Updated: Jan 25, 2019
This is my 62nd New Year. Reflection, shattered dreams, scattered thoughts, mile stones, achievements, and future goals maneuver their way though my mind this rainy morning. So, I sip my coffee and boldly ask myself, "What the hell do you plan to do with this precious last quarter of your life?" Great question, huh? Hmmm... I mean, Cyn, seriously! Retirement is staring me in the face. A couple more years of teaching, at the most, if I can make it that long.
My threshold is approaching its maximum and I'm chomping at the bit to get on with it. I can best equate my 36 years of teaching to running. I'm there. I've got the runner's high. Ups and downs, I've run the distance. I see the finish line. Now, I want to sprint. But, Nooooo, I have to keep the tempo. Then, I can kick some royal A.
Until then, I'll maintain this momentum by writing about my inspirations, adventures, gifts, and lessons learned along the path.
Today being the first day of the New Year, two of my female running friends and I decided to kick off the New Year with an 8 mile run. It started off with the same old reluctance and hesitations, "It's too cold and windy. I'm never going to make it." I listened to my mind quickly try to discourage me and encourage me to quit. I caught myself, "Shut up, Cynthia. Focus." I adjusted my music, put on my running gloves and gave myself a quick attitude adjustment. After all, what are my choices? Stay home and mope around, or create an adventure? Really, there is no choice but the latter.
Mile 2: Casual conversation turned into helpful words of wisdom, soft therapy and more bonding. Running got easier and things started to look up as the sun broke through the low clouds. Our running steps were in cadence as we plowed through the canyon leaving echoes of rhythmic breathing and laughter.
Mile 3: I focused on how blessed I am to live in Southern California with the canyons, rolling hills, and the Pacific Ocean being my playground. I thank God for giving me the ability to run at age 62, the liberty to have a fulfilling career, the freedom to select my daily activities, the beautiful surrounding hills laced with chaparral, my family, and of course my health.
Mile four: Around the next bend the sky opened to a magnificent ocean view. Down below was the golf course telling me we were at the 1/2 way point. I knew that shortly I would reach the Ritz Carlton, where I could stop for a drink of water and watch the morning surfers navigate their way as they whipped in and out of the waves. I was looking forward to running along the shore, leading to the best part, the Dana Point Headland Conservation Area.
Hopefully, along the way I would find a heart shape rock to add to my collection.
Mile 5: Feeling strong, I pushed on. The welcoming rush of the crisp ocean breeze, thundering sound of the waves crashing on the rock below, and the sight of the awesome blue hues energized me. We slowed down as we circled the lifeguard tower. To our glorious surprise, we came upon a beautiful heart shaped peace sign, made of rose petals dazzling our senses ever further; another unexpected blessing along the path.
I continued to keep a watchful eye out for heart shaped rocks. None today; the current was too strong. The tide was up, and the waves were leaping onto the running path. Crossing the shore became a game of stop and go, as we tried to navigate our way through the large boulders, without getting wet. We eagerly coached each other, gingerly maneuvering our way, before the waves covered our feet. Laughing hard, leaping, jumping, suddenly stopping, then running. We made it! Apparently, our strategic moves were out maneuvered by nature's force. My once dry feet were now sopping wet. But, I didn't care because the ocean spray kissed my face, and at that moment I was in love and happy. I was no longer 62. Age was not a factor. I was young again!
Mile 6, I needed to slow down and conserve some energy. I walked up the switch back leading to the Headland Conservation Area. I love running through the Headland. It's a place where I turn up the music and let go. It's a narrow, soft, and sandy trail that twists its way around Dana Point's point. It gives those lucky enough to be on the trail a spectacular view of the ocean. If you're fortunate, you can time your run to see a glorious sunset.
"Oh no! The entrance gate is locked! Crap! Okay, now what? Let's jump it!" Disappointed we all started to speak at once. "That's a pretty high fence, at least 8 feet." Some cranky lady come to inform us with her infinite wisdom that the sign said, "No trespassing when the gate is locked."
"Oh really, Sherlock?! Watch us!" It was unanimous. We scaled the medal spiked fence like pros, jumped down, and hit the dirt. Then, off we sprinted like children catching the wind, hoping that the ranger wouldn't catch us. Each step bounced off the packed earth. The fresh smell of the vegetation and wet earth invigorated me as I darted through the narrow path, taking in the post card view.
Mile 8: We made it! My legs hurt, but I felt strong mentally and I was invigorated. It was all worth it!
I'll continue to count my blessings on my next run. I'll look for adventure. Most importantly, I'll regain my youth as I turn back the clock and embrace running.
I'm convinced. This last quarter is going to be a kick in the pants. That's my only choice.
Tomorrow it's New Port Beach, Back Bay, 11 miles.