May 2013 archive
This outfit is actually from a few weeks ago that I forgot to post. It’s been in the eighties here the last couple days so I definitely have not been wearing this thick sweater. This outfit was perfect for early spring days though when the mornings were chilly and the afternoons were warm. This cardigan has been my go-to lately and I love mixing it with all sorts of different patterns.
I’m so glad it’s Friday. We are supposed to have gorgeous weather this weekend and even though I am going to be swamped with preparing for midterms, I’m really hoping I’ll be able to get outside and have some fun in the sun! Have a great weekend!
The story of my first half marathon actually began in high school. I had never been a runner. In fact, I had always hated running. I would complain my way through the mandatory mile on the first and last day of PE class. I dreaded the two laps around the field my lacrosse team ran at the start of every practice. And yet, for some reason, still not clear even to myself, I joined my school’s cross country team during my senior year of high school.
Preseason practices started in June and, although I had just finished my lacrosse season, I was entirely unprepared. Returning home after my first practice, I told my mom that I completely expected to throw up, pass out, and then drown in a sea of my own sweat. Despite this dramatic statement, I returned day after day. As my body began to adapt and become capable of more and more, I even began to enjoy running.
My first race was painful, but I finished in a decent time. My second race was on a much more difficult course and in worse weather, but I managed to improve my time by a significant amount while most of my teammates finished slower than their original times. I was pretty sure I was off to a great start of a season that would resemble an inspirational Hollywood sports movie.
Then came the Gresham Cross Country Classic.
It felt like I was trying to breathe through a straw. I could fill my mouth with air, but it wouldn’t move either in or out of my lungs. It was stuck and I was beginning to panic. “I can’t breathe!” I shouted to my coach who stood a few feet off the course, but he just motioned me on. I tried not to think about breathing or the girls who were running past me or the fact that I had, in a matter of seconds, dropped out of fifth place with no hope of regaining my position. My feet were sloppy in their attempts to propel my body forward and I began to feel dizzy. I was gasping for air and each breathe was accompanied by a loud wheezing sound. The next time I saw my coach, I began to shake my head. I stopped a few feet away from him and said again, “I can’t breathe.” He began to calm me down and after a few minutes gave me my options. I could finish the race or quit and head back to the team’s tent.
I chose to quit.
During the walk back, my chest felt tight, my head was spinning, and I was determined not to cry. That determination gave way when I saw my grandmother standing with my brothers. They had driven an hour to my meet just to cheer me on. And I was quitting. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to go home, crawl into my bed, and cry myself to sleep. I was disgusted with myself and the fact that I had let everyone down: my coaches, my teammates, my family, myself. The fact that breathing and running at the same time seemed virtually impossible didn’t matter. This was not me. I was not a quitter.
The next day, I developed a severe cold that kept me home from practice most of the week. By the time I returned, I was resolved to never quit again. Even though I was still fighting the remnants of my cold, I practiced hard to prepare for the next meet, all the while battling for breath. My coaches suggested that I had exercise induced asthma. My mom said it was most likely just from being sick.
On the day of our next meet, I was a nerve-racking bundle of excitement and anxiety. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny fall day. The course was easy: completely shaded and mostly flat. Somehow I had managed to keep my spot on the varsity team even though I hadn’t finished the last race. After a few good practices, I was feeling back to normal and ready to pick back up on my storybook season. The first lap around the park started out just fine. I was towards the front and keeping up. However, by the start of the second lap, the straw was back and I was gasping and wheezing. Still, this time would be different. I was going to finish.
Eventually, I was in last. My goal was simply to keep the runner ahead of me at least within my sight. Every time I ran by my supportive parents, I was reminded of what it was like to quit. I knew that disappointment would hurt more than any physical pain and so I kept going. I finished last, but I did finish. In that moment, the fact that I didn’t come back with the spectacular cameras-flashing, fans-cheering finish I had imagined stung. However, looking back, that race couldn’t have defined me better if I had finished in first.
Ultimately, I saw my doctor and was able to finish out the season with the help of an inhaler. It wasn’t the makings of a Hollywood movie, but it allowed me the opportunity to prove that I really can do anything that I set my mind to.
I quit a race. I came in dead last twice. And yet, that one season of running cross country taught me more about myself and what I am capable of than anything else.
Despite my newfound appreciation for running, my freshman year of college was difficult. Dealing with a new living situation, classes, a weird sleeping problem, and a long-distance relationship left me with little motivation to go running. By the end of the year, it was a struggle just to run two miles and I was extremely frustrated with how poor of shape I had let myself get into. To remedy this, I signed myself up for a half marathon towards the end of last summer. I knew the only way I would stay motivated to run consistently was if I had something to train for.
Fall term was great and I was really proud of how disciplined I had become with running. Winter break was tricky though – I ran a few times with my mom but it was hard to fit in runs and balance family, boyfriend, friends, and holiday activities. When I got back to school for winter term, I was determined to get back on track with training. I did pretty well at first but then the stress of finals plus going on vacation for spring break derailed my training. Long story short, I came back to school for spring term and had exactly four weeks until my half marathon and hadn’t run in three weeks. Yikes! Since it was too late to follow any sort of training plan, my goal was just to push myself as hard as I could each day until the race.
I was able to work my way up to running 10 miles comfortably a week before the race when I ran into yet another drawback. About a week and half before the half marathon, the left side of my mouth began to hurt unbearably. I spent most of my time with an ice pack pressed to my face and by Wednesday, I could barely eat, sleep, or talk. My dentist prescribed me some painkillers to deal with the pain, which worked but made me loopy and drowsy. My amazingly kind dentist and his receptionist were willing to come in on their day off and so I made a quick trip home for an appointment on Friday. I found out that I have an impacted wisdom tooth, which is causing a gum infection, and that I needed an emergency root canal on a molar next to it. So I spent the first eighty degree day of the year being drilled away on. While the endodontist was performing the first half of my root canal, he discovered that I also have a bone infection. Needless to say I wasn’t running much that week.
The day before the race, armed with more painkillers and very dehydrated, I went on a short run. It was pretty awful, but I thought back to that time I quit a race because of asthma and knew that no matter how bad I felt, I would be running the half marathon.
My parents, my little brother, and my boyfriend all came down to support me. I was so nervous but having them there made such a difference. My mom and Eric even ran a few miles with me. My half marathon was nothing spectacular. I ran pretty darn slow and those last three miles were incredibly painful. But it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t doing it to impress anyone. I was doing it for myself – to make up for the race I had quit, to prove to myself that I could do it. The only thing I needed to do to be proud of myself was to finish the 13.1 miles. And that’s what I did. I slowly, painfully finished. And you can be sure that I’ll do it again.
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