Respect the road.

There is a road that I run all the time.

Since I’m currently training by myself, I get to decide where I run. I avoid this road as much as possible. But during cross country season, when I’m at the mercy of my coaches, most of our workouts involve the road in some way.

Going down is smooth sailing. Going up is hell.

photo credit: nelseverydaypainting.blogspot.com

The road is more like a hill, a giant, mile-plus long hill. It’s on a constant incline and, as you get closer to the top, it gets steeper.

At first, I absolutely loathed this road.

I always hated it in the beginning, because it turned even my best runs turn into something that made me feel like I was putting myself through torture.

The road is sometimes unforgiving. The more you climb, the weaker your legs feel, the more your lungs burn, the more you feel like your brain is about to explode.

I used to fight it. Each day, I felt like I was preparing for this great battle, in which only one victor would prevail: me or the hill.

But, eventually, I started to realize that it wasn’t really a battle of physicality; it was more so a battle of wit. I learned to work with the road instead of against it and things started to make more sense.

I learned to take advantage of even the tiniest bit of downhill, to take the straightest line possible. I started to read the road, to take note of how it felt when I ran a certain way.

To this day, I still don’t like running it. But, I’ve learned how to do it properly.

The road used to be some foreign, intimidating beast that I thought I would never be able to understand. Now, I realize that it was really just an old, wise mentor for me, my very own Mr. Miyagi. 

Last night, I was headed up the road on the bus and, as I looked out the window, I knew exactly what point we were at solely based on the glimpse I caught of the tops of the oak trees. It made me smile, seeing how far I’ve come.

The same miles of curving pavement that used to seem endless to me are now ingrained into my memory, including details down to which tree is positioned where on each corner.

The countless days of practice, all of the sweat-soaked t-shirts and aching muscles really did pay off, in so many more ways than for just my running.

If only I knew back then just how much I would come to understand the road and how much it would come to understand about me.

I wouldn’t have believed it three years ago.

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What Holds Me Together

High above, amongst the stars,

God checked his watch,

and realized it was time.

Time to make a story,

my story,

mine.

He wove together a string of trinkets,

some rusty,

some silver,

some gold,

and some of precious stones.

Of those trinkets,

there were many places.

Houses and apartments,

studios

and condominiums.

Restaurants, schools, corners and alleys.

There was a bit of Mexico.

Koreatown, too.

Some wormy grass,

and golf courses where the deer roamed at night.

And of course,

tied closely to these homes,

was my mother’s cooking,

my father’s laughter,

my sister’s pranks.

And there were my fears.

My anxieties,

all intertwined with my passions,

my soul,

and whatever else that stirs me and moves me and lifts me..

My friends and enemies,

my lovers and ex-boyfriends.

Teachers, mentors, coaches, neighbors.

Mailmen, taxi drivers, pilots, a Marine.

There was much joy.

But,

there were also tears and hardship,

loneliness and strife.

Yelling and screaming,

punching and throwing.

The threads mangled and fried.

But soon enough,

God, with his knowing hands,

his fingers so gentle,

created a piece.

And those loose threads,

they all straighten out to create

one magnificent picture.

One that is unique.

One that is me.

mine.

What A Month.

October.

And I’m already feeling the symptoms of senioritis.

A stress-packed conglomeration of college applications, standardized testing, school, cross country meets, and more college applications.

The first day of October commenced with a good early morning dosage of standardized testing. Yes, the SAT’s. However, I don’t remember ever sleeping so long (9 hours) during my five-year stay at Ojai Valley School.

I was also assigned four reading journals and an essay this week for AP Literature. How I am going to finish those assignments, I have yet to figure out but I will get it done.

My next big event is this upcoming Wednesday. At Thacher, I am running in a cross country meet. As well as on the Wednesday after that and (surprise surprise) the Wednesday after that. This is my first time running cross country and I am nervous. I don’t know what to expect. All I know is that the course will be three miles but I guess I will find out in three days exactly how it will be.

On October 22, I will be taking the ACT…in Oxnard. Which means that I will be waking up at five o’ clock, getting breakfast somehow, driving down to make it by 7:45 a.m. to register and take the test.

Two days before that, I will have figured out my SAT score from the test I took yesterday.

One day before, October 21, I would have found out whether or not I have become a finalist in the Questbridge National College Match program. This is my most important deadline and I expect myself to be checking every moment of the day for a notification from the program telling me whether or not I have made it. If I do make the program, I will be able to be offered a four-year full scholarship at the schools of my dreams, Williams College and Amherst College. I am anxious. I had been working on my essay for months. With the help of my mentor, Fred Alvarez, and my college counselor, Dave Edwards, I turned in my final product. Hopefully, my work has paid off.

The last weekend of October is also Parent’s Weekend here at OVS. I will be very busy having conferences with my teachers and having a seminar on that Sunday.

The UC Application is also up online as of yesterday. I need to get started on that soon because I will not have the time to work on them on the upcoming weekends.

As overwhelming as this month seems to me, I know that I need to take things one step at a time. If I bombard myself with all of these events at once, I know the quality of my work will be compromised. I just need to pray to the man up above for a break, big or small, so that my college stresses could be relieved soon. My senioritis isn’t helping either. 249 days until graduation!