Saturday, June 18, 2011


In two hours, I will be 22.  Yet instead of feeling like my youth is slipping through my fingers, I suddenly feel like anything is possible. I don't mean to make a mountain out of a molehill here, because I am certainly not "good" at running yet; I've yet to run my first race and my pace is painfully slow. But tonight, on the eve of my birthday, I ran over two miles. Even at the fittest I've ever been in my life, I've never been able to run two miles continuously. And somehow, getting involved in running, researching the best running shoes [I'm hopelessly addicted to Vibram Fivefingers Classics], reading everything I can get my hands on about ultramarathoners [Born to Run and anything by Dean Karnazes is fantastic] has rejuvenated my spirit in a way that traveling the world never did. Sure, if you have the funds and an adventurous spirit, you can travel the world and have adventures. But running- pushing yourself to your limit and then barreling past it- is a whole new kind of adventure. The earth itself has limits, but the human spirit has none.

Triathletes and marathoners hit their strides in their late twenties and early thirties. While going to the Olympics for nearly any other sport at age 35 would seem ludicrous, it's not uncommon to see even older athletes lining up at the starting line for Olympic marathon trials. I'm not even suggesting that one day I would be good enough to do these things, but they're still possibilities. And at this point in my life, where my dreams of cheering in college, of marrying a prince [just kidding on that one- my fiance is better than any musty old prince any day], of being an Olympic gymnast, and countless other dreams have been exhausted, possibilities are exhilarating.  I thought after my knee surgery that I would never again be able to push my body to its breaking point, and yet I've started to do just that.

I'm so excited about this new chapter of my life and about all these new possibilities. Twenty-two is going to be the best year yet, and I can't wait to see what happens.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Whole New World

Hello, everybody!

I started this blog as a continuation of my now-defunct blog, Salaam wa Hubb. Salaam wa Hubb was a travel blog I kept from 2008 to 2011, while I followed my passion for Africa from Morocco to Egypt, studying and living abroad.  In late 2010, I made the extremely difficult decision to move back to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and finish my degree in International Studies at the University of Alabama to, among other things, be with my fiance, a competitive cyclist.  The first several months I was back in America were rocky; I was living with the love of my life but some element of adventure was missing. I sank deep into a depression, desperate for some new challenge to conquer. Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to fix myself, I took up running.

I have never been particularly gifted when it comes to running. I grew up in ballet, gymnastics, and eventually dedicated myself to competitive cheerleading. I was the captain of a three-time national champion squad my senior year of high school, and I loved everything about it: the way it made my body look, the way it made me feel, the sassy outfits, and of course, the thrill of winning competitions- of throwing stunts and tumbling passes that could kill you, and making them look easy.  I was hellbent on cheering in college, but near the end of my senior season, an unpleasant surprise came my way: I tore my ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in competition.

I directed my attentions to new challenges and learned Arabic, and then followed that passion to North Africa. When I came back, I was hungry for something else that would seem impossible. Even in top physical shape, nearly five years ago, I could barely tough out a mile with my squad. After my knee surgery, I thought there was no way my body could handle running. And yet, as I've eased into it, I've learned to love it, and the pain the accompanies it.

Tonight I grit my teeth through a tough run- 2.25 miles nonstop, something I've never done in my life. I know that doesn't sound like much, but the euphoria from that accomplishment has carried me along all night. Hopefully in several months, I'll look back on this post and laugh at how far I've come.

This blog will chronicle my new athletic adventure. I'm starting from the ground-up and believe me, I'm terrified. But I'm also ridiculously excited. I can't wait to conquer this new mountain. Over the next year or so, I have three goals:

1. Finish a half-marathon
2. Compete in my first triathlon
3. Bike the US for MS with my fiance

This will not be purely a running blog, obviously. I'm going to be training for three separate events that span three sports, and I'm sure to have a lot to say about all of it. So, if you want to follow along to track my progress, be my personal cheerleader, or simply laugh at my mistakes, you're welcome here. Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more of each other.