Two weeks from yesterday, my family will load up a truck and move to Portland. I’ve been thinking more and more about the things I’ll miss in Eugene. There’s not a big restaurant scene in Eugene like there is in Portland, but we have some favorites. And there is quite a local brewery scene in Eugene that we’ll miss, as well as a beer bar, The Bier Stein, that rivals anything Portland has to offer.
Of course, it’s the people and relationships we’ll truly miss the most. The good folk at Wesley United Methodist Church, where Erin has served for almost nine years, the last five as senior minister, have become family to our family, and when we first told our six-year-old Rowan that we were moving to Portland, he said, “That’s fine, but it’s going to be a longer drive to church!” Our church family is what Rowan knows life to be all about, and changing that is going to take some getting used to.
I’m also going to miss my colleagues at Wipf and Stock in Eugene. To say that we have a relaxed office in Eugene is a rather preposterous understatement. Our bosses have always done their best to be supportive friends first, and “managers” second or third or forth. I know that I personally have enjoyed a great deal of flexibility that has contributed significantly to the wonderful quality of life that my whole family has enjoyed in Eugene. The camaraderie and support of the folks in Eugene is not easy to leave behind. I’m grateful that there are also some wonderful folk up in Portland that I’ll get to work alongside as I continue in my role as editor for Wipf and Stock. What they lack in numbers up in Portland they make up for in humor and kindness (I’m talking about you Mike and Hilda Munk, and Adam McInturf).
Among the places I’ll miss the most in Eugene is Hayward Field at the University of Oregon—home track of legendary coaches (Bill Bowman), runners (Steve Prefontaine), and meets (the PreClassic) alike. Erin and I went to our ninth consecutive PreClassic last Saturday, and it was hard to avoid the thought that we might find it difficult to continue attending that event every year. The longer I’ve been in Eugene, the more I have become a track and field fan. Eugenians know their track and field, and the local knowledge of the professional sport has become infectious over time. Truth be told, my main use of Twitter is to keep up with track and field events by way of folks who live tweet events I can’t otherwise follow.
It’s been particularly fun to follow track and field the last couple of years, as my nephews on the other side of the country, Jaxson and Josh Hoey of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, have started to come into their own as high school runners. Just last week Jaxson, a junior, won the state 1600m race for AAA schools in Pennsylvania, and his brother Josh, a freshman (!!!), came in 7th in the same race. As I’ve followed them from afar, I have learned more about up-and-coming high schoolers, and so I knew I was seeing something special a few years ago when I got to see Mary Cain run the 800m at the PreClassic. This year, I had the good fortune to see Matthew Maton become the 6th American high-schooler to run a sub-4 mile at the Twilight meet at Hayward, and then Erin and I watched Alexa Efraimson of Camas, Washington, break the American high school and junior record for the 1500m last Saturday at the PreClassic.
Watching all of these elite athletes run incredible races is sort of a strange companion to my own return to decent running shape. I’m running as well now as I have in almost a decade, and I’m now officially signed up for the Portland Marathon in October. I’m going to take another shot at running a Boston Qualifying time, which for me will be 3 hours, 25 minutes. That’s basically how fast I ran my first marathon—but that was almost 15 years ago! I first started running seriously as an adult in Durham, North Carolina, and then I logged tons of miles in the small town of Southern Pines, about an hour and a half south of Durham. Both were great communities to run in, but neither can hold a candle to Eugene as a running community. We have almost 20 miles of paved trails along the Willamette River, and multiple bark dust trails, regularly maintained and sometimes “sponsored” by professional running companies, on account of all the professional runners that live and train here. We have “Pre’s Trail”, and our local marathon finishes at Hayward Field. I’m going to miss running in Eugene as much as anything else.
On the theme of running and leaving, I’ll change gears and leave you with my favorite thing that The Onion has ever done. There might be something in here for me to think about more seriously, but I’ve got to get out the door for a run! Cheers!