Photo note: This photo was taken last Sunday at the New York City Half-Marathon. I am running through Times Square with my father, George.
As March begins to wind down, I realize my time at Warner is quickly coming to a close. With graduation only two months away and the prospect of finding a job looming on the horizon, it seems that I am on the cusp of another critical transition in my life. Change is difficult for anyone, but with the sweeping budget cuts and limits on funding for education, my future seems even more uncertain. How am I going to find a job? Will I be able to put my skills to work? These are just a few of the questions I have started to think about as I prepare to enter the professional world.
This is not the first time I have doubted myself. After years of devoting myself to the sport, my dream of running varsity cross-country and track in college came to a halt after a bout of anemia and knee injuries. Over the past five years, I have struggled with other ailments that have limited my ability to run without pain. There came a point when I resigned myself to the fact that I might never be able to enjoy my sport again, thinking “Perhaps running is just not for me.”
Fast-forward to 2011. With a new pair of orthotics and months of chiropractic and physical therapy behind me, my body has finally begun to heal itself. First, I was amazed to run three miles without pain. Then, it was five miles. Beginning some of my favorite interval workouts left me feeling ecstatic. Finishing a nine mile long run gave me a feeling I had not felt in years. I had done what I thought I could not do.
Inspired by my running success, I decided to sign up for the New York City Half-Marathon. My training had been progressing well, but running 13.1 miles without stopping is no easy feat! The big day arrived last Sunday. I remember waiting in my starting corral, huddled together with about 10,000 other runners from all over the world, anticipating the start of the race. The weather was chilly, but you could feel the excitement in the air. As the starting gun sounded, I felt my legs begin to tire. I began to doubt whether or not I could continue on, let alone achieve my goal of finishing in under two hours. However, knowing how far I had come and how much preparation had led up to this moment, I carried on. I avoided negative thoughts and tried to think positively. I focused on my form. I tried to regulate my breathing. My confidence soared as I remembered all the workouts and intervals I had completed. As I ran down 7th Avenue through Times Square, I realized that I had finally achieved my goal. Despite all the years of injuries and self-doubt, I was running again. And it felt great. I finished the race, the longest I have ever run, in one hour and 58 minutes.
My years of running have taught me a lot about courage, perseverance, and what it takes to achieve your goals. As counselors, I think it is important to pass along these virtues to our students. No matter how insurmountable or demanding a situation may seem to be, all you can do is your best. Whether you are a ninth grade student trying to adjust to life in high school or you are a new graduate entering the working world, you will be challenged. Focus on what you can control, be smart about it, and most importantly, stay positive. I look forward to the future and the chance to help students rise to the challenges that they face. I know that whatever comes our way, we have the tools to carry ourselves through.