After working the last 10 days in a row, I was in much need of a break, and it just so happened that I had been given tickets to Oregon Twilight, so as soon as work finished on Friday, I took off for Track Town USA.
I got to Eugene with about an hour to spare, just enough time to find a parking space in a university town, but I did eventually find a spot, and then my seat. I was seated right in the middle of the Old East Grandstands at Hayward Field (which also happens to be the logo for the ’08 Olympic Trials at the same venue) and I had a perfect view of the Track.
I was thoroughly enjoying the events (the Steeplechase is my favorite) and then something perplexing happened. It was the middle of the Women’s 5,000meter race, Tasmin Fanning of Virginia Tech was on her way to setting a school-record time of 15:47.90, and in this city of track lovers, all the camera men were rushing into the SE corner of Hayward field away from the action. I soon heard murmurs from those around me, “Barak Obama’s here!”…. “Barak Obama’s here!” Sure enough, upon the conclusion of the race, Obama entered the arena surrounded by a throng of cameramen, journalists, and secret service agents. Several of those around me rushed down to the track to get a closer look, and Obama continued onto Hayward field, first over to the East Grandstands, where I was, to shake hands, and then across the field over to the West Grandstands again shaking hands, meeting the athletes, and kissing babies. On his way out of the arena, he even “jumped” a hurdle. It was all quite a spectacle for the 5,000+ spectators present (Oregon loves its Track), and worth the 20min delay of all running events.
As exciting as it was to see Obama show up at the track, I don’t know that it equaled the excitement during the men’s 1,500meter. Oregon’s own Andrew Wheating, Sophomore, hung in the middle of the pack for the majority of the race, but with 200meters left, he took off in a seemingly effortless burst of speed and seemed to fly by his competition. The roar that rose from the crowd was deafening, and cheered him to a commanding victory. Wheating’s time, 3:38.60, is not only the sixth fastest on Oregon’s History, but also the fastest time, set by any American, so far this season. What a way to end a meet!
I spent most of Saturday and Sunday with family and not doing a whole lot of running, but come Monday, I was ready to hit the trails.
I got out into the Columbia River Gorge about 7:00am, and was running at about 15 after. I took off down the beautiful Gorge Trail headed out toward Cascade Locks and jumped onto the Pacific Crest Trail, heading south. I have no better way to describe the run than “fragrant.” Wildflowers were blooming, and I didn’t even have to stop to smell them. I also came across quite a few little creatures: snakes and salamanders, and evidences of larger creatures: elk tracks about 5 inches wide and about 7 inches long. Some animals where acting quite comical: a robin pecking at a worm who, every time I got within 10ft, would pick up the worm, run down the trail a little way, and resume pecking at the worm. I took it easy, I was out there more to enjoy the experience than to beat myself to a pulp, and when I got up to about 3,500 ft I got to play in the snow a little bit. I found out that above that elevation, the snow is still a good 4 ft deep, so it’ll be a little while before I can run my entire loop (climbing up to over 4,300ft in elevation) but I did get a good 30 miles in. After I had to turn back, I started to get an intense headache which made running excruciatingly painful, so I did the best thing I knew how: I got some fresh mountain-spring water, found a comfortable rock off the path a little ways, and took a 2hr long nap. I woke feeling refreshed and ready to run.
I spent about 10hrs up there taking pictures, playing in the snow, doing a little running, having lunch, taking a nap, chasing wildlife, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Only a couple weeks till 20th century 100k, and I promise to pick up the pace a little. Ha ha. My goal is to run a Spartathlon qualifier after all.
For all pictures I took during the weekend..... go here
Until next time,