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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Malani

I left my (running) heart in Ohio

This week I went to Wooster, Ohio. If you've never heard of it, that's normal, most people haven't. :) It's best described as literally the middle of nowhere, but in that town, there's a worldwide technology company that I do consulting for. The company, PRC-Saltillo, makes high-tech communication devices for individuals that are not able to speak. As an SLP, this area of practice is one of my most passionate service areas, so I'm very proud to work with PRC-Saltillo and help people find communication solutions.

Every year, in the summer, we have a week-long consultant meeting. The consultants in the US and Canada all descend on this small town and bring so much life to it! It's a wonderful week of collaborating and learning, and while the days are very long they are also full of fun. The leadership prioritizes service. So not only do they provide us with a week of education, they offer a day to go out in the community and serve various organizations (this year I helped clean a Scout room at a local church), and they serve us evening events that are as much a way to build camaraderie as well as just have a blast. This year, the CEO had us over to his house for dessert, drinks, and yoga on the lawn. They also arranged a night at an amusement park, and on another night a pub crawl (which I opted out of because I was tired and had a long day of travel the next day). :)

But, besides the people, my favorite thing about going to this annual meeting is...the running scenery and weather. The meeting always arrives just in time to give me a much needed break from the Florida heat and humidity. Even though I am not marathon training this summer, the unrelenting difficult training conditions make running a true activity of dedication vs motivation or even enjoyment. So to wake up the first day there and see it was 55 degrees and low humidity felt like literal heaven. I opted to take my rest day on my travel day so that I could enjoy 4 runs in Ohio and I am so happy I did!

When running in most of Florida, it's very, very flat. An overall elevation gain of 50 feet is considered "hill" work some days! Ha! Having cool weather and actual hills, I was ready to bring my running gear and was actually excited when the alarm went off at 5:00am.

Across the street from the hotel we stay in is a gorgeous mix of gardens, hills, and research facilities for The Ohio State University. (Go UCF Knights, but I'm very happy OSU has an agriculture campus in Wooster.) The Secrest Arboretum is in the back, just next to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). When combined, these add up to about 5 miles of road/trails that are very easy to access, as well as do repeat segments for longer milage. My coach gave me two hill sprint workouts this week, and even on my easy run days, I managed over 200 feet in elevation gain. The week offered gorgeous sunrises, varied terrain, magnificent scenery with manicured gardens and walkways, and of course, cooler temps and lower humidity. It truly renewed my love for summer running and in a small way, made me wonder what it would be like to live up there. (But let's be real, this native Floridan would never be able to survive their winters!)

In addition to loving every morning, one evening we had the chance to see our manufacturing facility. It's in a garage-like space that is on the CEO's property. We got to take a tour and I appreciated that this huge corporation that serves so many people in need, works in a very humble, non-assuming (but highly secure) space off a gravel road with horses across the street. We had the chance to sit outside on picnic tables and enjoy dessert and drinks. Some did yoga, some played corn hole, some (like me) took the opportunity to just sit and catch up with friends we don't get to see face to face too often. I also loved watching the lightning bugs (fireflies depending on where you're from). I remember loving watching these as a child when we lived in Pennsylvania, but I don't get to see them very often since we live in Florida. I took some videos to share with my kids and was almost entranced with them as we sat in the soft grass and enjoyed a cool evening without being eaten alive by mosquitos (like we would back home).

Due to some flight delays thanks to weather, I got home several hours later than I had planned, but I made it. Southwest was honestly super helpful and kind as we dealt with the storms and an unexpected landing in Jacksonville. Getting home later than normal however made it so I pushed my easy Saturday morning run to the afternoon, which meant taking it to gym treadmill (because running at 12:30pm in summer in Florida is a death wish). I suffered through 45 minutes on the treadmill, and realized that I was actually feeling anxious about the long run I had on Sunday (today). After several days of such fun and easy running conditions, I was nervous to be back in the hurt locker for a long run. It's funny how just a few days 'off' from these conditions makes you realize just how hard they are to run in.

I think that's why I dragged my feet so long this morning. I left my running heart in Ohio. I didn't have the drive to go out this morning, and I ended up starting my run a whole 45 minutes later than I had intended. Which, to be honest, was only making things harder on me since that meant the sun was up for my entire run vs just some of it. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy! But this is where dedication comes in. I had ZERO motivation to do a long run today. Zero. I had thoughts of bailing and pushing it off and adding in extra miles during the week. I had excuses popping up that I could convince myself (too tired from are busy many things) but in he end, the only way to get better is to actually work to get better. Today, for me, that meant overcoming so many obstacles to get my run started - and finished!

It ended up being a gorgeous run that felt smooth and strong, despite possibly almost drowning in sweat. Even though my running heart is still in Ohio and I may not find it until Florida winter rolls around, I am grateful for my week up there, and for not quitting when the motivation wasn't there today. I'm grateful for a week with colleagues spent learning and growing. I'm grateful for safe travels back home to be with my family, and I'm grateful for an upcoming week that will surely allow me to serve people and encourage people in a variety of ways.

Beautiful sunrise on day 1 in Ohio

Hill sprints on day 2

An easy run with a gorgeous sunrise. There is a farm in the back that you can't see here.

Day 4 with more hill sprints and exploring walking paths in the arboretum

Back in Florida...10 sweaty miles in the bank.

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