Up until now, I’ve gone through phases of becoming obsessed with something only to find something else to latch onto. I have an addictive personality with a bit of A.D.D. (not actually, but it may look like it). The phases were numerous. I deemed myself a jack of all trades, a master of none – and was okay with that. Of all the phases I went through, one thing that has always been constant since I was in high school is running. It was really only to get to the point where I could run “fast” for a few miles without my asthma keeping me from going anymore. But now, it’s become less of this sprint and more of a marathon (corny saying completely intended and very much so accurate). It’s been lingering in my head. This idea that I really could become a better runner but was so discouraging at the same time. I did the one-mile test in middle school consistently between 11-13 minutes each time. The best time I ever had was 10:43 while other kids managed 6-8 minute miles. I could also only do 14 sit ups. It was a combination of having bad asthma since I was very young, to being a naturally very skinny and under weight child my whole life. I tried soccer in 6th grade which I enjoyed and did pretty well in but yet again, my asthma held me back from excelling. It always stuck with me as the reason why I wasn’t a good athlete. I picked up tennis in 7th grade which became my sport. It requires short but intense spurts of endurance and strength compared to long distance running. For the level I was playing at, having the best stamina wasn’t what would make or break my performance which worked in my favor. I graduated high school in 2010 and also stopped playing. In college, I wasn’t a consistent gym-goer nor a consistent runner. Just here and there I’d get a burst of motivation but it never took long to subside. Looking back at my life, I realized I’ve never had one bit on consistency, really. From where I’ve lived to hobbies I started, nothing has ever stuck or stayed the same for too long. I still have a lot about myself and my life to figure out.
I’m extremely grateful for the life I’ve been given and everything my parents have done for my brother and I. Coming from a background of struggle and hardship is humbling and is what pushes me to never settle. I’ve lived where I am now since first grade and grew up with white kids who were more fortunate than I was. Being around kids who never understood what it was like to not always get what you wanted was eye-opening. I’m grateful for growing up in this environment because it’s reminded me more than anything how important and rewarding it is to push yourself to limits you were knew existed. To struggle in order to succeed. To have a real sense of accomplishment for myself.
Now this idea to start seriously running came to mind about a year and a half ago. I met someone who showed me that this idea was 100% possible for anyone to accomplish. Not just a feat for super humans. It was because he was a real person that I personally knew who ran marathons, not just to finish. It was truly amazing to meet this person and find out his hobby… was running 26.2 mile races for time. In March this year, I stayed with my brother in the city for two months. I traded in the 3 hours of commuting I had everyday to be able to walk home and get in a run after work while it was still sunny out. The East river was my main path of choice. I got into a pretty bad car accident in May, one week before a charity 5K I had signed up to run with co-workers. I think I finished that one in close to 29 minutes. It was horrible. My lungs were in bad shape and I was tired not even a mile in. Aside from just a horrible time, I realized my health was not where I should be as a 22 year old and that car accident was a true wake up call. In July, I signed up to do my first half marathon on October 10th – the Rock ‘N’ Roll Brooklyn Half. I figured this would push me to train if I had a set race day. While I didn’t train as hard as I should have, I finished the 13.1 miles in 2:03:50. And it was amazing. It was the most euphoric experience I’ve ever had. So much so that it almost had me crying in happiness at mile 10. Mind you, the longest run I’d ever done prior to the race was 6 miles. I surprised myself the entire way. I didn’t know there was such a thing as progression for me, since I’ve been struggling with asthma my whole life. I managed to average a 9:27 pace for 13.1 miles when I could barely do 9:21 for 3.1 miles 5 months prior. I hadn’t even pushed myself to any sort of limit to achieve that. Then I imagined… what I could do if I did.
That’s where I am now. Constantly thinking I could work on running 8, then 7, then 6 minute miles. Half marathons. Marathons. Ultras. The human body is incredible and the average human never even gets close to seeing how much it can really endure. I could live my life the way it’s been the past year and a half. Working, complaining about work, complaining about not being happy and doing the same thing that doesn’t actually progress towards anything substantially rewarding for myself. Or, I can see how far and fast I can go.
So this is where my journey begins.