One of the great highlights of living in TrackTown USA, Eugene, Oregon is Hayward Field. This historic track is home to so many of the greats and it is a real honor to have the opportunity to run on a track where legends were made.
As a masters runner, this rare chance arrives every summer at the Oregon Track Club’s AllComers’ Meets. These track races are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays for many weeks of the summer months and, as a lover of track and field, I’m one of the lucky people who get to sweat it out on Hayward Field with the hopes that osmosis will work its magic and I will garner some of the legacy of this amazing place.
Alas, this year that didn’t quite happen, as Hayward Field is being renovated for the upcoming 2021 IAAF World Championships! Having to get my track on in a less legendary place did not deter me, however, from persevering and racing — after all, I ain’t gettin’ any younger!
2017 AllComers Race #1
Firstly, it must be told that this year I’ve been training for a longer distance than I usually do: the 10k. To further complicate my life, my goal 10k race was set for one week after the start of the OTC AllComers. This meant I was to take it easy on the first Thursday meet, so I’d be fresh for my goal race the following Tuesday.
For that first AllComers then, I chose to do the Jogger’s Mile instead of my main event, the 1500m. Now don’t let the title fool you; the Jogger’s Mile is typically not for joggers. But, I did feel a little less pressure, given that the mile is not my main event or focus. I chose the right week to run this Jogger’s Mile, because there were very few competitors in the race and I led the entire way. Woo Hoo! My head could have exploded! This was a spiffy, yet relaxed training run to get my feet wet for the season to come. A lovely start to the short and sweet track season.
2017 AllComers Race #2
The next track race had me toeing the line two weeks later in the 1500m. I’d just tried my spikes for the first time that week and my calves were S.O.R.E. Plus, I’d dropped my computer on my foot just one day prior to the race … but I digress. It was a hot day with only enough competitors to race in one group. This meant that all ages and genders were running it together. It was a hoot — if searing lungs and bronchial spasms are your kind of fun — but my time was not awesome.
2017 AllComers Race #3
I decided to go for it again the following week, this time with improved focus. Plus, I was still getting used to my spikes and my calves were sore at the gun. Never a good sign! This time, there were two heats of the 1500m for those who run sub-five minutes and those who run over 5 minutes — like me! I was happy to be in good company and to not have to chase down the speedy testosterone-filled teenagers.
The gun went off, and off we went. The first lap was a super way too fast 85 — oops. Too late to fix it. I had to keep going. Second lap? 88. Nice. I didn’t slow down too much. From there it is all a blur. I passed this lovely gal in the third lap but she was chasing me down and she inevitably passed me with 250m to go! I couldn’t let that happen.
Prior to this race, I watched the Tour de France and Chris Froome was fighting for his life and covering every attack thrown at him in the mountains. As I was coming around the final bend of the track, I asked myself: if this were the yellow jersey you were fighting to keep, would you let go of it so easily? It was then that I ran with all of my might. One hundred and fifty meters to go, 100m, 50m and then push through the line! I did it (barely) and I ran very close to a PR I’d made two years ago! Not too shabby at all!
2017 AllComers Race #4
I followed the #3 race up the following week with a final 1500m on a very windy day, where I led three laps of the race. I was mentally fatigued as I came into the final 300m. I knew that this giant man was right on my heels throughout and I had a feeling that he’d attack when we hit that final 300m mark. And attack he did. I went after him, hoping to get a bit of draft from his long and lean body but somewhere between 250m and 200m, I lost connection. I tried to bridge the gap, but I ran out of real estate. He got me. My time? A little slower than the week prior, but I was happy enough just the same.
Sure, track racing this year lost a little of its magic — there is no place like Hayward Field! — but it did not lose its draw. I’ll be back again next year. As I move into the final years of my forties, I’ll continue to dream big because I still believe that there is more of me to toe that line.
Do you have a summer racing tradition? Do you love the track?