Starting Anew

When I finished my last 1500 meter race for Ohio University, disappointment was an understatement. There was no redo or refresh button. That’s the thing about racing there are no guarantees. For me, my final race had a finalized feeling that no matter how much I tried to prepare for–I could not.

Being a collegiate athlete, took a lot from me. I am not just talking about the typical description of being a collegiate athlete:

“It took determination.”

“It took passion.”

“It took hard work.”

It took all of that and then some. It took Christmas mornings with my family. Thanksgiving afternoons. Vacation time. Sunday fundays. College Homecomings.

Does this sounds like I am whining? Because I am.

I made a lot of sacrifices throughout my collegiate career. And it was all worth it.

That’s what I have realized in my journey back to wanting to be a somewhat competitive runner. Maybe, I can’t pick how my collegiate chapter ended. I can, however decide to get back on the horse and train.

So that’s what I am doing. I’m pulling all the heart that I have for a sport I love. I’m bringing it along with me on this new chapter in Seattle. I’m starting anew. Maybe more disappointments are right around the corner. BUT at least this time, I know without hesitation that to me it is worth it.

See you at the start line Tacoma City Half Marathon. I’ll be there to race.

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Don’t Cry Because It’s (Almost) Over

I think graduating from college involves stages of preparation.

Stage 1: Point out all of your lasts.

Examples

-Last cross-country meet

-Last indoor track meet

-Last sorority formal

-Last Mom’s weekend

 Stage 2: No longer discussing your lasts.

Example: The next time you’re in Athens it will be for graduation.

 Stage 3: Acceptance and excitement.

 I think I am finally arriving at stage three.

Leaving Athens, means a lot of things.

It means leaving a team that has become family to me. These friends have stood by my side through my biggest running successes & failures. They understand the reward and sacrifice of being a collegiate athlete. They get goose bumps when they hear the phrase: “put wings on our feet.”

It means wearing anchors instead of Delta Gamma blocks. I will have to get use to not being about to see my DG family at minimum once a week. On lonely relaxing Sundays, I can’t just parade over to my little’s or ask them to get Chipotle. It means that wine nights will have to be done via FaceTime.

It means no more weekend competition travel. No more homework or studying. No more Tuesday night meetings. No more production week. No more editor-in-chief as a title. No more Sunday Fundays in a college town.

Knowing that all these things are going to change-breaks my heart a little bit. It has been a really great four years.

I’m not sure I’m ready to leave.

But every time I admit those six words, I think about everything I have yet to discover. Whatever comes after graduation is going to be a whole new adventure. I’m not sure where I am going to be or what I’ll be doing. My only solidified plans are that I will be traveling to Europe.

My next journey is waiting and in three weeks I have no choice but to flip the page. I guess it’s about time I start smiling in anticipation, instead of crying because I’m finishing a chapter.

Glass Slipper Musings

When I first started my blog, I wrote about the one thing I thought I knew a lot about: relationships.

I have never erased my juvenile blogs about what was or was not the right relationship for me.  I guess I look at it as a very important reminder of how people evolve and change over time. A reminder that as influential as people may seem in the beginning, maybe toward the end of the book they are just a chapter.

 I believe in real-life fairytales. The love story that begins when an unlikely couple meets by chance and ends with the perfect wedding. Or my other favorite, the story of a couple that’s timing is just always wrong, but after six years and imperfect relationships they are finding their own happily ever after.

 I’m a hopeless romantic.

 But what the fairytales don’t show is how many princes pass along the way. I’ve sat at both ends of that table: the one where the prince is sure your relationship is going to last forever and the one where he chooses to walk away.

 After three years of dealing with the off and on of the latter, I gratefully stumbled upon this realization today:

 

No matter how many times I write him into my life, he still won’t be there. Not really. (Thanks, EP.)

 

That’s the reason the blogs ended.

It was hard to continue to write about relationships that were hot and cold. Hats off to Carrie Bradshaw for her continued dedication to the subject matter.  I’m sure her hold out hope was that Big would read one of her columns and suddenly become the man she always needed and wanted him to be.

 

That’s why the blogs started. Hope.

Hope that instead of letting me walk out of the bar, you’d grab my hand.

Hope that instead of proving me right, you’d prove me wrong.

Hope that instead of games we’d play a more serious role.

Hope that I’d round a corner to a change of heart.

 

Yet, no matter how many times I have played out those hopeful scenarios in my head, prince charming has yet to ride off with me into the sunset.

 

And slowly, I’m starting to think I am getting use to the idea that Cinderella is capable of creating her own happiness. It’s a process letting someone go, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when they are not even looking back.

