Returning to your roots

This past weekend I had the pleasure to go home and spend 3 lovely days in D-Town. I haven't been home for about a month now, and I was surprised to see that the leaves had started turning colors! I seem to be missing the changing of the season in San Francisco, as Golden Gate Park remains lush and green. But the yellow leaves scattered throughout the D-Town streets, the light rain, and the smell of wet asphalt reassured me that it is indeed fall! Which means... it's cross-country season!

Cross-country season is by far my favorite season -- from pre-season XC camp to the championship season, from the start of a new school year to end-of-the-quarter celebrations aboard a cruise liner with your best friends, from the crisp fall temperatures to the holidays...I love everything about this time of year. So it's really weird to not have a cross-country season this fall. Between having surgery in July to moving to a new city and finding a job, a fall racing schedule just wasn't in the cards. And now, having graduated, it's odd not to be spending my weekends jetting from Seattle to Terre Haute to Riverside, hanging out with teammates and having a blast being a student-athlete. Now in San Francisco, I've felt far removed from that former life... it's been a bit lonely here, running all on my own.

Thankfully, my trip back home to D-Town was just what I needed to cure my case of loneliness. In between seeing my family and some friends, I got to go to my old high school's cross-country practice and also watch the high school team race. The people have changed -- today I hardly know any of the current athletes, but the spirit of the team remains the same: teammates who take care of and look out for each other, a tight-knit group of athletes all striving for a common goal, a bunch of nerdy kids whose favorite part of the day is the hours from 4-6 pm, spent with their cross-country family. It was refreshing to spend an afternoon with DHS, which brought back fond memories of high school running. To my Blue Devil teammates, thanks for 4 years of joyful running!

This weekend I was also lucky enough to spend time with some former collegiate teammates. Some old teammates catch up over a beer or a cup of coffee, but there's truly no better way to catch up than on a long run. Alongside two dear friends, I retraced miles that I've run probably thousands of times, yet the run never got dull. Conversation drifted from running to boyfriends to the latest team gossip to our future dreams, hopes, and goals, as it typically does over the course of a 13 mile run. Our pace would inevitably quicken when one of us got especially excited or impassioned about a certain topic; our mile splits reflected our heightened emotions. Yet even when the pace quickened, the run still felt effortless, easy, comfortable. Running with friends like those, I feel as if I can run for hours, mile after mile. Sunday's long run was the highlight of my weekend, and I'm thankful for good friends and teammates with whom running is always fun.

Returning to my roots this past weekend, I put together three very solid days of training. Running through the streets, greenbelts, levees, and farm fields of D-Town, I reflected on how far I've come as a runner over the past 9 years. I've gone from being a 5:19 miler in high school to a 34 minute 10K runner, from not even being in the top 50 in the state to now cracking the top 50 in the nation... it has been one hell of a journey. Many thanks and much love to those with whom I've been blessed to share a joyful run with over the years -- you know who you are :)