Experiencing the Olympic Trials

I feel so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to visit Eugene and watch the Olympic Track and Field Trials. In 2008 I recall watching it on tv while at my brother’s house in Washington and thinking I would love to see it in person. After meeting Lauren Fleshman this year and knowing she would be racing at the trials I started planning the trip. In the spring I received an email from Oiselle inviting me to a Totally Trials Track Town party. Lets just say I booked my ticket right away.

I arrived on Thursday June 28 in Portland and quickly drove to Eugene. Kristin from Oiselle called to make sure I made it safely and tell me the meetup plan. I was staying with another Masters runner, Susan Empey, I had briefly met her at the marathon trials in Houston. With a rough map I somehow found my way to our house.

Hayward Field with Susan Empey

Arriving at Hayward Field was surreal. There was 22,000 spectators there to watch the trials that night. Nike had a huge glass wall listing each event and spaces to fill in the athletes name as they made the Olympic Team. Hmm all I need is a black Sharpie and I can jot down Lauren’s name.

I enjoyed watching high jump, steeple chase, hurdles and several other events. The last 2 events would be the women and men 5000 meter final. I was a nervous mother in the stands silently praying for Lauren. It was an exciting evening seeing dreams come true as athletes made the team and heartbreaking to watch years of hard work and dedication not payoff.

Lauren walked out waving to the crowd to many cheers. She really is a hometown favorite up in Eugene. I recruited everyone sitting near me to cheer for Lauren. After the intros the starting pistol banged and the girls were off for 12.5 laps. I was seated just past the finish line so could easily see Lauren. She hung with the pack for 10 laps.

5000 meter Final Lauren hanging in there!

With 2 laps to go the pace increased and Lauren was not able to stay with them but dug in to do her best. The last lap as the rain fell I had tears in my eyes watching her dreams slip away. I could only imagine the emotions she was experiencing and was so proud of her. Another story was unfolding at the finish line that would prove to be heartbreaking.

During the final lap it appeared spot 1 and 2 would be secured by Julie Culley in 15:13 then Molly Huddle 15:14. The final 3rd spot was a true photo finish between Kim Conley and Julia Lucas. Conley needed the A standard and she barely got it. Julia Lucas demonstrated true grit as she pushed her body to the limit missing her spot by .04 second. An amount of time that does not even seem measurable. My heart went out to her, my heart swelled with joy for Kim Conley.

After the race we met up with several Oiselle girls, I am not sure how many were there but I met at least 15 women from around the country that represent Oiselle. The air was buzzing of talk about the big fashion show dance party Oiselle was putting on Friday night. This was the event to be at, unfortunately I would be heading up to Portland to join my family and go to an early Sat am race.

Sally Bergesen sporting her Picky Bar shirt and me in my cool Oiselle hoody!

We met up with Lauren and the Picky Bar crew for some drinks to top off the night. I gave Lauren the cards my kids had made. Katherine drew a track with a women in a superhero cape labeling it “Lauren our Olympic Trials Super Hero”. Josh drew a picture of a lion labeling it “Lauren you have the courage of a lion”.

Post race with Lauren, Meggie, Susan and me.

Friday we had an Oiselle run and several other runners joined us. We ran along the river and up to Pre’s Rock. I was so thrilled to attend the trials and represent Oiselle and meet the other amazing Oiselle women.

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