from Margaret’s Blog
Another year and another chance for reflection. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had such a juxtaposition of life circumstances from one year to the next. Just one year ago, I was living in a different state, feeling the physical manifestations of stress on my body, and pivoting away from academic life.
The last time I could say I experienced this much change over the course of a year dates back to the jump from 8th grade to freshman year of high school. Being a high school student brings some pretty notable changes over those 4 strange years as well as many “firsts” (desired and otherwise): first dance where grinding is the norm; first time qualifying for State in cross country; first party with alcohol; first failing grade; first kiss. The college years bring many more firsts, similar in nature but at times with greater consequences (for better or worse): first skipped class / failed college exam (sorry parents); first serious boyfriend; first blackout; first cohesive track team with similar desires to win…
After college, the jump from one year to the next can be enormous and that’s what this one has been for me. Last January, I was riddled with back pain, terrified of another sacral stress injury and unable to walk without a hobble in my step. Compounding that misery was the meeting with my grad school advisors, 3 days before my (supposedly) last semester began. The meeting did not go well. I nodded along, agreeing to what the advisors were telling me I’d have to do if I wanted to graduate, with the work piling up and up and up. Even in that moment though, in my head and heart, I wasn’t worried at this growing mandatory to-do list because I knew I wasn’t going to do it: I knew I had an out and I was going to take it.
That doom and gloom meeting was the impetus behind several life changes that have transpired this past year. A quick fast-forward through the next weeks and months:
- I took some weeks off trying to run, train, and exercise. Soon enough, I was relieved and overjoyed to go for a blissful hour-long walk in the Chicago cold, pain-free on my 24th birthday. Perspectives change when you get to do the little things again!
- I volunteer coached under the guidance of a mentor, wonderful coach, and kickass woman, for a team I knew and loved. Some major responsibilities and good times came during trips to California for a Stanford meet and Texas for Big 12 Conference Champs.
- I began running at my own pace, following instincts and various whims a day could bring. If I didn’t want to run, I didn’t.
- In late May, I laced up my flats and got on the bus with the elite crowd for my first competitive half marathon. It went better than I could have hoped and I crossed the line healthy and with my first chunk of change, earned purely from my legs’ ability to move quickly.
- After listening to a podcast episode that featured Roots Running Project’s coach and athlete, I thought it sounded like a group I could mesh with: a group full of quirky, gritty, and hardworking athletes full of potential. Richey and Alia welcome me aboard…
- And my best friend/partner of my literal dreams and I decided that we wanted to be in the same place post-Iowa State so we made the cohabitated move to Boulder.
- I now train with Roots and Matthew is vehemently and steadily going after his triathlon goals with Apex Coaching here in town.
2016 has admittedly been a rough one for the country but the trend didn’t hold true for me personally and that’s something I don’t take lightly. When I’m totally and utterly spent after (or during) a workout, I’m not exaggerating when I say I am so grateful for that feeling because I know what’s ahead. In the short-term, it’s a recovery smoothie, a walk in the pool, a nap, some freelance work from home, a LaCroix, and relaxing with Matthew. In the long-term, it means new personal records, fiercer competition, a sense of accomplishment, and bigger goals.
Some of my goals I’ve set for myself this year include: staying healthy; being present and grateful (even if the workout hurts); breaking the 16 minute fence in the indoor 5k, and then lowering that PR even further when outdoor track rolls around; competing fearlessly and taking down some notables; and contributing back to the sport in a meaningful way, through my role on AthleteBiz’s Advisory Board and elsewhere.
Maybe I’ll have those goals, checked off, to write about next year.