I love my birthday. Not for cake or celebrations or presents or plans. I love my birthday because it’s a day for me to look at how far I’ve come and where I want to go. It’s my day. It’s the start of my year. It’s new chapter of my life.
Only a few months into to 25, I knew I wanted 26 to be a big year. For some reason, 26 carried this weight. Early on, I had a feeling that 26 would somehow be significant. A meaningful year.
To mark what I hoped and assumed would be such a momentous year, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. What could be more fitting (or more crazy) than to run 26 miles only weeks after I turn 26? And in my favorite city at that! In December 2016, with nine months notice, I was locked in as a first-time marathon runner.
Every year as autumn approaches, there’s a sense of excitement and tension in the air. It’s more than the changing leaves, the cooler air, the anticipation of the season.
It’s a feeling that started at a young age when the school year was looming, and one that hasn’t quite gone away as I’ve grown into adulthood. The feeling that the wheels are starting to turn, that the speed of life is about to pick up a bit, and that you better hold on tight so you don’t fall off the tracks.
It’s my favorite time of year, but it’s here and gone in a flash. If you don’t take time to stop amidst the chaos – pause for a moment, breathe in the fall air, enjoy time with friends, appreciate this season of life – suddenly the cold sets in, winter comes and autumn has passed you by.
This year, I welcomed fall with the ultimate pause.
“Life takes you to unexpected places; love always brings you home.”
This quote is framed on my wall. It’s always there, but I rarely pay it any mind.
Recently, however, the idea of “home” has been permeating my thoughts, like a song that you just can’t get out of your head. Maybe it was the chapter of my book called “Coming Home.” Maybe it was watching Dory try to swim home to her long forgotten family. Maybe it’s a result of being on the go and not quite home enough. Whatever the reason, the thought of “home” just lingers lately.
Just outside Cincinnati, across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, there’s a stretch of highway along I-71 and I-75 fondly known as The Cut in the Hill. Heading north, as you round the curve and descend down a steep incline, suddenly the city of Cincinnati is sprawling before you. A perfect, picturesque view of the Queen City that you catch for only a moment before you continue speeding down the interstate.
Exactly a year ago, I remember coming up on The Cut in the Hill as I made my way into Cincinnati to begin my new life here. My sister and I screamed with excitement as she snapped pictures and the U-Haul that my parents were towing rattled along in front of us. It’s a moment that I will never forget – seeing a new city that I would shortly be calling home. Knowing that I had arrived and that I’d be here for the foreseeable future.
Life happens fast. So I run faster.
Actually, I just run longer. I’m not fast at all.
I’m currently in the very early stages of training for my next race, which means adding miles each week. More than a workout or a training regimen, running has become my sort of solace. My energy. My me time.
Today, on #GlobalRunningDay, the weather was perfect for a run, and with each breathless stride I was reminded why running has become such an integral part of my life.