Running forges connections at home and abroad for student

Running is one of my favorite ways to get to know a place, both at home and abroad.
I don’t have the best sense of direction so sometimes this affinity gets a little dicey, but it has always been worth it.
Running has a way of highlighting the good and elevating the mundane; maybe it’s the endorphins, maybe it’s magic, but not even shin splints and side stitches can dim the warm glow around memories of running.
I went to France after my senior year of high school and stayed with a host family in the French Alps.
I ran a couple of miles on the unpaved roads around their property with my host brother Hugo, who was in much better shape than me and kindly matched my stride.
(“Leisurely” is the generous way of describing my pace; “slow” is the more straightforward.)
We talked in French and English about life and travels and where we imagined ourselves in 10 years as we ran in the shadow of the snow-capped mountains.
I wasn’t used to running at elevation and consequently huffed and puffed through much of our excursion, but by the time we had looped back to the farmhouse, my grin couldn’t have been wider. Runner’s high is real, y’all!
When I went to Yellowstone with my dad this summer, I couldn’t wait to hit the trails, both to hike with him and run by myself.
We stayed in a cabin in the woods right outside Gardiner, Mont., surrounded by trees and stars and dirt roads.
I ran along the trails by the cabin, having enough foresight to follow the stream.
I was more motivated to keep up the pace this time because there was no cell service and I didn’t want my dad to think I had gotten mauled by a bear if I stopped for too many walk breaks.
Pushing my body while drinking in the sight of a gorgeous part of the country was an absolutely intoxicating combination.
And how could I forget Erie?
I fall in love with this city more and more every time I lace up my sneakers.
I adore running through the parks, by the bayfront and in the neighborhoods.
You can catch me on the streets in my neon shorts and practical-but-ridiculous fanny pack at all hours, from early Sunday mornings to weeknights long after the sun has set.
After coming back from fall break two Sundays ago, I took a run to the Bicentennial Tower before bed.
I took the path in front of Hamot that winds down to the bay, passing several nurses and doctors out for late-night strolls, before crossing State Street.
Watching the dark waves lap at the pier and not being able to make out Presque Isle across the bay, but knowing it was there, brought an incredible sense of peace and gratitude.
I’m happy to call this place home for nine months of the year.
Running grounds me in all senses of the word.
It relieves stress, clears my mind and connects me to myself and the world around me.
I’m not sure yet where I’ll end up, but I know I’ll definitely be bringing comfy sneakers and a good sports bra.

ALEX STAUFF
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