Tag Archives: Mary Cain

What’s Wrong With These Kids? Part I

I get questions. Seriously. People actually ask for my opinion. If you are not shocked by this I can assure you that my brothers, sister and parents are. I give them my opinion pretty much all the time on all sort of things. I don’t think they have asked for my opinion once in 38 years. I can’t really blame them – I’m the kid that stuck a Battleship game piece up my nose during the awesome 1980 Wimbeldon final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. I’m still paying that one off. I was four years old! It fit. What’s the problem? The problem was getting it out. The whole family went for the hospital visit. No 4th set tiebreaker for the Bennett Family. No epic 5th set battle for the Bennett Family. No DVR back then either. Again, I was 4. We need to move on…as a family.

So, occasionally I get questions – mostly about running – How should I train for a marathon – what should I be having my 11 year old do – how much speed work is too much speed work – how long should a long run be – when did you start losing your hair?

One question that I get more than the others has to do with the quality of high school distance running. Why are these kids running so fast? Or, if you were like me and raced during the Dark Ages of US distance running – the 1990’s – then the question is one laced with a little bitterness – What’s Wrong With These Kids?

I figured it was time to at least attempt to answer this question, and a great question it is. I have to first say that I hold the right to add to this list as I see fit. I write off the top of my head. Which means I often leave things out and I tend to ramble. So, for the safety of your eyes I have decided to break this into 2 parts – #’s 1-5 and #’s 6-11. I imagine that this list will seem sufficient to me as I publish it and will seem lacking after I read it again a few days later. Let’s simply consider this a list as opposed to the list of reasons why I believe kids are so much faster and faster in such greater numbers than at any other time in US history.

We had way better music in the 90’s though. Like, way, way, way better.

Without further ado, I give you 1-5…

#1 – The Internet – The fact that teens can read about, hear about and watch other teens racing from around the country is in my estimation the most significant reason for….ready….I have a great word….ready….the RUNAISSANCE! Seeing is often believing and seeing a kid from New Jersey or Illinios run 8:45 for 3200 means the kid from California needs to get out the door and hit the trails if he believed 8:50 was going to get the job done. Reading about that State Meet 8:45 race 6 weeks later in Track and Field News while relaxing on the beach on July 4th did not have the same effect. Thank you Flotrack, Dyestat, Milesplit and Runnerspace! (And thank you Track & Field News for treating our sport like it was a legitimate sport and not just an activity to lose weight like some magazines did in the 90’s)

#2 – NXN – Man oh man did we have some great runs when I was in HS about a mythical national championship for XC. The Harrier Magazine and its US Top 25 list edited by Marc Bloom was the closest thing we had to that imaginary race we prayed for. We’d talk trash about Mead HS of WA and York HS of IL, and wonder aloud and angrily why someone didn’t put together a TEAM championship like Foot Locker had done for individuals. Enter Nike. This would have been #1 on this list (which is not in order of importance) but I realize that much of the press and coverage and build up in terms of excitement for NXN is done online. The quality of HS teams on the Boys and Girls side has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. NXN is to blame (if your team is falling behind) or to be commended (if your team has moved ahead) for being an integral part of that rise in quality.

#3 – NBIN and NBON These meets have been around longer than NXN. The New Balance Indoor and Outdoor National Championships have become the Track & Field meet of the season. In the past, like ancient history 1980’s, there were a series of Invitationals around the country where the elite of the elite HS runners competed in June. They have for the most part disappeared. The NBON and NBIN have now given a date, time and place for the elite athletes to have their showdown. If you get enough studs together you can make some real noise. Ask Oppenheimer.

#4 – Coaches that listened to Pearl Jam – If you ran during the 90’s there are a couple of traits that you picked up. One, you listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Two, you ran slow but thought you were good. Three, you developed an inferiority complex about runners from the 70’s and early 80’s. Four, you went to college and got tired of Americans sucking on the world scene. Five, you eventually learned that you did not work hard enough in HS. Six, you realized that you could coach kids to work harder than you did and not make all the mistakes that the guys in the 70’s and 80’s made. Seven, you have an affinity for making lists.

#5 – Bob Kennedy He kept the light on when all around him the night was creeping in. Thank you BK. If you don’t know who he is shame on you. If you do but really don’t then take the time to learn. You can’t truly be great in this sport at any level if you are not a fan and a knowledgeable fan at that.

