Hello! It’s been awhile since my last post, and some things in my life have changed…
About a month ago I moved back to my hometown of Houston, Texas. It was a decision spurred by economic and emotional reasons. The former was easy- it’s much cheaper to live here than Los Angeles (many places are). The second reason, well, it’s complicated. After graduating from USC, I stayed in LA for one primary reason- a relationship. After that relationship ended in divorce, I tried to make the city work for a number of years, not wanting to leave my friends and community there, not to mention the weather! In the end, I found myself becoming disenchanted with my life there despite the positive aspects. I arrived at the idea to move back to Houston after doing some soul-searching and considering a few options. Towards the end summer I visited Houston, nailed down a place to live there, and packed up my place in LA. For the first time in a really long time I felt very solid about a major life decision, so off I went and here I am.
There is a saying that goes something like “When the pain of staying the same becomes more than the pain of change, we change.” I’ve found this to be attributed to more than one author, so lets just leave it that I didn’t come up with it for now. I’ve slowly realized that the most uncomfortable part of change is that limbo of between the idea of change and change itself. Post-change has never been as bad as my idea of what might follow. One of my reasons to move was to have less of my means go to a high cost of living, so I could travel more without draining my bank account. I loved running around Scotland, but its not sustainable if I’m throwing money into an apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Even with many upsides to moving back to Houston, such as being close to lifelong friends and of course, family, in addition to the budgeting aspect, I still felt this hesitancy to move. Specifically, I felt like I was “giving up” on something, and in effect, wasting all the time I had spent in LA since separating from my ex-husband. A simplification of the idea that kept me from moving is “If I do leave, then I will have been a failure (at living in LA)”. The logic is a little maddening, now that I think about it- if it was possible my time in Southern California was wasted unless some unnamed and un-promised reward for it happened, why would I stay another minute? When I realized this, I had the energy to make haste and dive into the change before I could scarcely believe I was doing it.
The above has everything and nothing to do with running. As everything- I’ve realized that my passions for running and traveling are closely linked, when I go somewhere new, I look for how to make it runnable, and when my running gets stale, I run somewhere new. This can be on a large scale- such as my trip to Scotland, but it can also happen locally. For now I’ve just been excited to get to know running in Houston as it is now.
I spent my entire childhood in this city, so I learned to run here. I got into distance running towards the end of high school, before mapmyrun.com and the like existed. Using a Keymap (remember those?), ruler, and graph paper, I charted out routes in my neighborhood of various mileages and stuck them in order of distance them all on a poster board, hung in my room. Memorial, the suburban neighborhood where I grew up, was great for running. You could run for miles without having to deal with traffic lights, drivers were respectful of pedestrians, and the sidewalks were dependable. When I wasn’t training with my cross-country or track team, I also loved to drive to a nearby jogging trail, in Memorial Park, to do the three-mile gravel covered loop there. This was before I got into trail running, though I realize now that for the most part, our meets were actually trail runs. Of course, I think I didn’t associate running in the woods as “fun” back then because it happened mostly at meets, and in high school I did not associate maxing out physically as an enjoyable experience. Looking back, I do recall a time I found I liked trail running before arriving in Southern California- towards the end of our junior season our coach took the team to some local trails to do a moderate workout – the Ho Chi Minh trails (also in Memorial Park). They are some winding single track through the woods that were mostly used by bikers. I remember it being fun, and a new experience of being able to enjoy the surroundings instead of focusing on who was in front of and behind me.
When I started thinking about this entry, I wanted to write a comical diatribe at the various reasons Houston streets make a poor running environment. My new neighborhood in Houston is classifiably dangerous for street running, no doubt. I came within 4 feet of being hit by a car recently and it was neither an isolated or unavoidable encounter. Sidewalks are magic here- they just disappear into thin air! That being true, as I looked at my list of complaints I grew bored reading my own comments- it turns out at least in this case, whining is whining no matter how you dress it up. I deleted all of it. Instead, here’s the silver lining I had already arrived at- I’m going to get to know more of the natural, off the beaten path areas that I ignored when I was younger. I’m looking forward to searching out new trails in the Greater Houston area and just outside it. I bought a book, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Houston, which is more than enough to work with. At a glance, the largest net elevation change I will be hovers around 300 feet, which is lovely. That’s what it took to reach the end of my street in Southern California. I love running trails when they’re flat- not because they’re less physically demanding, but because I often find they are in really enchanting environments, and usually a bit more winding. If there’s no view “at the top”, then it has got to be the whole way, it would seem! In any case, near or far, I’m going to get my running adventures underway again.