In the five months since I graduated from Wesleyan University, there have been few sources of certainty in my life. I moved to Ann Arbor within a week of our commencement ceremony, excited to start a new job and begin my adult life. I expected that living in a college town atmosphere would be the perfect transition. Not only would I be surrounded by others my age; juxtaposed against an elite university, I’d have the chance to reflect on my own undergraduate career.
Almost immediately, I began to ruminate on the missed opportunities I had in college. I enumerated all the courses I should’ve taken in freshman or sophomore year and the relationships I let wither. At times, this feeling of regret even extended to my reluctance to sit for additional AP exams in high school.
The self-defeating voice residing in the recesses of my psyche returned with ferocity. Whenever I treated myself to an extra five minutes in bed after my alarm sounded, the negative self-talk was there to greet me:
You are a leech on society. Leech on society.
In time, I learned to quiet this voice through embracing more frequent meditation and fashioning a social life outside of the infrastructure of college. A more roseate view of the course of my life emerged to replace thoughts of the myopic indiscretion committed in my past.
Through the tortuous roller coaster of post-undergraduate life, running has provided a consistent source of comfort. There are few states of being that surpass a body flush with endorphins, norepinephrine, and dopamine after a relaxing evening run in the waning days of summer.
Despite the clear boon that running provides, my marathon training was mired by a sprained ankle and two bouts of tendinitis. My weekly mileage rarely climbed above 40 miles, often settling around 30 miles when my body permitted such exertion. Nonetheless, I readied for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon in Columbus, Ohio, where I planned to set a new personal record.
Joining me to run the half-marathon was Ryan, my roommate during our summer internship at Johns Hopkins. After a whirlwind trip visiting law schools in the mid-west, he took an eight-hour bus ride to Ann Arbor from Milwaukee. We left behind a rainy campus the day before the race to travel the two-hundred miles to Columbus.
Once we collected our race bibs from the city’s convention center, we faced no other serious time constraints. We spent the rest of the day watching college football, eating bagels and pasta, and discussing the ways in which we hoped to shape society through public service.
Then, the big day arrived.