New Runs, New Home, New Life

As some of you know, I’m currently in San Diego. I have been living in Toronto, Canada since I was 3 years old and travelled here one week ago. I came to train and race my second ultra, Noble Canyon 50k, on a generous sponsorship from Sport Kilt.

This is my first athletic sponsorship and a very exciting opportunity for me. Although I’ve done a fair share of traveling through the States and overseas, I have never been in a city that felt quite like San Diego. There’s something about this place that grows on you. In other parts of the world I’ve felt like a tourist, happily passing through and experiencing new things. But San Diego feels like home.

The running here is like something straight out of my dreams. Hills and mountains and beaches and caves and canyons. Tough but breathtaking. I feel so blessed and fulfilled running through these trails that it’s hard to see myself living anywhere else. (The picture above is where I ran yesterday.)

In seven days, this city has opened its heart and its doors to me. Sometimes it’s big things – like being offered a great job, work visa, and an opportunity for me to stay permanently (more on that later). Or little things like winning Chargers game tickets. Or even the fact that in seven days I have more friends here than I ever did in Toronto.

But mostly it’s the running that’s blowing my mind. I can’t do these trails justice by describing the scenery or taking pictures. I can really only describe them by the way they make me feel and what they make me think. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had on my San Diegan trail runs:

1. Mostly I try to figure out how I got here. What I did right, or what turn I took to end up in such an amazing place. What I’ve even done to deserve this kind of beauty. How scenery so breathtaking can be free. I wonder whether I went the long way or the hard way or whether I hurt people to get here. Maybe I took some shortcuts or maybe I could have been here sooner. But it doesn’t matter now. I’m here. And I’ve found my personal heaven.

2. I feel closer to God.  This is something I’m reluctant to admit because I don’t really consider myself a religious person. This also doesn’t fit with what I’ve been taught about God. I’ve made enough wrong turns in my life to be told several times that I will never find peace. That God will punish, not bless me. I think the people I’ve hurt need to believe in divine justice. They need to think that God is paying me back. So it is with a bit of guilt that I bask in the feeling of being near Him. Of being loved and highly favored.

3. I don’t listen to much Christian music, and it’s been years since I’ve heard hymns. But when I run here, there is one hymn that always comes to mind. The lyrics embed themselves in my brain like a mantra, and I don’t know where they come from. But it makes me feel that the God I’ve been taught about isn’t the God that IS. That the real God perhaps doesn’t prioritize rewards and punishments. But instead teaches me daily what really matters: The rich, orange sand between my naked toes. And getting lost on the side of a mountain.

(Direct YouTube link HERE)

17 responses

  1. I feel the same way about San Diego. It’s just about my favorite place in the world, and yes, every time I’m there it feels just like home. A lot of friends of mine have said the same thing about that place, too. It used to be home to my husband, until he was 20 years old. I just love San Diego – and I’m jealous that you are there! :)

  2. Hi V, I used to travel to SD 2x per year to surf. I have friends who live in PB and LaJolla. Make sure you get to Black’s Beach and North County. Breathtaking views up there.

    I am so proud of you and all that you have done. Enjoy “God’s Country” you sure do deserve it!!!


  3. Vanessa:

    It brings tears to my eyes to hear you’re so happy! Despite what you’ve been taught/told, you deserve to be happy. You’re a great person and inspire virtually everytime I read your blog.

    My best,


  4. Yep! That sounds like the SoCal that I know and love and MISS SO MUCH!!! Can’t wait to move back. It likely won’t be to San Diego, but that’s ok, it will still be a SoCal ocean city and I’ll be back to where there is topography!!! Enjoy it!

  5. Vanessa, you don’t realize it but you are becoming an enlightened gnostic sufi:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?”
    Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God.
    Your playing small does not serve the world.
    We are born to manifest the glory of god within us.
    It’s not just in some of us – it is in everyone.
    And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


  6. Welcome to San Diego! Barefoot Angie Bee sent me over here! I am a Chicago native now living her in sunny southern California. There is definitely something special about San Diego and it quickly felt like home to me. I just posted with some pictures of a few of my favorite places to run. I wonder if you’ve tried them yet.

    I am so impressed that you are here on a scholarship to train for your next ultra! What an incredible opportunity! Congratulations!! We’ll have to meet up some day for a run. I’d love to hear about your ultra experiences. :)

  7. God is always asking you to turn to Him. You are His child. You are loved. You will find peace … peace in His arms. Keep searching!

    I know from experience that it’s difficult to develop the relationship with our Heavenly Father when the relationship with our earthly father has been extremely damaged.

    Looking forward to following your training for your next ultra!

  8. San Diego is a magical place – always something to do, even if that means doing nothing. Great place to go back to after your travels, to rest up, recharge, and head out again. Enjoy!

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