Marathoner Wardian Having Yabba Dabba Doo Time

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Nearman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Michael Wardian was dreaming big when he set out to qualify for the 2004 U.S. Olympic marathon trials. The Arlington resident was a long way from the standard he needed to achieve for the trip to the trials in Birmingham, Ala., on Feb. 7.

But with just 12 seconds to spare, nearly the time it takes to read this paragraph, Wardian succeeded last Sunday in Detroit and chopped off a whopping seven minutes from his marathon best of a year ago.

"That was a big monkey off my back," said Wardian, who placed fourth and won $1,000.

Qualifying certainly didn't come by accident, but an accident certainly contributed to it. Wardian used focused training, as well as a training secret to qualify.

Wardian wanted to attempt to qualify at today's Chicago Marathon, which just announced it is offering $2,500 to any trials qualifier. However, Wardian had a wedding to attend this weekend.

So Wardian shifted his sights to the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 26, but Wardian shifted course again during a training run a couple of weeks ago.

"We were running really early in the morning in Rosslyn at the end of a 10-mile run, just off the Key Bridge crossing the street at the corner, and a guy was trying to turn right from the middle lane," Wardian said. "I went up on the hood of his car. I put my hand on the hood and jumped up on the hood. I didn't roll up on the hood, but it was enough to frighten me."

"When we jogged down the last mile of the run, we said, 'Let's not take any chances and find the next marathon where he can qualify,' " said Chris Farley, one of Wardian's training partners. "I think he made a great decision to run three weeks earlier. He was ready."

Detroit made sense in other ways. Wardian went to school at Michigan State and knew many people in the area. Plus, it was close enough to drive.

In the end, Wardian was indeed ready. His 100-plus miles a week, combined with a perfect two-week taper, propelled him to a strong finish on artificial grass at Ford Field, averaging a 5:25-mile pace for 26.2 miles.

"That was an awesome effort out there," said Farley, owner of Pacers running store in Old Town Alexandria, which includes Wardian on its racing team. "I am really excited for him. I wasn't surprised. He's done the necessary things to take his running to the next level over the past six months. …