I'm afraid I haven't been completely honest with all of you. As much as I love the author photo posted on this site, it was taken at least fifteen years ago. For various reasons, I've never gotten around to getting a new one. But as it becomes clear that I am an older and more grizzled version of that guy, I'm not just going to leap blindly into the world of author photos.

So I've been running. That's no surprise. Ever since my knee doctor pronounced the surgically repaired joint healthy enough for running I've been hitting the trails. What was once no big deal I now count as a blessing, because I never though I'd run those trails again. So it is that Live Oak, Mining Car, and Twisty Tire were all on the itinerary today. The weather here in the OC is cooling off and the sunlight is turning pale for autumn. These are my favorite days for running and I enjoyed my journey through O'Neill Park. I began planning a course for a proposed cross country invitational I want to host next year and almost stepped on an adolescent rattlesnake. My mind was wandering, thanks to the run, and it wasn't until the last minute that I leapt in the air and shrieked like a startled Fräulein upon seeing the snake — which was hardly camouflaged at all, being golden orange in color.

It's not just the trails that I love, but this returning sensation of being an athlete once more. When I began the life-changing act of running again, I found that I wanted more from myself. More push-ups, more squats, more agility. Hill repeats are helping me rebuild my lactate threshold but it's the steady diet of pool, mobility, walking, and core that's making my body move with more confidence. I've lost a little weight and have plans to lose more. It's a process. In the meantime, I am enjoying this journey of being a better version of me. With my mom dying recently of Alzheimer's, it feels vital to get the sleep and brain-cleansing cardio that will hopefully keep me sharp for decades to come.

And while I know this all sounds a little preposterous, I am also doing this because my teams are watching. Yes, I want a shiny new author photo, me looking all sleek and suave. And I definitely want to be an athlete, ready for the physical and mental discipline that entails. But as someone who coaches high school cross country, I can't tell my teams to push their limits if I won't. Or tell them not to eat poorly, and then make bad choices myself. Or tell them to commit, if I am unwilling to be one hundred percent in.

I was lost after my mom died. I felt like a ship listing to one side, unsure of how to right myself. I pulled out my yellow planning pads to write out my plan for the next year — but I had no idea where I was headed. I don't feel like the loss is behind me. I know better than that. But I'm taking action and making plans, trying as always to find another mountain to climb. And whether that peak is someplace I am running or someplace in my head, it is a worthy pursuit.