It's been a heck of year for Tualatin's Caleb Lakeman. The senior distance runner won a handful of big events before placing fifth at last fall's state cross country meet, has run personal best times in the 800, 1500 and 3000 meters on the track this spring, and at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays April 29, the Timberwolves senior did what he's been trying to do all of his running life—beat his dad.
"It felt so amazing to run faster than my dad and 'break the family mile record,'" Lakeman said. "I have been chasing after that record ever since I started running in the third grade."
Lakeman's father Dirk ran 4:04.9 in 1977 and held the state's high school mile record for 27 years before Central Catholic's Galen Rupp bested it with a time of 4:01.8 in 2004. Caleb has been flirting with his dad's mark for a while now, but finally caught and passed his father's mark at Jesuit, running a 4:04.46.
"I just had so much adrenaline at the end of that race that I didn't even know I ran 4:04," Lakeman said. "He (my dad) was so excited and proud that I ran that time and won in front of such a big crowd."
Despite the blistering time the race was a dogfight throughout and in the end saw Lakeman winning by just more than a second over Kamiakin's Isaac Teeples (4:05.55) and Franklin's Charlie North (4:05.61). In all, 12 of the race's competitors finished in under 4:10, putting the area's distance talent on display prior to the state track and field championships later this month.
Lakeman said the overall talent in Oregon is just "different," and that it's genuinely helped he and others do great things in the past, present and hopefully going forward.
"Oregon just seems so much different than any other state," he said. "Every single runner in that race has that competitive nature to beat one another, however, we're all really close friends, so I think that's the big part that everyone doesn't realize that makes these races so historic."
The Timberwolves runner said he felt good both mentally and physically going into the race, but wasn't really expecting the times to be what they were until midway through the event.
"I was pretty confident going into that race considering I won a huge 3K the week before, so I knew I could win," Lakeman said. "But I definitely knew the race would be fast because we went through 800 in 2:03 or 2:04, but I wasn't aware in the moment that it would be that fast."
The 3K he was referring to was at the Oregon Relays in Eugene April 23, where Lakeman defeated a star-studded local field in a personal best time of 8:10.91. Admittedly, he said he was a bit surprised by the win, but at the same time not by the speed at which he ran—due to his surroundings.
"The stadium (Heyward Field) has such an exciting atmosphere that it makes it kind of impossible to not run fast there," he said. "Although, I went into that race not expecting to win by any means, I just wanted to run a fast time."
And he's been doing that a lot of late. But while excited about his recent performances, Lakeman said it's been less about physical training differences and more about his ability to relax before and during a race.
"I haven't changed much about my training, but the thing I can attribute most to my recent success is my balanced mindset and the alignment of my mind and body," he said. "I realized that over the cross country season I would psych myself out before races, so I've figured out a way to calm my mind and body so that both can be fully prepped before those big races."
Now, considering his upward trajectory, has he adjusted his goals accordingly? Not really, for he's always wanted to win. But he does have goals, and he's not afraid to tell them to you.
"I would say my goals are to win a state title in the 1500 primarily, as well as break the state meet record and the state record in the 1500 and the 3K," Lakeman said. "Additionally, I would want to try and break 4 minutes in the mile."
Lofty goals, but I wouldn't bet against him.
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