This weekend the double has been dominating his training. She looked for training sites during the Olympics in Tokyo, where she saw many of the athletes competing. She was not allowed outside the Olympic bubble, although she could run outside the Olympic Stadium with her athletes on the warm-up track – as long as it was not full of hurdlers and sprinters. The US team’s training facility was a 45-minute bus ride away. She missed several days of training, and never ran more than 10 miles while in Japan.
She tried to imitate a shorter version of the Chicago-Boston double last month, running 20-plus miles on a flat course one day, then 21 miles on hilly terrain the next day at a pace of 6:40 per mile. . Changing his 17-month-old son’s diapers and working in his garden after the first run served as a stand-in for his hectic journey from Chicago to Boston.
In Berlin, where she started conservatively, Flanagan averaged about 6:40 per mile for the first third of the race, as she ran with her physical therapist, Colleen Little, who was a runner in her own right. It was a sub-three hour marathon. But on Berlin’s flat course on a very sunny day, he hit the gas in the second half, clicking through to a 5:30 mile at one point.
Speaking from London a few days later, she said her back was hurting, probably from carrying her son around. Otherwise she was fine. Still, she said, she was planning to slow down for London.
He did not.
She landed in a corral with the men of the sub-elite, caught in the wave of their speed, lost track of her division and crossed the halfway mark in 75 minutes. Oh, is that so.
He told himself it was time to retreat, but little did he know that the door to the Cave of Pain might be just around the corner. His body began to emerge at about the 20-mile mark. Her quads were on fire, and she was barely able to lift her legs. She even started walking in the last mile because she thought she was about to fall. She finished in just over 2:35.
“That last five kilometers was absolutely brutal,” she said on Tuesday.
His legs were beginning to heal, he said, but his right leg was slightly crooked. It was as if she had twisted her right ankle, even though she knew she had not.