Last weekend, I successfully ran the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon—a whopping 13.1 miles in the rain. Before the start of 2016, I had never completed a 5k (3.1 mile) distance, much less considered myself any kind of runner. Yet, there I was crossing the finish line in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
“I did it,” I have found myself saying when people comment on my half marathon efforts. Because, for me, it wasn’t about making a certain time or place, it was about finishing, about proving to myself that I could.
I wanted to quit a handful of times. I remember driving home after a group long-run day (I think it was just 5-6 miles) crying until my throat hurt. Like the first year of the PhD program, preparing to run a half-marathon was in no way easy, and it was the regular supportive, encouraging words of family, my fiancé, and friends that ultimately helped me continue on with training and finish the half-marathon.
Perseverance is the key word I would use to describe this last year, the first year of my PhD program, but also almost a year of being engaged and becoming more independent as an adult. During this academic year, I’ve been challenged and grown in several ways. I am proud of myself for sticking to my goals and being able to look back on Year One with so much positivity. I’m also thankful for the many friends in my department who I am regularly energized and inspired by, leaving me with zero regrets in my program decision.
As I enter into my summer plans, I am most excited about traveling and exploring new and old places. From going to the Digital Media and Composition Institute (DMAC) in Columbus, Ohio this month, to co-teaching the UofL Digital Media Academy (DMA), to visiting India for the first time in about 13-14 years and reuniting with dozens of relatives, and going to the DH 2016 conference in Kraków, Poland, this summer is set up to be… exhausting, but more awesome than anything else.
I’m also excited to continue planning and organizing my upcoming December wedding. In all the stress and chaos of this past year, my partner continued to love and support me in ways that do nothing but strengthen both our relationship and my certainty in marrying him.
And with all of this said, I am excited to keep growing. I hope to share my experiences through writing, which I have learned helps me reflect and flourish in additional ways.