That does it for PART I. Click here to read PART II of What’s Wrong With These Kids

 

Blue is the Trackest Color

A little over a month ago I asked someone that I believe is one of the smartest and funniest people I know to write a guest column for RUNonsense. He agreed. I cheered. Then I waited. A little over a month later I get an article on the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet that took place a little over a month ago. It was worth the little over a month wait. Tyler Hopsnatz (not his real name) gives you his critical take on the TV coverage, the meet itself, track & field and a number of totally (un)related subjects. I hope you enjoy and I hope you and I both won’t have to wait, yes, a little over a month longer for another. Cheers, CB

 

Bennett asked me to write something for his netsite. Presumably his servers can’t handle the overwhelming traffic and he needs to offend off some readers.

Not really. Please keep reading. We need the hits.

The one condition was I had to write about running. But running is kinda boring. Someone should really figure out how to make it less boring. Bennett, get on it. In wracking my brain, I couldn’t come up with an interesting running-related topic, much less an interesting angle on that interesting topic. So I took the easy way out and wrote a diary of the Boston indoor meet. I can blatantly steal a Bill Simmons column idea if it’s about a Boston event, right?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

6:00 PM – What, you thought I was going to spend my Saturday afternoon watching track? It’s Sunday night, I’ve got some laundry on and my landlord and the plumber are working on unclogging the pipe that drains my sink (that’s not a metaphor, I swear. My sink really is clogged. Why won’t anyone believe me?). A perfect time to pull up the meet on TiVo. One of the great things about track’s fledgling popularity is it took zero effort to avoid seeing results. ESPN partially ruined the men’s downhill by telling me Bode Miller didn’t medal, but all I had to do was not pull up Letsrun to not find out Rupp ran 3:47.

6:01 PM – Since I’m writing a meet diary, I told myself I wouldn’t fast-forward except commercials. My resolve is immediately tested when they lead with the women’s 60.

6:02 PM – Fast-forward

6:03 PM – I brought it back to real speed for the commercials. Just wanted to note that these appear to be real commercials, not the infomercials they normally show for track meets and World’s Strongest Man re-runs at 3 AM on ESPNU. This means someone is paying to advertise for a track broadcast. The sport is doing fine. Bennett, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:04 PM – Men’s 60. Joe Morris in lane 3. Bennett has his poster so we know he’ll be rooting for him. The Rock in lane 7. Loved him in Pain and Gain, but not sure if the upper body mass he gained for the roll will translate well to the dash.

6:06 PM – Tim Hutchings behind the mic, huge improvement from the guy behind the mic for every other track and field broadcast of my life. Track will never have its own Phil and Paul, but Tim is a step in the right direction.

6:08 PM – Hey Bennett, I just saw a clip of Rupp signing some girl’s shirt after a race. Again, what the hell are you complaining about?

6:10 PM – Here are the Oscar movies I’ve seen so far:

• American Hustle

• Her

• Philomena

• The Wolf of Wall Street

• Blue Jasmine

• Inside Llewyn Davis (Okay, it wasn’t nominated, but it was better than American Hustle)

Here are the Oscar movies I still want to see:

• 12 Years a Slave

• Dallas Buyer’s Club

• Captain Phillips

• Gravity

Here are the movies that make every one of those movies seem like a high school A/V club project:

• Blue is the Warmest Color

Before I saw Blue is the Warmest Color, I thought Cate Blanchett was great in Blue Jasmine. Now she seems like a cartoon character. When she wins Best Actress, I’ll be rooting for Adele Exarchopoulos to Kanye her.

6:15 PM – When is Trautmann running? That article by Bennett has me pumped up to see him run 4:20. Who do you think would win between Trautmann and Cain? I’m glad we can’t bet on Track & Field. Gambling doesn’t make anything more fun.

6:20 PM – Rupp. Talking head with Rupp. Why don’t they do a talking head with Alberto, but after Hutchings takes him out for 6 beers? Bennett wants ratings, I’m just trying to help.

6:21 PM – Hold on, I’m going to go out to my local track and run once around in 60 seconds.

6:22 PM – The sad thing is I’m not sure I could do that anymore.

6:23 PM – <Pause> Is there any doubt Manzano is going to get shellacked here and then do the shellacking when qualifying spots/medals are on the line? <Play>

6:24 PM – Crack!

6:24:45 PM – What’s with the pace? I thought they were going after the world record?!?

6:25:50 PM – Galen, can I call you Galen? Mr. Rupp, with all due respect, what are you doing? You think you can outkick Willis off a slow pace?

6:26:05 PM – Oh. Nevermind.

6:26:50 PM – “Manzano right out the back door”. Well-called, Hopsnatz (and Hutchings)

6:27:30 PM – One of these guys has a silver medal. One of these guys is doing his own thing.

6:28 PM – Nice win by Willis, but let’s be honest. That race was a colossal letdown. Time for a 16 year old to redeem the telecast.

6:30 PM – Cain out in good position. Showing the field of veterans no respect. Love it.

