Obviously still flushed by the spirit of Olympia, Ed Eye-stone yesterday gave Utahns their first up-close and personal look at the state's newest and latest Olympian. Namely himself.
His winning-kick performance in the Salt Lake Classic's special three-state relay served as a proper enough introduction for the first and only Utahn yet to officially make the U.S. team that will travel to Seoul in September.Running 2.6 miles - in a gutty 12:50 - was a small sample of what he'll do in Korea. There he'll be one of three Americans in the 26.2-mile marathon - after qualifying at the marathon trials held in New Jersey more than a month ago.
To maintain a probable medal pace, Eyestone will have to run close to what he ran yesterday - for 10 times as long.
The good news is Seoul is at sea level.
More good news - as was obvious yesterday - is that Eyestone appears capable of running forever.
Certainly he's not into any downers lately. His timing these days is impeccable. Take this weekend, for example. First he watches the birth of his first child, to wife Lynn, Friday morning, then gets a quiet night's sleep Friday night and wakes up Saturday morning ready to celebrate. He does so by leaving the Arizona and California relay runners - who were sure they were cinch winners - wondering if anyone got the license number.
The $1,000 Eyestone won will buy a lot of Pampers.
Watching your first child come into the world ranks right up there on the list of Top Thrills in a Lifetime, of course. So did realizing a lifetime dream of making the U.S. Olympic Team.
Well, lifetime may be stretching it. Actually, Eyestone didn't start dreaming about being an Olympian until after he'd run his first race in junior high in Ogden.
"Isn't that everyone's dream once they start running?" he asks. "I know it was mine."
When he had the luxury of being so far ahead of the pack at the New Jersey trials that he could coast to the finish in second place - the top three qualified - he also had the luxury of relishing the moment.
"There was this tremendous rush of joy and happiness," says Eyestone.
And there was something else.
"Incredible relief," he continues. "The proverbial monkey was off my back. If you're a runner, that's one of the three things people always ask: What do you run the mile in? Have you run the Boston Marathon? And are you going to be in the Olympics?" "Even though I felt I'd achieved quite a bit," says Eyestone, "in high school (Bonneville High in Ogden), college (BYU) and on the roads (top American in '86), there would have been a big vacancy in my career if I hadn't made the Olympics."
Now, there's going to be a big work incentive for the rest of the summer.
By the end of June, Eyestone plans to be fully recovered from the marathon trials and back to his 120-mile training weeks. Then he'll go to the U.S. track and field trials in July, looking to qualify for Seoul in the 10,000-meter run as well.
However, even should he qualify at 10,000 meters, he might not decide on double duty in Korea. He could go either way - marathon or 10,000 - depending on which event he feels strongest in.
But that's no issue for now. If nothing else, Eyestone wants to use the U.S. Trials - in Indianapolis - as a good competitive test. "Running on the track keeps you honest," he says.
Meanwhile, he'll be logging plenty of miles on Utah's roads.
Still, despite the fact he's a card-carrying Olympic-qualifier, he doesn't anticipate a lot of commotion.
"Frankly, there are very few places in the U.S. where making the Olympic team in the marathon makes you an instant celebrity," he says. "Maybe in Eugene, Oregon, or Boulder, Colorado. But here in Utah, you maintain your anonymity.
"Hey," says Eyestone, continuing, "half the people in my neighborhood haven't known what I do for a living. At least now, with a little more publicity, they might have a better idea and won't think I'm just living off my wife."
Certainly not after yesterday, when the Eyestone Express was in obvious Olympic form and fervor and was blowing away all comers. Yesterday California and Arizona, September the world.
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