Today is my last day in London (as a resident, at least) before moving back to California bright and early tomorrow morning (7:55am one-way flight to SFO – through O’Hare – fun). By some miracle, I’m actually pretty much packed and ready to go. Okay, perhaps “ready” isn’t quite the word – I’m still very much in denial and am pretty sure I’ll have a total meltdown on the plane (kinda like going to summer camp as a kid – totally flipped out when I moved to London, and will probably do the same as I leave too) – but tomorrow has been circled in my calendar for quite some time and I simply want to take the leap. It’s a big, scary and somewhat sad leap – but also an incredibly exciting and wonderful one – so let’s do this!

Miracle, however, is the right word, because this used to be what (a small fraction of) my stuff looked like yesterday:

And just a few moments ago, I managed to organize what I don’t need into boxes and fit most of what I do need (before I return in November) into these bags:

Now let’s play a game – what percentage of my suitcases contain running gear?! I don’t actually know the answer, but it’s quite a lot. I’m not as much of a gear whore as E but I’m catching up, quickly. 🙂 And of course, my carry-on bag – which contains my valuables (laptop, jewelry, oboe etc.) – also contains my race day outfit and several gels. I’m such a nerd!

Aside from packing, I’ve been enjoying/lamenting many “London lasts” recently. For instance, my last night in my flat (before temporarily invading E’s space); last day at work (yippee!); last run along the Thames (I will not be missing the tourists); last travel adventure (Iceland); last time seeing various friends (aka my London family); last Borough market visit; last dinner at my local gastropub…the list goes on and on!

But there have also been a few running/exercise-related firsts – or at least firsts in awhile – this past week that I wanted to share. In Iceland, I ran my first destination 10k (I have only raced Mornington Chaser’s 10k series in London over the last two years), so it was fun to spice things up and a nice way to get back into racing after many weeks of injury. I also ran my first long run yesterday (just over 10 miles) since the New Forest 10 miler in early July! I can’t say it was 100% pain-free, but it was a solid run (8:50 average pace) and I was just SO happy to get back out there on a Sunday morning. Of course, what made me even happier was enjoying a big stack of my Triple B pancakes post-run! And today, I had an awesome private swim lesson with an ex-Olympic swimmer – my first private lesson as well as any real attempt to learn to swim properly in about twenty years (back at that summer camp I mentioned earlier…). It was tough to get the technique down – and it was hard not to get frustrated with myself at times for not getting everything right immediately (so much multi-tasking) – but I definitely made tons of progress even within an hour. I have to remind myself that it takes time to get the hang of a new sport, and if I start practicing the drills he gave me on a regular basis in my pool back at home, everything will soon feel more natural, just like with running! I’m excited to learn and swim for exercise (as opposed to splashing around randomly when on vacation, in between sunbathing), and can’t wait to enter my first triathlon.

Now that my bags are packed and I’m ready to go, the saddest part of all has arrived. My last night with E. At least I know I’ll be seeing him in a couple weeks – in California, just before my birthday! It will be his first time in Santa Cruz, and my last time enjoying life as a 20-something…

So goodbye for now, London – it’s been a fun and interesting adventure over the last four years! If it weren’t for my time here, I’m not sure I would’ve re-discovered my passion for running, and for that I am eternally grateful.

And on that note, I’m off to the pub!