6:33 PM – Cain is gonna rip the last 200

6:34 PM – OK, Bennett. I give. Mary Cain is awesome. I’ll get you a poster.

6:38 PM – Nice awkward step away by O’Brien after the Cain interview.

Greatest O’Briens of All Time (GOOATs….or GOBOATs?)

1. O’Brien from 1984. Don’t talk to him. Don’t even look at him. He will fu€¥ing break you. Then when you pledge allegiance to The Party, he’ll pull a sack of rats over your head.

2. Conan O’Brien. Lost his fastball with the Tonight Show fiasco, but lately seems to be back in good form. He’s pumping low-90s and painting corners. Meanwhile Fallon is dropping conversation turds every night and somehow he gets The Tonight Show. I guess if you’re looking for a Leno replacement it’s a good fit.

3. Pat O’Brien. Member of South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

4. Dan O’Brien. Olympic Gold medalist, Decathlon/Awkward Conversation Ending.

6:40 PM – 4 x 800 World Record Attempt™

6:42 PM – Scherer, you are killing Symmonds. 1:55?!?

6:44 PM – What’s with the different uniforms from guys on the same team? I bet it’s the shoe company’s fault. Bennett, get ‘em.

6:49:15 PM – WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6:50 PM – They definitely should not have the 4 x 8 in the Olympics. Nothing exciting about it. The DMR would suck, too. As would betting on it.

6:51 PM – That’s it from The Reggie. Yes, I’m in on The Reggie.

In – The Reggie, Cain, 4 x 800, Hutchings, Willis

Out – Rupp, Brooks Beasts, O’Brien interviews, not showing Trautmann’s race

– Tyler Hopsnatz

Coming Up Millroses

When the Millrose Games decided to move the meet out of Madison Square Garden and into the New Balance Center/168th Street Armory for the 2012 meet I was disappointed. I fell in love with running during the 80’s. I remember watching Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O’Sullivan win just about every Wanamaker Mile there was in front of sold out Madison Square Garden crowds. I remember the seemingly endless meet coverage on the MSG channel. More than anything else I remember imagining how exciting it would be to race at Madison Square Garden. (I was the first HS miler not invited to race in the Millrose HS Mile! Still stings.) Having a meet in the greatest arena there is seemed to legitimize the sport. Due to dwindling attendance at the meet which was due to boring races which was due to incredibly weak fields which was due to no one caring about Millrose anymore which was due to no one caring about Indoor Track anymore the meet finally left the increasingly barren MSG. I was pissed. I was frustrated. I was mostly sad. It seemed like yet another capitulation by our sport.

The meet organizers decided to move Millrose to the Armory. Even though the Armory has one of the fastest tracks in the world I kept saying it won’t be the same if it’s not at MSG. I was right. But not in the way I thought.

After attending Millrose each of the last 5 years (3 at MSG and 2 at the Armory)I have to admit that the quality of the meet has improved dramatically since the move. The fan experience has improved each year it has been at the Armory as well. Year two at the armory had the ushers being more polite, the athletes were treated better, the food offerings were improved, and Coogan’s is still nearby.

And the organizers have added some nice bells and whistles. There is a  great raffle that the organizers are having to benefit the Armory Prep College Fund. I was fully prepared to see some really weak offerings for the potential raffle winners. Instead, I saw 8 awesome prizes. You could win a burger and beer with Nick Symmonds at Coogan’s after the meet or a brunch with the Chairmen of the Boards Eamonn Coghlan or even an entire Millrose weekend with hotel and tickets included. It may seem silly that I am dedicating part of a post to a raffle. It’s not silly. The people at Millrose are trying to make their meet better on and off the track. That deserves recognition.

Let’s talk about the track part. Bernard Lagat, Nick Willis and Evan Jager in the (rarely run) 2000m, Nick Symmonds, Duane Soloman, Robby Andrews, and Eric Sowinski in the (rarely run) 1000m, young studettes Mary Cain and Ajee Wilson will battle in the 800m and the greatest athlete on Earth, Ashton Eaton, will be competing in two events, the 60m Hurdles and the pole vault. The Millrose Games will be a family affair for Ashton as his wife  just happens to be the World Championship Heptathlon Silver Medalist, Brianne Thiessen. Mrs. Eaton will  be competing in two events, the long jump and hurdles. Add to this already great meet the classic Wanamaker Mile and the HS relays and mile races. Really, what you have is what we have always asked for: a well run, compact, and exciting Track & Field meet…with beers.

What will we as Track & Field Fans do with this? If history is any indicator we will collectively yawn and then make sure we bitch about having to pay money to experience it. Any money at all to watch the meet online or in person is too much for us cheap bastards. Hell, $30 is too much for a raffle ticket, isn’t it? We want Track to be more slick and more exciting and more popular and less expensive – as if it could get any cheaper. We’ll pay $100 so we can run a 13.1 miles with other people on a road but we’ll protest $100 for ticket to one of the premier Indoor meets in the World. Hypocritical? Apathetic? Naive? Pessimistic? All of the above? Worse?

