Saturday’s U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials, held in Los Angeles, was set to be the first marathon for Aggie grad Ryan Miller, who qualified for the meet with a half-marathon time last month, but his plans were altered mid-week when a stomach pain resulted in his appendix needing to be removed.
Miller planned to use his first marathon as experience for future Olympic Trials endeavors in 2020 and 2024, noting it would have be an honor to run his first marathon in one of the most competitive races held every four years in the United States.
“I’m looking forward to gaining my first experience in a marathon, seeing what it’s like being in that atmosphere amongst those competitors,” noted Miller prior to his appendectomy on Wednesday. “I’m looking to use the experience to build on for 2020 and 2024 since in those years I’ll be 28 and 32, which should allow me to be more competitive.”
Competing in his first half-marathon in September, Miller posted a time of 1:08:17 at the Rock ‘N’ Roll race as he placed 28thoverall. Then he improved to 1:04:35 in placing 19th at January’s Jacksonville race to eclipse the standard of 1:05:00 needed to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
Miller was one of the youngest entrants, at 24 years old, among a record field of 373 qualifiers for the men’s and women’s Olympic Trials Marathon.
When Miller ran his first half-marathon in San Jose he stood next to Meb Keflezighi at the starting line. Keflezighi headlines the men’s Olympic Trials field as he seeks to defend his U.S. title and make a fourth Olympic team. Keflezighi earned a silver medal in the marathon at the 2004 Athens Games and finished fourth in the 2012 London Games.
“In San Jose I was on the starting line next to Meb Keflezighi, who won the Boston marathon, and I went out right behind him,” recalled Miller. “It was kind of surreal racing in a field of elite runners. I was able to see what it takes to be competitive in that type of race and to achieve what I want to achieve in distance running, which was to qualify for the Olympics Trials.”
A realignment of his goals after the 1:08 debut had Miller taking one more shot at the 1:05 Olympic Trials qualifying time before the deadline date in mid-January. He found a race in Jacksonville, Florida, in early January which included another elite field.
“Instead of focusing on the time I went into the race with a competitive mindset,” said Miller, who finished just 10 seconds behind the fourth-place runner. “I raced and that ultimately resulted in me setting a four-minute PR. It showed my true potential and that I was built to run a half-marathon and hopefully a full marathon distance.”
Miller graduated from Texas A&M in May, the same month he qualified for the NCAA West preliminary rounds in the 10,000 meters after finishing seventh in the SEC Championships. While continuing his running career, Miller also works a 50-hour week as a supply chain analyst for Anadarko Petroleum in Houston.
For the first time in the events history, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the marathon will be televised live on NBC. The broadcast will begin on Saturday at noon (CT), featuring simultaneous coverage of the men’s and women’s races. NBC Sports Live Extra will also stream coverage of the Trials online.