I feel like a crazy person writing an open letter to a verb, but I really needed to thank you for everything over the years.
Besides those few rocky early years when you assisted in my tumbles into table corners (stitches), low brick walls (broken collar bone) and glass windows (broken nose)…you have been nothing but good to me. In fact, I blame my mom for the cleanliness of that back window. It’s never my fault. Never.
Lets start with the pure joy that you have given me at every level of the sport. From high school, to college to post-collegiate success to my current myriad of stress relieving exercise, I cannot think of another activity that I would sub-in. I’ve tried to lose you many times over the years. In high school it was baseball and basketball that tried to get in your way. Luckily, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, not to mention my vertical nature was stunted at a modest five feet eight inches.
In college, it was the surf and uhhh…“fun atmosphere” at U.C.S.B. But you and Coach Dolan saved me. Early morning year round drills forced us into bed as others were headed out. And frankly, I learned to love the elite athlete lifestyle.
After college my only enemy was a question. “What are you up to?” “Oh well, you know I’m using my political science degree to manage the shipping and receiving department at a warehouse. And I’m training for the Olympics.” “Oh sure, right on.” No money, no real job prospects and tons of miles. You wake up tired and can’t wait to hit the pillow. I still dream of those days. But I’d be lying if I said it was all joy. It was too challenging and painful to be all fun, but there was so much joy. Crushing a big workout, breakthrough performances, the morning rituals, and so many sights were delivered to my inbox of lifetime memories.
Beyond happiness, I cannot express the appreciation for the people that you have brought into my life. I believe you single-handedly made my relationship with my dad unbreakable. Tom got me in the sport, allowed me to love it in my own way and now we’ll always have that topic to lean on. Furthermore, most of my friends came from this crazy sport. Monico, Muxen, Whitey, McConny, Gotcher, Coburn, all the UCSB boys and girls, all the Aggies and that doesn’t even my Soul Focus crew. I can’t thank all of you nerds personally for the miles, but I can thank running for each of you. Beyond my actual run friends…the sport has strengthened the rest of my relationships. Providing a foundation of fulfillment each day that allowed me to be a full person: endorphin fueled, open-minded and energetic. You made me a better person every day.
We can’t always be happy and on those days you were more important than ever. Mom was smaller than ever, beyond weak, non-responsive to small talk and filled with tubes. Her second bout with cancer had taken her to the breaking point and I needed to get out. Luckily you were right outside the hospital doors in South San Jose. I should have known she was too tough to give in, but on that day I had serious doubts. The running log reveals 16 miles in 90-degree heat around the dusty hills on July 18, 2002. Much obliged for that one. Another day we weren’t so lucky. Adam was also looking pretty small and non-responsive. Unfortunately my run couldn’t bring him back. My older brother died on an April 22, 2006. I didn’t think I’d stop crying that day, but 5 miles later, at the top of Lexington dam, I was too out of breath to do both. Call it escapism, call it conflict avoidance, but regardless you have to call it therapy. That run and a trough of whiskey got me to sleep that night.
Even with my competitive days behind me I still have a ton of appreciation for your daily presence. The races we produce at Represent Running and Soul Focus Sports have created a little family. We work together; support each other and we’re building something. Yes it’s our job and we get paid, but it’s more. We love the elements of fitness, preparation, fundraising, and we get to be creative. It’s hard work but it’s just like those years on the cross-country teams. You put in work, trust each other, set goals and then get after it. Running taught me that and now it’s in our daily toil. It could be any business, but fittingly we’re all about expanding the influence of endurance sports. It’s all cyclical…all coming back to the run.
In the end, I would never trade one run for another. They’re not baseball cards. They’re more like bricks, all are necessary for a life well lived. I couldn’t trade my Olympic Trials Marathon for my 2001 NCAA Cross-Country Championships. I wouldn’t trade my 6:18 Beer Mile for my simple run last Sunday morning with my crew. They’re all foundational. So amidst my wandering affairs with surfing and cycling and basketball, you will always be my old lady. You changed my life, you continue to spark it and I promise to try and repay you. On behalf of my collarbone, my broken nose, my friends, my co-workers, my business, and my next hour of therapy…thanks man. It’s your day, Happy National Running Day.