Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day!

I love April Fool's Day. Always have. It was a silly day as a kid, a time for creative pranks when I was a high schooler and, three years ago, the day marking a monumental change in my life. I moved to California on April Fool's Day.

And yes, at the time I did wonder if restarting my life in Santa Cruz -- a place I'd visited once three weeks prior and knew no one -- was the biggest April Fool's joke yet. I won't lie. Sometimes it's felt that way, but when I look back on my three years here, I see mostly goodness.

(The intent of this blog is to write about RUNNING related items, so I'm going to twist this back around to be about muddy shoes and sweaty workouts instead of waxing on about my love of pranks.)

When I moved to Santa Cruz, I hadn't run consistently in about two years. Frankly, I was a little chubby, drank too much, didn't eat enough vegetables and wasn't terribly happy with who I was. It makes sense. I had run several times a week pretty much every week since I was a second-grader, so to give that up for long hours worked at the newspaper in Ashland and late nights at Omars was tough on me. Of course, back then I was pretty stoked about my lifestyle. It took time to see that living that was neither healthy nor sustainable.

So I moved to Santa Cruz. This wasn't to revive my running habits or reintroduce fresh fruit to my diet, but to write for at a bigger newspaper and, presumably, work harder. Still, along the way a I met a marathon runner/Ironman finisher who was friends with a college professor of mine. He invited me out for a morning run along the coast with his group, the "Thursday Morning Irregulars."

the path on West Cliff Drive

My memory is fuzzy, but it's possible I didn't finish our six-mile run that first morning. For months a struggled to keep up with the group out to the turnaround point at Natural Bridges State Beach, where we would pause to stretch and I could catch my breath. Then I would try to hold out on the run back, learning exactly how many minutes I had to force my feet to turn over before I could collapse in my car. I relied heavily on those unpredictable stops -- to say hello to another runner or watch a pod of dolphins frolic in the surf.

Quickly, the group convinced me I should enter a race. A 10K became a marathon, then another. The morning runs would grow some days depending on what race we were preparing for, but with time I could keep up. A few times, I've even sprinted the last quarter mile fast enough to win the silent race to the finish.

Three years later, the Thursday Morning Irregulars exist more in spirit than practice, but every so often we get a crew out to run West Cliff at sunrise. When we do, the fact I can keep up without feeling like I'll vomit is a pleasant reminder of how far I've come in three years: not just hundreds of miles from my Oregon home, but thousands of miles ... run. When I look at it that way, I see there's no punchline to my April Fool's Day anymore.

1 comment:

What are you searching for?

"So be prepared to quit. Do it willingly and with honest resolve. You'll be back. The marvelous thing about running is that you will never become jaded by it. Boredom, injury or anguish may overtake you from time to time, but the reward that first drew you to begin logging the miles remain untarnished and available -- always. Just put on your shoes and head out the door."