My 20s felt like they would last forever.

I danced at the college bars with my friends when, as a junior, I turned 21. I took a sip of three different drinks – that was it. I had no desire to get drunk. Plus, early morning runs on campus were peaceful on the weekends when other students were still recuperating.

Twenty-three was when I became part of the Catholic Herald “family,” and gained friends and mentors whom I saw every day. I also welcomed a brother into my family when my oldest sister got married; now I’m a proud godmother once and auntie twice.

When I was 25, I moved into my own place with a newfound sense of freedom and a broken heart that missed my family and the way life was. I wrestled with myself over that, and cried – a lot – before it felt like home.

At 28, my family celebrated another wedding and I gained a sister – when we are all home, my parents’ driveway looks like a department store parking lot before Christmas.

Now I’m 29, and I’ve worked my way through pain caused by relationships where trust was lost, and broken hearts caused by losing people I love – unexpected is always the hardest. But I’ve also experienced a lot of love along the way, and forgiveness, patience, understanding, guidance and support. I’ve learned. 

Everyone makes a big deal about 30 – I do, jokingly – but the truth is I don’t want to go back to my 20s. It had its perks – I have a repertoire of great memories to prove it – but I feel confident in who I am. I know my worth. Going back would mean feeling insecure about myself, my body, and the things I say and do, letting words hurt, lowering my standards on what’s acceptable in a relationship.

No, thank you.

As a runner, I know we all move at a different pace. That’s true in life, too. And sometimes, we have to lose our breath to find our heartbeat, as Under Armour states so well.

I needed each experience to make me fight for the life I want, to reach my goals and work toward my dreams. 

I can thank my 20s for that.

When I run, I like to push myself to do more, run farther and recover faster. I dive into magazines for advice, talk to other runners and learn from people who are in the shoes I’d like to buy. I try to help other runners who are in my shoes from a few years back.

I want to make sure that as I’m looking ahead and signing up for my next race, I’m not regretting, but using each experience as a way to learn more about myself, and taking time to appreciate the people, and the hard work and effort that have gotten me this far.

After six years of running this race at the Catholic Herald, I’ve decided it’s time for a change of scenery and a new path. I’m passing the myFaith baton to my trusty co-editor, Ricardo Torres, who has “trained” with me in rain and shine, helping to improve this publication and dig deeper into topics that touch the hearts of our generation. 

When he wasn’t being my office “brother,” moving things around on my desk so it was no longer organized, as I like, or stealing my chair, he was working beside me, brainstorming story ideas and pitching in wherever he could to help to lessen the stress, and offering encouragement and support in everything. I’ll never forget when I was feeling a little burnt out and he gave me “Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns” as a birthday present, wrapped in newspaper he made from the flags of different papers with my birthdate, with a handwritten note of encouragement. 

He has always been good at building up our team, and a great friend to me besides. I look up to him as a professional, because he has a fire that burns inside of him for this career. He’s always ready to ask questions, investigate topics and jump into stories, and he tells them with gusto – and he spits them out faster than I ever could. He has a lot of heart, a nose for news, and he’s a runner, too – a veteran Spartan racer, actually – so, you’re in good hands.

Thank you to those who have run with me, sometimes jogging ahead and motivating me to push myself; those who have walked with me, when I couldn’t run; all of the people who have held my hand and let me know they were there with me through the tough patches; and everybody cheering me on from the sidelines. I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.

Just because I’ve completed a race doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten it; I proudly hang my bib on my door, documenting the date, my time and placement. It’s a sign of the hours and miles I logged before each race, the willpower and strength I needed, the getting up early when I wanted to hit “snooze,” the support I received from friends, family and strangers, the pushing myself when all I wanted to do was give up. 

I didn’t know if my work was paying off – and then I would receive a phone call, an email or a letter from someone who said it had made a difference. I ran that race, and I finished.

There’s a lot of heart in that bib.

Every time I see or think of the Catholic Herald, I’ll see the faces of the people who have touched my life each day – my coworkers and all of the people I’ve met along the way who have shared their inspiring stories. It’s comforting to know that I can take all of those memories and moments with me.

So, rather than goodbye, I’ll say this: I’m going to check out a new path and do some speed work, so I’ll run ahead for a bit, but I hope to see you down the road.