From Tourist, To Traveler
Sophie and her roommate are excited before the race.

From Tourist, To Traveler

The more I travel, the more obvious it becomes that things almost never go according to plan.

When my roommate and I decided to sign up for a coastal half-marathon in Wales, we imagined ourselves gallivanting effortlessly down a beach while a warm sunset peaked behind rolling hills in the distance. As you may have guessed, this was not how our little escapade played out.

image1Upon arriving in Wales, we were greeted by Storm Abigail, which had slowly been making the way through the northern UK and had just arrived in Wales. Our taxi driver did not seem fazed while the torrential rain fogged the windows and made the narrow road in front of us almost invisible. We sped down the winding road for what seemed like ages, until finally arriving in the quaint and tiny town of Rhossili.

That night as I lay in bed, listening to the wind chuck mysterious and heavy objects against the hostel window, I began to question seriously why I signed up for this. I honestly could not remember. I lay there pondering this poor life decision until two in the morning.

The next day we were given news that the race was still on and, luckily, the winds weren’t supposed to go over 45 mph. Thirty minutes in, the storm was in full swing. I had fallen seven times (I counted), clambered up two reasonably sized mountains and was currently running through a creek that just yesterday had been a trail.

While my feet slowly began to grow numb, I recalled an equally unfortunate memory. I thought back to the first day I had arrived in London. I had written my first article of the year, sharing the story of how I had managed to lose my luggage and the rest of my group within 24 hours of being overseas.

I remembered finishing off that article by saying, “Odds are this will not be the last seemingly unfortunate event that will occur in my next four months abroad, which in retrospect is probably the most exciting aspect of this experience.”

I had basically asked for an adventure like this, but once I got it I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice.

After this friendly reminder from my subtle subconscious, I snapped out of it and began to actually enjoy myself. Every time I fell after that, (four times to be exact) I laughed to myself, and every time I reached the top of a hill I would stop and soak in the view that was before me.

I had finally remembered why I signed up. Putting myself in uncomfortable and scary situations is one of the few things that can result in actual growth. Better than that, they tend to result in beautiful and wonderfully imperfect memories like this one.

Sophie Stickelmaier



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