Want a little inspiration for your next 5K? How about this? Two years ago, Ready to Run blogged about Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge, without a doubt the greatest distance runner of all time, when he clocked a 2:00:25 marathon in the Nike attempt to break two-hour barrier.
Well, as most folks know by now, last weekend, Kipchoge did what no one really thought possible: he broke the two-hour barrier with a 1:59:40 in a specially designed attempt in Vienna. Critics will point out that he had numerous advantages: a phalanx of pace-setters, guided by a pace car that projected a green laser that strategically indicated where on the road they should run for the shortest possible distance); Nike Vaporfly shoes (OK, anyone can buy those); and a specially designed flat, windless, protected course in Prater Park, Vienna, which he circled more than 4 times.
They will point out that he had energy drinks delivered by a cyclist to prevent him from having to slow down, and that the 40 pacers surrounded him in a reverse-V formation. Rotating in and out so that each rabbit had fresh enough legs to keep up with Kipchoge’s sub-4:34 minute pace.
But they are missing the BIG point. This man, a mere human like the rest of us, set a goal for himself, and trained in such a manner and ran with such focus that he achieved what no human has done before (and who knows if such a feat will ever be duplicated?) We’re talking Roger Bannister and the 4-minute mile; landing on the moon; this belongs in the same group as all of those “impossibles.”
Breaking it down, you can see incredible precision and focus on the part of Kipchoge. The man ran the first 5K in 14:10 and passed through 10K in 28:20. That’s spot-on pacing to the second! At 20K, he was timed in 56:47, a scant few seconds off exactly double his 10K time. This was a feat of phenomenal, superhuman pacing. His metronome stride carried him through the 40K mark in 1:53:36, almost exactly four times his first 10K split of 28:20. His pace breaks down to 4:33 a mile. Yes, for 26.2 miles.
No great runner excels without a great coach. And here’s a really cool Texas connection. Kipchoge has been coached for the past 18 years by a fellow Kenyan named Patrick Sang, who just happens to be a former Longhorn track and cross country great who won the Statesman Capitol 10,000 in 1987 (29:50), and later won a silver medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Sang’s coaching? Sang, whose coaching philosophy is “Trust is everything,” has said this of Kipchoge: “He possesses an unwavering belief in himself unlike anyone I have ever met and he wants all of us to believe in ourselves in exactly the same way, no matter what we do or what goals we have set. He says, ‘no human is limited’ and he truly believes that.”
But beyond the coaching, the training, the preparation, the will, what do we have? We have the human spirit. We have inspiration. We have a run for the ages.
Upcoming races: Hill Country Halloween Half, Saturday, October 26 at 7:30 a.m. at HEB Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, in Cedar Park. Saturday, October 26, Run for the Hills 5K/10K at 8:00 a.m., at the Hays Hills Baptist Church in Buda, Run for the Water 10 Miler Sunday, November 2 at 7:30 a.m. Starts and finishes at Cesar Chavez east of Lamar Blvd. in downtown Austin.