Por Fin… Eugene in Pictures (Part 5)

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Early wake up call on our last full day in Eugene, but it was for a good reason. I met up with some of the Oiselle Elite Team ladies as well as well as my blog friend Morgan (miss @mohosjo) for a long run. We ran about 10.5 miles and time flew by as we chatted about random topics and gossiped. I wish I could run with them every day.

Afterwards Pete and I hit up the famous Voo Doo Doughnuts.

Interesting slogan, eh?

The aftermath. From top left: The Loop, Maple Blazer Blunt, Triple Chocolate Penetration, VooDoo Doll, Chocolate Coconut, Maple Bacon Bar

I had a few bites of each one. I really liked the one with Fruit Loops and the VooDoo Doll, but my favorite was the Maple Bacon Bar. Pete and I felt a little queasy for the afternoon but it was worth it. We showered and headed to the track for the final day of the Olympic Trials.

It was a short day that was also packed with finals.

We ran into Ato Bolden on our way to get lunch.

We were seated in the East Grandstand, with a great view of the javelin final. The field events were more exciting than I had expected. We watched one of the women hit the Olympic A standard and a huge PR on her final throw, and with that she had made the Olympic Team. We also saw Brittany Reese defend her title in the Long Jump after protesting the call by the judges that her jump had been a foul. Lots of drama even before the first race on the track.

Olympic Gold Medalist and (former) World Record holder Dan O’Brien presenting awards to the women’s javelin team.

Women’s 400 meter hurdles final, won by Lashinda Demus (hip number 6). They were moving so fast it was hard to take a photo!

I had to take notes for a Oiselle guest blog post during the women’s 1500 final so I didn’t get to take any pictures, but it was a great final. The men’s 1500 final was exciting too, as I was obviously too enthralled to snap any photos.

The last event was the men’s 200 meter final. Wallace Spearmon, Jr. won and his father, who was seated directly behind us, broke down into tears and wept. Everyone congratulated him on his son’s achievement, and he asked me who else had made the team. He had been so happy for his son that he didn’t even pay attention to whoever finished behind him (and rightly so). I quickly checked Twitter and let him know that Maurice Mitchell and Isiah Young had also made the team. Mr. Spearmon, as well as everyone else, was surprised that Shawn Crawford had not made the team.

Men’s 200 team: Mitchell, Spearmon, and Young

The Trials were over… so what next? Time for some food and then the after party. We met up with my James Madison teammate Claire, a rep for New Balance, at the Wild Duck.

Me with CW at the Wild Duck.

We were hoping to see Juli Benson, another JMU alum, and also the coach of New Balance athlete Jenny Simpson. Unfortunately Juli did not make it out that evening, but we “settled” for meeting the 2011 World Champion at 1500 meters. She was very nice despite having been in drug testing and processing for hours after her race.

Pete and I with Jenny Simpson.

Eventually we made it back for a couple hours of sleep before our early flight back to VA.

Wings out!

Although we were sad to leave, we were happy to see her once we got home!

Bella our “furry daughter” on the way to NY the next day.

Eugene in Pictures (Part 4)

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Somehow I woke up on Saturday morning feeling great. So Pete and I went for a run around 9:30 and met up with TJ, another member of the Oiselle team, for a run on Pre’s trail.

On the bridge to the trail. We tried to get the background in the shot too, but it didn’t work.

We had planned a day to explore, so we hit up the famous Eugene Saturday Market. Lots of hippies and a Jen Rhines sighting. The Saturday Market has been around since May 9, 1970.

A photo of the Eugene Saturday Market in 1970 (source: Eugene Daily News)

Extreme Tie Dye at the Eugene Saturday Market

Afterwards, we decided to take a drive to King Estate Winery (on a very winding road). It was worth it once we got there, but it was also near vomit-inducing. My cousin Shannon and her husband Brian had recommended King Estate for their wine as well as their gourmet food, and we were starving by the time we arrived for a late lunch.

Entertaining ourselves after wine tasting and lunch.

Sour faces.

The winery grounds were gorgeous. Pictures don’t do it justice.

We walked around taking pictures, then eventually drove back to our lovely bed and breakfast (ahem…) where we ran into a lady who was giving away her tickets for tomorrow. Her daughter had just missed the long jump final, and they decided to go home early. We accepted the tickets and ended up giving them to my cousin as a thank you. I felt bad for the girl, but she looked young so hopefully she’ll be back in 2016.

