represent monsters – monster efforts, monster races, monster goals, monster excitement. The Dr. Frankenstein that is creating all of these monsters is Alberto Salazar. He went out a few weeks ago and opened his mouth about all sorts of record breaking attempts by his minions. He made good on those promises of big things happening around the indoor track at Boston University. The last three weeks have seen a 1k record attempt by Mary Cain and Treniere Moser, a 13:01 American Record in the 5k set by Galen Rupp, a 13:17 Canadian Record 5K by Cam Levins, an oh-so-close World Junior Mile record attempt by Cain which made her the 3rd fastest American woman ever at 4:24.11, Jordan Hasay becoming the 9th fastest American woman in the mile with her 4:28.37, and an 8:07 American Record 2 Mile by Rupp.
The races have been electric. If you love running, really if you love track & field, you should get a subscription to Flotrack Pro. For 19.99 a month or 149.99 ($12.50 a month) for a year subscription you get access to many of these races as well as behind the scenes looks at many elite athletes, training insight from some great coaches and trainers and last and not least coverage of workouts. Yup. Workouts. You get to watch elite runners work out. It is that perk, the workouts, that make the 149.99 worth it, assuming you are a runnerd. And the workouts that the Oregon Project have thrown down after these record attempts are terrifying.
The workout that Rupp did on Saturday night a mere 15 minutes after the 8:07 American Record has caused more of a stir than the actual record!
That’s right. He ended with a 4:01 MILE. Solo. After the American Record 2 Mile. After 4 other repeat miles. You get to WATCH the entire workout on Flotrack. Scary stuff but you know that the scariest movies are often the most fun to watch. This is fun. It does not matter if you are new to running and training for your first 5k or if you are in midst of some big time base work for your 20th straight Boston Marathon this is fun to watch. And it is inspiring.
After you watch these Oregon Project athletes compete at such a high level and then shake some hands, kiss some babies, sign some autographs, pose for some pictures and swig some gatorade they grind. They suffer. They hurt. They look pleadingly at Dr. Frankenstein, eh, Alberto Salazar, and hope for the pain to end with the “last one” being muttered by Coach. Watching this simple (but unearthly) workout take place you quickly realize that Rupp and you/I are light years apart when it comes to talent. You also realize that he, like you and I, feels the same as we do when the workout starts to overwhelm. You see that he has to psych himself to get going in-between intervals. You see that his legs go wobbly too. Granted his legs go wobbly in the midst of a 4:01.6 mile after an 8:07 2 mile and 4 repeat miles at 4:20 or faster. Let’s just say it takes less trauma to make my legs wobbly.
One of the great parts of our sport is that we can relate to the elites. They may cover ground faster but they cannot outrun the pain. In order to break new ground, reach greater heights, you have to be willing to flat out hurt. I will never know what it is like to dunk like Jordan but I can at least know the pain that Rupp feels as he gears up for another repeat. I’ve been there. It takes me longer to get there than it does Galen but I’ve been there, where it hurts. Where you battle doubt. Where you dig deeper hoping to find something, anything. And if you count yourself as a runner, a real runner, then you have experienced it too. Us and Rupp. Pretty cool.
Watching Rupp these last three weeks has been a blast for so many of us because I think it spoke to the monster we all have inside. Next time you hit the track or take to the starting line why don’t you think about letting that monster out and see how it feels.
Rupp already knows. And so do all his monster friends.