The eighth day of the U.S. Olympic Trials was amazing. Ending with an American best in the pole vault. Watching Bernard Lagat’s son, cavorting with his mother at the back of the interview tent. Getting a few minutes with Bernard to congratulate him. Listening to Lopez Lomong speak about the Sudan, and what he has gone through, made this grown man tear up. Thanking Jenn Stuczynski for clearing the 4.60m ( she is on our Coaching Athletics cover). I did not want it to end….
The men’s 1,500 meters got to me. I wondered why the guys, the six who did not have the standard, did not get together and put together a fast pace? That would have made the battle for third a bit more open.
It is my belief that we are sending one of the best balanced teams we have ever sent. We have chances for medals in the womens’ 5k, 10k, and 1,500 meters. On the guys side, I think the men’s 800 meters could be a litmus test-I think Symmonds and Wheating have the moves to get through rounds and run well in the final. Lagat is going to be tough to beat at 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. My thoughts on the marathon-Kastor has the wheels and vet part covered, Beijing will be her kind of race, hot, tactical, a big emotional move needed with 10k to go. Ryan Hall is the second coming. He is Bill Rodgers with higher VO2 max.
I can see a men’s sweep in the shot, 200 meters and Walter Dix and Tyson Gay will be tough over 100 meters. On the women’s sprint side, Felix and Lee could go 1,2 in 200 meters.
One of the events will be the women’s pole vault. The most dominant athlete, in either men or women’s track & field, in my mind is Yelena Isinbayeva. Isinbayeva and Jenn Stuzcynski will be fascinating to watch.
I know I have left out other races and events. I went over the Villard Pub about midnight, trying to figure out how I would get to Portland on Monday for some meetings at Nike. I got to the pub and saw a tired Peanut Harms, provacateur of the evening rituals on Villard Street through the Trials. Noticing a laughing Alan Webb in the premises, and many athletes and coaches remenicing, I felt again that it had been a great time and good ten days…
The evening was cool and windy as I headed back to the Living Learning Center South room 317 to pack. I came back with a few more t shirts and my scribbles. Packing is always a bittersweet time, but I was going to take the train from Eugene to Portland, so I grabbed two hours of sleep and up at 3.30 am for the taxi and the beginning of a long trip home.
Pulling my large bag, back pack and computer bags over to Muchos Gracias,a 24 hour Mexican restaurant ( great verde sauce and fish tacos!), where I found my taxi to the train station.
The two and half hour trip was uneventful. I slept in the upright seat so no one had to hear the snoring, but I remember waking up as the sun rose, over a beautiful field of half cleared and piled hay. As the train picked up speed, I noticed a father with his young son sitting in front of me, travelling to Seattle. The trip for this six or seven year old was magical, like all trips should be….
The day in Beaverton was spent looking at shoes with our shoe editor, Cregg Weinmann, chatting with the cast of characters who make up Nike running footwear and then, it was off to the PDX airport. Cregg was concerned about my ability to keep awake until the flight, but I did it. A bowl of miso soup, a nice walk around the airport and I was off.
After two flights, Portland to Denver and Denver to Madison, Adam met me with his newly shorn mohawk hair cut and off we were to home. Adam and I talked about our weeks and small pleasantries were exchanged. By the time I reached home ( about two in the morning), my sand bags were piled in the road outside the house, and
the cool wind had put a bit of a chill on the night….
After clearing out the mail box, catching up with my new favorite Showtime show, I was off to bed. Fan on high, and the breeze catching the trees on Clarence Street, whispering a song, I could barely hear, as I try to fall fast asleep.
” Read me the letter baby, and don not leave out a word, stories and cigarettes ruin lives of lesser girls, ….and its’ a strange condition……”
It is a song by Pete Yorn, the song is Strange Condition, and it was one of the songs that Adam and I would play over and over again for hours, in the tough days, when we were driving hours each day, to school, back from school, to the office, trying to get our lives together. Pete Yorn puts me back seven years, good and bad, happy and sad, trying to survive until the next minute…
Life has changed. We have sand bags in front of our little house on Clarence Street.Now, Adam, mohawk and all, and his lovely, Samantha, pick me up and take me home from my trips. I watch the young man he has grown in to, the combination of tough, gentle and thoughtful. We had spoken about the 1992 Olympic Trials, when he had spent the Trials drawing on yellow tablets, eating Dove bars, visiting zoos and parks with his mother and my sister.
I now find myself asking Adam for advice. It is at those times that I can see the kid I use to tell that he was a Martian baby, and notice that he has grown up, in heart and soul, and with the abilty to love and learn, that makes one wonder where the years and months and days and hours have gone…
As I finally drift off to sleep, I remember with relief that Christian Cantwell can now go back on the cover of Mo Runner and Triathlete as he made the Olympic Team. Four years can change alot…..
Sleep comes, deservedly….