Track Town USA

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Visiting Oregon has exceeded my expectations on every level.  I left Bend, Oregon early yesterday morning and drove through the mountains to Eugene.  I was so taken by the beauty of the area that my I failed to closely monitor by speed.  An Oregon State Trooper stopped me and indicated she clocked me at 74 m.p.h. in a 55.  When she took my license and registration she said, “I wouldn’t have to write this ticket if you were going just a little slower!”  So I waited for nearly 25 minutes for her to write the ticket and regretted not watching my speed.  She finally returned and asked me where I was heading.  After I indicated the University of Oregon in Eugene she said, “I’m just going to give you a verbal warning today.  But the speed limit between here and Eugene is 55 m.p.h.!”

I drove the remaining 80 miles to Eugene at a pedestrian 55 m.p.h. and had little old ladies passing  in blind turns like they were driving the autobahn in Germany.  Oh well, this pace just provided more time to enjoy Oregon’s beauty.  When I finally arrived in Eugene, commonly referred to as Track Town USA, I immediately felt at home.  This was the first time in 54 years that I was happy my parents gave me the middle name Eugene.  I felt like I was destined to be a runner.

Eugene is all about running. I visited the Eugene Running Company and the owner engaged me in conversation.  We soon realized that we were within two years of one another and shared the same marathon PR of 2:33.  His store is steeped in history and he shared stories, pictures and letters that brought be back to the beginning of my running career years ago.  That was a time when you had to break 2:50 in the marathon to qualify for Boston…and we did!  It’s interesting, whatever the Boston Qualifying standard is, runners tend to gravitate to that exact time without expectations of exceed it.

He had a picture of Joan Benoit Samuelson running the 1979 Boston Marathon and I mentioned that she passed me on Heartbreak Hill and went on to win in an American Record of 2:35.  I finished a pedestrian 2:48 in my first Boston Marathon.  I left their feeling so connected to my past and enthusiastic about my history and connection to running.  I then drove to Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon and the host facility of the 2012 Olympic Track & Field Trials…this is sacred ground.   The University of Oregon track team was finishing a series of 200 meter repeats as I entered.  I was the only other person in the stadium and took a seat up high in the stands to savor the moment.

It just seemed magical when I noticed a beautiful rainbow in the hills behind the stands.  It was as though my mom was reaching out to me saying…”Now you know why we named you Eugene!”

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