Monday, May 17, 2010

Post Medtronic TC One Mile report

Thanks to RunMinnesota writer Patrick O'Regan for this Medtronic TC One Mile recap and interview with Lopez Lomong.

USA One Mile Road Championship Press Conference

I attended the press conference on Thursday at noon for the USA One Mile Road Championship, which was run on Nicollet Mall that same day (May 13th). The top competitors were all in attendance. A panel of the top women, then the top men competitors answered questions. The host was Virginia Brophy Achman – positively the last word in being a gracious host.

Doug Logan, the CEO of USA Track and Field, gave some opening remarks. He commented on having lived in this area. He also said he had got up early that morning to get to a run in the rain. Doug sees a brightening future for USA track and field. Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon last fall; Ryan Hall was fourth. Doug said the US may have reached a tipping point in the road racing part of the sport. And, on the track, recently, Chris Solinsky set a new American record in the 10k, running the remarkable time of 26:59.6, breaking Meb’s record by some 14 seconds and becoming the first non-African to run the distance in under 27 minutes. Now is the time, Doug said, to expand the sport, making track and field younger and broader in focus. To that end, this summer there will be a series of races shown live on

Doug said he strongly encourages athletes to get involved with the media. Empowering the athletes themselves to promote the sport is crucial. They can take matters into their own hands. First person contact with the fans, Doug said, is a great way to stir up excitement for the sport. At the US Indoor Championship, for instance, many of the athletes tweeted the results to family and friends. Word gets around that track and field is an exciting sport.

The fields were stellar. Just to take the panels and highlight some of their accomplishments:

Women’s panel:
· Anna Pierce
o 4:28.37 mile
o 10th in the Olympic Steeplechase (won the Trials)
o 6th at the World Championships at 2009 in 1500
o 2nd in the world ranking at 800 in 2009

· Christin Wurth-Thomas
o 4:27.18 mile
o 5th in world ranking at 1500 in 2009
o 5th at World Championships in 2009
o Won Gran Prix meets in New York and Stockholm

· Heather Dorniden
o 4:38.8 mile
o Nine-time All-American at U of M
o Won NCAA Indoor Championship at 800 in 2006
o 3rd at USA Indoor Championships in 800
o 9th at Drake Relays last year in 1500

Sarah Bowman
4:29.72 mile
4th at USA Indoor Championships at 1500 in 2010
Won NCAA Indoor Championships in Mile in 2009
Won Pan American Junior Championships in 1500 in 2005
Won USA Junior Championships at 1500 in 2005

Men’s Panel:
Rob Myers
3:53.78 mile
Two-time USA Indoor Champion at 1500 (2004, 2008)
2nd USA Indoor Championships at the mile (2005, 2007)
3rd at USA Outdoor Championships at 1500 in 2005
3rd at Olympic Trials at 1500 in 2004

Lopez Lomong
3:53.35 mile
Won USA Outdoor 1500 Championship in 2009
3rd in 2008 Olympic Trials
Semi-finalist in 2008 Olympic Games
NCAA Outdoor Champion in 2007

David Torrence
3:56.75 mile
Won USA One Mile Road Championship in 2009
Won USA 3000 Indoor in 2009
Won USA Junior Championships in 2004

Garret Heath
3:58.71 mile
4th at USA Indoor Championships at 1500 in 2010
Finalist at World Indoor Championships at 1500 in 2010
Pac-10 Champion at 1500 in 2007

They all strike me as small men and women – like antelopes, long, thin legs, scarcely an upper body to speak of – born runners. They don’t get the attention they deserve – not in this country, in any case; they would be heroes in Kenya or Ethiopia – but this is good in a way. They are as down-to-earth as people who are among the best in the world at something could ever be.

All the athletes on the panels were wonderfully engaging in their comments. To keep this short, I’ll limit my attention to a brief interview I had with Lopez Lomong, who happened to be sitting next to me at the table. Rob Myers and one other competitor were at the same table.

Do you have a favorite track workout?

Lopez: I like to run 5 by 600… I don’t want to give the times, because I’ll be giving away my conditioning to my competitors here (he laughs)…

Do you run the ladder workout (800, 600, 400, 200 and back up)?

Lopez: Not too much… I’ll run the 600 at 90 seconds with 30 seconds rest… After that, I’ll jog 400 and run 300 repeats all out to get quicker…

What would be your time if you ran the 400 as hard as you could?

Lopez: I’m not a good sprinter… Forty-six seconds… It’s okay, but not…you know, at a high level. I would not be real good at that distance. Only average.

(For a miler? This is plenty of speed. Most guys who run the 400 in that time couldn’t run a mile under five minutes.) What is your half mile PR?

Lopez: One forty-five.

Typically, how many miles do you run in a week?

Lopez: Eighty-five.

What were your best times in high school in the mile?

Lopez: As a freshman, I ran the mile in 4:48, as a junior 4:32, as a senior 4:10.

Have you had a problem with injuries?

Lopez: Yes, in the World Championships leading up to the Olympics (2007), I was troubled by a hamstring injury. This limited my performance, and I was eighth there. The injury continued in the Olympic year (2008), and I could not train properly. There was always ice-time and I was slowed when I ran…. Running hard just irritated it… I made just the semifinals at the Olympics… But this is over now. I am training hard and in good shape.

Do you lift weights?

Lopez: Not too much. Only light weights. I use dumbbells now and then to calm my nerves, but not too much.

Is stretching important to you?

Lopez: A lot. With the hamstring injury, I stretch a lot. It eases the tension in my muscles.

Were there runners in your family? Parents or siblings?

Lopez: You know, before I came here I was one of the lost boys of Sudan. My parents never had the opportunity to show what they could do. But in Africa, running is what you do to get from here to there; it is part of being brought up there. We ran everywhere. When I came here, I was so happy to be part of this country. I compete for the joy, and I am very proud to be competing for the USA.

Do you have a coach?

Lopez: Yes, my coach is John Hayes of Texas. He has been my coach for the past five years – ever since college.

Do you run with a team?

Lopez: No, it is just me and my watch.

You do the interval workouts alone?

Lopez: Yes.

How do you handle the anaerobic grief without support? You are bound to back off.

He just smiles broadly.

(Apparently, the watch keeps him on pace.) You love to run, huh?

He continues to smile and nods.

One last question, Lopez. Do you have a goal in mind for your running?

Lopez: London (the Olympic Games site in 2012). Since last year this has been my goal. The World Championships last year (were part of that), and the World Championships (next year, too) will be. I have been training (all along) for London. It is all for London.

You think you can get a medal?

Lopez: He smiles and nods. Thank you.

Thank you, sir. It has been an honor.

The order of finish for the races is:

Women’s Race:
Anna Pierce – 4:33.9
Sarah Bowman – 4:34.9
Christin Wurth-Thomas – 4:36.3
Amy Mortimer – 4:38.5
Heidi Dahl – 4:40.8
Heather Dorniden – 4:42.1
Sonja Friend-Uhl – 4:44.9
Lauren Hagans – 4:45.6
Laura Janusjewski – 4:46.0
Meghan Armstrong – 4:46.2

Men’s Race:
David Torrence – 4:04.0
Daniel Huling – 4:05.4
Jordan Horn – 4:05.7
Derek Scott – 4:06.1
Garret Heath – 4:06.4
Lopez Lomong – 4:06.4
Liam Boylan-Pett – 4:06.7
Alex Tatu – 4:07.9
Darren Brown – 4:08.8
Robert Myers – 4:11.0

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