Last we left you in the blazing heat of L.A., the runners had just stormed by Cinnamon’s camera. If we back up a few minutes and travel 3,000 miles back to Columbus, Ohio, I was in my husband’s truck freezing my rear off driving to Ginkgo’s house. Why I was in a rural enclave just east of Columbus with no television access and not in L.A. is a story with which I shall not bore you. But there I was rumbling west, grateful for Ginkgo’s graciousness and her television and that the truck’s heater worked, while feeling the warm fuzzies knowing that if you’re stuck in seven-degree Ohio and can’t be in sunny warm California watching a race you’ve been fantasizing about for weeks, there’s always Bingo, Twitter, and, more importantly, good friends … with snacks!
As I drove, I wondered if the coverage would be as good as past NBC coverage of running events, which is to say I wondered if the coverage would suck. Strangely, I was optimistic it wouldn’t. I’m not going to give you a detailed play-by-play of the race from the home viewer’s standpoint, because I’m guessing, if you’re reading this, you probably watched it yourself if you, like me, weren’t in L.A. And I’m also guessing, if you’re like me, the NBC coverage made you feel stabby.
I arrived and met all the cast of characters I’ve come to know and love in Ginkgo’s life, before learning that the local NBC affiliate chose not to air the Trials. [eye roll] Luckily, we managed to get it streaming and we awaited the race with baited breath. And then with no fanfare, hardly any backstory, and no build-up the men were on the line, horn sounding, runners off. Some shots of the leaders from the press truck, commercial break, shots from the truck, commercial break and then there were the women ready to rock it, and just like with the men, with no fanfare the horn sounded and they too hit the loops.
For some reason I thought I’d see people I know. For some reason I thought I’d see more than the first pack of runners. Don’t get me wrong; the race for spots on the Olympic team was the stuff of my dreams. A few minutes after marking “breakaway pack of 4” on my Trials Bingo card, I tweeted “Have Shalane and Amy wrapped up 1 and 2?” That was around mile 17. Stars, they’re just like us: even Shalane Flanagan can feel amazing at mile 17 and have her wheels fall off at 22. Somewhere in here the NBC commentators inform us that top-seeded man “Darren Ritzenhein” dropped out, but never a mention of top-seeded woman and fan favorite Sarah Hall. [eye roll]
Back to mile 17, there was much Twittering about whether Desi or Kara was going to be third as they were running closely together at this point. However, I knew it wasn’t even a question that Desi would win this contest. I knew this because I talked to Cinnamon on the phone who spoke with Desi and saw the certainty on her face and heard the unwavering confidence in her voice on Thursday afternoon.
I knew, beyond words on a page, that Desi was hungry, Desi had a plan, and Desi was making that team unless something unforeseen happened, which can always happen. When I saw Desi’s relaxed stride compared to Kara’s much more labored appearance, I knew. I knew Desi was going to Rio. (You can see what I mean in this gif from mile 14. Also note Janet Bawcom, who received no coverage despite being an Olympian and running an incredible race for 5th place!)
It was just getting good and …. cut to the men. That’s cool. We can cut to the men. Galen (not Ryan Hall, announcer guy! [rolls eyes … again]) breaks the tape. Meb joyfully makes another Olympic Team. Jared Ward and his mustache cruise in for a cooling off session with Meb and to incidentally become an Olympian.
Ok, go back to the women!
More Galen. Make that inane chatter about Galen and his first marathon and bla, bla, bla. Nothing about any controversies, of course. Oh, and they reminded us that Meb is old … again.
Oh COME ON! I plead to NBC on Twitter to get back to the women. (And seriously, would it have been difficult to split screen this? Or would that be like split screening an NBA game with a WNBA game? [Ouch! My eyes!])
Frickin finally! And we’re back! Last we left them, Shalane seemed to be leading Amy, but now the tables were turned. Amy was more animated and Shalane’s eyes had that panicky look in them that one gets on the verge of losing her wheels. And then in the distance, a black-clad shadowy figure emerged in the background of the TV screen.
It was Desi, the huntress zoning in on the wounded antelope. Amy, sensing the danger, tried to save her friend, but she knew she had to trust Shalane could handle it and hurried off to the safe harbor of the finish zone. As Desi passed the faltering Shalane for second, the announcers spoke of it like she was crashing a party, as if they didn’t know that Amy and Desi were college teammates and good friends. Oh, riiiiiiight. [My eyes fell out a couple of miles ago.]
Yes, an incredible race! We all know what happened after that.
But what was happening further back in the pack? If you only went by NBC coverage you’d think there were only four women in the race, not over two hundred! I wanted to know how Olivia Mickle, Keely Maguire, and Stephanie Dinius were faring in their first full marathons. I wanted to see Emma Polley demonstrate her supreme eliteness to LetsRun trolls everywhere. I wanted to know how the beneficiaries of the Trials standard change, like Sarah Polatas, Becki Spellman and Joanna Zeiger were doing. Did Katie Schiemann bounce back from qualifying in a full marathon four weeks ago? Were our favorite moms, Emily Potter, Ellie Hess, and Jessica Odorcic handling the heat? What about Caitlin Smith, Leah Frost, Samantha Bluske, and the ageless Colleen DeReuck? And TEA?!
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