I hope you’ve enjoyed the #fromwhereIrun August blog tour. My teammates have shared their favorite parks, trails, and paths to explore on two feet, and it’s clear we are lucky to have run in such beautiful places. 

    Since I’m submitting this blog on the final day of the month, I was given the choice of continuing August’s theme or starting September’s. As Autumn and I drove to Casa Grande at 4:15 this morning, we debated about which would make a better blog topic. I’ve certainly enjoyed my share of epic runs, and could write about the mountains of Slovakia, the streets of Nicaragua, or the park in the middle of Trinidad where I logged many miles. Yet, none of these resonated with me on the bleary morning drive. As we pulled back on the I-10 after our obligatory gas station bathroom stop, we came up with a better idea. Why not write about the Old Cougar Stadium, our destination for that morning’s 5x1200s?

    It sounded ludicrous at first. The Old Cougar Stadium (OCS) is nothing to write home about. It’s filled with surprise potholes (stay all the way to the left in lane 1 and you’ll be fine!), morning walkers veering in and out of lane 1, and various other locals doing everything but running. It’s hot as hell in the summer months (yet actually iced over for one workout in December!), and is surrounded by chain restaurants, pawn shops, and other strip mall randomness.  It’s a far cry from the Nike Oregon Project’s track in the middle of the forest! 

    I discovered the track three years ago, when I was calling high schools in Casa Grande to see if any were open to the public. I needed a place to meet Coach John that wouldn’t require either of us to make the two-hour drive between Tucson and Scottsdale. Meeting up for track workouts would allow him to make sure my training was progressing as planned. I wasn’t having any luck finding a location, until a nice lady alerted me to the OCS. A quick internet search revealed it’s address and not much else, although one local left the following comment on foursquare.com:

“The class of 1970 and today 2013 every time i walk around the track i get goose bumps looking back on the field up in the bleechers ah good memories”

    Like Mr. Class of 1970, I’m starting to appreciate my own memories of the OCS. After all, I’ve been hammering out track workouts there ever since I believed I could qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon. When you have a passion and a dream, you don’t care where you are. You’re just happy to be able to pursue it.  Over the years I’ve been joined by various teammates, with Autumn being a constant on the monthly field trip. We take turns driving and inevitably annoy Coach John when we warm up in silence after using the car ride to catch up on our lives. The workout usually flies by, and ends with congratulatory comments from the locals, who are all very nice people! And those chain restaurants nearby? Turns out there’s nothing better than IHOP after you’ve been awake for 4 hours and run 10+ miles. 

Celebrating my birthday at the Old Cougar Stadium with Autumn and Natalie

Celebrating my birthday at the Old Cougar Stadium with Autumn and Natalie

Trips to the OCS are a monthly staple, and I’m grateful for all the workouts I’ve been able to complete there. Thank you, OCS, for giving me a place to pursue my dreams. May your potholes never be filled…

What’s one of your underappreciated running destinations?