Chanman's Blog

The night I won the Internet

There we are on NBC!

There we are on NBC!

I consider myself an active social media user, mostly using Facebook. The majority of my posts are about running (coaching at Sacred Heart Cathedral or running races for Pamakids) or food. When I travel to Olympics and World Championships, I also use social media to “bring my friends” with me to the meet.

The night of Shannon Rowbury’s 1500 Final, I experienced something on social media that I had never experienced before. My smartphone was blowing up with likes, comments, and tags. It was a fun experience – feeling popular and cool and loved. But don’t get me wrong, I would trade all of that for 0.53 seconds off of Shannon’s time.

It's just about Game Time...well, in 3.5 more hours.

It’s just about Game Time…well, in 3.5 more hours.

We arrived at our seats close to four hours before Shannon’s race and two hours before the meet started. There was nothing else to do, really, but be social on social media. I posted a picture of our group holding the Go Shannon banner and said “It’s just about game time.” People living vicariously through us started liking it. Shannon’s former SHC teammate, Michelle, questioned me about my timing, pointing out that it really wasn’t that close to game time….I still had three and a half hours. We bantered a little bit about what I should do to kill some time. She suggested dancing and eating.

A bit later, Jane and David Monti, who were working for NBC came to our seats. They wanted to make sure they knew where Shannon’s mom, Paula, and dad, Gary, were sitting so that the cameraman could find them when Shannon got introduced. I got introduced to Jane and David and they thought it was cool that Shannon’s high school coach was in the stands with her parents. They liked that we all had on the same “Rio makes it a trio” shirts that I had made for everyone. They liked that we had this cool “Go Shannon” banner with good luck wishes for Shannon in English, Chinese, German, Korean, Russian, and Portuguese (representing all the languages of the countries we’ve gone to, to cheer for Shannon). Malinda and I had seats in another section but it became apparent that if we stayed where we were with the Rowburys we would probably get on NBC. I decided to give up our closer seats first to sit with friends and second to become an internet star. The Monti’s took some pictures of us and wrote down some notes about us and checked the exact spelling of our names.

We tied the Go Shannon banner to the railing and some cameramen came by to see what we looked like and to check out the banner. Apparently the banner was a godsend to them because they were having troubles finding parents in the stands. But not us. We had a banner to mark our spot!

We shared with a few people via social media that we were probably going to be on NBC for Shannon’s race. I also texted my mother so she would make sure to look for me. Malinda’s mom happened to text me, so I told her too.

Shortly after, they started playing samba music in the stadium and encouraged the crowd to dance along. Never ones to be shy in these situations, Malinda and I got up and danced in the aisle. Apparently NBC was checking their cameras then because we got a text that they just saw us dancing on their cameras! I sent a message to Michelle that I had now danced so next I was going to eat something. We also talked about what color lipstick I was going to wear for the race. (Shannon wears colored lipstick for her races and at this year’s Olympic Trials I got talked into wearing lipstick for Shannon’s final. Shannon was so happy when she saw me with the lipstick on, that me wearing lipstick for her final is now a new ritual.)

Even with all this excitement and distractions, time was moving slowly. I had to force myself to find things to do. I decided that I would go to the bathroom at 8:00. At 9:00 I planned to eat my sandwich. In between I must have checked my phone every two minutes. Amazingly there were usually a handful of new notifications to look at. I told Malinda that when the men’s 200 semi-finals started (the event before Shannon’s) we would put on our lipstick.

Finally the 200’s started. Out came the lipstick. Malinda put it on herself first and then I puckered up and she began putting the lipstick on me. As she did, I could see out of the corner of my eye, ALL the other men in our group (Pablo, Gary, Alan, and even our driver Leandro) got up and went to get a beer. Not in touch with their feminine side, I guess. Wimps!

Pucker up, it's time for the race.

Pucker up, it’s time for the race.

Of course now that the lipstick was on, that meant pictures. And if you don’t post it to Facebook, it didn’t happen. So up go some pictures of me and the women (Malinda, Paula, Chin, and Christy), puckering up and showing off the lipstick in support of Shannon. That started generating more likes and comments than little ol’ me has ever seen before.

