I’m sure no one would be surprised if I said 2015 was kind of my year.
In many ways it was, but in so many ways, it wasn’t.
The second half of 2015 was the culmination of me having had enough. My line in the sand had been drawn, and it was time to do me, for once, and listen to what was going to make me happy. Even in the process of making myself happy, I encountered so many obstacles and so much ugliness.
Uprooting my life was scary. I always told myself (and others) that nothing in grad school would ever phase me, because I had survived collegiate cross country and track. There would be nothing that an adviser or peers could ever say to me that would rival the experience of being 18 - 22 years old and navigating the terrifying world of collegiate running, where performance, body, and personal issues are constantly scrutinized by yourself and others. To a large extent, this was true. The scariest part of my year was willingly throwing myself back into that world at a time where I was just trying to play the part, knowing what no one else knew yet: I deserved to be here.
Just like I would never in a million years re-do my freshman year of college, a time in my life that was a necessary bridge between high school Anna and adult Anna, I would probably not willingly relive January - October 3rd of this year. January - July was riddled with frustration, doubts, and depression. I had never felt like I was so off in my life. I was working so hard at everything I was doing (running and school), but getting nowhere.
Although July - October saw me working towards a long-term dream, I was struggling with anxiety. What if this was all for nothing? What if I get hurt? What will it be like when I return to grad school, with my tail between my legs? Worse, I often saw the tweets from Bloomington friends and acquaintances, or even people that I did not know, bashing what I was doing. In a way, I suppose these snippets of shittiness were good, because they led me to Coach Dean Hebert, who has helped me transform my mindset. In our most recent meeting, we did a reassessment to compare where I was, mentally, when we first began our weekly Skype sessions, to where I am now. The improvements I have made are astonishing. I can’t believe I used to think and feel the way I did about competition and workouts. Most importantly, though, I have learned strategies to keep myself happy, confident, and tough, despite what others have to say.
Undoubtedly the best part of 2015 has been October 4th - now. I am mindful to be thankful every day for the opportunities I have been given, and for my body so dutifully completing workouts, long runs, strength sessions, etc. Being sponsored by Oiselle, a company whose ideals so closely mirror my own, is a dream come true. I am inspired daily by the women who put themselves out there. In an overarching community that is so quick to bring others down, bash their goals, snicker about what so-and-so says s/he will run in 2016, etc., I am instead surrounded by women who say, tell us your biggest, scariest goals and we will bend over backwards to cheer you on. I believe that part of the reason 17 women will be wearing the Oiselle Haute Volée top on February 13th is because we are a community of dreamers, believers, and motivators. I will be proud to toe the line with 16+ teammates, and stand with them in unity, which is sadly rare in this sport.
I am grateful for the recognition I have received for the years of work that have gone into making the last few months my best yet: the newspaper articles, interviews, being named to Nuun Elite and Team Zensah, and also having been named the USATF Indiana athlete of the month in October. Most importantly, I am humbled every day by the messages I receive from people who tell me my blog or social media posts have made a difference for them, personally. I never imagined myself in a position to make a difference among strangers through running, and can honestly say this has been my favorite part of the experience.
So, although reflecting on 2015 is overall very happy for me, but it’s also tinged with sadness and regret. I am sad that I allowed myself to be unhappy for so long. I regret that I did not take action sooner. I am sad that there is so much ugliness directed towards people chasing their dreams, and regret that this ugliness keeps others from following their own.
When I was cleaning out my Bloomington apartment the other day, I came across my list of 2015 New Year’s resolutions, buried on the fridge. They were as follows:
1. Run sub-2:42:59
2. Publish 2 first author papers
3. Eat out less/cook more
4. Be a more socially conscious consumer
I remember writing these goals, and feeling like 2:42:59 was painfully far away. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but I knew I had to try. I wanted 2 first author papers this year so that I could get back on track with grad school and work towards getting the F out of there. In the end, I had 0 first author papers, and I couldn’t be happier. I did eat out less and cook more, but not until it became a necessity, with my new-found broke-ass-ness and food allergies. Finally, I DID become a more socially conscious consumer, mainly because I stopped buying things! That’s the funny thing about that goal… socially conscious consumer is an oxymoron. Buy less, make more, trade more, thrift more. Buying something because it says “cruelty-free” or ‘fair-trade” doesn’t make you a better, less-wasteful person. Sadly, I had to become dirt-poor to realize this.
What are my goals for 2016?
1. Top 10 at Trials
2. Sub-33:00 in the 10k
3. Re-devote myself to strength/core work
4. Perhaps most importantly, remind myself everyday that:
Life is short. Surround yourself with only people/things that you love and cannot live without. Have no fear in controlling who and what influences your life.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fast 2016 for everyone.