A couple of weekends ago, I ran the Indianapolis mini-marathon. It is the largest half marathon in the country with roughly 35,000 people running it. I probably should have trained for it, but training in the snowy months was torture and with classes/teaching/research, my time was at a premium.
The weekend of the mini, I ended up staying at my friend Jenny’s place; she’s in the dental school in downtown Indy which was super convenient as she lives only 4 blocks from the race start/finish.
I haven’t run anything so significant in years. The last time I ran a race was when I ran the Austin Marathon back in 2006… and I actually had some training for that! Needless to say, by the end of the mini, I was pooped and for the rest of the day and the day after, my legs were sore! I think my facial expression in the photo below says it all 😉
I was thinking about this experience and my life as a graduate student: graduate school is a lot like running a marathon. You mentally have to prepare yourself for the journey… without the prerequisite training, you’ll end up sore like I was. I guess it is also worth mentioning that there have been times when I’ve felt like quitting… ‘Why should I continue on in a race that leads me to the beginning?’… ‘I’m running in circles,’ I think to myself. And, it is true. In the end, you finish where you started (only more fatigued, and older). But, you also end the race feeling fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment. As I look back on the course of the race, there were times I was slow and had to walk, but every mile or so there was encouragement in the form of a water station or a smiling face and it kept me going.
Currently, I’m in a phase of graduate school where I want to ‘give up.’ I could leave today with a masters degree, find a job, and move on with my life. I guess what is keeping me here is the realization that I’ve already run 5 miles, and there’s only 8.1 left to go. In the meantime, I’ll seek my friends for encouragement. I will fly to Santa Barbara for the weekend and meet my friend there, I’ll go to Ithaca another weekend and meet my other friend there, I’ll drive down to Indy more and hang out with my friend Jenny and her family when I can, I’ll try to make more meaningful friendships locally.
In the end, I realize that all one really needs in life are a few good friends and good health.