In August 2011, when I was training for my last half marathon, I wrote this journal entry, and today I reread it to get a little inspiration for my race tomorrow:
I have been a very slow runner lately, as in the slowest I have ever been in my life. It hasn't really been fun at all. This morning, I went out for a ten mile run, kind of dreading every minute of it. At around mile 3, I passed three high school cross country runners. As I ran by, I asked between breaths, "Cross country?"
"Yep," they replied, breathing just as heavily as I was.
"What school?" I went on.
"Chino Hills High."
"Nice job," I continued, "I used to run cross country for Ayala, but that was like ten years ago. Have fun!"
And then I kept running, catching up to and passing one more girl. These young kids who were choosing to be at school at 6:00 am on a weekday during summer, slowly getting their miles in, reminded me why I fell in love with running in the first place. As an awkward, sometimes lonely teenager, I found a companion in running. I was always average, never among the fastest, but it didn't matter how fast I went, it just mattered that I was out there. It enabled me to feel empowered, strong, and confident. I reminded myself of that today, because I am still that same awkward, sometimes lonely person, now twenty-seven years old, sometimes still as doubtful of who I am now as I was back then in high school.
Once I got to my turn around point and started back on the path I had already been on, I began passing many more cross country runners, this time running by them face to face. To each student I passed, I remarked, "Nice job," which is what we always told each other in cross country; no matter how fast or slow a runner was, we always greeted each other with nice job. So I greeted each of these young runners in the same way, partially feeling like I was greeting my awkward fifteen year old running self, while at the same time reassuring my twenty-seven year old self that I can do it. And so I did it, all ten miles of it, with a smile on my face, thinking of the journey that brought me from then till now, and how much I've grown, but also how much I've stayed the same.