The First Track

The May 1st marathon deadline came crashing down on me last weekend. I don’t know where the time went. But before I tell you about that, I want to tell you a different story.

In the spring of 1993 I went to my first real track meet.

I had joined the West-Linn/Wilsonville Youth Track Club for 5th and 6th graders. I was 11, in 5th grade, and I was beside myself with glee.

I had decided years before, based on the pure joy of elementary school field day races, that I was born to be a sprinter.

If my (slightly egotistical) memory serves, I was a pretty quick little (tiny) kid.

So, when we arrived at the honest-to-goodness rubberized track at Lewis & Clark College, I was all set to run the 50-meter dash, and maybe the 75 and the 100 as well. These were the races I’d been practicing. Oh, and I had already tried out the long jump.

Long jump… was not destined to be my specialty.

Apparently my strategy for maximum jumping distance was “In mid-air, just go limp!”

Or, “Push the air back to propel yourself forward!”

Anyway, I didn’t get the hang of it for several years.

As you may notice in the pictures above, I was not one of the kids decked out in Nike at that age.  I was in my green and white Track Club t-shirt, and a pair of Keds, or something of that sort. Maybe knock-off Keds…

You know how some people grew up hearing the When I was your age, we walked six miles to school! Uphill, in the dark and the snow! And we were happy to have an orange for Christmas! stories?   It was kinda like that at my house, except it was When I was your age nobody wore ‘running shoes’ we ran in whatever shoes we had! And we trained in the snow and the dark! And we were lucky to get water when we were done!

Meet Marguerite (Mahoney) Corey. My mom, the Olympian.

It’s not that my mom had unreasonable expectations for us, or any expectations as far as sports went. She would never have pushed us, but I know that her life experience influenced my perspective, and as a child I developed three distinct beliefs when it came to sports and running:

1) The Olympics are not an unattainable goal, and what you lack in natural ability can be made up with guts.

2)No one needs all the fancy equipment and expensive clothing and accessories to be successful.  But they sure are prettier…

3) My mom is a badass.

I’m pretty sure these are all still true.

But, in 1993, I wanted to be tough, and fast, and beat the boys. Just like her.

Since I had shown an interest in track, it was something we could share, and something she had expertise in. So she was a volunteer coach, and she was out on the track when the meet got started.

I ran the 50-meter dash. And, I’m not gonna lie.. I won it. My 11-year old self was kind-of a big deal.

If my mom hadn’t been helping with the meet, or if my mom had grown up as an excellent chess player instead of an athlete, or if I didn’t trust her completely, then the next part wouldn’t have happened. But all those little pieces came together, as they tend to do.

There was some confusion around the starting line as they gathered the runners for the mile. The longest race of the day. There were a few boys there. And no girls.

No one was running the mile. (Duh. Who would want to run that far?) All the glory was in the sprints!

Mom turned to me with a smile, and said, “You should run it.”

I will tell you very honestly… that I decided to do it because she believed I could. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never run that far without stopping. I didn’t really know if I could. I was afraid it would be really hard to run four time around the track. I was a little scared. I was pretty sure I’d rather just run the 100-meter dash. But, my mom knew I could, and trusted her.

***

Which brings us back to last weekend. In the last days before the race, I was near tears thinking about it.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had never run that far without stopping. I didn’t really know if I could. I was afraid that I would not make it 26.2 miles around Eugene, Oregon. My knees still hurt. I was panicking. I was pretty sure I’d rather just run the half marathon. But, my mom knew I could do it, and trusted her. And I will tell you very honestly… that I decided to go through with it, because she believed I could.

***

So, in 1993 and 2011, I am waiting to start the race. My mom has made sure I was where I needed to be (Literally. Maybe figuratively as well?) and stepped back. A looming fear of the unknown is mixed with more excitement than I would have expected. I’m bouncing nervously, I kind-of have to pee, and I didn’t stretch very well.

And then the gun sounds.

~To be continued~

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~ by Lindsey on May 5, 2011.

3 Responses to “The First Track”

  1. great photos and lead up to the big story. i can’t believe i haven’t talked to you about this yet. i’m about to read part 2, and i’m seriously excited!

  2. Hi Lindsey,
    I’m currently an Alaska Pacific University (formerly Alaska Methodist U) student taking part in a class where we are creating a series of interpretive panels discussing what the Olympics mean to Alaska. My specific topic revolves around AMU and their Nordic Ski Team. I’m having a hard time finding original photos of the team, individual athletes, training, etc. and just happened to stumble across this blog post. I was wondering if you had access to any of your mother’s photos from when she was on the Nordic Team, and if it would be possible for me to have access to high res copies of them. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or sources you could give me. Thanks, Taylor.

    • Taylor, I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier! I am guessing that your project has long since concluded. If that’s not the case, I can look into photos, my mom may have some more. I hope you were able to find what you needed.

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