Friday, January 14, 2011

From the start line

Definitely new to this whole blogging experience, but that's been a familiar theme in my life recently.  In the past year I have finished a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biology after hopping around the science field for 8 years, finally entering the 'real world' as so many like to put it; I began and finished a contract at UOIT helping to develop their brand new Student Affairs unit, a far cry from the research and labs my degree prepared me for; and I took up running, after being relatively inactive since I stopped dancing over 10 years ago (aside from the occasional New Year's resolution gym stints).  Needless to say, my life lately has been comprised of many firsts, and many new beginnings.

On January 1st, I ran my first 5km race with my dad (who recently became a marathon runner at the age of 52) and looking back at that experience, I realize that there are many parallels between running and life itself.   A race isn't just an event, but a process that requires months of preparation and tons of support along the way.  I started training in mid-October, gradually increasing my time and distance each week, making changes to my eating habits, ensuring I had the right clothes, and right shoes to be able to make it to the start line, and hopefully the finish.  When Dad and I finally drove out to the race, I couldn't help but feel excitement, surrounded by all those people who were there for a million reasons of their own.  When the horn went off, sending us on our way, I was ready to go, and quickly set myself into a comfortable pace for the run.  At about the halfway point (during the second of three hills), the excitement began to wear off and my body started fighting back.  My legs were getting tired, and my lungs were screaming for me to stop, but with Dad running alongside me cheering me on I knew I couldn't give up.  I finally conquered that third hill, and made my way along the final stretch; and even though I felt like I couldn't take another step if my life depended on it, nothing will ever beat the feeling of crossing that finish line for the first time, knowing that I had acheived my goal (with a time of 00:29:09 no less).

Life (at least what I've experienced of it so far) seems to follow a similar path.  We set our minds to accomplishing something, whether it be some minor or major change, task or challenge.  We do the research, go through the planning process, make sure we have everything in place to be able to succeed and all before the actual event takes place.  When the time comes for us to cross the proverbial start line, we feel ready and we give it everything we have to ensure our success.  Along the way, we undoubtedly hit a few bumps (and maybe even some roadblocks), but we have our support system to help us past those hurdles (and, as a certain Student Life Manager always says: the back up plans for our back up plans).  In the end, we (hopefully) achieve our goal, or some variation of it, and we make it across that finish line.

As I now commence training for my first 10km race, I begin a new path, looking to find my place in the Student Affairs profession.  And though I may not yet have all the tools I need to succeed, I know that my personal cheering squad will be right there with me along the way.

“For every runner who races to win there are thousands for whom running is not a test but a therapy, not a trial but a reward, not a question but an answer.” ~ Dr. Sheehan