On a recent trip back home, I decided to take a nostalgic run. My mom dumped me off at my old high school, and I ran through my old stomping grounds for the first time more than a decade.
It was surreal.
I started out with a few laps on the track. Man, did that bring back memories. I always enjoy running on a track, because it puts distance into a different perspective. The 200 meter dash was my favorite race as a high school sprinter, and even when I’m shuffling around a track as an adult, my mind still goes back to that place. I get that excited race feeling in the pit of my stomach, pick my knees up a little bit higher, and think about my form as though I’m running for the tape.
As I crossed over the finish line in front of the grand stand, I remembered how good it felt run in front a stadium full of cheering people. I still love the roar of the crowd at the finish line of a race, but it’s different when you’re actually competing against someone other than yourself. You know, back when I wasn’t just finishing, but finishing first.
As I headed through the neighborhood that we always used for our warmup for track practice, it struck me how the neighborhood really hadn’t changed a bit, but my view of it had. It was like everything was the same, yet somehow so different.
Next, I tackled the route we used for our long run in track. I felt a twinge of pride that I was still out there running after all of these years. Unlike so many of my high school classmates who long ago hung up their running shoes, I was still doing it, dammit.
But that pride came with a hint of sadness that I wasn’t running it as well as I was when I had the body of a 16-year-old. I mean, people TELL you to appreciate it when you have it, but I think it’s one of those things you just don’t get until you have a bit of perspective.
I plowed over the hills (and sweet sassy molassy, there were a lot more of those than I remembered) until I made it all the way back home. I was completely exhausted and completely satisfied when I stumbled back onto my old driveway.
My mind always wanders when I’m running, but this time, it wandered to places I didn’t expect. As I ran in the footsteps of my childhood, I thought about how my teenage self would react to my life as it is today. I think she’d be pretty pleased with where we are. At least I hope so.
So next time you have the chance, take a trip down memory lane and see just where it takes you. You might be surprised. —Aidz