Yes, that is the question isn't it? I have been gone from the blog for a couple weeks, but I have been keeping up with the podcast. In this time of real busyness I decided that the podcast was what needed my focus, so the blog suffered. I feel bad that I didn't keep up with this here, because writing really is my first love, but I will be getting back to it I promise. 

Anyways, enough of the apologies, let me answer the question of where I have been. Over the past few weeks I have balanced the launch of Target Release Recovery, AP tests, finals, studying (for those very same tests), preparing for graduation, actually graduating, my drivers test, training for my 100, and the podcast. There has been a lot on my plate, but I knew going into this adventure that I would have to balance a lot. Sometimes the trail is smooth, other times it's rocky. Recently it has been very rocky, but I have applied the same lesson that I have learned in trailrunning when encountering rocky terrain. Stay light on your feet and be ready for anything, take it one step at a time. So in these past few months I have stayed light when facing challenges and stayed ready for anything, above all I have taken the stressors and joys one step at a time.

One of the biggest focuses that I had these past few weeks was making sure that I finished out the year with all A's. Last semester I got one B, which was my own fault and while a B is great to some, to me it's a failure. So this semester I studied hard and planned ahead, ensuring that I finished the year with straight A's. It worked for all of my classes, except one. For my AP Governement/Economics class I had an 88%, even with the final input of grades and if I got even 100% on the final I would still only have an 89%. So what did I do? I headed right to my teacher to talk to her, because in making happen what you want to happen you must use all of the resources available to you. Through the art of conversation or through small talk, whatever you want to call it, I was able to get a 90%. Yes I was able to talk and I guess you could say "shmooze" my way into an A. Shmoozing as a tactic is, to me, usually quite despicable, because I associate it with politicians. However, in conversation I think there is a level of "shmooze" that we can use that does not cross over the line into evil. I think what I'm calling "shmooze" has an insincere quality with a hidden agenda. What I'm really getting at is that in conversation I think you must be sincere, you must lay yourself out there for all to see, and then those you are speaking to will want to help.

Beyond school and the focuses I had there with tests and grades, I also passed my drivers test!  I took it for my second try two weeks ago and I was much more prepared. I knew what to expect, seeing as how it was my second time, and I had practiced in the three weeks since my first try. Going into the test I most definitely felt nervous and since it is the DMV I had a long time to be nervous, we had to wait for 2 and a half hours! Throughout that time I chatted with my mom and dad, I meditated, napped, and wrote. To me I use meditation as a tool against boredom, because we don't always need to be stimulated by screens or noise. Silence is the best company.

Once it was time for the test I again breathed in and breathed out. I took the instructions one step at a time, applying what I have learned. I only made a minor mistake, which was similar to my original mistake on the first test of turning, so that is obviously something I need to work on. Thankfully I passed!  

As for my high school graduation it has had one theme, lack of planning. My school has a knack for forgetting to do things and not grasping the situation, well they did it again. This year the instructions, directions, and details have been not only downright confusing, but in some cases nonexistent. Graduation, especially with 600 students graduating, should be a time of organization, but apparently my school doesn't understand that. Amongst the chaos I have tried my best to find peace, I have learned the information that I need to know and organized my own schedule to facilitate a smooth execution as best I can.

A few days before the graduation we had an award ceremony in the auditorium. It was for academic, athletic, community, and other assorted achievements and scholarships. I was recognized for my straight A's and exceptional academics a few times. It's always nice to know that the hard work you put in is recognized. But, by far the coolest recognition I got was being awarded Student of the Year. While you may think that I was awarded that award because of my academics, I was actually awarded it due to my running. Here's what the Magnet Coordinator (who is for all intents and purposes my principal) said:

"For those of you in the Magnet you know how much you must balance. You must balance ordinary classes, AP classes, community service hours, extracurricular activities, clubs, school events, sports, and family. While everyone must balance that, this next student balances even more. While he may not participate all that much in school activities, he runs...a lot. On June 16th he will be running the oh what's its name? (she forgot the name of the race and I had to YELL Bryce, because by that time I knew it was me). Oh yes, on June 16th he will be running the Bryce 100! Yes, he will be running 100 miles! A century! Also he says that he didn't join cross country because it was too short. The Student of the Year award goes to Jarod Contreras!"

That whole statement was incredible to hear and meant a lot. When she said that it was going to be 100 miles the entire audience erupted in shock and awe, they also laughed hard at the fact that cross country is to short for me. But, once she said he runs a lot I knew and my friends knew that it was me, but before that I had no idea so it was a total shock. I am so glad that they recognized me, even though I have always tried to keep a low profile at school.

When it came time to actually graduate I was ready. The whole school and I had practiced the day before and the days leading up had been casual and fun, hanging out with teachers and friends. I didn't go to school the day of graduation, instead running with my dad and relaxing at home. I made sure to dress nice for the event, which for me meant a cowboy shirt! The line for the family and friends to get in ran all the way around the block, but the line for the students was super quick, I just walked right in.

It was nice before the ceremony to hang out with all of the people I know, for one last time really. I don't get sentimental or sad all that often, instead I recognized this final hurrah and stayed present. It was a sea of students and I had trouble finding my friends within it, but once I did it was nice to just laugh and talk. 

Of course the ceremony began with a dramatic walk to our seats, with music in the background as we stepped through the victory arch. All a little too over the top for me, but at least I saw my family in the stands. As we took our seats there was the requisite confusion, even though we "practiced," once that subsided we soon found our way.

The ceremony commenced with speeches which were all textbook, stereotypical graduation speeches. So stereotypical in fact that they sounded like the speech givers looked up "graduation speech" on Google. The speeches were filled with "this is our time" and "now we can change the world." They weren't motivating or meaningful, which is disappointing to say the least.

I know it sounds like I hated the graduation, but I actually really enjoyed it. I took it for what it was and made the best of it. Once the speeches were over the principal began to recognize accomplishments of every kind. Leadership, academic, sport, and more types of accomplishments. I stood up for many different academic recognitions and for being an Eagle Scout. But, by far the coolest reason I stood up for recognition was because the principal said, "And any students planning on running a centurion please stand up." I was of course the only one to stand up and yes she did say centurion, not what we call them. Either way it was awesome to stand up and hear everyone cheer and be in disbelief. Just like the awards ceremony I was glad they did it, but it did shatter my attempted low profile.

As for the 100 miler training itself, I have put my heart and soul into preparing for this race. Training with not crazy big weeks, but instead making each run count and matter. I have planned out my gear and execution of the race so that I have very little to think about during the race. Plan, plan, plan is what I say. Now a few days before the race I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally confident in my ability to run 100 miles. We'll see how it goes!




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