 

I’ll always be the hopeless romantic willing to feed your expired parking meter, but the question remains: will you always be confident in your decision to walk away?

Last One, Fast One: MAC 2013

I can still remember my freshmen year MAC Conference meet. It was one of my top five favorite races of my cross-country career. (Don’t worry; I’m leaving room for greatness in the two remaining races.)

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MAC meet is different. There is a culture that surrounds this race that has nothing to do with the course. It evolves from the people that run to as many spots as they can during the race. It echos in the chants of the fans who care so much about this meet. They understand the importance of MAC championship. Maybe, they are parents. Maybe, they are family. But most of the people who can be heard over the chants of everyone else are alumni. If you’re lucky enough to wear Ohio across your chest you learn to quickly pick-up on the voices of those that have come before you.

 

You don’t forget MAC. Runners have this ability to block out bad races, hard workouts and horrendous conditions, but I have never forgotten a step of a MAC championship. I can go into detail about my first race when Western Michigan hosted and I experience the culture of conference. I can recount the horrible limb I had sophomore year at Ball State.  Then I can detail the wind and mud we faced in Buffalo, NY to a point that you may think I am exaggerating. 

 

No matter the course or the conditions I can detail each individual race and race day.

 

I would like to tell you that this stems from accolades. That freshmen, sophomore & junior year I had races that named me All-MAC. But that’s not how my four years went. And that’s not what made MAC matter to me.

 

Freshmen year I was went out fearlessly. I was top 20 and as I watched the All-MAC runners line up on the stage I dreamed of being one of them. Sophomore year, I stood camera in hand to capture two of my best friends standing in the All-MAC line. Junior year, I finally took my place to receive an All-MAC medal.

 

The way I felt that day, didn’t feel that much different than freshmen or sophomore year. Racing has a lot to do with knowing you left everything out on the course. Each year, there is an ease to giving everything you have at conference. It’s one of the best feelings I have had in my college career.

 

Motivation comes easy with each passing kilometer as alumni, parents and friends cheer you on from start to finish. There is no time to think about fatigue.

 

Tomorrow, I race my last MAC cross country championship. There’s no room for tears of sadness. It’s the beginning of the end of what has been an amazing chapter in my life. Next year, I’ll join the crowd as a voice that knows what it is like to race without fear, to dream without limits, and to embrace whatever the race holds.

 

But that day is still a year away. Tomorrow, I will cherish lacing up my spikes, putting on my jersey and running for Ohio University. 

The Last Hooray

Ten weeks seems like a really long time when you are sitting in your internship orientation class at the beginning of summer. Today as I started saying my goodbyes, I could not help but think that this experience went by too quickly.

To commemorate an amazing summer, my team gave me the idea to write down some of the lessons I have learned.

Here we go…

The Lessons I Couldn’t Resist:

1.)  When designing your email signature, always triple check your spelling. You are using a new keyboard, which may cause you to accidentally insert an extra letter. (The copywriter in NY will notice.)

2.)  Never eat a chocolate muffin on your way into work. Not even a bite. A piece of chocolate will fall into the seat and melt.

3.)  Keeping an extra pair of jeans in your car is a good idea. Reference previous lesson for full understanding.

4.)  Upon entering a meeting in which the only seat left is at the head of the table, do not sit down. The seat is not for you.

5.)  Before going to get your boss a sandwich make sure they eat gluten.

The Practical Lessons:

1.)  “Googling it” is an acceptable thing to do before asking your co-workers a question. Don’t be surprised if they tell you to Google something when they don’t know the answer.

2.)  Slide master view in Powerpoint is extremely helpful, especially if you need to create a lay out for a presentation. (Never used it? Easy, Google it.)

3.)  Always, always save your work. There is nothing worse then clicking “don’t save” and immediately realizing you closed the wrong presentation.

4.)  There is more than one way to take a screen capture. It might sound like a stupid question, but ask what exactly your colleague wants to capture before starting the initiative.

5.)  If you do not have a writing utensil or a notebook while receiving direction from your boss, using the notes section on your phone is necessary backup. Use it.

6.)  Never be afraid to speak up in a brainstorming session.  An impractical idea can spark a conversation that creates a great concept.

7.)  Being a representative for your team on a conference call is empowering. Take detailed notes.

8.)  There is no greater feeling than enjoying going to work. Corporate culture is important.

9.)  Get to know your co-workers. They can change your entire day for the better.

