to always run.

nostalgia rages around me as i enter the depths of the last few weeks of college. i cannot escape it; from every side reign the memories. the memories, the bits and pieces of my heart and the past that create the person that stands here, completely lost, today.

i guess it’s safe to say  that everyone is afraid to leave something behind. and for me, that something is the blessing of running competitively. The past eight years have been marked by the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of running. i’m possessive over it. i’ve put my whole heart into it. Three years ago, i fractured my hip and was told i couldn’t run anymore. but here, at the end of it all, i’ve never felt stronger and more alive and now it’s time to say goodbye to this beautiful and wonderful part of my life marked by the presence of “team”.

there are simply not enough words to measure the immense devotion and drive that has gone day after day into running. even now, i cannot think of a phase of my life that wasn’t marked by the presence or absence of running. to say that running, and this team, created and saved my time in college  would be an understatement. it is hard to even begin to explain the depth of emotions that are poured into running on a team. you are constantly bearing your weaknesses to all and asking that they stand with you as you pick yourself up again. as you pound the pavement, the track, or the trails, you are met step for step by others. and even as you run alone, you know that there is a purpose beyond yourself in each step you take. you are running for each teammate, for each mile farther and each race faster.

this past weekend was our conference track meet. it was one of the last times i will race collegiately, competitively, and for a team. and it was magical, emotional, and for lack of a better word, fast. goals were achieved and unity was ever present. and as i stood there, finally achieving a time breaking point i had worked at for years and tears brimming in my eyes, i realized that to say goodbye to this world would be the absolute most heart wrenching aspect of graduating college.

i will always run. it is, indeed, what i do. i am a runner and i will always run and that is just how it is. but there is something more bitter than sweet about leaving this team that has become my source of laughter in pain and strength in days of fatigue. it is hard to imagine a life that does not involve 6 a.m. morning practices, half-marathon mondays, countless weekends on buses and distant tracks and fields, and huddles of prayer, and stepping up to the line, time after time. in eight years, i have not gone a day without being a runner for a team, not simply a runner standing alone. and yet each of us is a separate entity, a runner within our own soul, and at some point that’s what you have to do. to run, because it’s who you are.

to run is to feel the greatest form of freedom on this earth. it is marked in step after step into rainstorms or sunrises, green grassy fields or barren land. mile after mile, season after season- there is an unparalleled beauty to running through heartache, muscle pain, stress, friendship, grey days, and sunshine beating on your back.

to run is to chase new beginnings day after day. and maybe i don’t want to do that yet, but i will always choose to run.

so that is exactly what i will do.