California Dreamin’

It’s funny how much even just a little time can heal what feels like the severest of wounds. This simple truth gave me the most comforting of feelings paired with the most ginormous of grins to myself during my extended weekend visiting friends in southern California.

I didn’t think twice about the six miles my old NC pal slash second ever personal trainer slash triathlete and marathoner du jour Kat - who, by the way, just had yet another article published on Active.com, the timing of which couldn’t have been more perfect for me lately - had planned for us to run with her beau Scott on Monday afternoon before dropping me off at the airport.

Even in NC, Kat was ALL California girl

Even in NC, Kat was ALL California girl

I was looking forward to running with Kat again, but I had no idea of how important those six miles in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park would prove to be.

Within our first mile, we took off from the car, across the park, and through the trees to quickly find ourselves on a narrow dirt trail, seeming to suddenly be headed to the middle of nowhere. Woah! This is awesome!

And then, we approached the first of several inclines we would run within the next hour or so. Funny thing is that I didn’t even fully grasp the fact that we were running up a short but fairly steep incline until we were half way up it. And then, it hit me. “This is the first time I’ve run up incline since that trail race after Pikes Peak.” Didn’t feel like giving up, never once thought to walk like I did at Devil’s Thumb Ranch exactly one month and one day previous, didn’t even flinch.

Much to the contrary of my mental state ever since the Pikes Peak Marathon, I loved it, pushed right to the top and looked forward to the next. Aaaaaahhhhhhh!

The rest of our run was equally amazing with a gorgeous, sunny California afternoon to guide us through single-track trail ebbs and flows, around the baseball fields and cheering of a little league game, and back to the trails, when Scott said shortly before we got there, “Push yourself up the switchbacks,” which we did. And you know what? It felt GREAT!

Once we left the trails, we zigged and zagged through the strolling crowds amidst the park’s collection of museums donning beautiful Spanish architecture, then ran back through the park to our starting spot. I felt so inspired. That. Was. AWESOME.

I can’t think of a better way to end a visit with Kat and to get a quick peek at only one of several reasons why I’ll definitely be back for a longer visit than a weekend.

Sometimes it’s the smallest of things that most significantly impact the grandest of victories. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get back to wanting to race again sooner than I thought. Gracias, San Diego, for unveiling my true running form and reminding me of one of the many reasons I love running most – No matter where on Earth you are, if you’re running, you’re home.

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts applied child development research and works to influence child development policy at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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