10.) Being treated like a member of a department’s team is a unique internship experience, embrace it. Remember it. Treat your someday interns in the same way.

The Most Important Lesson of All: You have the ability to have a passion for more than one thing. Don’t get so busy trying to make one passion work that you miss out on another.

Thank you to my amazing team! You taught me more than you know. I fell in love with my job and the company. I’ll miss you all. 

Just Write and Run and Live

It’s scary trying to figure out the future. I keep thinking 365 days from now I will be…well I don’t exactly know where I’ll be. Right now, I am surrounded by interns determined to have a job offer at the end of their internship. I admire them. I even get caught up in their tenacious spirit to find future employment.

Then this past weekend I packed my bags and headed for my college town. The quaint little southern Ohio campus that has slowly become home over the years. I love Athens. I never realized how much those bricks had manifested their way into my heart until this past weekend.

I was standing in front of my dorm, imagining move-in day and my eyes began to fill with water. I took a few deep breaths and forced myself not to cry. But the whole weekend this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness kept bubbling up.

Athens was the first event in my life that was completely mine. As a kid, I had this annoying knack for participating in whatever activities my brother pursued. I was close to continuing this trend when it came to college too, but I didn’t.

Instead, the atmosphere of Ohio University opened me up. It brought out my biggest accomplishments. It lead to some heartbreaking mistakes. It changed my life.

Somewhere amongst Court St., Peden Stadium, Scripps Amphitheater and Alden Library I developed into the person I am today. Amazing how four years can teach you as much outside of a classroom as it can inside of one.

As I stood outside the place where it all began it hit me: I want a job when I graduate. Something that makes me excited to go into the office on Monday morning and not want to leave the office late at night. I want that dream job after college, but who doesn’t?

I could spend my summer looking for ways to create a full time position for myself or I could work hard, enjoy my experience and hope for the best. Given the choice: I choose option number two.

No matter what happens 365 days from now it won’t even come close to my senior year in Athens. There is no comparison to a job that allows me to wear Ohio across my chest. One that allows me to compete for a living. And if I am not careful, I am going to be so focused on the future that I miss the present.

I think it’s time to soak it all up: the bricks, the atmosphere, the friends and the memories. In the end, I have a feeling I will end up right where I am suppose to be.

The Thing I Couldn’t Say

There are some things you are just not allowed to say. Put in a family context, you can probably think of a short list of things that are not to be mentioned at Thanksgiving or Christmas. For the past couple weeks, I have been strategically trying not to say the one thing that I can’t seem to get off my mind. It can be summed up in three words: I. Miss. You.

I miss long country roads. Sunday afternoons spent on the couch at the apartment. Long chats where we match each other stride for stride. Walks home after grueling workouts. I even miss our 6:20 lifting sessions.

I miss E.P.

Writing my last post, I just could not shake the feeling that something was missing. For the past two seasons, a big part of what makes Ohio University distance so special to me has been amiss. That is not to say that the remaining girls are not amazing, I love them all dearly. The best and most cheesy way to describe this feeling revolves around a cookie. A warm cookie is absolutely delicious, but a warm cookie accompanied by milk is nothing short of perfection. Right now, I am missing my milk.

E.P. is a rare type of runner, someone I am lucky to call my teammate and even luckier to call a best friend. I have learned so much from her in three years that is hard to imagine my life pre-college. I can still remember high school race strategy that was quite simply: hang on to E.P. for as long as possible.

It has been a long journey for us, starting with a run down at OSU where Speedway conveniently had no bathroom and ending (briefly) with a planned 15-mile long run that was disrupted due to a stress fracture. In between there have been countless workouts where I learned that E.P. can hold pace better than anyone. This really put a damper in my unnecessary need to make workouts a competition. Put simply her talent for pacing combined with her endurance is lethal, she buried me countless times. But it always made me better and I like to think it made her better too.

I never thought in our four years together there would be a time when we didn’t toe the line side by side. When I couldn’t look into the distance and see her make the sign of the cross as the start of the race quickly approached.

It’s been hard for me, but it has been even harder for her. If this isn’t how I pictured our last year of competition it certainly has been no dream come true for her, either.

But the thing about E.P. is despite her ability to be your biggest cheerleader, she is more of a leader through her actions. She’s the girl you think of when your long run seems too long and your paces too fast.  She would run longer and train faster purely to challenge herself, make herself and inherently the team better.

So if there is one thing I know about E.P. it is that whenever she knows in her heart it is right for her to come back, she will come back guns a blazing.

Because as I told her Monday: “May the odds be in our favor, always. And if not may we turn them our way.”