If the Millrose Games can turn around a dying meet maybe we can turnaround a dying fanbase. If you are from the tri-state area then try to attend. Buy some tickets. It’s worth it. If you can’t attend the meet then make sure you watch it on ESPN or online. Throw some cash at the raffle. Visit the sponsors at the bottom of the NYRR Millrose Games homepage. Make sure you READ and SHARE the articles you see about the meet. Talk about the Millrose Games. Do something because they are doing something. And that is what we wanted.

What happens when we get what we want?

See you at Millrose.

Mr. Rupp! Tear Down These Walls!

Finally! We have something, really truly something to be jacked up about in our fledgling sport of Track & Field!

According to Oregon Project Head Honcho/Coach Alberto Salazar and his star pupil Galen Rupp there are going to be some fireworks this Indoor Season. Yes, some real deal epic throw-down record attempt fireworks!

I am giddy, a little lightheaded now that I think about it. I may be in the early stages of shock, I’m not a doctor. I can’t really be sure. I am definitely euphoric though as I type this post. This is not like Track & Field. It seems as if the sport goes out of its way to be boring and impossible to engage with. Yet, this seems really exciting! Feeling woozy.

Check out these two awesome trailers about the Oregon Project record attempts. The first one can be found here. Great stuff right? Want some more? Check out trailer #2 here. Yes, baby yes!

There is actually some legitimate excitement being created in track & field! I know, crazy right?

It seems like each of the last few years Rupp has said he was going to go after a record. One year it was the 5k at Arkansas, another year it was the 2 mile at Boston, last year it was the 1 mile (3:50.92!!!). Each time there were momentary glimpses of what track could and should be: large crowds, high-pitched-crazy-person screaming, fanboys and fangirls swarming the rails, and kick ass racing.

The 2013 mile record attempt by Rupp was the single coolest indoor race I have seen since Eammon Coghlan got 18,000 fans to rise to their feet and cheer him to the first ever sub 3:50 Indoor Mile at the Vitalis Meet in NJ. That was not a typo by the way, 18,000. Here, watch the race by Rupp in Boston last year. Listen to that crowd, see the relentless drive by Rupp, and did you notice your heart rate jump? Now, here you can watch Eamonn Coghlan break the 3:50 barrier at the 1983 Vitalis Meet. These races are Track & Field at its best.

This year is going to be extra special thanks to Coach Salazar getting his entire stable of runners all hot and bothered for the Indoor campaign. Jordan Hasay, Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, and Cam Levins are also going after big time records this season. 2014 will have THREE record attempts in 24 days by Rupp alone.

Did you get that weird feeling there? Did you? Did you have a momentary flashback to Seb Coe and his infamous 40 Days? Huh? If you don’t know what I am talking about, well, that is part of what is wrong with Track & Field. We don’t celebrate our history because we don’t KNOW our history! Anyway, back to Rupp but be assured that the Seb Coe lesson is coming, and coming soon, to RUNonsense.

The first record attempts take place TODAY – Thursday,January 16, 2014 and Flotrack will have LIVE coverage. Mary Cain and Treniere Moser will go for Jen Toomey’s 2004 1000m American Record of 2:34 at 7:25 PM ET. At 7:40 PM ET Rupp will be going after the American Record in the 5k. The time to beat? 13:07! There is so much that is right about this. What I am really happy about is that the powers that be decided to have the record attempts back to back on the schedule.

Again, I am dizzy. Does this mean that someone associated with Track & Field thought about, actually thought about what would make for the most exciting experience for the FANS! What is next?  Onscreen info with AR and WR splits shown (like in swimming) so we can see if Rupp or Cain are on pace? I need to calm down and not be so greedy.

So, what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do! Watch the races! Sign up for the coverage on Flotrack, read the articles on the race, share any and all coverage on your Twitter, Facebook, Digg accounts. Blog about the races and the athletes and the coverage. Talk about it. Shout about it. Run some extra miles in anticipation of it. Run some extra miles after it. No matter what be EXCITED about it.

We, as participants of this great sport, we as fans of this great sport, we as salesman of this great sport have only reaped what we have sown this last few decades. The sport has been boring because we are boring. Well, not any longer. Rupp and Cain are getting ready to rock. The big cheese himself, Alberto Salazar, says so. Let’s get excited. Let’s get rowdy. Let’s spread the word that there is finally a party in Track & Field. Put on your dancing shoes spikes because tomorrow in Beantown we have a party to go to. Finally!