A Day in the Life of Ryan Hall


A 15-miler before breakfast? That’s a typical day for Ryan Hall as he prepares to run the 2013 New York City Marathon in November.

At the risk of sounding like a swooning teenage girl, I have a confession to make: I have an autographed poster of Ryan Hall hanging in my study at home, prominently displayed on a wall where I’ll eventually get around to hanging more memorabilia from my trip to the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Ryan Hall is a devout Christian, a faithful husband, an all-around good guy, and America’s best marathon runner. The poster on my wall is from Hall’s run at the 2010 Boston Marathon (see how much we have in common?), where he placed fourth with a 2:08:40 finish (okay, not so much in common). He ran the Boston Marathon again in 2011 and, again, placed fourth, this time with a 2:04:58 finish — the fastest marathon ever for an American. He also holds the American record for the half-marathon (59:43).

I waited in line for what seemed like hours (actually, I think it was literally “hours”) to get Hall’s autograph on my poster. Hall was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon this year but had to pull out due to an injury. Nevertheless, being the good guy that he is, Hall welcomed hundreds of his fans with a smile and a word of encouragement for our race.

Below his (illegible) signature, he added:

“John 10:10” … a reference to the words of Jesus:

I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.

So, being a fan, of course I was thrilled to stumble across a recent video. Here’s the description:

A day in the life of Ryan Hall: Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall seeks a triumphant return to international racing after battling injuries. In this STACK “Day in the Life” video, see what a typical training day is like for Hall. See his pre-run warm-up and watch him crank out sub-5-minute miles. Listen and learn as he describes his new, battle-hardened look on life, which comes from being on the marathon scene for more than six years.

Here’s the video!


Turns out, it is a sprint

Wilson Kipsang celebrates after breaking the world marathon record.

You know how they alway say, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”? Meaning, I guess, that sometimes you have to take the long view, live out life at a slower pace, be patient for the finish line.

Turns out, it is a sprint, after all.

The marathon, I mean, is a sprint after all. At least it is when you’re breaking the world record, like Wilson Kipsang. By the time I crawled out of bed last Sunday morning, Kipsang had already finished running the Berlin Marathon and shattered the world record in the process. Kipsang crossed the finish line in 2:03:23 … basically, he sprinted the entire course.

Kipsang, incredibly, ran an average pace of 4:42 per mile. The fastest race I’ve ever run was an average 6:40 pace in a recent 5K. After crossing the finish line, I immediately barfed behind the closest trash bin. There was one proud moment when I ran faster than a 6-minute mile … while going downhill.

I can’t even imagine running a 4:42 mile, though I understand a few folks do run sub-4-minute miles. When all they have to run is a single mile. Kipsang ran a 4:42 pace, for …

Twenty. Six. Point. Freaking. Two. Miles.

As Mark Remy writes: “a speed that most of us could achieve only by Rollerblading on one of those moving walkways like they have at airports, while also wearing a Wile E. Coyote-style rocket strapped to our backs, assuming that we could get all of it through security.”

The prior record, coincidentally, was also set at the Berlin Marathon (by another Kenyan, of course). Actually, this is the sixth time since 1998 that the marathon world record has been broken in Berlin. Next time I feel the urge to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I’ll keep that in mind.

Sadly, Kipsang’s grand achievement was marred by an idiot’s idiotic act of idiocey. As the New York Times reported:

Although security in Berlin had been increased after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April, a man wearing a yellow T-shirt stepped out of the crowd near the finish line and raised his arms, breaking the tape just ahead of Kipsang in an apparent stunt of ambush marketing. According to Agence France-Presse, the man was promoting a Web site for an escort service. He was intercepted by race staff, handed over to the police and charged with trespassing, the news agency reported.

“Trespassing”? Is that the best they can do? He ruined Kipsang’s once-in-a-lifetime finish-line photo. This jerk deserves to be trampled by an angry horde of very slow marathon runners. I hope, in Germany, felony trespassing is punished by hard labor in prison. At the very least, he should be forced to clean up the millions of paper cups that were discarded along the marathon route, with a pair of tweezers.

Ross Tucker notes that Kipsang is “the latest in a very long line of exceptional Kenyan runners.” Why do East Africans — primarily, Kenyans, and primarily, Kenyans from a single tribe of about 4 million people — so totally dominate the sport of endurance running? Tucker speculates in “Kenyan Athletes Run Amok.”

Amby Burfoot at Runner’s World recently reported on a study that suggests one reason: They are really, really skinny.

So, the world record inches 15 seconds closer to the magical two hour mark. The experts tell us we’re a long way from seeing anyone break that barrier.

But the great thing about running is that the vast majority of us are not trying to break a world record .. we’re just trying to beat our own personal best. We’re not competing against each other … just trying to improve ourselves.

I’ll be awestruck every time some runner shaves a few seconds off the world record. But I’ll always feel more satisfaction over my own improvement and the successes of my running friends.

Interview with a Vampire

If I make it out to a movie this weekend, you can bet your buttered popcorn that it will be Abraham Lincoln on the screen and not those sexy vampires (or werewolves, depending on your team). No, I haven’t seen any of the previous Twilight movies, either … though I did enjoy “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” I expect Daniel Day Lewis will be more impressive.

Still, I thought some of my “Twilight”-loving friends might be interested to know how much I have in common with their favorite undead. No, I don’t drink blood or turn into a bat (do they actually do any of that in the movie? Do they say things like “I vant to suck your bluud”?). Like “Twilight” actor Charlie Bewley, I’m a runner.

Bewley (who plays Demetri in the “Twilight” movie) was interviewed about his passion for running by Runner’s World magazine. You can read the interview here. You can also watch the video on their site, or at the top of this post.

Marathon runner travels on a path with God

Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall, considered the United States’ most promising marathoner, decided to do something radically unorthodox. He left behind his coach, his training partners and his home in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., to strike out on his own.

His new coach? God.

Read Linda Robertson’s story in the Miami Herald

I’m Just in Awe

Haile Gebrselassie lost the race against time on Sunday when Patrick Makau shattered his marathon world record and ended an era of two decades dominated by arguably the greatest distance runner in history.

Read: Patrick Makau shatters marathon mark

The Kenyan ran a 2:03:38 marathon. That’s an average pace of 4:43 per mile over 26.2 miles (I’m hoping to average 8:00 per mile at the KC Marathon). I’m just in awe.