Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Makes Me Think I Can Run a Marathon

I'm sure some people are wondering—sometimes I am one of them, or at least I used to be—what makes me think I can run a marathon. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I'm not really a runner. I didn't run cross country in high school; I was never even able to run the mile for Physical Fitness in grade school. I ran my first mile maybe two years ago, and I ran my first 5K just this November. Yet here I am, training for a marathon.

Though most logic points to my failure, I know I'm going to succeed. And that's simply because I have a history of doing the impossible.

It all started when I was in third grade and my parents told my brothers and me that they were getting divorced. There have been a number of studies on children of divorced parents over the years, and it seems that such children are doomed. They get lower grades, they're reported by their peers to be less pleasant to be around than other children, they have more psychological problems, they develop more health problems, they seem more likely to go to prison, and they're more likely to drop out of high school.

I had my share of problems, but nothing was as bad as these statistics may suggest they ought to have been. Sure, there were a few weeks in fifth grade where I thought I'd hurl at any moment, and I was always chubby with a low self-esteem. I usually thought I wasn't any good at anything, but then I always got stellar grades and my classmates seemed to like me enough.

Fast-forward to the end of high school, when I was tossing around the idea of going to Europe by myself for a month. I didn't have the money to do it, and I didn't think I had the language or social skills, but I went ahead and bought my plane ticket so I wouldn't be able to turn back. And then I did it, and it was awesome. Sure I called home in tears once or twice, and a few things didn't go as planned, but I didn't get kidnapped or raped and I'm still alive.

And then I went to college, and I had no idea how to make friends. I wished I could go back to audit a kindergarten class to see how things were done, but that was obviously not an option. But somehow I did it.

My field of study was questioned, too. During my first semester, I was talking to an upperclassman—another Advertising major. She advised me to change my major as soon as I could because advertising was too competitive and I'd never get a job. I smiled and nodded, and then two years later I got an internship at a  great agency without even trying and now I'm working there full-time. How's that for hustling?

Joining Sigma Chi was another thing I was told would be impossible. It started with, "You'll never get a bid." But I did. And then it was, "You'll never make it through pledging." But I did.

As I mentioned before, I've always been chubby. AKA fat. "No you're not," people might have said, but there was never any arguing with the nurses who came in and measured our BMI's for some sick reason and told me I was clinically obese. Okay, I didn't think I was obese, but definitely overweight.

Anyway, I started working out when I got to college, but it never really did anything. My weight hovered around 235 or 240 pounds. (I'm just shy of 6'2", by the way.) I figured I'd never lose weight. But then I went to South America for a couple of months with my friend Diego, and I came back weighing around 210. Not sure how that happened, but it was pretty neat. I managed to maintain that for the most part. And then I went to Poland, and I came back weighing 195. That was weird. I did weight training when I got back, so I gained back some weight, but it was good. I guess I'm still overweight by clinical standards, but at least I feel better about myself.

Another thing I always relegated as impossible was writing a novel. I've been writing for years, but only short stories. The most I'd ever written was about 40 pages, and it took me a year. I couldn't imagine writing 200-something pages about anything. How could anyone ever have that much to say? Well, somehow I found things to say, because now I'm two novels deep. You can read one of them online right here.

What else... Oh, I studied abroad for a semester in Poland. I didn't know any Polish when I got there, but I got on just fine. There's no reason I should have been able to do that.

And finally, getting a 4.0 one semester in college. My grades were never anything to laugh at, but I don't think I ever got a 4.0. There were always bogus classes like Small Group Communications and Introduction to Theology that stood in my way from straight A's. I was demoralized since my first semester, during which I earned a 3.917, and I thought I'd never get a 4.0. (I wish I were being facetious here, but I'm not.) But then, in my final semester at Marquette, I did it.

So that's why I'm running this marathon, and why I know I'm going to finish it. No goal that I've ever set myself toward has gone unattained, even when I myself may have thought at first that it was impossible, and that streak isn't about to break because of some measly 26.2-mile race.

Today I ran the farthest I've ever gone... Taking it easy, I ran 9 miles in just under 1:21. I feel great.

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