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Going home

OLEAN --I don't wear my alma mater on my sleeve, but as most people who enjoyed their four-year undergraduate college career, going back to campus is a bit like coming home.

Homecomings have different meanings at different times in you life. During the current track of my marathon/triathlon training, this particular return to St. Bonaventure brings about fitness memories.

My track to good health, after all, started here.

Actually, my track to bad health started here, too. As in the freshman 15. Or the freshman 50. Or was it the freshman 500? I don't know, but suffice it to say I fell into the trap of ubiquitous food and unhealthy calories and late night studying and socializing like pretty much every other 18-year-old on the planet.

By my junior year in college, I was heavy, unhealthy and unhappy.

That's when one of the athletic trainers at school helped me gain some perspective. She encouraged me to eat healthy and educated me on good food choices to make. She would power walk with me. I found other girls in my dorm who wanted to go to the fitness (which in those olden days was off campus) and we would dutifully go every Monday-Wednesday-Friday morning at 6 a.m. or so to get in some time on the stationary bike or stepper.

Gradually I started getting healthier. I dropped weight. I started feeling better about myself. I wanted to learn more and more about healthy eating and working out. It was a trend I continued even as I got my first full-time job in Olean -- power walking the River Walk trail, eating healthy foods and gradually cutting out things like red meat and junk food.

I had setbacks at times. I gained some weight back.

But my time in Olean helped me rediscover how much I loved physical activity. In many ways, it was my reawakening to the fact that I could, indeed, be an athlete if I redefined what being an athlete meant. It was the time that set me on the path to where I could be today -- a triathlete and aspiring marathoner.

Sometimes, it's good to go home again, to see how far you've come and to remind you of the spark that started it all.

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