During elementary school, running wasn't one of my preferred pastimes. In fact, I dreaded physical education. I was a husky kid, so my trepidation probably derived from the anxiety I felt jiggling around the field while my classmates lapped me. At that point in my life, a 20-minute-mile was cause for celebration.
Fast forward a decade.
I was 21 years old, in better shape and obsessed with long-distance running. In the ten years following junior high, I discovered treadmills and slimmed my waist to 30 inches and my mile to 7 minutes. I wasn't a triathlete by any means, but I could run for a long time. I lived in Arizona and, in case you didn't know, the desert is — toasty. Despite the 100-degree summers, I spent most of my free time running outdoors. I wasn't sure how far I could run, but I felt confident in my sprinting skills.
In January of 2010 a friend, who I had a tiny crush on, asked me to run a marathon with him. It was my chance to impress him, so after quickly dismissing the implications of running 26 miles without training, I agreed.
Two weeks later, I found myself at a marathon. I felt like my body was shutting down. With every step my blistered feet took, my thighs screamed with fatigue. My crush, who planned on qualifying for Boston, deserted me at the watering hole around mile 14. Still, I lethargically crawled closer to the finish line.
Although my motive for marathoning ditched me miles back, I found inspiration in my body's capabilities. I was about to complete a marathon with no standardized training and only mind for support. Despite failing to win the affection of my crush or qualify for Boston, I finished the marathon. It took me four hours and 21 agonizing minutes to run 26.2 miles, and I averaged 9.74 miles per hour. Not too shabby for a once heavyset kid who loathed physical activity.
As I crossed the finish line, I won something far greater than the adoration of another person. I gained unwavering confidence that shaped my attitude for the better. Even when faced with seemingly unbearable obstacles, I know that with a little perseverance and a few pit stops, anything is possible.