With a less than a week away from the Men’s Marathon in the 2012 London Olympics, Marathoner Ryan Hall took the time to answer our questions about his Olympic moments. Get a glimpse into the life of the American Half Marathon and Olympic Trials record holder:
1) Tell us about your first “Holy sh*t, I’m an Olympian!” moment, in regards to the 2012 Games.
We were lucky to get our qualify out of the way back in January so I’ve had a long time to soak in the fact that I’ll be returning to the Olympics. I don’t think it hit me that I was going to qualify for the London Olympics till I came down the final 100 meters to the finish line in Houston. In the marathon anything can happen so I was just trying not to pass out and to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I think it was the longest last mile of my life.
2) During the Trials or Games, what was your most challenging moment to get through?
I was having some stomach problems in the race because I was taking Aleve to take the edge off some foot problems I had been battling with leading up to the Trials. As a result of the stomach problems I wasn’t able to take in my usual calories or fluids which lead to an out of body experience around mile 23. The last 3 miles of a marathon is always hard but this was like I was outside of my body watching as my body was trying to tell me it was out of energy and strength. I was in second at the time but I wasn’t sure I was even going to make it to the finish line let alone finish in the top 3 and earn my spot on the Olympic Team. I prayed for strength and thought of my wife waiting for me at the finish line and somehow, by the grace of God, I made it.
3) During the Trials or Games, what was your most personally satisfying moment?
I think one of my biggest assets as a marathon runner is I am not afraid to lose, which frees me up and take risks that others aren’t willing to take. I went out really fast at the Trials and made it a true marathon race which I find to be personally satisfying as both an athlete and a spectator. I always get frustrated when I am watching or participating in championship style races and no one wants to take the lead early on in the race (because it is theoretically harder to lead than follow). I want to know who is the fastest over a full marathon not who can jog the first half of the race and then race the last half marathon.
4.) During the Trials or Games, what is a funny, embarrassing, or random moment that you can share with us?
I was really relaxed before the race but as a result I wasn’t paying as close of attention as I should have as the race was getting ready to start. Just minutes before the start I was visiting the facilities and when I came out I looked down towards the starting line and saw everyone already lined up and ready to start. I sprinted down to the start and luckily made it only moments before the gun went off.
5) Tell us about your favorite moment from meeting another athlete/celebrity?
I remember walking out of the closing ceremonies next to Yao Ming. I was just like everyone else, perplexed by how huge he was. I felt kind of sorry for him because he stuck out so much as was getting mobbed by fans. I can’t imagine what his day to day life must look like.
Cheer for Ryan and other Olympic marathoners this Sunday and visit TheStepsFoundation.org to find out how he and his wife, Sara, are trying to fight poverty through better health.