I absolutely love track and field. I love the stories, and the back-stories. The up and down cycles. The team dynamics. The art and science of coaching. And I love watching meets. So any time I get to attend a meet where Oiselle's elites are running, that is just super bonus time for me.
Friday I was giddy to fly down to Payton Jordan. Fleshman would be there coaching, and Mel Lawrence, Alexina Wilson, Dom Jackson, Alisha Brown, and Sasha Gollish were racing. And the 5k and 10k were stacked with so many great runners.
"Steeple races are funny. There is a huge difference between a regular season opener and a steeple opener. Even if you’ve already raced earlier in the season, you need at least one steeple to get your legs underneath you and remember all the feelings and motions. I still have a lot to work to do and this race laid down a solid foundation for this season." - Mel
"Immediately after the race I felt disappointed. I went into the race truly believing that I was going to come away with a PR/USA's standard and I was 2 seconds off… it was frustrating. After I had some time to process, I realized a lot of positive things came from the race. I gained a ton of confidence in my water jumps, which was something that had been racking my brain this past year." - Alexina
"When the gun went off I knew that this was going to be a great fight out on the track. Fierce competitors, a rabbit going through quickly, and my mind was so ready to go. But at about 400m to go, period cramps hit an all time high. It was like my uterus clenched up, grabbed my hamstrings and hip flexors in the process. But, I never gave up. At no time did I think ‘this isn’t going my way I’m going to step off the track'. I am thankful that I have this opportunity to travel to some amazing places, see amazing friends and meet new ones too." - Sasha
And it was a great meet. Not one of our elites felt super pumped about her race, but in the context of their training and lives, the day was a win. And every competition is opportunity to learn and improve.
But, at the end of the evening, I also felt a little concerned for our beloved sport. The (small) crowd energy felt pretty flat, even though Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Centrowitz raced and signed autographs like a champ. The live event announcing didn't do justice to the athletes racing. Gabe Grunewald, who had just announced a recurrence of her cancer with this beautiful and heartbreaking piece of writing, didn't get highlighted during her race, or a live interview track-side. There was no human interest factor... the back-stories weren't part of the evening.
Photos by: Heather McWhirter
I'm guessing that the Flotrack commentating for at-home viewers was more on point, but if we can't get an in-person packed stadium and crazy-hyped crowd for our own Olympic Gold Medalist, what does that tell us about our sport? I'm hopeful (but not overly optimistic) that the Tracktown Summer Series will be a good shot in the arm. We'll keep doing our part to support the women and loud-cheer them wherever they fly!
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