I'm writing this blog for a bunch of reasons. Celebrating my return to road racing, my entrance into triathlons, my mastery of flip turns in the pool (!), my pursuit of perfect cross country skiing form....I could go on and on.
Mostly, I'm ecstatic to be returning to the sport that captured my attention from the age of 8. Namely, track and field.
When I was a kid, I read everything I could find related to the Olympics. For about 10 years, there was little about that little track meet that I didn't know.
- Al Oerter and four discus golds, including one with torn ribcage cartilage? Check
- Mal Whitfield winning two golds in the 800m, both in identical times? Check
- Coe and Ovett each winning in the 'wrong' events? Check
- Emil Zatopek and his murderous last sprint in the Helsinki 5000? Czech
Then college intervened. Life at a service academy and surviving on the margins didn't leave much time for outside pursuits. Then it was civilian life and a couple of lumbar surgeries that pretty much nixed any idea of impact sports.
Along the way, my wife and I decided to relocate from the East Coast to Central Oregon. Something about life being too short to wait for the right time. And not a month after settling in, while walking on the bike paths, I threw caution into the wind and took my first running steps in 18 years.
Every muscle in my body hurt. Except the ones in my lower back. Hmmm, we might be onto something here.
Long story short; I hustled back into the only game I cared about. Too fast, it seemed; soon I became a breeding ground for a number of orthopedic maladies. Thankfully, none of them were permanent or lumbar-specific.
Sounds stupid of me, I know. But anyone smitten by this sport knows how addictive it can be. A friend began telling me his triathlon adventures, so I went down that path as well.
And being such a long time track fan, even with a 30 year sabbatical, I quickly picked up where I left off. Looking 120 miles west over the Cascade Mountains, I could see my Holy Grail, in the form of a little 400 meter oval named Hayward Field.
This is where I wanted to run since childhood. All these years later, I did the next best thing; became a track and field official. Thought it would be difficult, with visions of too much spectating and not enough officiating. It's really the best of both worlds, and by far the best seat in the house.
So now I run, swim, bike, ski, and watch the world's best runners from the front row.
Life is good.