“Asha, the alarm’s just gone.” The voice of my roommate, still heavy with sleep, woke me at 5:30 on Tuesday morning. At the moment, I couldn’t help but wonder why I decided to sign up for running passage: an entire semester of early morning chill through the open window seemed far from inviting. But, upon remembering the other runner who needed waking up, I trudged out of bed and up the second set of stairs in Midlands dorm. Within 20 minutes, my running shoes were laced up and we set off.
Eager yet apprehensive is perhaps the best way to describe my emotions regarding the run that lay ahead. While I couldn’t wait to be outside, active in the mountain air, I had also never ran for almost an hour at a time before, especially not in a hilly terrain with changing slopes. Yet even if I wasn’t fast enough, strong enough now, the idea that I soon could be was what inspired me to walk up to school with enthusiasm just as the sun was beginning to peak over the hills.
We were a small group, four students from across grade levels, three teachers, and an assortment of mountain dogs who decided to tag along. The other students were in the same boat as me, so we took it slow, our focus being on maintaining rhythm and consistency with our strides. I then had the opportunity to absorb the scenery; monkeys perched lazily on branches, village life unfurling in the early mornings, the dense green landscape across the hills. Despite the cold air and looming mountains, so different from my village on the Konkan coast, there was something about it that felt like home. The mountain dogs had longer, thicker fur and the air was crisp in a way that Goa never is, but in the clarity of early morning, the parallels between the two places I call home were unavoidably delineated.
Over the course of our 45 minute run, I was pushed to my physical limits. It was difficult to believe Ms. Imtiaz when she said that “by the end of the semester, this will be easy.” The only thoughts I was capable of conjuring in my mind were commands to keep my feet moving forward, focus on the sharp tug in my weary lungs, and efforts to follow through with Mr. Farnham’s reminders to keep our hands up “like a T-rex!”
By the time we returned to the main gate and concluded stretching, I was able to reflect upon how the experience reminded me of many of the reasons why I am at Woodstock – where else in the world would I get to run by Jabharket nature reserve, on a road lined with khalaghas weeds and pine trees, before heading to homeroom and math class? Exhausted yet invigorated by the end of the run, the shortness of my breath felt synonymous with success and an indicator of all the ways in which I was about to grow.
Asha is Editor-in-Chief.