I am now a college graduate.
As my college's president expressed during his opening speech at the ceremony, commencement is both an end and a beginning. Just as the seasons shift, this is a natural change in my life. I knew of its occurrence months, years, in advance and did what I could to prepare for it, although I could never have predicted the precise outcome. I could never have dreamed of such wonderful years and people to spend them with, and I'm still unsure of how I feel about the change. What I am sure of, however, is that I will be studying at the University of Florida for graduate school. I will also search for teaching positions in hopes of beginning my career.
This marks the end to my running on a competitive team as much as it marks the end of my undergraduate education. Despite these endings, I will continue to run and compete and I will continue my education, but simply in other locations. A new location to call home also means new old lands to explore, learn, and appreciate, something I am exceedingly excited to do.
To end my undergraduate schooling and running, I logged one last long solo run in Guana River WMA. The paths were familiar, and I traversed many of my favorites. The observation tower at mile 2.5, the still-dry prairie trails, down to the sticky dark mud at the water's edge. As I returned to the parking lot, I managed to make a few new discoveries. Eleven young alligators waited, heads resting on the water's dark glassy surface, for my exit. Others looked on from the banks, as if wanting to say goodbye.
I will return, and I know these runs, this point in my life, will not be the same, but the thrill of the new is pulling me forward.