Monday, June 26, 2006

Rain over Indy

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Over the weekend I spent some of my hard-earned money on tickets to the national track and field championships, held in Indy this year. It was amazing, despite draining heat and a four-hour rain delay. We didn't get to see Marion Jones (she ran during the week and scratched out of the 200), but we did see dozens of world-class athletes run world bests for this year so far. Highlights for me were the men's and women's steeplechase, the 800, and the 1500. The 5000 and the 10000 were run during the week as well, but I think next year (Indy has the championships next year as well) I may splurge even more and buy the all-session pass so I can go up after work and watch the night races.

One of the weirdest things that happened was running into Coach Haynes and company from Monmouth, Knox's rival college. In track, we cannot hold a candle to Monmouth; they always trounce us. But it is a testament to how small our two schools are that we were able to stop and chat with him for a moment; we recognized him right away and he remembered us from our days at Knox (probably Mark more than me, I would imagine). I was a bit surprised that Coach Pio didn't turn up, but I'll bet 1.) he wants to spend some time with his family before cross season starts and 2.) he doesn't want to leave the track in its developmental stages. Ah yes, the venerable Knox College track is undergoing renovation. Not only is it going to be newly surfaced and expanded (with a steeplechase pit!), it's going to be PURPLE!!!! So cool. I can't wait to go to a meet there.

Another interesting feeling for me was the fact that I've actually run on the same track on which they held the meet. The high school track championships, 1999: I'm an alternate on the 4x800 relay team which makes it to state. The goal was to get there; two of the runners who wanted to concentrate on individual events gave up their places so another alternate and I would have a chance to run. Although I didn't technically earn the chance to run there, I certainly did put the work in. The experience of running at state in cross has always been more valuable to me because I did earn that spot; that team wouldn't have made it without me, the fifth and final scoring runner. I wanted so badly that season to improve enough to get the team to state. I've never been more than a decent midpack type of runner, no matter how much training I put in, but for a brief time there I actually had the chance to really make a difference. And in one of the proudest moments I've ever had, I did make a difference--in the final two meets before semi-state, I set PRs of 18:00 and 17:30 respectively (roughly), helping us qualify for regional and then semi-state, and then at the semi-state meet, I ran 17:02 for 4k, and it was enough. Sometimes I wish I could get back into that kind of mindset for the marathon, because then I know I could qualify for Boston. But motivation has been harder to come by post-college.

Anyway. Speaking of which. Today it stormed from 5:30 until it was nearly dark, and although running in the rain has certainly never been a problem, running with lightning flashing and the possibility of hail is, so I called off my long run again. I really hope the weather tomorrow will be a little more conducive to running. Tomorrow, 10 miles. I wish I'd gotten out of bed early enough on Sunday morning to do it.

I am taking a vacation starting this weekend! I haven't had what I would term a real vacation since high school (I spent my school breaks working). Well, I take that back. I didn't work for a couple of spring breaks while at Knox. But this is PAID. It's only five days including the weekend, but that's okay. It will be wonderful to be able to take that time off and not have to worry about not being able to pay student loans, bills, etc. We're heading up to Minnesota to visit Erik D. and a good time is guaranteed for all.

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