We decided to try out a place called Hot Mamas Wings, however my cousin Shannon had warned us that they are indeed unusually HOT. Pete went with two different flavors, and one of them proved to be lethal.

Turns out that beer does not help cure “fire mouth” but it does get you drunk.

We watched the evening’s track events from our booth and enjoyed the music of Northwest Express.

Northwest Express (source: thenorthwestexpress.com)

I even bought their CD as a souvenir of our experience. I was getting a bit sad as I realized we only had one more day in Eugene, but it was going to be a good one!

(Next up: Voo Doo Doughnuts, the final day on the track, and a late night party at the Wild Duck)

Eugene in Pictures (Part 3) AKA “Dial 1-900-Mix-a-lot”

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Day 3: Pete and I woke up in time to meet some of my Oiselle teammates for a run at 19th and Agate, home to Prince Puckler’s ice cream and the Eugene City Bakery.

Yum.

Double yum. I have been craving the breakfast croissant non stop since we left Eugene.

We ran through town to Pre’s trail, then circled back to the windy road that takes you up to Pre’s Rock. It was just as hilly as I remembered.

Oiselle crew.

The Turners.

Afterwards we hit up the Eugene City Bakery for some breakfast.Then we hurried back to our humble digs to get ready for the track action.

Will Leer’s mustache leading the first semifinal of the men’s 1500.

Start of the women’s steeplechase final!

But the real excitement was about to get started… we ate a quick dinner, then got ready for the Oiselle fashion show and party at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene.

Pose.

Love this! Spring ’13 Origami Tank (from Oiselle facebook page)

Can’t wait to own these styles… Fall ’12 will be out in a few days! (from Oiselle facebook page)

Sally, founder of Oiselle and all-around awesome chick (from Oiselle facebook page).

Olympian Alysia Montano throws down (from Oiselle facebook page).

Meeting Lauren Fleshman, highlight of the evening!

Pete with Hammer!

Sadly I did not get to show Hammer my running man.

Hammer with his son, Booby, who also performed.

What a fun night. I can’t possibly explain what went down, but just know that it was awesome.

(Next up: Recovering, and King Estate Winery)

Eugene in Pictures (Part 2)

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Day two in Eugene began with coffee (of course) and a run on Pre’s Trail.

Pre’s trail: Miles of wood chip trails, hundreds of runners out doing “work”. Can you say paradise?

Pete and I were supposed to meet up with the Oiselle group at 9:30 but we overslept and missed running with them. It was probably a good thing considering I felt like trash, and I was in full-on zombie mode by the time got to Starbucks for breakfast. The food worked it’s magic thankfully, because we didn’t have much time to get ready for the track. Day Five was packed with events, and we had to hurry to meet everyone at the Oiselle house for a short walk to Hayward.

Front porch of the Oiselle HQ house at the Trials!

On our way in, we ran into Mark, my JMU coach’s son who now coaches the Oregon Track Club Elite. We didn’t get to chat long, because he was apparently bringing Andrew Wheating his jersey. I guess he forgot his.

Good to know that even pro runners make the same mistakes as my high school cross country kids.

After a few uneventful qualifying rounds, the real action was about to be ON. THE. TRACK.

Start of the Men’s Steeplechase Final.

The team going to London included some of the favorites, but a few surprises: Evan Jager, Donn Cabral, and Kyle Alcorn.

Two laps to go! Dan Huling, one of the favorites, faded during the last lap and ended up seventh.

The most exciting races of the night were yet to come. I was so engrossed in the actual races that I didn’t get to take many pictures, but here are a few.

Early in the race. Eventual surprise 3rd place finisher Kim Conley of New Balance is leading.

About midway through the women’s 5k final. The top three eventual finsihers are leading here, but Julia Lucas (in fourth on the outside) is getting ready to make her move.

I was mostly focused on cheering for Lauren Fleshman, and in my heart I was rooting for Julia Lucas as well given her struggles over the past few years. So when Julia Lucas made a decisive move for the front I was excited for her.

Lauren Fleshman in the women’s 5k final. “C” for Courage.

It was inspiring to watch Lauren racing, gritting it out on her 10 miles per week of training and showing some serious courage.

The finish of the race came as shock to many. Julia Lucas faded badly down the home stretch and was beat to the line by four one hundreths of a second. Kim Conley had run 15:19.79, just under the Olympic A standard of 15:20.0 and was on her way to London along with Molly Huddle and trials winner Julie Culley.

