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Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon, July 20, 2014
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Smile, it's Media Day!

August 10--Smile, it's Media Day!

What would have been a fairly normal training day turned into something of a media frenzy this morning. In the middle of this morning's speed workout, a white rental van chased us down. John, Curt and I were all doing a slightly different session so we were spread out at intervals along the 3km loop we measured out when the van that a couple guys from CBS had rented began trailing us. It was like having paparazzi chasing after us with their big video cameras and microphones in your face.

Manuel Gallegus and his cameraman Bob are from the LA area and two of only three credentialed CBS reporters in Athens for the Games. NBC holds the broadcast rights, so there must be a limit on the number of other reporters who have access to the venues and athletes.

After their guerrilla filming tactics, Manuel and Bob turned out to be very nice guys who were interested in doing a story about the three of us racewalkers who have been training on Crete for almost a week now. The thing that startled them was how fast we were going. Manuel confessed that he had planned on kind of making fun of racewalking as a silly sport that anyone can do, but when he saw us walking he realized that angle wasn't going to work. Eventually he talked John into doing another short interval so that he could run along side him and give the viewer an idea of just how quickly John was moving. John is a 20km specialist and holds the American record in the outdoor mile at 5:48. His personal best for 20km, 1:22:31, averages close to 6:30/mile for 12.4 miles. It's no wonder that Manuel got out of breath running with him for 100 meters.

After walking an easy 2km cool down, jumping in the ice bath and showering, we had an appointment with NBC track and field correspondent Marty Liqouri. Some of you may know him from his days as one of America's great distance runners. When he's not commentating on track, he runs a Jazz Festival in Gainesville, Florida and plays the jazz guitar professionally.

As a group, we talked to Marty for half an hour or more about racewalking. He pretty much sat us down and said, "Guys, I'm going to be doing the NBC broadcast of the 20km for men and women and the 50km. That's a lot of air time and I need something to talk about. Tell me about racewalking. What should I say?" It was a great opportunity to have direct access to the guy who is going to be America's voice for racewalking. A few years ago, Bob Costas mangled his coverage of the walks and it would be nice if Liqouri redeems us somewhat. We told Liqouri about a typical training day, how we got into the sport, the challenges of being a racewalker, and all the technical stuff that goes into racewalking. My only concern is that he asked a lot of questions about judging and the problems that racewalking had in 2000 in Sydney. We explained it all pretty clearly, so hopefully he gets it right. If he totally bungles it, he gave me his business card so I'll put his phone number on my website and everyone can harass him. :) Just a joke, Marty, if you are reading this.

The CBS guys tracked us down again right before lunch and interviewed us. It sounds like they are going to do a nice little piece about our group and air it on the 19th or 20th before John's 20km race. We're not sure exactly when or on what stations, but Manuel said to keep an eye on the local CBS affiliate stations. He said there's also a chance that once it airs, someone else will pick it up, repackage it, and put it on another network. If only we are so lucky.

It seems like racewalking gets a lot of coverage every four years during the Olympics and then interest fades away. It's a shame, though, because racewalking really is a sport for everyone. No, not everyone is going to make it to the Olympic level, but everyone can learn the technique and benefit from the aerobic exercise. There I go, sounding like a TV infomercial. Maybe I was in front of the cameras for too long today.

This afternoon I got in a nice recovery workout in the ocean. Since my knee troubles, I have had to limit my afternoon workouts to some kind of cross training like biking or swimming. Today I took the aqua-jogging belt out into the ocean and 'ran' through the Mediterranean for half an hour. It was so much more interesting and invigorating than laps in the pool. You really can't beat treading water in the middle of the ocean with the sun setting on one side and a long sandy beach dotted with blue umbrellas and lawn chairs on the other. How will I ever go back to San Diego? Oh wait, there's a beach there too. :)

Tonight we have another team meeting after dinner. Nearly 50 more track athletes are coming in from either the US or places in Europe. Our contingent of over 100 athletes is the largest of all the US delegations. Last night I rubbed elbows with a few of the bigger names: Marion Jones (sprints and long jump), Stacy Dragila (pole vault), Kenta Bell (triple jump), Torri Edwards (sprints but under investigation for 'glucose' pills that contained some illegal substance) and a bunch of other people. They are all very nice and have been friendly to everyone which is refreshing to see. Well, off to dinner. More souvlaki and gyros and feta and cucumbers and pasta and fresh bread and olive oil from trees right here on the resort.

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