My last evening in Santa Cruz has finally arrived. I’ve checked into my flight, finished packing my bags, said goodbye to my family, friends and favorite places and am now trying to come to terms with the fact that it’s all really about to happen, after so many months of planning and preparation! I keep forgetting that I’m actually leaving for good tomorrow – it’s only been four and a half months since I left London for California, but it feels a lot longer. Although I’ve been traveling for much of that time, I’ve grown quite used to being based here, close to my family and with so many beautiful destinations at my fingertips. At least the unusual and long streak of gorgeous, warm weather is due to end next week – rainy California isn’t nearly as bad as East Coast winter, but still – makes leaving slightly less bittersweet!

I’ve been feeling a bit more sadness than excitement these last few days, but I know that will change once I arrive in NYC. In fact, it has already started to change – paying my first tuition bill and buying my textbooks this morning was a major wake-up call! It’s definitely time – time to leave my California bubble, live on my own again and move forward with my life and career. Not to say that I’ve just been sitting on my butt this whole time – I’ve accomplished a lot and have been very busy – but I’m also very aware that I haven’t quite been living in the “real world.” I’m grateful to have parents who are so supportive of my career change and my decision to take time off from work while applying to grad school, and I’m also fortunate to have had a good chunk of time off to spend with my family and have some fun before diving back in again. It’s been a good run but I’m ready get going!

  

Speaking of which, I had a wonderful last run on the beach yesterday – 6M including 5M of fartlek (I still can’t quite get myself to do structured speedwork yet, even though I should be preparing for the NYC half…) – and today I did 10M in Nisene Marks at 9:41 average pace and 1,030ft elevation gain. The weather was glorious and I felt strong at the end of both runs – it was a great way to say goodbye to two of my favorite spots in Santa Cruz! I mean, check out that afterglow!!

About halfway up the mountain today, I stopped and listened to the forest for a few minutes. I’m not going to be able to get any real peace and quiet for a long time and Nisene has really become a special place for me since I moved back here, so I wanted to make sure I fully appreciated it. All I could hear was the babbling of the creek and my own breath – it was nice to take a moment to meditate on all the wonderful things that I’ve experienced recently, and all of the exciting things that are about to happen!

Today’s run also taught me that although I am not a fast runner right now, I’ve become a lot stronger due to regular trail running and hiking. I was climbing the tough part of the Fire Road today at a steady, comfortable pace and was surprised when I passed several cyclists and then remained on the tail of several others who were going at a pretty good clip for nearly a mile. They kept trying to shake me and then finally commented, “wow, you’re fast!” It made me feel good, considering my lack of speed training and the fact that I’ve gained eight pounds since running Portland. I’d like to think some of it is muscle (perhaps a small fraction is), but the reality is that most of it is from November – January indulgences. It’s okay though – I’ve enjoyed my aimless training and all the wonderful food I’ve consumed! I know that I’ll be able to shed the unwanted weight once I get back to walking everywhere, begin more structured training and have my own kitchen again, without so many holiday goodies everywhere. Besides, I was only following Scott Jurek’s advice (well, save for the no running part…)…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I wrapped up my California goodbye by watching one last sunset at the cliffs overlooking my local beach – it was so beautiful and the perfect sendoff.

 

My flight leaves at noon tomorrow. I’ve found a nice sublet not too far from campus which begins as soon as I arrive (such a huge relief), and I have an entire week to get settled before classes begin. I’ve already made plans to hang out with several friends (many of whom live close to my sublet) and I’m looking forward to the various NYU grad student orientation sessions that are taking place. I’m so thankful to already be familiar with the city from my three years living there and to have such a large social network in place so I can focus on adjusting to everything else!

So, goodbye California and hello New York City. It is time and I am ready!

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