Finally the race was about to begin. We knew the NBC camera was on us now. We cheered wildly when Shannon was introduced. I knew we must have been on the live stream feed because my phone buzzed with a Facebook Messenger message that someone had seen us on TV. I got a text message but didn’t read it. I glanced at my phone and I had ten new notifications since I looked at it last about 30 seconds ago.

Several people have said that I got introduced as Shannon’s father. I think the announcer said, “That’s Shannon’s mother Paula, on the right there applauding and her father with the camera.” In the shot at the moment, I am holding up my phone taking a picture. Shannon’s dad, Gary, is actually in that same shot, hiding behind the bars with a real camera (Nikon strap around his neck) with a large lens. So the announcers may not have erred. But based on a couple of Google searches that found their way to my blog (including “is shannon rowbury half asian american”), I think many people were confused.

But back to the race, it was time to cheer for Shannon. Our whole section caught on as to who we were rooting for and chanted “Shannon! Shannon! Shannon!” on every lap. It all happened so quickly. We were all talking to each other but probably none of us listening to any of us. The nervousness was incredible. I remember Pablo telling everyone that it was okay, when Genzebe Dibaba, Faith Kipyegon, and Laura Muir pulled away, “they’ll come back to them.” With 300 to go, I remember yelling, “It is okay there’s still plenty of time left in the race. She only needs twenty seconds to catch them.” With 200 to go, I remember saying “She’s still got 30 seconds left.” That’s when she really started moving up. It was hard for me to really identify anyone else in the race but I could tell that Jenny Simpson was one place in front of Shannon and they were both moving up with about 150 to go. With 100 to go, I think they were in fourth and fifth but looking like it would only be a matter of time until they passed Sifan Hassan, which they did with about 75 meters to go. Right then I think we all thought Shannon had the bronze. With about 50 meters to go, I had to make a decision – our seats were beyond the finish line and it was going to be hard to see who was ahead of who if the finish was close. Should I keep watching the track or should I turn and look at the big jumbotron screen. I saw others in our group turn to look at the screen so I did, too. With 25 meter to go, all of a sudden it looked like Simpson was matching Shannon’s speed. Shannon wasn’t gaining ground anymore. She was going to be fourth.

After the race, we all felt the same thing. We knew she had given it her all. She was fourth in the world, which is pretty darn amazing. But we knew she was going to be bitterly disappointed.

I knew I needed to post something on social media. You can’t be jabbering all night in anticipation of a race and then just because the race isn’t what you dreamed it would be, not post something. But I needed to say the right thing. A lot of details weren’t necessary. But it needed to be from the heart. Then it came to me. “So close. And oh so proud.” I showed it to Malinda to make sure she thought it was OK, and then I posted it.

It was around that time, that things started getting crazy. The post itself generated a lot of likes, loves, and comments. Then I noticed that people  that

Have to admit I teared up reading this.

Have to admit I teared up reading this.

had seen us on NBC were posting screenshots and even video of us on television. E-mails and texts were flying in. The kids on the SHC team were communicating with me via something called “Schoology.” One thing was clear, we had generated a lot of excitement and interest among our friends and that made me really happy. It was as if all of them were in the stadium with us and it felt great to be with so many friends at that moment.

One thread on Facebook from Jenny H that Christine B commented on made me tear up in the stands – Christine B said that I would probably go to Mars to cheer for Shannon (I would….and like Gary said, I would find space on the banner to write Go Shannon in Martian).

When we got home, the notifications kept coming. One screenshot in particular moved us both. It was our banner. This banner that has traveled everywhere with us and has come to represent cheering for Shannon to us. “After all these years, it made it onto international television tonight for the world to see,” Malinda said.

Our banner's moment of glory on international television.

Our banner’s moment of glory on international television.

Malinda and I responded to a few messages and then finally around 2:30am, she said, this isn’t going to slow down, I think we just need to go to sleep. Of course the next morning I awoke to an all-time record for me, 35 Facebook notifications.

I think Erin K said it best in one of her comments. Andy Chan: you totally WON the internet! Maybe I did. It sure was an unforgettable night. I need to go charge my phone.

Thanks, Erin. #MadeMyDay

Thanks, Erin. #MadeMyDay

San Francisco and Sacred Heart Cathedral, we have a two-time Olympian!

