Some of the most exciting parts of life, which are simultaneously some of the most terrifying, are the constant new beginnings. Sometimes, these new beginnings come at that perfect moment and conveniently fill the void of another door closing. Often times, they come when we least expect them. They blind side us, forcing us to rely on faith and hope that we are prepared to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of us. Regardless of the timing, life has taught me the humbling lesson that starting over again, again, and again is just how it is, and that in some way, shape, or form, I grow into a better version of myself because of it.
In March of 2014, I decided to start my second Master’s degree. Timing was awful; I was finishing the design of a new Anatomy and Physiology curriculum I was teaching at school, preparing a new AP Environmental Science curriculum that I would be working on the following school year, and training for a “comeback” marathon that spring. Everything in my head was telling me there was no way I would be able to balance all of these challenges, but I had this feeling deep down in my heart that I had to do it. There’s never a “right” time to take risks, particularly ones that are as demanding as earning another degree, and there are a million reasons to not do something hard. But it’s that one right reason coming from your heart that trumps all the excuses and negativity, and sheds light on the possible. So I decided to follow my heart, take a day at a time, and focus simply on doing the best I could with the task at hand each day.
It was a challenging path in ways I expected and in ways I never could have imagined. I most certainly did not anticipate breaking my leg within the first two months of starting this degree, and had no sight of all of the subsequent road blocks that were ahead because of it. But even with hurdles set in my way, I just kept my focus on moving forward, one hurdle at a time. Despite falling flat on my face a few times, usually because I was too focused on hurdles a head of me rather than the ones right in front of me, I got back up. I kept going. And, with this mentality and my amazing family to support me along the way, I did it. I earned my second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership! And since earning this degree, the new beginnings keep rolling in. I have taken on several leadership positions and am now the chairperson of the science department at my high school. Taking this uncomfortable plunge that seemed out of reach was by far one of the best decisions I made for my life. I learned so much, gained a great deal of confidence in myself both personally and professionally, and have an immense amount of new doors that are now open for my future.
I have my greatest teacher, running, to thank for teaching me the invaluable life lessons that I have applied to all aspects of my life. If you have been following my running career, you know that it is has been filled with undulating setbacks and comebacks. After 10 months without running and 17 months without training, my first few steps back into training came the day following my completion of my Master’s degree. My confidence was still shaky after a long recovery hiatus, but taking those first few steps forward led to a 5k personal record of 18:51, an Akron Half Marathon course personal record of 1:30:05, and a 3rd place overall female finish at the Tow Path Half Marathon in 1:28:10. Although life has me most certainly exhausted, I am feeling better and stronger than ever. In fact, I seriously considered running the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November. Everything I have been through has helped me gain so much confidence and faith in myself, and I am eager to get stronger and put my ability to the test. But after some pretty overwhelming sensations of fatigue overcoming me the week following the Akron Half Marathon, I decided that a marathon this fall was not something I had in me. If I’m going to put my body through 26.2 miles again, it’s going to be for quality, not quantity, and will require preparation that I won’t have in me by the end of this year. All I can say is: you LIVE and you LEARN!
Rather than calling this a “comeback”or a "crawlback" for that matter, it seems more appropriate to refer to it as just another part of my journey. Or starting over...AGAIN! I still have a great deal of hurdles in my way; I will always have to be cautious of injury with my bone density issues, and will also always have to be cautious of passing out with my migraine issues. The fear and anxiety that come along with those hurdles are burdens I carry with me along every single run. But I can’t rationalize letting those hurdles, fears, and anxiety hold me back. Rather, I am choosing to be careful with the decisions I make, to be mindful of the messages my body gives me, to focus on one hurdle at a time, and above all, to listen to my heart as I move forward. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I am so beyond grateful for each run along the way!
Thank you so very much to everyone for supporting me throughout my journey, especially my above-and-beyond incredible family. Without this support, none of what I have accomplished would have been possible. I love you all and can’t express enough how much all of the kind words and encouragement means to me. God has blessed me in more ways than I ever could have prayed for. In return, I promise to do my best each day to be the best of who He’s made me to be and to give of myself to others in any way possible.
Here’s to my journey: starting over, AGAIN! Happy Fall, everyone!!!!!