They Said it Couldn’t Be Done
There are a lot of people who owe Mike Cox (Athens, WV) an apology.
After achieving his US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier just 27 days prior to the Trials race, the “Chat Site” experts said things like “He’ll finish dead last. Noone can run two good marathons that close together” or “It can’t be done. He shouldn’t even bother.”
Mike doesn’t recall asking their opinions.
Mike set about an aggressive recovery program after Chicago which included rest, diet, extra sleep when he could, and carefully selected workouts which would help maintain his extreme fitness level without shoving him back into post-race exhaustion.
As Mike arrived at the Trials host hotel in New York City on Thursday and began to mingle and talk to the other athletes, one common phrase was spoken by his fellow qualifiers—“You’re the one!” Everyone knew Mike had been the lone Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier at Chicago and knew the extreme conditions under which he had done it. Following most “You’re the one!” comments was “Are you going to be ready for Saturday?” Any experienced marathoner knew it was going to be a tough gig to pull off. Mike even wondered himself.
As Mike assessed his race chances, he knew that out of 160 US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers they would shake down into a number of categories and sub-categories:
1) About 20 guys who legitimately had a chance to make the Olympic Team—many of whom would drop out as they realized that “Today just wasn’t their day” or would quickly change focus to another upcoming race opportunity.
2) A number of guys who had races come together which allowed them to qualify but wouldn’t be able to match that “race of a lifetime” again.
3) A number of guys who got qualifiers under idea conditions which weren’t predicted on a hilly Central Park course with hurricane remnants blowing through.
4) A large number of great National Class marathoners who would show up to race on the day they had prepared so hard for and race tough.
Mike’s plan was to run a carefully paced race of 5:20-5:25 per mile and see what happened. He knew that if he got pulled into a pace too aggressive under such a short turnaround that the keyboard prophets might end up right.
When the gun went off, the pack of THE most elite went out at a pedestrian pace, just over 5:30 for the first mile. Mike found himself in second place at 5:20 running just according to plan. After about 4 miles, when those in the pack finally decided they wanted to run, the pace quickened considerably into what turned out to be the deepest and fastest finish field by time in US Olympic Trials history. Mike’s pace varied as the rolling terrain in Central Park. Mike’s 1:08:54 was perfect for the first half marathon as he ran his paced effort while the race went on around him. At the finish Mike was 41st place overall at 2:20:12, another marathon PR by 90 seconds from his race in Chicago just 27 days before and an improvement of 67 places from his seed position of 108.
Mike’s plan for the future includes a well deserved rest after his two closely spaced marathons and his wedding in December before concentrating on the 10,000 on the track this spring.
Back on Track
Steve Crowder (Botetourt, VA) won the Pipestem Pumpkin Run Saturday in Pipestem State Park in Athens, WV. Known for its grueling rolling hills, the park provides a gorgeous backdrop for a fall 10K race. Steve ran a very consistent paced race, as all but his first downhill mile which was a bit faster, were right around 5:40 for a total time of 35:22, a time which reflects the toughness of the course. Steve had won the 5K there in 2002, but now owns crowns at both distances. Steve has been making slow and steady progress back to his top form since the birth of Kaitlyn, Steve and Leslie’s new baby girl.