Shannon Rowbury became a two-time Olympian with her second place finish in the 1500 meters on July 1 at the 2012 US Olympic Trials. In 2008, Shannon was the US Olympic Trials champion and went on to place seventh at the Beijing Olympic Games. That seventh place finish is the highest finish by an American woman in the 1500 meters in Olympic history.  This is Shannon’s fourth consecutive national team qualification. In addition to these two Olympic team berths, she was also a member of Team USA for the 2009 and 2011 World Championships. At the 2009 World Championships she earned the bronze medal in the 1500.

The three qualifiers for the London Olympics were Shannon (4:05.11), the number one ranked runner in the world in 2011 Morgan Uceny (4:04.59), and the 2011 World Champion Jenny Simpson (4:05.17). The fact that all the experts were saying that these three were the clear favorites to qualify, didn’t make my race day morning have any less butterflies.

After two laps that were led by Treniere Moser and Brenda Martinez, the big three made their way to the front of the pack. With 500 meters to go there began to be some separation between these three and the chase pack. In reality, the drama of who was going to make the team was gone. The three battled it over the last lap before the final order was settled.

After screaming our heads off from the stands during the race, we hustled down to the fence to give Shannon a hug as she took the traditional Hayward Field victory lap. After the meet we headed to the Wild Duck Café. Tamalpan Mike Fanelli insisted on buying us a pitcher that we drank while watching NBC’s west coast broadcast of the meet (it was almost as exciting watching Shannon qualify for the Olympics this second time). Another highlight was taking a picture with Dave Frank, a coaching friend who used to coach at St. Francis and run for the Aggies. He now coaches in Portland and was the head coach at Cathedral Catholic when one Galen Rupp attended school there. I feel that Dave and I share some common emotions. Then we headed for some coffee and dessert. Finally Shannon finished her Olympic processing so we met up with her, her parents, her boyfriend (Pablo) and others in her core support group to raise a glass of champagne in celebration.

We got back to our hotel room just shortly before midnight. I was still pretty excited and couldn’t pull myself away from the computer to go to sleep. I read every e-mail, text, and Facebook comment. I re-lived the race and conversations with people at the meet. I watched a FloTrack interview where Shannon even gave me a shout out.

When I woke up this morning, I checked to make sure this wasn’t all a dream. Nope, it wasn’t. It all really happened. Shannon Rowbury is now a two-time Olympian! Congratulations!

Interesting Lists

Many of the women who are on the sub-4:05 list ran in the 2009 USA Championships 1500 final

I came upon some lists on that, as a distance running fan, caught my interest. I have copied the lists below and I make no claim to have done the research to create or verify the lists. I take no responsibility if there are inaccuracies. But I read them with interest.

The Seven 1:41s in History:

1:41.11 – Wilson Kipketer – August 24, 1997
1:41.24 – Wilson Kipketer – August 13, 1997
1:41.51 – David Rudisha – July 10, 2010
1:41.73 – Sebastian Coe – June 10, 1981
1:41.73 – Wilson Kipketer – July 7 1997
1:41.77 – Joaquim Cruz  – August 26, 1984
1:41.83 – Wilson Kikpeter – September 1, 1996

Running under 1:42 in the 800 meters is an amazing feat. It had only been done six times in history up until last week when Kenya’s David Rudisha, only twenty-one years old, added his name to the list with a 1:41.51. Sebastian Coe was the first sub-1:42 runner when he set a new world record of 1:41.73 in 1981. Three years later in 1984, Joaquim Cruz became the second runner to ever run under 1:42 for 800 meters. Coe and Cruz would be the exclusive members of this club for twelve years. Finally in September of 1996, Wilson Kipketer became the third person to achieve the feat. Kipketer was not done. Cementing himself as the greatest 800 runner of all-time, Kipketer ran sub-1:42 three times in a seven week period in 1997. First Kipketer tied Coe’s world record of 1:41.73. Then he bettered it with a 1:41.24. Then he set what still stands as the world record, 1:41.11.

