Last Saturday was the final day of Zoom Project activities and Nike was no where near done with surprising us all. The morning began with a trail run to Spencer’s Butte in southern Eugene. On day one we had all received a brand new pair of Nike Trail Shoes, the Terra Kiger’s, and I was excited to try them out.
Elite trail runner, Sally McRae, gave us some good advice before we headed out on the trails. The trail was about two miles of upward climbing with tree roots and loose rocks to avoid. Since many of us were road runners, she told us it was ok to power walk the steep parts, or run 100 steps and then walk 100 steps. Just keep moving. After a quick warm-up and a group photo we all headed out on the single track trail. The trees were so green and the air smelled fresh and clean. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Oregon until this weekend. It’s truly a beautiful place and, sorry California, you just don’t have my heart the way Oregon does. Good thing I will be back two more times this summer for weddings and a mini coastal vacation!
After running 2 miles uphill we had a steep descent to our finish location. Once again, Nike surprised us with a gorgeous breakfast laid out at the finish of our run. Nike gave us everything we needed this week: food, gear, great new friends and amazing coaches. I could not have asked for anything more, but they day was only beginning. After breakfast and stretching we hopped back on the bus and went to the hotel to freshen up, or chose to go to Nike Eugene, before heading back to the Prefontaine Classic from 12-3pm. I, of course, could not miss an opportunity to visit another Nike store. A few of us diehard Nike fans hopped back on the bus for a quick trip to the store before heading out to the track.
Nike Eugene is an awesome store and they had a really cool display inside this bus to promote the Nike Zoom Project and the release of the new Pegasus 31 running shoe. I was also able to meet a few of the Nike employees I know from Instagram. It was so fun to meet up with people who share the same love of Nike and running. This is truly a great community. After making a small purchase and grabbing a t-shirt for a friend, we walked through the Eugene Running Company. This store has been around for a long time in Eugene and the owner has some fun historical photos and articles on the walls. He was giving a history of track and it’s history in Eugene while we were there. Soon, we boarded the bus, picked up the rest of the #zoomproject crew and headed over to Hayward Field for day two of the Prefontaine Classic!
Armed with our event tickets, meal ticket and my brand new Nike Track and Field hat, we were let loose to enjoy the track meet! Day two featured men’s and women’s sprints, hurdles, steeple chase and the famous Bowerman Mile, among others. We found our seats in the bleachers and settled in for a fun day. The sun was out and it could not have been a more perfect day to watch a track meet.
After watching a few events and relaxing. I went with one of the other girls on the Zoom Project to check out the Bowerman Statue. Bill Bowerman was one of the original founders of Nike. His constant tinkering with shoe designs led him to develop the shoe company we now call Nike, as well as the well known “waffle sole.” I love running, shoes, Nike and waffles, I think we would have gotten along really well. I just had to get a photo with the man himself.
The “Bowerman Curve,” as this section of the track is named, was right near the statue and we watched the women’s 100M race from here. I can’t even explain to you how fit and fast these athletes are. They are the best of the best and standing just a few feet from them when they are racing is inspiring and a bit intimidating. The goal of the Zoom Project was to help us make our fast, faster and to spread the movement to our communities. Mission accomplished, I came away from this trip incredibly inspired!
As the races continued, one after another, records were smashed and PR’s were achieved. The last race of the day was the Bowerman Mile and the speed of the men in this race was astonishing. The top man finished in 3:47:32. Insane! I will never be that fast but after watching them push their bodies to the limit, I want to work harder than ever to make my fast, faster. The Prefontaine Classic finished with this race and everyone began filing out of the bleachers. Shalene Flanagan, Olympic Marathoner, had been sitting in our bleacher section and I was lucky enough to snag a photo with her post track meet! She was so sweet and so tiny! She is my inspiration for running, so it was awesome to say hello.
The track meet may have ended, but our day was far from over. We had one more workout at a secret location. We boarded the bus and headed to none other than Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks football team. Before taking the field for our workout, we toured the new Football Performance Center donated by Nike Founder, Phil Knight. Everything in this center is top of the line. If I were a football player, being drafted to the NFL might be a step down facility wise. Just saying, it was that awesome!
