Sunday, February 22, 2009

Running My Roots

There is an old saying that “criminals always return to the scene of their crimes”. I have no idea how much truth there is in that – and it isn’t a perfect fit for this situation, but it’s catchy and certainly has its application. Perhaps more fitting – "at some point in time, people always return to their roots". And so our January race was, in many respects, a trip home.

Exactly 55 years, to the day, before our race on January 25th, I had my humble(?) beginnings in Oceanside, California. The race was in Carlsbad – a stone’s throw south on Interstate 5 – and to bring things full circle, we actually stayed on Camp Pendleton – where I allegedly entered the world – with virtually no hair, a Dad in Japan, and two older sisters already plotting how to get their brother in trouble and to ensure he would receive nothing even remotely resembling preferential treatment for as long as they had anything to say about it.

Notwithstanding that start, I still have memories of living in Oceanside as a 6 and 7-year old, such as first grade at Mission Elementary, our yard and hill, where we went to church, where Dad worked on base, where the Pendleton rodeo took place – and we tried to return to several of them during our trip back - to include both homes we lived in, photographed showing three generations! Oceanside has changed dramatically in the intervening 50 years – but it was a nice trip down a Memory Lane.

The trip was particularly noteworthy since Emily, Jared and “the boys” joined us. We stayed in some cinder block houses on a beach recreation areabut took advantage of our location to visit the San Diego Zoo and Sea World – and spend an hour or two on the beach behind our houses. It wasn’t really warm enough for much beach time, but we thoroughly enjoyed the zoo and Sea World and the weather cooperated.

As for the race – it was a good one. Probably about 9 of the miles were right along the Pacific Ocean and very pretty. The weather was just about perfect to run in – and the course nearly flat. It would have been a great course to try for a PR – but my objective was much less ambitious. Having just come off the hamstring injury, I was more interested in seeing how it responded and whether I would be ready for all 13.1 miles. As a result, I started at a very measured pace. When I felt myself settling in and feeling okay, I picked it up and actually ran with Karen almost the entire race. We finished together and it was great actually having some fans in the spectators; Emily, Jared, Rachel and the boys were all near the finish line to cheer us home – and they actually even saw us after we had passed them and were finishing! (So much for the pictures!)

Another highlight of the weekend was a visit with a cousin of Karen’s Mom and his wife in San Diego (Walter and Hilde). He is nearly 90 and still fit as a fiddle and they are a very cute couple. Rachel got to see actual oranges and lemons growing on their trees and was quite impressed. To top off the weekend, Karen and Emily made me a great dinner for my birthday and on the last day of the trip, we celebrated Rachel’s birthday together with breakfast at IHOP.

All in all, an excellent, fun weekend and visit and a great race for our 27th State. It was very encouraging to run without the hamstring acting up and if there is any “thoughtful” message in here, it is that we ALL have roots. In large measure – sometimes far more than we acknowledge – they mold who we are and dramatically impact where we are headed. In my case, I can only be thankful for my roots and for family today that reminds me of the importance of those roots into the future.