Thirteen years would pass before Rudisha became the fourth man to run sub-1:42. Two fellow Kenyans rabitted the race through a 49 second first lap. The first rabbit dropped out at the that point and the second rabbit pushed through until the 500 meter mark. Then it was all Rudisha. You can see tremendous focus in his eyes and great arm pumping action as he fights down the final straightaway all alone (second place was three seconds behind him) to become the second fastest 800 runner in history.

Rudisha father, Daniel Rudisha, is a former runner who won silver at the 1968 Olympics as part of the Kenyan 4×400 meter relay team. Unfortunately, the son has not yet been able to match his father’s medal, he failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics and failed to make the 800 final at the 2009 World Championships. But his young age and solid progression in the 800 meters (2006-1:46.3; 2007-1:44.15; 2008-1:43.72; 2009-1:42.01; 2010-1:41.51) suggests that he may be on the cusp of breaking Kipketer’s world record. Be sure to keep an eye out for his name, and if he’s racing at 800 meters you may want to check out the race because it could be a world record!

USA Women’s Sub-4:05 1500’s (through 7/10/10):

Mary Slaney, 34
Suzy Favor Hamilton, 24
Regina Jacobs, 21
Christin Wurth-Thomas, 11
Shannon Rowbury, 11
PattiSue Plumer, 7
Ruth Wysocki, 5
Diana Richburg, 4
Anna Willard Pierce, 3
Morgan Uceny, 3
Jenny Barringer, 2
Nicole Teter, 2
Sarah Schwald, 2
Treniere Clement Moser, 2
Cindy Bremser, 1
Claudette Groenendaal, 1
Darlene Beckford, 1
Erin Donohue, 1
Janice Merrill, 1
Kim Gallagher, 1
Linda Sheskey, 1
Marla Runyan, 1
Sue Addison, 1

–          140 total sub-4:05 performances; 33 by current athletes (24%)

–          23 different USA women have run sub-4:05; 7 current athletes (30%)

I am not sure what to make of this list. It’s an interesting way to look at some of the top 1500 meter women of all-time. But keep in mind that there are many ways to consider how “good” a runner is. Here is a look at finishing place at World Championships and Olympics.

US Women 1500 meters top 8 finishes at World Championships and Olympics

Mary Decker Slaney – 1st (1983 WC), 8th (1988 Oly)

Regina Jacobs – 2nd (1997 WC), 2nd (1999 WC)

Shannon Rowbury – 3rd (2009 WC), 7th (2008 Oly)

Christin Wurth-Thomas – 5th (2009 WC)

Anna Willard Pierce – 6th (2009 WC)

Ruth Wysocki – 7th (1995 WC), 8th (1984 Oly)

Diana Richburg – 7th (1987 WC)

Marla Runyan – 8th (2000 Oly)

Should Suzy Favor Hamilton be considered the #2 1500 runner in US history? She ran sub-4:05 24 times (#2 on the list above) and her PR of 3:57.40 is the second fastest of all-time (see list below). But she never placed in the top eight at a World Championships or Olympics.

Another way to compare athletes is to look at their PR:

US Women 1500 meters all-time

1. Mary Slaney, 3:57.12 – 07/26/83

2, Suzy Favor Hamilton, 3:57.40 – 07/28/00

3. Anna Willard, 3:59.38 – 08/28/09

4. Jenny Barringer, 3:59.90 – 06/07/09

5. Christin Wurth-Thomas, 3:59.98 – 07/10/09

6. Ruth Wysocki, 4:00.18 – 06/24/84

7. Shannon Rowbury, 4:00.33 – 07/18/08

8. Regina Jacobs, 4:00.35 – 08/29/99

9. Diana Richburg, 4:01.79 – 09/05/87

10. Morgan Uceny, 4:02.34 – 07/08/10

It’s worth noting that five of the top ten US runners of all-time are currently active. Also, Treniere Clement Moser (4:03.32 in 2006) and Erin Donohue (4:03.91 in 2010) are currently competing, too. The US currently has seven sub-4:05 runners.

The sub-4:05 list is about how often a runner was able to run a quality mark than about how good that quality mark was. For example, where should PattieSue Plumer rank when one considers the best 1500 meter runners in US history? She did break 4:05 seven times. But her PR of 4:03.42 does not rank among the ten best in US history. Perhaps someone has a large number of sub-4:05’s because they liked to race a lot or had more race opportunities.

