Saturday, July 9, 2016

Olympic Trials - Day 6

Here comes the rain...

but more on that later.

This morning: a group run hosted by House of Run, a runner geek podcast like no other. The hosts, Kevin and Jason, know everything about modern-day track and field, and a whole lot about Prefontaine, too. They both traveled from all ends of the globe to broadcast from the Trials, and each morning hosted a group run from Autzen Stadium.

I was expecting 3-4 easy miles. Nope: 6 miles, including a climb to the top of Skinner's Butte. Even with the climb, the run went quickly, as we pretty much talked track the whole way.

We returned to our starting point at 9:15; with the dorm's dining room ending breakfast at 9:30, i had to hustle back across the river if I wanted to eat. And i definitely did.

Hustling over the Willamette Footbridge, I see the guy from UO who placed 7th in the decathlon; i slap him five and say, "nice job, Matt." Feeling pretty good about myself, until i realize he didn't respond. And then i realize why: Decathlete Mitch Modin evidently doesn't like when people rename him. In my defense, UO has two athletes from my town with the initials MM (Matt Maton). Regardless, breakfast was excellent.

Another opera-like National Anthem. Sigh.

Men's hurdles: I don't recognize Jason Richardson, because he's gotten rid of those awesome dreadlocks. Somehow he looks a lot smaller without them.

Bowerman balcony sighting: Pat Tyson, Prefontaine's post-collegiate roommate.

During a short break in the hurdles, I noticed Gold Medalist Fred Newhouse standing next to Gold Medalist Herman Frazier. Yes, old friends, going back to at least 1976 and the Montreal Games, where they won the 4 x 400m relay. I walk over to the fence, gesturing to Fred, who is also the meet referee. Obviously, I have a technical question about event execution for him.

Me: "Which relay legs did you two run?"
Him: "Herm led off, and I ran third."
Me: "Thanks."

I love track!

The weather quickly turned into this..., biblical proportions. Our raingear held up fairly well, but my 'weatherproof' clipboard sprung a leak. Warranty?

The NBC cameras near the finish line have these colorful NBC stickers on them. Since those are my initials...

Me: "Hey, do you have any more of those stickers?"
Cameraman: "Do you have ten bucks?"

BOOM! I think he reads my blog. That's that first time I was on the receiving end of that exchange: usually, I'm giving it to someone else.

I love track.

LaShawn Merritt, attempting the Michael Johnson 200/400 double, runs the entire homestretch while looking at the jumbotron! Not for vanity's sake (well, maybe a little), but he didn't want to go any faster than needed, and that's the only good way to see the field behind him.

High Schooler Noah Wyles has that annoying cameraman in his grill when the set command is given. The camera doesn't budge, so Noah waves him off with a 'get the heck outta here' gesture, and the crowd enjoys it very much. He and another high schooler make the 200 final.

Shamir Little has been our best intermediate hurdler for 3 years or so. Just recently, she decided to turn pro. Unfortunate timing: college athletes have a very, VERY long season, what with fall workouts, indoor track, outdoor track. Very little time off, and it has shown in the Trials, because most every collegian has underperformed. Shamir is no exception: top 4 in her semifinal advance, and she's an unfamiliar 5th. When she realizes what happened, she screams in frustration. If she had gone pro, i kinda wish she would have done it months ago and taken a break before peaking. Instead, she ran the Olympic Trials on tired legs.

The men's steeplechase team were on their victory lap when we held them on the backstretch while the 200m heats finished. After the last heat, I turn to 2x Olympian, Princeton grad, (and Clinton resident) Donn Cabral and say, "Good to have another Jersey boy out here." He gives me a knowing nod and slaps five, a true brethren who knows the peril of driving Route 78 in rush hour.

I love track!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

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