A few years ago when I heard that the 2016 Marathon Olympic trials were coming to LA, I knew I had to be there to watch. Little did I know that I’d also get to experience an amazing weekend with my Oiselle teammates and get to meet several of the inspiring runners.
Saturday morning Asia, Natalie and I drove from San Diego to LA (without traffic it only took us about 1.5 hours to get there) and by 10 a.m. were standing among fellow Oiselle teammates, professional athletes and employees on the side of Figueroa Street, anxiously awaiting the start of the race. It was fun to catch up with ladies I’d met before at races, Oiselle meet-ups and 2014 Oiselle Bird Camp as well as meet many women for the first time.
Only three women and three men would secure a spot for themselves at the start line in Brazil this summer, and we knew that Oiselle star athlete Kara Goucher had a good chance at being one of those women. I was also very much rooting for Meb, as he’s a local San Diegan and all around awesome guy.
Normally marathon spectating isn’t exactly easy since most courses don’t pass by the same spot twice, but for the Olympic trials, the runners are subjected to a course that begins with a 2.2 mile loop and then continues onto a 6 mile loop, which they have to run four times. Although the runners were certainly sick of making u-turns in the heat (it was in the high 70s on race day) it meant we got to see Kara and the other 16 Oiselle athletes competing up to 8 times during the race. To say that it was exciting to watch the men and women lead packs come by on their first loop is an understatement. The beginning of a race is almost as exciting as the finish – the athletes running silently in a large pack, each of them still filled with the hope that today is their day.
The energy in the air was electric. The first time that the women passed by, I could barely cheer because I was so focused on trying to look at each of them as they almost literally flew by (the women run in the 5:30 minutes/mile range and men in the 5 minute per mile/range!). I was able to get a couple videos and some photos, but I tried to not spend the entire race staring at the screen on my phone. As the race unfolded, it was obvious that Meb was going to secure himself a spot, but it wasn’t so obvious that Kara wouldn’t. We were basically on the edge of our seat, hoping and wishing, until the very end. As we all know, Kara finished a disappointing fourth, but she also finished with her head high.
That evening we were graciously invited to the Oiselle Team afterparty which was held at the Los Angeles Sporting Club. I have to thank Sally, Lesko and everyone at Oiselle for opening the doors of this party to everyone in Oiselle Volee. They certainly could have made this a closed party just for racers and employees, but they chose to spread the love to us. We were awarded with a delicious dinner, drinks, a photo booth and most importantly, the presence of all 18 women who qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon. There were speeches, including Kara’s speech, which moved pretty much everyone to tears. When we had our turn to meet her and get a photo, she was as friendly as I knew she would be. She’s truly a gracious and special woman. I can’t wait to root for her (virtually this time) as she races for a spot on the 10K Olympic team later this year.
As if we weren’t being spoiled enough, Shalane Flanagan’s celebration party also happened to be taking place at the same location. A fellow Volee runner, Daniela, who we’d been spending time with that night, spotted Shalane (who placed 3rd) and Amy Cragg (who finished 1st) near the bathrooms and asked them for a photo. Meeting three out of the top four fastest marathoners in the world in one night was an honor!
I left LA yesterday morning with more than an autographed poster and photos. I came home with inspiration and excitement for running. Last night I had the most magical run I’ve had in well over a year. There’s a huge hill on the trail that I run near my house and I’ve never run up it without stopping. In fact, I usually just walk it since it’s so steep. But, on Sunday I ran up that hill without stopping and continued on to have one of those runs that makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Thanks for the inspiration ladies!
Did you watch the trials? Who were you rooting for?