This week’s edition is a day late and I apologize for that. My brother was in town for the first time in almost ten months, which was the last time I saw him and I spent three days enjoying the simple pleasure of having most of my family together. That meant I had to spend the early week playing catch up and it was only yesterday that I had the time to sit down with the different links I had set aside to check out and forward along to you.
Unfortunately in that time we have seen the cancellation of Ohio State’s fall football season. I am an OSU grad and I bleed scarlet and gray. The thought of a fall without the Buckeyes to watch leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, even moreso when you consider that imperfect as any response to COVID was going to be, the examples set in many other corners show that sports and indeed more normalcy in general were possible with a more focused response than what we have experienced inside the US. And of course the cancellation of the football season is but one disappointment that is going to be felt throughout the country this fall. I do not expect my friends coaching high school sports will have seasons when all is said and done and the loss of college sports does not stop at football either. Volleyball, soccer, and cross country teams, just to name an additional few, are all coming to terms with cancelled seasons. My heart goes out to them.
That said there are some interesting reads and listens in this week’s newsletter with several running topics related to the changes and opportunities COVID has provided runners. The Cal Ripken interview I link to is lengthy but chock full of pearls of wisdom for any competitor. Finally, Ramzy Nasrallah captures far better than I the sorrow and anger over the cancelled college football season. Let’s dig in.
Finally some good news in the world of running where the norm since March has been one race cancellation after another. The London Marathon, which usually runs in April, had been pushed back to this October with its fate hanging in the balance. The decision was finally made to go ahead with the race, though with elites only much as the Tokyo Marathon did in March. That gives us the tantalizing matchup between Eliud Kipchoge, almost a year off his sub-2 endeavor, and Kenenisa Bekele whose time in last year’s Berlin Marathon was just two seconds slower than Kipchoge’s world record time (remember that Kipchoge’s sub-2 performance due to its engineered parameters does not qualify for world record status). Assuming both are healthy and fit it provides the potential for a spellbinding race between the two.
Also of note from London is their decision to push back next year’s mass event to October, which presents an interesting window into what organizers may be feeling is and is not possible in the world of racing next spring.
In the sort of race that unfortunately has to be run in the current conditions, Sara Hall crushed her half marathon PR as she prepares for an as of yet unnamed fall marathon (many suspect it is the London Marathon). The race was dubbed the Row River Half Marathon and staged by organizers of the Eugene Marathon and it offers insight into what races, until a vaccine is found, are likely to look like for professionals. The few participants, Hall, her pacers, and two of her daughters, had negative COVID tests and everyone else involved wore masks. When Hall finished, everyone simply disbanded and went home. A far cry from the large, socially-driven events we are used to.
The local running store I frequent has been posting weekly challenges on routes and loops in the area for local runners to run and then post their times for. Such is the idea for those endurance junkies pursuing Fastest Known Times (FKT’s) in which they run notable routes and then post GPS data and even pictures to prove their having truly run them. Such excursions have become commonplace this summer with race cancellations, though, as the article notes, the requirements to register an FKT go against the grain of the typical ultraendurance endeavor where private, solo accomplishment has often trumped public acknowledgement.
I was a 90’s kid who loved baseball which meant I had a front row seat to Cal Ripken’s pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game’s played record. His talent and consistency made him someone whose insights I relished. Because I rotate through a number of audiobooks and podcasts it had been awhile since I listened to Michael Gervais’ Finding Mastery podcast but when I saw he was going to have Ripken on I could not wait to sit down and listen to the conversation. I was reminded why I enjoy Gervais so much. This is a lengthy discussion, almost two hours, but Gervais is exceptional at honing in on the performance secrets that Ripken hints at with his stories. Given Ripken is best known for longevity it will not be surprising that much of the conversation revolves not around getting to the top performance-wise but rather staying there. Most notable is Ripken’s approach to constantly reinforcing his focus on his strengths at a time when he was considered oversized and more limited in range compared to other shortstops, a practice that allowed him to keep himself centered on his own improvement rather than worrying about his limitations.
Ohio State Football blogger Ramzy Nasrallah far better articulates than I could the despair over the cancellation of the college football season. Whether or not you are a college football fan, more cancellations and suspensions of things you hold dear are likely coming in the coming months and Nasrallah points to the reasons why this is the case. Leadership across the board has left us flailing in the United States as we struggle to contain COVID. Worrisome is that schools that restarted in-person learning have already seen outbreaks and there’s no reason to believe college campuses will be spared the same fate. It is frustrating because it did not have to be this way; Europe shows us how it could have been done. Life this year was always going to be different, the question was always how different. Powering our way through the pandemic as if it is truly not there has simply kicked the can down the road and closed things now that could have been spared with the forward thinking Nasrallah notes has been absent all summer. It’s so damn frustrating.
This Week’s Quote
“This is a time to be selfless. This is when we have to sit back and understand this is not about one person specifically. It’s about everybody. You have to go out there and understand that it’s about your neighbor and your neighbor’s neighbors.”
– Francisco Lindor
A Small Request
This newsletter is a labor of love and I would write it even if no one read it (as it is few people right now do). I do not write because I have all the answers but rather because the topics interest me and because writing about them allows me to further explore them, internally debate them, and work through them. I share these links because reading them and thinking about them helps me to be better in my running, in my coaching, in my relationships, and in life. If you read this newsletter and think it would benefit someone you know, I ask that you take the time to share it with them. If you have a question for me or a comment on how I can be better in this space, please take the time to reach out. Thanks.