Well, that’s it, folks. I’m another year older, another year wiser, another year full of whatever cliche is printed on greeting cards and circulated throughout the country. Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on my birthday (and the passing of another year), I have a few solid thoughts.
22 was hard. It was a difficult, challenging year for me. From writing a thesis that took up what felt like an entire year, to living off-campus with a mix of girls different than the girls from my sorority with whom I had grown accustomed to living, to a seemingly simple, yet devastating back injury that prevented me from doing what I had loved most and shut down any final possibility of achieving what I had wanted most for so long in running, 22 (and my senior year of college) was chock full of obstacles and challenges. There were late nights and early mornings, plenty of tears and awkwardness, muscle relaxers, pain killers, weeks of physical therapy, and nights when I was glued to my bed with a hot pad on my back. 22 was not always fun. But, somewhere in all of that, I rose. I made new friends–or, rather, found new drinking buddies (I’m looking at you, group of sassy, amazing women who made the final few weeks of Senior year what it was for me)– I worked hard and wrote a paper of which I am so proud (and would love to continue researching in my future), and I left John Carroll’s campus with minimal regrets and as a changed person–exactly as I had hoped when I stepped on to it in August of 2011. 22 was the year I never gave up, no matter how difficult it felt at the time.
On Sunday morning, I laced up my Saucony Kinvaras and walked across campus to the start line of what would become my first 10k in well over a year, only my second race since a two-month running hiatus. It was a rainy, dreary morning, but it was perfect fall running weather. I was excited; I had a race plan, and I knew if I stuck to it, I was going to be just fine. When the gun went off, I set out accomplishing that plan–staying relaxed for the first few miles, and then seeing what I could do at the end. I knew there were going to be challenging hills in this race (this is Seattle, after all), so I wanted to be prepared for that. I also hadn’t raced this far in quite a long time, so it was necessary that I prepare for feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and general exhaustion–just in case. All of this preparation paid off; I felt myself racing towards the finish with renewed energy. As I crossed the finish line, I was well ahead of my goal time for that day, and had set a new personal record by almost 40 seconds.
I began my 23rd year with an achievement, a personal best, a moral and personal victory. I ran a personal best, in spite of being injured 6 months ago, in spite of losing confidence in running, in spite of having to take time off to recover. I put 22 behind me–with its struggles and heartbreak and disappointment–and set foot into a new year, one that hopefully follows the tone of that first day. I have a lot of exciting things in mind for this coming year: adventures, internships, projects, and (of course) a few races. I can’t wait to see what great things this year brings.