“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.”
When I started running, I did not know that this sport would impact me in the ways that it has. Like Steve Jobs says, “you cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking back.” When I look back on my journey as a runner, I see times of transformation and joy that running has given me. Some reflections….
- When I was a high school student, the American River Bike Trail was home to my workouts. There is one section of this trail, between miles 23 and 25, just after the fish hatchery, where the trail climbs up a hill, you turn a corner, and the backside of the hill comes to face the river. When I was up there on that hill, looking down on the River and the valley below, I knew that there was something special about those two miles of trail… they could transport me to a place of peace and motivation when I needed it the most.
- In the bottom left-hand corner of the state of Pennsylvania, in Greene county, off of Route 19, there is a town called Waynesburg. In Waynesburg, there is a road called Sugar Run that climbs four miles up a ridge. At the top of this ridge there is a little red church surrounded by green hills. A van full of us runners would get dropped off at the top of this hill. Our workout would be to run down Sugar Run Road and back to campus. This was my favorite workout from all of college because of the serenity that it brought me. We usually had this run on an easy day but, I would fly down Sugar Run road, wrapped up in my own thoughts and engulfed in the world around me. The way that the trees changed from one week to the next…the way that the ridge just dropped into an abyss of endless hills…the sound of the leaves that crunched under the force of my feet…the smell of the breeze as it made its way up a mountain and through my hair. On Sugar Run Road, running provided me with the overwhelming realization that I (a California native) was falling in love with this state called Pennsylvania.
- When I moved to Pittsburgh as a young adult, I was doubtful that the city could provide me with the thrills of running that the trails of California and small-town PA could. I was happily surprised to find my adaptation to city-running a smooth one. Pittsburgh has played a huge role in providing me with endless opportunities to become even more crazy about running and about this city. Pittsburgh is where I trained for my first marathon…it’s where I ran more than 15 miles for the first time. Where I celebrated qualifying for and running the Boston marathon. Running in Pittsburgh has a way of making me lose my mind, in all the good ways. It is challenging, beautiful, and always an adventure. There are places in this city that take my breath away… that could make me cry with appreciation over my journey of finding this little pocket of the world that we call Pittsburgh.
Peace of mind, confidence, security, empowerment to believe in myself, resilience, faith, mental strength, a trust in community, the ability to set and achieve goals, appreciation for nature, a deep sense of self-efficacy, love of the sport, teamwork skills, independence, prayer, the opportunity to travel, friendship, health…. Running has given me all of these things and for that, I am thankful.
“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”
– Kara Goucher