Sunday, September 07, 2008

Day 689 -- Eugene

I couldn't run out west without stopping in at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. UofO was one of the epicenters of U.S. running in the 60's and 70's, and still holds a lot of influence today. The 2008 U.S. Olympic trials were held at Hayward Field. It's the Lambeau Field of running.

I also thought I'd take the time to run with Steve Prefontaine, one of those runners that made Oregon famous in the early 70's. Pre was a middle distance runner, who finished fourth in the 5000 meters at the 1972 Olympics. He had every chance to win a medal, even gold, in 1976, but tragically, he was killed in a car crash in 1975. I had the opportunity this summer to see the 1997 biopic Prefontaine, directed by Steve James and starring Jared Leto, and also to read the biography Pre, by Tom Jordan. I admire Pre's determination to get the very most out of his body. The quote on the poster, in case you can't read it, is "Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it." He was known for his brashness, but it's clear from both biographies that he was also an introspective kid, with a healthy fear of failure. So he didn't fail very much.

I went running this morning with two brains. One brain, the rational one, was the one that wrote yesterday's post. That brain didn't have anything to prove. It knew that it had been a long week, that I had run well, and also spent a lot of time on my feet. It knew that I was tired, and it had in mind that I'd run 12 or 14 miles and pack it in.

The other brain, the stubborn one, wanted that 20 miles. It thought that six weeks until the marathon is the perfect time to pour it on. Not only will it make me physically stronger, the stubborn brain argued, but it will make me mentally tougher. If I can push through 20 today, as tired as I am, then 26.2 when I'm well rested will be, if not a piece of cake, at least a good possibility. Now, the brain argued, is the time to make another down payment on my marathon.

The stubborn brain won. I ran 20.3 miles, in just under 4 hours. The toughest part was getting started on the last three. At 17 miles, I was back home, taking a drink, and the rational brain was saying, "OK, we can stop now. We've proven we're tough." But the stubborn brain won out, and I kept running. Once I got moving, it actually felt pretty good.

The Hayward Field image was lifted from The Final Sprint, and the Pre image was lifted from, where it is available as a poster.


Kent said...

Nice run! It never fails that a great training can boost one's spirit. Let alone one where you proved how tough you were in the later miles. Good job!

Joe said...

That's awesome. I'm so looking forward to my first 20 mile run. I need to see some of those Pre movies.