Big City Coach congratulations to Janos Kulcsar (12:59:09 in the full IM distance) and Nannette Veith (6:56:27 in the half IM) at Beach to Battleship. And major thanks to coach Marc Delese for his excellent work preparing Janos for his iroman debut.
If you're running the NYC Marathon this year, please join me at the Upper West Side JackRabbit (72nd Street between Columbus & Amsterdam) this Thursday at 7:30p. We'll be in their community space to discuss course management, carb-loadining, race-day nutrition, logistics, and everything else you'll need to know in order to have a great 5-borough, 26.2-mile race on November 6.
While I fail to grasp the appeal of a scenic course, Lauri Young is a more enlightened human being than I am, and chose to do yesterday's Fall Foliage Half Marathon in Rhinebeck, NY. Mother Nature giveth and Mother Nature taketh away, as the the pretty course is also pretty hilly, with nearly 850 feet of climbing throughout the 13.1 miles. Lauri finished 4th in the 50-54 AG in a time of 1:56:22.
The new NYC Marathon Guidelines for guaranteed acceptance continue to make for some good fodder on running blogs and the NYRR Facebook page. I've made it clear that I see this as nothing more than a money-grab based on the fact that NYRR makes more money on 9+1, tourist and charity entries than they do on those who qualify based on time. But I've also stated, and understand that NYRR is entitled to do whatever they please with their race. What I find particularly baffling are their defenders and apologists. Here are a few samples:
"I do believe we are all equal when we toe the starting line. Speed and hard work are not mutually exclusively. One runner might BQ on a standard 40-50 mile week plan on their first marathon attempt while another might barely crack 5 hours on their 10th marathon after running 70 miles/week."
One. Find me one able-bodied runner who has done ten marathons, runs 70 miles/week and struggles to average 11:27 per mile. Just one. Male, female, young, old. One runner who fits that description. I'll wait. (And BTW, you may be equal when you toe the starting line, but not so much at the finish.)
"If you cut the charity numbers - well, you have less money for charities. Not really a good thing these days, right?"
NYRR charges charities $500 per entry for the same bib that qualifiers and 9+1 runners get for under $200. If they cared about the charities rather than their own bottom line, they'd charge the regular fee or (gasp) a discounted rate to charities, not an inflated fee. Let's not be naive here; NYRR isn't tightening the requirements in order to benefit charities.
"just because you race faster doesn't mean that you're a better runner".
Good luck picking up your prize money Mr. Ten Minute Miler. I know some fast runners who are real jerks, so you may be a better person than they are, but the clock pretty conclusively proves that they are better runners than you are. (And if speed doesn't matter, why do you celebrate when you set a PR?) My respectable B average got me the same college diploma as the Valedictorian, but I never said I was as good a student. And even though I tried my best, I didn't expect to be accepted to medical school the way the students with a 4.0 GPA were.
Please don't misunderstand, I'm proud that I graduated, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. I am lucky enough to coach a wide variety of athletes, and I'm truly proud of all of them when they try their hardest. But in racing faster equals better.
"you should know better that training hard doesn't mean your (sic) faster than others who train less"
Ah yes, the "I know a fast guy who barely trains - it's all about genetics" defense. I challenge anyone in that camp to a little wager. I'll take ten random runners who train 80-100 miles/week. You take ten random runners who train 30-40 miles/week. We'll have them race a marathon. Fastest team wins the bet. Deal? Didn't think so. On the whole, faster runners train more and train harder. Of course genetics and other factors have an impact, but hard work usually pays off. I'll always bet on the runner who trains more, the same way I'll always bet on the student who studies more.
"I think some of this also has to do with making this as 'elite' and exciting/competitive event as possible. Having faster runners will accomplish this."
I have to respectfully disagree with this one. As I've previously pointed out, the faster standards will serve to make the race slower. The runners who no longer make the cut based on speed will be replaced by more charity and tourism runners, the majority of whom will be slower than the runners they displaced.
"When I read about someone who finishes the marathon in 6 or more hours, I don't think they are barely running or just "walking" as some others here have arrogantly stated. I think about how difficult it must have been for them to still be running after so many hours- I think about what an amazing accomplishment it is."
I give up. What color is the sky in your world? You're seriously telling me that a six hour marathon is a more impressive accomplishment than a three hour marathon? An 80-year old man just *ran* 3:15 last week. People have broken 4:00 running *backward*. (I guess you'd have been really impressed if it took him 7 hours, huh?) And if 13:45 per mile isn't barely running, then what is it?
While I appreciate the fact that one of the great things about running is that we all get to share the course with the best runners in the world, perhaps the democatization has gone too far when there is little acknowledgement or reward for faster runners in the selection process. I understand that with the increased popularity of the race, NYRR has to turn away more and more people every year. They needed to thin the herd somewhere, and - as is their prerogative - they chose to cut from the faster runners rather than from the generally slower (but more financially lucrative) runners.
While everyone thinks my favorite posts are in the Cheaters or the Dear A$$hole categories. No doubt I love those, but the No Whining posts are the ones I enjoy the most. So I'm gratified to write a second post in that category this week.
Today is the story of Sami Stoner. Though she sounds like a character in the next Harold and Kumar movie, in fact Ms. Stoner is a runner on the Lexington High School Cross Country team in Ohio. She also happens to be blind. I'll spare you the details about the headaches and red tape that were involved to allow her to run with her guide dog. Let's focus on the determination who has lost her sight over the past two years and has not been deterred.
NYRR recently announced their new policies for guaranteed entry in the NYC Marathon. I outlined the new guidelines and my opinions about it last week. One of my faithful readers (we'll call her Ennis Cue to protect her anonymity) wondered why I didn't love the changes. "You're an elitist snob, why wouldn't you want a faster race?" Here's the problem - while it's true that I'm an elitist snob (which in and of itself is pretty special considering I'm not elite at anything except being a snob), the faster standards won't make for a faster race. In fact it will accomplsh the opposite. Those athletes who no longer make the cut for automatic acceptance - men in the 2:45-2:55 range and women in the 3:00-3:23 range will be replaced by tourists and charity runners, the large majority of whom will be slower than the runners they displaced. Make no mistake about it, NYRR's policy change is designed to pad their pockets by allowing more 9+1, tourist and charity entries, all of which make more money for NYRR than those who qualify on time. As I said, that's entirely up to them, but let's not lose sight of their motivation.
We had a strong City Coach one-two punch at the Kurt Steiner Cross Country 5k this weekend. Luke McCambley and Kevin Starkes finished 5th and 12th respectively. Luke clocked 16:33 and Kevin's time was 17:18 on the challenging Van Cortlandt Park course.