The women were a tough act to follow, but the finish of the men’s 5k was thrilling to say the least. Galen Rupp broke Steve Prefontaine’s meet record from July 9, 1972 and finally defeated Bernard Lagat in the process. The men’s Olympic 5k team of Rupp, Lagat, and Lopez Lomong will be one of our strongest ever.

I didn’t get to take any pictures of the men’s 5k, mostly because I was so hyped up after the women’s race and also because we had to hurry out to meet my cousin and her husband for dinner.

Cornucopia had amazing burgers and craft beers. Yum. We were starving.

(Next up: Pre’s Rock with my Oiselle teammates, and MC Hammer time…)

Eugene in Pictures (Part 1)

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It’s been two weeks since we returned home from Eugene, and I have lots of photos and stories to share!

We traveled from Norfolk –> Chicago –> Denver with only a few minor disruptions. I had too much to do the evening before we left so I never went to sleep, and the first two flights were too short (and turbulent) to get any sleep. Needless to say I was feeling a bit delirious when we arrived at the Denver airport, and let me just give you a taste of the trippy artwork you will find there.

Google “Denver airport is weird”. You’ll find a lot more like this.

Our last connection was from Denver –> Eugene and as we arrived at our gate I noticed a man that looked extremely familiar. Suddenly it hit me: it was freaking Frank Shorter, the gold medalist in the marathon at the 1972 Olympics (among his many other accomplishments)! I was definitely not prepared for that moment and forgot to ask for a photo, but I did get his autograph on my Believe I Am journal.

Frank Shorter’s autograph on my Believe I Am journal cover! (He spelled my name wrong, but I didn’t mind.)

We actually chatted for a bit in the airport, as well as on the flight. His travel companion seemed more interested in my nails than running, which I thought was pretty ironic. I did get a lot of questions about my nails in Eugene though. I guess the hippies don’t usually bother with manicures.

Sally Hansen “nail polish strips” in “Frock Star”.

We landed in Eugene (still no sleep) and picked up our sweet rental car.

Seriously, this was our car. Pete worked out a sweet deal, as usual (he’s such a swindler).

Eventually we made our way to one of the Oiselle houses and finally got to meet some of the women on the team, including Sally (founder of OIselle) and Kristin (our incredible team manager). Although I was slightly delirious, I think I managed to string together some sensible words. Afterwards we stopped at the Wild Duck, an attempt to stay up late enough so that we wouldn’t have to deal with jet lag. We also noticed a lot of USATF officials drinking up a storm and hoped that they would be sober by tomorrow’s events.

At the Wild Duck. Those martinis were STRONG.

Finally we made out way back to our fancy MO-tel (ok, it wasn’t that bad) and passed out. It was one of the best night’s sleep I have had in awhile. When I awoke the next morning, I had that feeling that you get on Christmas morning when you’re a little kid… SO EXCITED! And at the time I had no idea that we were about to witness one of the most thrilling Olympic Trials races ever.

(Next up: a run on Pre’s Trail, and a historic day at Hayward Field…)

Oiselle Blog: Midnight Pilgrimage

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What a week! Pete and I are back in Virginia for a few hours after almost a week in Eugene, Oregon. I have so much to share with all of you! The Trials were amazing… so much drama, so much excitement, so many activities (Step Brothers reference, if you didn’t catch that!)

I had planned to blog from Eugene at least a few times, but there was so much going on and I didn’t want to miss anything. I promise to give you all lots of details about the action on the track, what went on behind the scenes, and how MC Hammer liked my “running man” dance moves.

For now, here’s the first of two guest articles that I wrote for the Oiselle Blog. I was asked to write about memories connected to a track event, and I chose the 3000 meter steeplechase at the 2001 USATF Championships in Eugene, OR. The second one that I wrote (which isn’t up quite yet) is a recap of the women’s 1500 final. Other Oiselle Team ladies wrote some great articles as well, so check those out when you get a chance: http://www.oiselle.com/blog

Midnight Pilgrimage

It was almost midnight and I was running the streets of Eugene, OR alongside my friend and teammate Cindy. A few steps ahead of us, Jason, another teammate, had just taken a sharp left turn up a steep hill and quickened the pace. I exchanged looks with Cindy, or at least tried to since we were running by moonlight.

