I suppose this could really is confluence of two posts - On The Oregon Trail (Part 3) and Half The Man I Used To Be (Part 2.) Seems appropriate that the focus is a place where the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers takes place - the city of Eugene, Oregon.
One of the big bonuses of this new fitness lifestyle has been the chance to travel to far off places and meet newfound friends for races and for just plain good times together. I can't imagine that the original inventors of the Internet ever envisioned social networking as one of the major effects of their creation, especially when you add in websites like youtube, facebook and their cousins.
Cincinnati and Philadelphia had been host cities prior for my destination races in 2007, and Eugene ended up being my first destination race of 2008. The city itself has a great running tradition and is truly a mecca for the run-oriented individual. I didn't do too much touring of the city itself, but it seemed like a place I wouldn't mind living in if I ever moved away from California.
Friends are just simply invaluable. This trip, and for that matter, the past trips to other parts of the country, wouldn't have been half as good as they were if it weren't for the people I got to meet. For this week, these people included Chris, whose hospitality was truly incredible. In my case, he not only gave me and my other friends gathered the royal tour of the University of Oregon facilities (if I ever have a son who has any athletic talent, especially on the football or running front, I'd recommend U of O in a heartbeat based on what I saw) but also allowed me to stay a couple nights in his humble abode with his truly wonderful family.
My 5K effort on an individual scale was a lot better than I had envisioned EVER running, but that wasn't nearly as satisfying as meeting up with another friend Larry, who I had met at the Philadelphia gathering, during his marathon effort to run with him for 10 miles until the end. He had had a spate of injuries leading up to this race, and it was evident it was going to be a tough race because of the lack of training. But Larry persevered to a sub-4-hour effort, and I was glad to have been there to help in some way. The smile on his face after he realized he had broken that sub-4 mark is something I'll always remember.
There were many other people here I had the chance to meet for the first time as well who perhaps I will cross paths with again in the future. And that's perhaps what all this has brought. I don't mean to sound dire, but sitting around as a couch potato isn't exactly a prescription for a prolonged future. Granted, a focus on running and things fitness-oriented isn't a 100% guarantee to a prolonged future. I suppose you can spend your life plopped down on a sofa munching on value meals every single day and outlive quite a few people for whatever rhyme or reason. But I'll take the odds in this case, especially if this means I can make trips around the country to meet up with friends, both old and new.
3 weeks ago