Race SLO Community Ambassador - Jarod Contreras

Our Race SLO ambassadors share their stories about motivation, determination, endurance and growth to inspire us and remind us that we are on this journey together.

Home Trails

The early morning sun illuminated the fog hanging over the ocean as my father and I power hiked up a favorite local climb: Pirate Trail. As the name suggests, this trail is wild and rebellious in its difficulty. On that quiet summer day in September of 2017 both my dad and I had a lot on our minds, for much the same reason. In a couple short weeks I would be heading off to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Meaning that I would be leaving my family to attend a school four hours north, a fact that was causing my dad and I much consternation on that dusty run.

The act of moving out of the house for the first time causes many parents and children consternation, I know, not just due to the significance of the shift, but also due to the realization that the child is no longer a child. As Pirate pitched ever upwards our thoughts were on much the same idea, but there was also something more. My family and I are best friends, which may sound odd coming from a 19 year-old, but in most cases I would much rather embark on an adventure with my family more than anyone else. My dad, mom, sister, and I are a tribe and leaving the day to day rhythms and security of that tribe would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do, both my dad and I knew.

IMG_5856 2.JPG

As we approached the top of Pirate we began to discuss our love of our home trails. The place where I began to run and trained to adventure everywhere from the Grand Canyon to the Sierras to the Bryce Canyon 100, which I had run just a few months before. Leaving my home trails would not be as hard as leaving my family, but challenging nonetheless.

Instead of turning around at the top of the climb to do another lap, as we usually do, we decided to do some exploring. We headed off into the open lands surrounding the small neighborhood atop the hill, running and hiking with smiles as we opened our horizons on the trails we ran everyday. As we made our way overland we chatted easily, about nothing and everything, as we tend to do. The hillside pitched steeply upwards yet again and we traversed the sagebrush, eventually finding ourselves standing on a small road. We walked down the road a bit and emerged onto more trails unknown to us. The vista from that spot was magnificent, encompassing our trails, the Pacific, and Catalina Island, all sitting quietly in the distance.

IMG_5911.JPG

Looking out at where I had grown up, and faced with the coming change, I began to cry. I looked over at my dad and he began to cry as well. We held each other tightly and through our tears we carried on a conversation that I will forever hold dear. My dad emphasized to me how close, in the grand scheme of things, my hometown was from college. He told me that I must remember that he, my mom, and my sister were always there for me, no matter what. He reminded me how much he loved me.

That conversation armed me with the confidence to approach college with a new outlook: as an adventure to be had and a time to grow, not as a terrible change. The fact that that exchange occurred on a trail was significant to me as well. It signified and solidified the notion to me that whatever happened in the coming year of college I must remember that I would forever be able to return to the solace I find in a run in the mountains and the subsequent peace that I find in myself.