Most of us envery day runners look at elite runners with awe. I do. A top marathoner can run 26.2 miles in splits that I cannot run for 1 mile. Sigh...I guess that's what happens when you start to run in your forties. But I still love watching the big races. Paris, Chicago, Boston, etc. Most of them aren't televised (damn you Universal Sports and your feud with Comcast) but I do get to see a few. I love getting up early and watching the elites battle each other with a cup of coffee in hand. I usually know some mortal runner like myself who's doing the same race. But the mortal runners are never seen on TV.
For some reason I seem to enjoy watching the women's races more. Maybe they are more competitive, maybe I'm more familiar with the women elites. But the coolest thing about the sport is that we all run the same course on the same day in the same conditions, albeit slower. My first marathon was the 2008 Twin Cities. As I was heading to the start line, I saw the elites warming up for the Elite TC10 Miler that takes place right before us. I saw Kara Goucher, not knowing who she was at the time, and being a guy and uninformed I just thought wow she's attractive. Turns out she won that race in 53:16. The following spring I ran the slushy and snowy 2009 Shamrock Shuffle. That race was won by Deena Kastor in 27:15. I ran the Chicago Marathon and was in the Brooks expo booth right next to Desi Davila ,who is now Desi Linden, because Brooks is her sponsor. I lost to her too in case your wondering. So when I watched the New York marathon last week I was secretly rooting for all three of them.
The wind pretty much decimated the fast times. Desi was top American in Brooks T7 racers. (Sorry, I had to throw in the Brooks plug being one of their Fanatics). Deena attempting to get the master record fell short. Kara admitted she was in 2:28 shape but would not win. The wind had other plans for her. But we all have bad days. Even the elites find it hard to explain why their race falls apart despite being fit. Oh and my friend Ed who ran the same race didn't exactly shine either.
I encourage you to read Kara Goucher's race report. It reads like the hundreds of Runners World forum race reports by friends and others. Honest, frustration, doubt. We all have it no matter how fast or slow you are.