Their locker room left nothing out. The lockers are all built with airways to allow uniforms to breathe while tucked inside. Each locker features doors that must be opened by entering your code with a keypad and then the doors slide back inside the locker so they are not in the way. Phones charge automatically when set inside the locker. Every little detail was thought out.
After further touring the facility we got to see their study room, complete with Apple computers, a recreation area with pool tables, TV screens for playstation, a balcony overlooking the field and custom made furniture. Their floor rugs, designed with a ducks theme, are hand-woven in Nepal. Everything was carefully thought out. Even the wallpaper in one room is made out of real football leather! Then we saw their training facilities and their weight room. I was in absolute heaven. What I wouldn’t give to be able to train here. Everything is pristine and meant to make you a better athlete.
Post tour of the facilities we headed to the lockers to change and train for our last workout with the Zoom Project crew. As we left the lockers we headed out into Autzen Stadium. Walking through the tunnel and bursting onto the field was such an amazing feeling. I can only imagine how heart-pumping it must be to step onto the field with a stadium filled with fans! The energy would be electric.
After snapping a few photos on the field we warmed up and met our trainer for the day. We were so lucky to be able to train with former NFL player, Alex Molden and Olympic Decathlete, Ashton Eaton! Nike is just full of surprises! We did a lot of speed drills and form drills to help us improve our efficiency in running and get faster. We also did partner drills and a lot of core work. All these drills showed me how important it is to make sure you train your whole body. To be a great runner, you have to do a lot more than just run.
After our workout we took one more group photo with our trainers and the Zoom Project crew and then we were off to shower and prepare for the evening. Our training was complete and it was time to party and reflect on what the last three days had taught us. We boarded the bus and were off again to another undisclosed location in the Eugene countryside. After about a 45 minute bus ride we arrived at our destination, the Blue Rooster Inn Bed and Breakfast. Lawn games soon commenced to a beautiful backdrop of the setting sun.
Food was soon brought out and we all enjoyed a relaxed meal with good friends and good food. The day and trip was coming to an end and we only had a few hours left to enjoy everyone’s company. Nike had hired a DJ for the evening and we had great music during the meal and for post-supper dancing and just general good times and good fun! Nike knows how to run, they know how to treat their fans and they know how to party! It was a blast.
All good things must come to an end and after midnight we were on the bus and headed back to the hotel. A 6am wake-up call and return to the airport was on the agenda. I packed my things that night and had a whole second bag full of new Nike swag to sport during my training and upcoming races. In the morning we all boarded the bus, sleepy eyed, and rode the two hours to the airport. As is a custom at the Portland airport, I snapped a pic of my kicks on their famous carpet before departing.
This trip was more than I could have ever hoped to have been a part of and I am extremely blessed to have been a part. I want to give a huge thank you to Nike and the agencies that helped make this trip possible and run so seamlessly.
I tried to do the trip justice in my recap, but there was just so much that we did and so much that I learned, that it is impossible to sum it all up here. Nike gifted us with amazing gear so that we could train hard and learn from the best coaches in the world, using the best equipment in the world. They fueled us with healthy food approved and planned out by a sports nutritionist. They gave us an inside look at their facilities and how their design process works. They showed us how much they care about sharing the spirit of running and helping runners at every level better their best efforts and be faster than yesterday. Most importantly, the Zoom Project allowed those of us who were involved to form strong friendships with runners from all around the world that will keep us motivated and working towards our goals every day. We are a community of runners who shared an experience like none other and will continue to grow and improve because of it. My passion and purpose for running was renewed and I hope to keep spreading the message of the Zoom Project.
I hope we all meet again soon, but if not, we will stay connected through our Nike+ accounts, Instagram/Facebook posts and virtual cheers! Run strong Zoom Project family and get those PR’s! Until we meet again, I was privileged and honored to meet you all. I hope to see you at a race again soon and invite many more runner’s into the Zoom Project family and way of training! It’s never too late to became a faster, stronger runner.