Monday, September 10, 2007

Paul runs the media 800 in Osaka...

Here I am hamming it up with David Monti of Race Results Weekly before our heat of the media 800 at Nagai Stadium in Osaka. /photo by Mark Foyer

Okay, we’ve managed to survive five days of sixteen-hour days at Nagai Stadium, and what’s our reward?

We get a day where there’s no morning session (read, we get to sleep in!), and we members of the media get to run on the track!

In conjunction with these world championships, the IAAF and the Osaka LOC organized the fourth annual World Championships Media 800m race a few hours before the start of the evening session.

The sleeping in part of the program didn’t happen, as I was up at 9 am, after going to bed at 3 am, tired from writing the Bernard Lagat 1500 story, editing photos, and making phone calls to the United States.

Six years ago in Edmonton, I ran 2:42 in this race after going through the 600-meter mark in 1:42, when I felt a sharp twinge in my Achilles tendon. I limped home, then endured five weeks of agony, when I had to wear a cast on the Achilles, not to mention the fact that I also had my wisdom teeth taken out. Now how’s that for a how do you do?

Before I left Seattle, I was torn between packing the pair of Nike Zoom Kennedy spikes that former Nike PR whiz Beth Hegde gave me before the 2003 World Championships; the Nike spikes I wore in Edmonton so that I could exorcise the demons living inside those shoes; or a pair of Nike road racing flats sold only in the Japanese market that I bought for $20 at the Nike outlet store in North Bend, 30 miles east of Seattle.

Given my problems with my Achilles, combined with the fact that I hadn’t done any track work, I took the safe route, and went with the racing flats.

I went into the race only expecting to run somewhere in the 2:40s. The only other expectations I had was not to do any damage to my Achilles tendons, and not to die in the last 150.

Well, I’m happy to say I did all three…now the warrior in me was a little disappointed that I didn’t compete (I let a Greek guy, Yannis from the IAAF media staff, who's behind me in this photo, blow past me on the home straight), but I had fun. I ended up running 2:45.64, good for 40th place overall, but I am catching a lot of grief for letting my good friend David Monti from Race Results Weekly beat me in my heat (2:43.77).

Here’s some photos of the race, courtesy of Ayako Oikawa & Mark Foyer.

This is a group photo with the stadium scoreboard in the background. In the front are Stephane Diagana (1997 world champ in the 400h), Steve Ovett (1980 Olympic 800m champ & former WR holder in the 1500 & mile), and Bob Hersh (IAAF Council member from the USA, known affectionately by members of the US media as "The Commish").

Here I am with 1980 Olympic 800 meter champ and former world record holder in the 1500 and mile, Steve Ovett of Great Britain. Even though I've known him for years (he's one of the commentators on the IAAF telecasts) on the TV side, Ovett was one of my heroes when I was growing up and competing, so it was a treat to have my picture taken with him.

For all my Nike+ friends, I did warm up and warm down with my iPod Nano, so I can actually track the mileage I did that day.

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