The hills were alive with the sound of heavy breathing and running shoes. My love of running started when I was a dejected 22-year-old living in Palo Alto all alone after my boyfriend broke up with me the night I arrived. Yes, Pity Party reservation for one. I could have come straight home, but nobody–especially no boy–was going to tell me what to do. So I lived a year of my life in Palo Alto out of spite.
And it actually wasn’t all bad. I met and got the autograph of Pat Conroy. I made a friend that I still have today. And I discovered my love of running.
After work one day, a woman in the marketing department asked me if I wanted to go running with her. She seemed sad and lonely, and I was sad and lonely; so we were a match. She took me to the campus of Stanford University, and we ran through the hills behind campus. What I remember most is the dish. There was a radio telescope at the top of one of the hills, and I think it’s even called the Stanford Dish Trail. Regardless of what it was called, it was beautiful. The hills were a mixture of brown and green. Out one side we could see some more rolling hills, and the other side offered a view of the entire campus and even a view of the Dumbarton Bridge (I think that’s the one; there are so many darn bridges up there.) I think I even saw some cattle roaming around.
After that, post-work runs became a regular thing. Sometimes we’d run through campus, and sometimes we’d just run the dish trail. I can’t say that I remember every detail, but the feeling is something I’ll never forget. That view was so beautiful, so inspiring. And at the end of the run–full of sweat and exhaustion–I felt inspired.
I continue to be inspired by running today. And I’ll never forget those grassy hills that marked the beginning of my love of that rhythmic sound of soles slapping against the pavement.