A Runner's World

You think you know...but you have No Idea

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Summer Days Are Gone Too Soon...

"I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I've chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn't have had it any other way." --Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

For the past week or so this quote has been religiously ringing in my head like church bells every hour, on the hour. In a week and a half I'll be moving back to U of I and then heading down to the southern Indiana area with the Cross Country team for camp.

So as all students do when the summer winds down, I've been planning and organizing, hoping and stressing over what the new semester will bring. But first I have to say, it's been an awesome summer for me. The best one I've had since the summer before my freshmen year of high school when I practically lived with my best friend Lisa.

It's been 2 years in the making but I can finally say I'm a HEALTHY runner. I'm running more miles a week than I ever have before and about a week ago I ran a 3 mile tempo run in 18 minutes--a major breakthrough for me.

Although I have my moments, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed my summer job more than I've dreaded it this summer. The majority of my co-workers at the library are fun to talk to and who can complain when a mexican sends you a dozen gorgeous roses? I'll admit, it was a little creepy, but I really think he meant well. He's left me alone since I informed him of my couple-status. I can't say the same about the med student who's a serial library page stalker. He is downright ODD and my gut tells me I'm right in that judgement. Everytime he scares me by popping up behind me while I'm shelving books I can't help but be reminded of the Utah guy that killed his pregnant wife....I mean, wasn't he a "med student"?

My relationship with Matt is nothing short of amazing. We've gone swimming, watched fireworks, rode jet skis and went tubbing, road tripped to King's Island ALONE, made a zillion pancakes and watched tons of movies. We have all the excitement and emotion of a summer fling that lasts all year long.

But like they say all good things come to an end and now I'm trying my best to brace myself for the whirwind I'm about to hurl myself into. This next semester I have 17 credit hours (one 2 credit hour class that is actually 5 hours a week in class time. grrr), I'll be running XC which takes a good 30-35 hours a week in running, cross training, lifting, icing, stretching, meetings, team dinners, traveling, and racing, AND I have to keep working at the library 10-12 hours a week because I didn't make enough this summer to pay for spending money during the semester and Christmas presents. I have my life scheduled from 6am to 10pm everyday from August 30th to December 18th. It's going to be rough to say the least.

I was telling my boss, Kathy, about my stress and worries over the next semester one day and she just looked at me like I was from another planet and said "Don't you think you push yourself too hard?"

Now, let me describe Kathy to you. Kathy is divorced, I think mid-40s, living alone with about a gazillion cats (she's obsessed with cats) because her daughter Christy moved to Washington earlier this year and her other daughter lives in northern Indiana. Her life consists of working at the library, cooking meals, and watching movies. Her daughters were more involved in music and the arts so she has never had much of an appreciation for sports.

For a brief moment I considered the thought of pushing myself too hard. But then I imagined my life without running and school and what I saw was Kathy's life...minus the cats. Which brings me to my quote I started with. Of all the opportunities presented to me, running in college and obtaining a doctorate is the path I've chosen for myself. Sure, it's not always easy and it's not always fun, but it's what gets me up every morning and motivates me to be my best.

For another brief moment I considered explaining this to Kathy...telling her that I feel most alive when I'm sprinting to a finish line with my lungs burning, heart pounding, and legs feeling like 400 pound cement blocks. That nothing can compare to the on-top-of-the-world feeling I get when I've just run a particular distance faster than I ever have before.

I want her to know that literature is more to me than a plot line, or printed words on a page. It speaks to my soul and teaches me the lessons learned by others from all across the world, young and old, thousands of years ago and today. And one day I hope to write something that will inspire others as I have been inspired.

Of course I knew better than to say any of this to her because just as I don't understand how she can feel fufilled by cats and movies, she can't understand why studying and running mean so much to me. We've chosen different paths, that's all, and that's what's so great about our country...we have that option. So instead I just shrugged my shoulders, smiled, and went on to help the next patron.

I'm thankful, however, because unbenownst to Kathy, her inablility to understand the suffer-fest that is my life has been a blessing to me. It's reminded me why I'm working so hard and on the days when I want to throw my alarm across the room and sleep the day away...I can remember that this is what I chose for myself and I chose it for a reason.

So like Nicholas Sparks' wrote in "The Notebook"...

"My life? It isn't easy to explain. It has not been the rip-roaring spectacular I fancied it would be, but neither have I burrowed around with the gophers. I suppose it has most resembled a blue-chip stock: fairly stable, more ups than downs, and gradually trending upward over time. A good buy, a lucky buy, and I've learned that not everyone can say this about his life...I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I've chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn't have had it any other way."


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