I didn’t grow up as a runner. It wasn’t until later in college that I discovered the power of running and how much freedom it gave me. I was lucky enough to go to college in the northern part of New York State, surrounded by nature and beautiful trails. Although I was a swimmer for most of my time in college, I discovered running during my junior year.
With running, you are able to see the world around you. You’re able to watch seasons change and experience it first hand. You’re able to see people of all walks of life enjoying and experiencing the same outdoors you are. Since 2010, I’ve gone through hundreds of running shoes, and run in over 30 states.
Exercise and running is something you can control. You decide if you want to get out the door. Maybe that’s why in 2020, I’ve found myself more consistent with running than ever. As a military spouse, I’m no stranger to uncertainty and things changing last minute. Sadly, with the pandemic, 2020 is inconsistent and uncertain for everyone. It’s been a year of turmoil, with everyone being affected in some way.
Back in February and before the pandemic, my spouse and I found out we were moving from New Jersey to California. We lived in New Jersey for seven years and it was a big move. I spent most of my 20s in New Jersey and met some of my closest friends. A big move across the country is scary by itself. Then COVID hit. The uncertainty of moving, paired with the pandemic was mentally taxing.
Our move was delayed and we finally moved in July of 2020. Moving across the country during the pandemic was one of the scariest and also exciting things we’ve done. Along the way, we stopped at several rails to trails and had some of the most beautiful runs I’ve had in the decade of running. It was one of the best and most enjoyable ways to see the country safely.
Now, after moving and assimilating into California, my life is back to being uncertain. My spouse is often gone, I’m currently searching for jobs, and looking for ways to safely make friends. Throughout the last few months, there is one thing that has remained consistent and that is my love and enjoyment for running.
I can control when I get up and get out the door. I’ve leaned into the beautiful Napa Vine Trail. The Napa Vine Trail is a newer grass-roots, nonprofit, rails to trail and still a work in progress. Once it’s fully complete it will run 47 miles from Vallejo, CA, to Calistoga, CA. The vision is to build a trail system to connect the entire Napa Valley safely.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail provides a safer place for bikers, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Napa County is in California’s top ten counties for bicycle accidents with vehicles. With the Napa Valley Vine Trail, bikers can safely exercise or even commute to work. Along the trail, the Napa Valley Vine Trail even has bike shelters and repair stations, with maps and local information. With the construction of the trail, there have been over 300 new trees planted to provide shade as well as a promise not to build or destroy Vineyards.
As of now, they are working on 10 sections. I’m lucky enough to live nearby one of the 12.5 mile completed sections in the heart of Napa.
For me, I feel lucky the Napa Valley Vine Trail is a safe place to go out for a run. Did you know 70% of Americans would get out the door to work out if they felt safer?
It doesn’t matter what other life events I have going on, I know I can go out, get a run in, and feel like I have some sort of life routine. This has become especially important in 2020. In a world of so much uncertainty, I know running is always there for me. This has been a similar mentality I’ve taken through most of my adult life. As a military spouse, not much is routine but I do know I can count on my workout time on the trails as my “me time”.
As a trail advocate, a huge part of the reason I love trails is you never know who you’ll see out there. There are many fast runners that use the trails but there are also families walking, people walking their dogs, people riding bikes, evening those commuting to and from jobs, and those just getting out there of all ages. The diversity of people you see on the trail is truly beautiful and there is no “type of person” using the trails.
When I’m out for my morning run, I feel a sense of community. Everyone is out trying to be active. There are morning hellos, waves, and smiles from people of all walks of life. It’s something I’ve grown to appreciate. Even though I’ve only been here a few months, I’ve grown to see familiar faces out.