“You know, Jason, I just ran a race a few hours ago. And are you sure you know where you’re going?”

I had just finished my final at The USA Track & Field Championships, where I set a new PR of 10:12 in the 3000m steeplechase and finished 10th. What made that race so special was that it was my first USAs, and before that meet my PR was 10:32. I had also set a new PR of 10:18 in my prelim to make the final, which was completely unexpected. Needless to say, my legs were toast.

“We’re almost there, just… you can do it,” he called back.

It had seemed like a fun idea, to make a midnight pilgrimage to Pre’s Rock with my fellow steeplechaser and friend Cindy before we hopped on an early morning flight back to Virginia. But when Jason, a sub-4 minute miler and 2000 Olympic Trials qualifier crashed our party, the fun run took on a new meaning. He hadn’t made the final of the 1500 so he had fresh legs.

Eleven years later, when I look back on it, I’m glad I sucked it up and didn’t complain that night. Those were some of the last memories I have of Jason.

* * * * * * * * * *

When I think about Eugene I remember a few distinct moments. First, the steeplechase and how it saved my running career. I had decided after a year of running at JMU that I wanted to “pursue other interests”. Truthfully, I was not happy with my progress after a year and was one of the slowest women on the team. But some time during my sophomore year, I heard that the NCAA was going to add the steeplechase to the championship meet the next year, 2001. I had run it once in high school, and fell in love with it- being a dancer- turned pentathlete- turned 400 meter hurdler- turned distance runner- makes sense right? That news sparked something in me to want to RUN again. I somehow convinced my coaches to let me back on the team, but my Junior year was rocky. I was putting in the hard work, but not seeing the results in my races. Things started to come together in time for outdoor season of 2001, so I set my sights on the NCAA automatic qualifying time of 10:20 and slowly chipped away at it. By the end of the season, I came close but didn’t make the time, and missed a provisional entry by a few seconds. Then my coach told me about USAs, and that’s how Cindy and I wound up at USAs amongst much more accomplished athletes. I was disappointed because I desperately wanted to be there for the beginning of something, to say I had competed in the first women’s steeplechase at NCAAs. But I “settled” for a trip to Eugene and an opportunity to race at historic Hayward Field.

The second thing I remember about Eugene is just being completely star struck. Cindy and I were in the athlete warm up area, pretending to videotape ourselves while we “secretly” videotaped Regina Jacobs and Suzy Favor-Hamilton… and Marion Jones. This was a year before the Balco scandal, so Marion was sill competing. I remember how big she looked in person, and how powerfully she exploded out of the starting blocks. I watched one of her starts and how she kept her head down for what seemed like forever until, well, until she literally ran over a girl who had just stepped out of the Port-a-John. This girl happened to be in the steeple final with me, and she was one of the favorites. She recovered in time to run, but she had definitely been injured. I was happy to escape that fate.

And the third thing I remember vividly is that night we ran to Pre’s rock. Although it wasn’t the last time I would see him, it was my fondest memory of Jason. He was so excited about leading us on that adventure in the dark, and so excited to be running through the streets of Eugene.

* * * * * * * * * *

On New Years Day of 2011, I woke up with a bad feeling. I quickly checked my messages, and got the sad news: a plane crash that I had heard of from one of my grad school friends turned out to be the private plane Jason was piloting, and he had died. It was a freak accident, and a complete shock to his family, friends, and everyone who knew him. At Jason’s memorial a few days later we exchanged stories and grieved. Someone mentioned that a few days before the crash he had just been talking about getting back into running again. It made me mad that he didn’t get that chance. In fact, it sucked. I had those same thoughts and kept putting it off. I suddenly realized that I didn’t want that for myself. So I started running again, because I was tired of wasting my talent. Luckily I found Team Oiselle a few months later, which turned out to be a perfect for someone like me. Being a part of a team of such amazing women helped me realize that just because I’m not considered elite anymore, well, that’s no reason to quit running altogether!

I’m happy to be going back to Eugene as a spectator for the Olympic Trials this year because it holds so many good memories for me. In 2001 it sparked my confidence and I ended up having my best year, culminating in 3 All-American awards and a 4th place finish at NCAAs and USAs in 2002. My school record of 9:56.07 still stands. Not bad for a walk-on who quit for a year. I’m most excited to be a part of Team Oiselle this time around, and to cheer on a new generation of fast, strong women steeplers. Three of our team members qualified for the trials, and Jamie Cheever made the final of the women’s steeplechase. I hope Hayward Field works its magic for you, Jamie, and everyone else competing at the Trials.

