Picture a rowdy protester in the #OccupyMovement laying face down and helpless because he/she is getting arrested.
This was me – but without the handcuffs and the protest.
Yes, I was just laying face down in the hallway of my upperclassmen duplex suite. As my roommate (former member of Harvard’s Cross Country team) used a rolling pin to flatten my calves, I winced from this beautifully painful experience. I had been limping around for a few days now, but was still determined to continue my Boston Half Marathon training.
I am not a runner. I’ll never identify myself as a runner. If anything, all of my athletic glory stems from my high school swimming career. To many people, college serves as the pinnacle time to redefine themselves academically. I agree, but being such a passionate math and science person (probably since the womb), I’ve found that much of my personal exploration has been in the athletic arena.
One of the best decisions I made freshman year (and life in general) was to attend the Women’s Crew informational meeting. From here, I was directed to a boathouse across the Charles River. This sounded like standard procedure until I walked in and my line of vision was filled with three dozen men on ergs. Apparently my 5’2” build fits the profile for a men’s heavyweight coxswain.
I eagerly agreed to steer the boat, itching for the physically challenging, team environment I had once thrived in while swimming in high school. However, I felt like the responsibilities of coxswains were limited to administrative matters when we weren’t in the boat. I was fed up with holding the clipboard after eight and a half minutes. I asked to participate in the boys’ conditioning drills and my thighs soon wanted to violently murder me as I ran stadiums. Even though we all quit crew at the end of the semester, we’ll forever be united through the pain we endured.
I checked “crew” off on my “East Coast To-Do” list and considered other athletic opportunities such as Kickboxing classes at Harvard’s gym and Harvard club sports teams. It’s undeniable that the opportunities at Harvard are limitless, but the university’s location also makes them seem boundless. Does the Boston Marathon ring a bell? Well, I registered for the 2011 half marathon after listening to my realistic side and considering my personal athleticism. I encountered super difficult problems during training such as estimating the probability of serious danger when running late at night after lab, and being fireman-carried down 2 flights of stairs by a good friend because each step caused shooting, unbearable pain…no big deal.
I can casually describe all the stress and strain in retrospect because the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment far outweighs the agonizing discomfort I experienced limping to the Science Center.
Crossing the finish line with the cheers of my best friends and sorority sisters will be a memory that will never grow hazy. Being able to set a personally lofty goal and achieve it will never become overrated.
Academia will (hopefully) be challenging at whatever university you attend; so, stop limiting yourself to academic pain and perhaps run out of your comfort zone, literally.