I asked Ruth Wysocki, two top eight championship finishes, #6 US all-time, and five sub-4:05 races, what she thinks of the sub-4:05 list. Ruth told me that she would be interested in seeing what percentage of an individual’s 1500’s were sub-4:05. She pointed out that Mary Slaney probably had a very high percentage of her races sub-4:05 and while Regina Jacobs didn’t race as much as Slaney, when she raced she tended to be ready to go so Jacobs probably had a high percentage of her races at sub-4:05. Ruth, on the other hand, said that she tended to race her way into shape so she had more races that were over 4:05 on the way to her peak performances.

What stands out on the sub-4:05 list to me is how many runners from the same era appear. Slaney, Plumer, Wysocki, Richburg, Bremser, Groenendaal, Gallagher, Sheskey, and Addison were all competing in the 80’s together. And now Wurth-Thomas, Rowbury, Pierce, Uceny, Barringer, Moser, and Donohue all face off against one another. I think it takes one or two individuals to set the bar high and then others strive to reach that level as well.

No matter what list you look at or how you analyze it, we are currently in a special time for the men’s 800 and for the US women’s 1500. Sit back and enjoy the fast running as people run fast times that will require these lists to be re-written.


Posted in Race/Meet Report,Report From the Road by Andy Chan on August 24, 2009
Tags: , ,

Wow! Talk about a memorable day!

I assume most of you already know the good news that Shannon Rowbury won the bronze medal in the women’s 1500 at the IAAF World Championships here in Berlin.  It was a roller coaster of emotions. First there was her fall on Tuesday in the first round when she did not qualify and we had to wait some anxious hours until we got confirmation that she was advanced to the semi-final on appeal. Today there was another fall…but I am getting ahead of myself.

For the first 2 1/2 laps there was a lot of shoving but Shannon looked confident and well positioned. Her strong kick at Friday’s semi-final gave me some great hope for how the final 200 might go. In fact this morning my text message to her was: “The Rowbury kick is there. The competition better watch out. Good luck. Love, Andy, Malinda, and Sherie.” With a lap to go there was still a pretty good size pack but with about 350 meters to go the leaders started to separate and Shannon was in that lead group. I started thinking to myself, maybe this is her day. With 200 to go there were 5 of them battling for the medals. I didn’t see it live but on replay it was pretty clear that Rodriguez from Spain pushed Burka from Ethiopia. Burka fell and Shannon had to dance around/over the fallen runner. With 100 to go it was Rodriguez, Jamal from Bahrain, Dobriskey from Great Britian, and Shannon. Shannon stayed close but crossed the finish line 4th. I was happy for her because it appeared that she ran the race she wanted to run and competed well, battling for a medal right up until the finish line.

Then the replay came up on the scoreboard and we realized that Rodriguez might be DQ’ed. None of the 1500 athletes took the ceremonial victory lap so we knew there was an appeal. I spent the next half hour watching the finish area through binocolars, hoping to see Shannon come running on to the track with a USA flag for a victory lap. Then Shannon’s mom, Paula yelled down to me and gave me a thumbs up. Moments later the German man sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the scoreboard which showed the revised 1500 results with Shannon getting the bronze.

The next hour, waiting for the medal ceremony was weird. I don’t think I
believed it had happened. But all of a sudden there was Shannon on the podium getting her medal. I’ve been told that some combination of me, Malinda, and Sherie were on TV/ waving our Go Shannon banner.

After the medal ceremony I got a text from a friend of Shannon’s congratulating me. That’s when it hit me that this was really happening. I was shaking as I texted back to him. The people in the stands near us had figured out who we were so loudly cheering for and many of them took pictures of us with the banner and smiled or congratulated us. What a feeling to be in the stadium and watch it unfold when Shannon won her first World Championship medal.

It’s 2:37am and we just got back to our apartment. We went to the Hilton to
celebrate with Shannon, her parents, agents and several other close friends. It was pretty special to be there in person with her for this special evening. And I can’t wait to show people the pictures and swag that we got! I like my Bolt Arms…but I love this Team USA jersey!