* * * * * * * * * *

I’m sitting here now at the Denver Airport, waiting for our connecting flight to Eugene. I’m laughing because I’ve got my boarding pass in the pocket of my sweater, and that’s because of a prank Jason played on us on our way to Eugene. I asked him to watch my stuff while I went to the bathroom, and he hid my boarding pass. He let me Type-A freak out for what felt like an hour (maybe 5 minutes) looking for it, before he admitted the truth. Lesson learned, I always keep my boarding pass in my pocket. Thanks, Jason.

Sunday morning bizness.

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Me and my sister Steph after the MHRM. She just ran a 2 minute 5k PR last weekend (21:38) and is racing again today!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a post, but school’s out and things are really heating up around here. We’ll soon have a guest post from my sister Steph about her recent PRs in the 5k and half marathon (incredible considering she just had baby Mia in September). The picture above is from the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon that I ran in October (3rd place, 3:05 in my marathon debut). Steph was only 4 weeks post-baby at that race and wasn’t even allowed to run yet. Soon after that we started Piece of Cake Running and she started training with me as her coach. Steph and my brother-in-law Brandon will be running this year’s edition of the MHRM and I’m excited to be there cheering them on.

No marathons for me this year. I’ll be on the track this summer, training for the Strider Mile in mid-August. My goal is to run an outdoor mile PR, but I honestly don’t even know what my mile PR is. We ran the 1500 in high school and college, so my mile PR might be a 5:05 that I ran in a workout once. I ran a 4:52 indoor mile, so I guess that’s technically my fastest mile. My 1500 PR is 4:24 by comparison, but these conversions are all too confusing. I support the “Bring Back the Mile” movement because I get irked by conversions. [I also support the #5krevolution and #burritoforpresident, which are totally unrelated but also very important.]

The real excitement around here is our anticipation of the Olympic Trials! We leave on June 27th and will be there through the final day. I plan on blogging every day to share the experience for those of you that can’t be there. It’s going to be a busy week between the events at Hayward Field, sightseeing with Pete, meeting some of my Oiselle teammates and twitter peeps for runs, and attending the Oiselle Totally Trials party on June 29th DJed by none other than MC Hammer. I’ve been practicing my dance moves 24-7 in preparation. Running man? Check. Typewriter? Check.

The party also includes the Oiselle fashion show. Sally keeps teasing us with photos of the new apparel on clothing racks, tagged and ready to go. We’re all drooling over the new line, and can’t wait to get our hands on it. Especially that striped shirt with thumb holes…

Miles and Trials

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The Olympic Trials for the Marathon are only two days away and excitement is building. I think I can honestly say that I hope four years from now I will be participating in that race. I never thought in a million years that I would ever have that desire… but after my marathon in October, I really felt like I enjoyed the race distance.

Will I ever be a 100 mile per week marathoner? Hell no. My previous marathon mileage averaged to be about 45-50 miles (I had a few weeks in the 60s but my bout with anemia quickly forced my mileage into the 40s for the last 8 weeks). This time around, I am consistently running 60-65 miles per week. I thought I would be able to handle 70-80, but my work schedule has left me exhausted. I also had a hard time with the morning runs I had planned. I scrapped the morning runs in favor of quality training once per day. At first I felt a little pathetic, but now I know I made the right choice. My tempo runs and speed workouts have been going really well. I have an indoor 5k planned for next Friday, and I hope to run in the 17s finally!

I feel like I’m being pulled in a lot of directions lately, and I know I’m not getting enough sleep– my usual problem, since I have to be ready to leave my house at 6:30am and I am not a morning person at all. So I’m really going to make a conscious decision to get to bed by 9:30 and be asleep by 10:00. No more staying up to watch The Bachelor (hold me to this, please!)!

So far I have a week and half of living the gluten-free lifestyle down, and it has made a huge difference in my general health as well as my training. I will be sharing some of my favorite new recipes and products later this week. Yum!

Getting back to the Marathon Trials, good luck to everyone participating, especially my two teammates from Oiselle Racing, my former JMU teammate (Brett), and my former teammate from the Nike Farm Team (Heather). May your hopes and dreams come true, and may you move swiftly through the streets of Houston!