I was a nerd in high school. And proud of it.
I still consider myself a nerd, too. I spent high school behind a desk, raising my hand when posed questions, then doing extracurricular activities like Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon. I preferred using my time reading and writing and doing Calculus problems.
My sister was the athlete. I was far from it.
Yet here I am: at twenty-two and training for my first marathon.
I often get asked from fellow runners when I started running. The assumption is that I ran in high school or through college, so when I say that I only began a little more than a year and a half ago, many are shocked. Based on my current speed, it’s a wonder what I might have been capable of in high school.
But, in all honesty, I doubt the running abilities of my high school self. Despite being even tinier (if you can imagine), 15/16 year-old me lacked self-confidence. In fact, it was such low self-esteem that actually funneled my low body mass. Considering my small frame, I can’t imagine how I would felt if I was running 20+ miles a week.
My motivation and passion for running evolved out of a need for a distraction. I needed something to distract me from the impending deadlines of senior year, repetitive cover letter drafting and seemingly endless thesis writing. Running became my time to stop doing everything else and just do something for me and my body, without any outside pressure to di. How fast I ran had no impact on my future or my relationships or the amount of money in my bank account. Running became, and remains, a personal challenge to see how far I can push myself.
Initially when I started to run, the end goal was simply to complete my first half marathon. I did it, and then decided to do it again to see if I could do even better. Then I did it two more times, and now I’m in this crazy period of training to run 26.2 miles. Yet while it may seem masochistic to run a marathon, the decision is my own, my personal challenge.
Up until this point in my life, there has always been something for me to work towards: distinguished SAT scores, college acceptance, high school graduation, college honors, Bachelor’s degree, employment. Yet all these adhered to a specific timeline. I’m currently at a point in my life where I have the power to decide when I accomplish something without a decisive deadline.
So I have chosen to run 26.2 miles. For me. Not for a college admissions counselor. Not for a perspective employer. Not for my mother. Or my father. Or my sister. Or for a boy.
I’m running it for me.
Had I chosen to run in high school, I likely would have done so as part of a team, thus making running a competitive, group effort. As I run today, the effort is all mine. I get to take all the credit. I get to compete with myself. And I’m loving every second of it.