Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Home isn't the first thing you think about in regards to running. Actually home is usually referenced as a place to run away from. Despite the initial disconnect between home and running, I've been giving a lot of thought to the sense of place and what home means on a larger scale; both in terms of running and life in general.

I recently traveled home for my grandpa "Boompa"'s funeral. As I typed that I realized that I still reference Duluth, Minnesota as home, despite having lived in Denver now for nine years.

Duluth, MN just a little village on a hill next to the greatest lake of them all

I've been away from Duluth for most of my adult life. Yet I still always say I'm going home when I travel to Minnesota and I always label it as home in conversations. The message of home popped up a lot in the few days I spent with family. My nephew Braden asked when I was coming to see his new home, my mom asked when my sister and I would be home after drinking at the local watering hole with my shiny headed friend Matt, the priest at St. Paul's read a passage from a small bible given to Boompa before he went to war about home, and everyone asked if my home in Denver was underwater.

I feel blessed that I have a lot of places to call home, but I also feel like home extends to the people and activities I am lucky enough to be a part of. They are not always in the same place, but the act of being there or participating in it feels like home to me.

For many runners the act of running is home. The feel of moving your legs, pounding your feet on pavement or trail, it has a familiarity to it that evokes the idea of home. You can be running anywhere in the world and the constant will be the simple act of running. When I struggle in a race or training run I find the most success focusing in on the simpleness of running. One foot in front of the other, lift your knee up, keep your torso straight don't hunch over! The repetitiveness and expected helps tune your body back to what it needs to do to accomplish it's task. Sometimes we all need to go home to the mundane and expected to re-tune ourselves to the task at hand.

There are moments in races that feel home to me. Just like home, which can sometimes feel unsteady or exciting, the start of a race brings up the same feelings. For example, the start of Grandma's Marathon has been in the same place every year I've run it. You get on a bus and it drops you off at the Sonju Two Harbors car dealership and you slowly make your way from the biffys to the starting corral. Every year I'm nervous, excited, a little unsteady. But all those feelings are comforting in their familiarity. Home isn't always rainbows and sunshines, but there is comfort in its familiarity.

Beyond running I find home in lots of things in my life. Molly Brown is my ultimate home. Dale's Pale Ale is my home beer whenever I am at a liquor store or random bar in Frisco, Texas. My purple Patagonia Hoody with thumb holes is my home apparel whether runnings, skiing, frisbeeing, hanging, working, etc...

At the closing of Boompa's service, the priest described Boompa's home as being in his chair, with his pipe, and a dog at his feet. Home can mean a lot of things, but it's often the place you feel the most able to be yourself. Or rather you don't really think about yourself because you're able to just be. There's no limit on how many "homes" you can have, and if you are lucky you have many.