As Dan O'Brien jogged, his bid for a world record in the decathlon slipped away.
When O'Brien stepped to the starting line of the final event, the 1,500 meters, a new world's mark was a strong possibility. But halfway through the first of four laps, O'Brien had settled into a recreational jogger's pace."I was just out of juice," O'Brien said.
O'Brien straggled in nearly a minute behind the field he had dominated through two days and nine events, disappointing himself, his coaches and the crowd at the USA-Mobil Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
He needed to run the 1,500 meters in 4 minutes, 44.29 seconds or less to better his own world mark, a time he has managed several times. But not Wednesday, after two days of competition in hot, muggy weather.
"I was pretty pleased with everything except for the effort at the very end," he said. "Stepping up to the line I said I'm going to give it a good shot here, but as soon as we left the line it was just too fast."
After a lap it was clear O'Brien would not set the record, and he said his goal at that point became just to finish.
"I think what happened to me is I looked at two more chances in the summer, and maybe just let this one slide a little bit," he said. "But I'm definitely not in any kind of physical condition to run anything faster than 4:50 or five minutes at this point."
O'Brien said he hopes to break the world record - and reach his goal of 9,000 points - at either the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, or back at the site where he set his world record, Talence, France, later this summer.
"If there's anything I do before the end of the summer, it's get in good 1,500 meter shape to be able to give an effort there at the end," he said.
O'Brien finished with 8,707 points. Even with his 1,500 meter time of 5 minutes, 16 seconds - the worst 1,500 meters he's run since 1982, when he was in high school, O'Brien won the decathlon, totaling 8,707 points.