There and Back: My Return to Running

I am a runner. Even though I took a major hiatus from running, it has always been part of me. From my cross country and track and field days in high school to marathon training nowadays, running has been a part of my life. I’m inspired by those around me as well as the satisfaction I get physically and mentally through running.

It’s a state of mind. My cross country coach imprinted it on our shirts and our minds: “I will do today what you won't, so tomorrow I can do what you can't.”

We were awarded medals when our frosh/soph cross country team won the Delta League Championship in 2003.

We were awarded medals when our frosh/soph cross country team won the Delta League Championship in 2003.

Before I started high school, I got a call from the cross country coach, Coach Glenn Rogers, asking me if I’d be interested in joining the cross country team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I wanted to be on a sports team so the answer was YES. Little did I know that that moment would change my life.

On the cross country team, I discovered that while running is an individual sport, it is also one that depends on the support around you. It was this feeling of camaraderie with my teammates that I will never forget. We had each other's backs. We supported each other by cheering and pushing each other throughout the race (Just keep running, just keep running. What do we do? We run run.). We spent a plethora of time together - from early morning to travel for meets until late evening when we'd return to campus. While the seasons changed, I continued running track and field in the springtime, where that fellowship continued.

You would think I kept running in college, but I did not. I regret it, especially since I went to school in Portland, Oregon, where many of the greatest runners originated and where the terrain and weather conditions were ideal. But other priorities came first, and I didn’t know what to do without my running community back home.

Flash forward to Thanksgiving 2012, when I signed up along with coworkers for the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Getting out there with friendly faces reminded me that I still had it in me. Shortly afterward, I met new friends by joining the Tuesday night run club at RoadRunner Sports (Hi Liane and Liane!).  It was on Tuesday nights where I met many of the folks that I still run with today.

California International Marathon (CIM) 2016 was my first full marathon and I was able to finish strong alongside a few special ladies (Laurie and Taryn Powers) from my Wednesday night run group.

California International Marathon (CIM) 2016 was my first full marathon and I was able to finish strong alongside a few special ladies (Laurie and Taryn Powers) from my Wednesday night run group.

From then on, I was determined to get back into running, along with some help from my friends. I signed up for the Run the Bay Challenge as a birthday gift to myself in 2014 and I also completed two half-marathons - runDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon and San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. In 2016, besides finishing two more half-marathons: the Artichoke Half Marathon and Portland Half Marathon, I signed up for the California International Marathon (CIM), my first full marathon. I ran CIM with my running buddy, Taryn Powers. After finishing strong together and feeling great afterward, I feel like I’ve come full circle by reestablishing a supportive running community and rekindling that thrill for running. CIM was also quite the experience that I signed up to come back for more next December.

I’ve returned to running -- yes, it’s taken me five years, but it’s great to be reunited with my old self. My muscles seem to remember how to stretch, how to sprint on a track, and how to react in races. At times, I lose myself in my run, reminiscing to my cross country and track days. It has been a joy reconnecting with this passion of mine, and I'm excited to see what adventures are in store, places to explore, and experiences to have because of running. Also, I’m delighted to have my friends there to support me along the way.

This year, I’m going to be running the 2nd Annual Fire Drill 5k/10k Run in Mountain View, the Elk Half Marathon, CIM (again), and Walt Disney World's Dopey Challenge (Pluto’s 5K, Minnie’s 10K, Donald’s Half Marathon and Mickey’s Marathon).

I’m looking forward to another year of training with friends and possibly getting a PR here and there! Follow me on Instagram (@tarra.runs) as I record my training runs and races. :)

Sophia Wong