As many of you may know, I grew up playing softball. I spent 90% of my weekends growing up on the ball field and I loved it, and hated it a lot…but mostly loved it. Every Monday night I’d head to the local batting cages with my dad for a hitting lesson from my batting coach, every Wednesday night I’d drive with my dad to Beaumont for fielding lessons, and the rest of the week, I’d spend hours after school at the cages by myself, so much so, my senior year I got my first job there, loading balls into the machines and checking people in at the front desk. It was great. When the place was empty, I’d set the machine up to throw short hops at me and would just sit there for hours with my glove fielding balls. On weekends, we’d either have tournaments in Hemet or 8 hour practices on both Saturdays & Sundays in Temecula. Like I said, I loved it, I really did. I went on to compete collegiately as a shortstop for Cal State University Monterey Bay. I graduated in 2018, earning a degree in Marketing, now 4 years ago (crazy time flies). I know this blog is greatly veering from my normal travel content, I’m sorry, but enjoy anyway.
January 1st 2022, I signed up for my first half marathon. A friend of mine talked me into following a 12 week program she swore by and on this new journey I went. I looked for a race 12 weeks out and happened to find one exactly 12 weeks away in Seattle, Washington, where my brother lives—The Seattle Cherry Blossom Half Marathon. See! Seattle…travel…we’re back on track. Soon after I signed up, my brother jumped on board and signed up as well. The race actually finishes in the Quad at the University of Washington; arguably the most beautiful place to see cherry blossoms! And, in the spirit of keeping my travel theme, we did also manage to explore Washington Park Arboretum and Seward Park a bit the day after the race and we saw lots more cherry blossoms! See! My travel tip of this blog is to see the cherry blossoms in Seattle! Boom.
Anyway, let’s back up a bit. Rewind. My 12 weeks were up and it was time to compete. I hopped on a plane Thursday evening after work, worked remote on Friday and then Saturday was our race day. It felt like game day just like softball used to. Only I wasn’t competing with anyone, just myself and my goal of finishing it. My brother and I woke up at 5am on Saturday, threw on our game day attire that we had nicely laid out the night before, took the subway to campus (my California native self found this fascinating), and by 7am, the gun went off and off we went.
I felt great and my pace was much faster than it had been all during training (must have been that game day adrenaline). In just under 2 hours & 30 minutes, I crossed the finish line, and man, I felt proud. I certainly didn’t jog very fast, but for 13.1 miles consecutively, I jogged without stopping, and for that, I am proud.
Now, fast forward to today, a week since my race, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what’s next, my health and how to stay motivated. And these words just seemed to spill out.
To all my former athletes out there:
Nobody prepares you for life after being a college athlete. You train your whole life trying to get there, 15+ years of every single day in some way being about a game, chasing a dream.
And then, it’s gone. And, suddenly you’re identity, a big part of what made you, you, goes with it. It’s just…gone.
Working out and eating healthy used to come so easy to me. I was the annoying teammate who enjoyed waking up at 5am for weights. Who looked forward to mile testing each year because I trained all summer for it and knew I was ready. Who stayed after practice for more reps, who went to the gym after a 4 hour practice to get stronger because I craved success. Like seriously, my teammates can attest, I was obsessed.
Now, working out feels like a chore, and suddenly my body doesn’t need an entire family sized box of pasta but I eat it anyway (oops).
It’s tough, I imagine not just for me, but for all retired athletes to find internal motivation, to work on your health just for you and not to be better at a game or prove anything to anyone. I’m still trying to navigate this concept daily.
I signed up for a half marathon barely able to run a mile and more out of shape and heavier than I have ever been. I didn’t lose a miraculous amount of weight and magically gain clarity about my life but I did find comfort in the motivation I felt and the consistency of running routinely; of working towards a goal.
So, here’s to all the washed up athletes who are also still struggling to find their paths and that spark they once felt in other aspects of life. I don’t quite have the answers. I imagine nobody does. I think working on ourselves is a job we never retire from.
I’m not a great runner, but hey, I think I’m going to keep doing it.
Thanks for reading! And as always, travel on my friends.