2004: 20—No longer a teenager
As far as real accomplishments go, I managed to graduate from BSC with my Associate of Arts. I then moved to Fargo to finish my Bachelor's degree.
2006: 22—Welcome to the real world
2007: 23—The real world is expensive
This was also the year I traveled to Mexico with a couple good friends. It might have been the only real vacation I've ever taken. We did nothing and it was awesome. We slept in, ate buffet breakfasts, lounged by the pool or on the beach, margaritas and/or beers in hand. We showered every day around three or four and got dressed up for dinner. After dinner, we'd walk along the beach and discuss going to the discoteca, which opened at 11 p.m. We never made it because we were always asleep by then. Best. Vacation. Ever.
This was also the year I met my first serious boyfriend, though we didn't use labels, mostly because I don't think he actually wanted to be my boyfriend and I was too afraid to confront him about it. He liked me and I liked him. I told myself that was good enough.
2009: 25—Still haven't got it figured out
This was the year I started running. I ran my first 5k in April. I got the idea because my boyfriend and his friend ran 5ks all the time. I wanted to be one of the guys so I tried it. And was hooked. That summer, I found myself signing up for a half marathon. I trained with a local group because I didn't know the first thing about distance running. I met my first running partner, a woman in her 40s who challenged my pace constantly. I completed that first half marathon in 1:52:40, my fastest half marathon time to date, which drives me crazy.
I also gave more serious thought to my future and applied to grad schools. I told myself that if I didn't get into a school, I would move out of Fargo anyway and apply again the next year.
2010: 26—And then things were never the same
I found out in the spring of this year that I had been accepted to Emerson College in Boston. I knew nothing about Boston, but was ecstatic to be leaving Fargo, even though it meant leaving my family and friends. By the end of a sweltering August, my roommate and I pulled our Budget truck in front of our new apartment and began a new phase in our lives.
2011: 27—In grad school they can give you more homework than is possible to finish
I also got it in my head that I wanted to do a triathlon. Again, I didn't know anything about the sport, so I joined a training group based out of Salem, MA. I quickly learned how intense and expensive the sport of triathlon is, especially when you have to buy all the gear except running shoes up front (bike, helmet, wetsuit, plus an assortment of other accessories). I completed my first sprint distance tri in August in Gloucester.
While I was training for the tri, I was also semi-training for my second marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Arlington, VA and Washington D.C. I didn't realize how good of shape tri training had gotten me into because I didn't train for the marathon as intensely as I had trained for my first but still managed to finish MCM in under four hours.
2012: 28—Athletic attempts
Besides NYC, I decided to up the ante when it came to triathlon. I signed up for the Rev 3 Olympic distance triathlon in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I could have joined a group again, but the logistics had been so messy; the group was based out of Salem and I lived in Boston without a car. I decided to tackle training on my own, which was a mistake. By the time race day came, I wasn't prepared at all and suffered through the swim portion of the race, coming out of the ocean fourth from last. I made up some time on the bike and even more on the run, but my time was pretty bad in the end. Finishing had been my goal all along, and I had managed that, but I walked away from that race with a new fear of ocean swimming that I have yet to overcome.
I didn't feel quite ready for New York, but I had felt the same about my previous marathons. I thought this was a natural pre-marathon feeling for me. Given the terrible destruction that Hurricane Sandy caused, I never got to find out. I knew the marathon was rightly cancelled. Waiting to cancel until less than two days before seemed a bit selfish when it was so clear that New York City and the surrounding areas needed all resources focused on them. It was even more frustrating to not hear from the New York Road Runners about a resolution for nearly six weeks. I don't know why I still get mad about that when I always knew I would try to run New York again. It was a no-brainer for me to sign up again in 2013; the city would be ready and the race would be huge.
2013: 29—Boston, you're my home
Besides emotional growth, I graduated from Emerson with my MFA in Creative Writing. There was nothing technically holding me to Boston. I could go anywhere. I could move back to North Dakota to be closer to my family. The thing is, I like it here, even though it sometimes really sucks to be so far from my family.
It’s difficult for me, or probably anyone, to think about 2013 without remembering the Boston Marathon. This was the first year I volunteered at the race, and I had the best view, about 120 yards behind the finish line. The best view quickly became a horrifying view. I won’t go into details (that’s a whole other post and/or essay). But in the days that followed, I felt a huge sense of community, one that I hadn’t felt out here. Boston felt like home.
The events of the Boston Marathon have forever changed how we think about public security, and that was clearly evidenced at the New York City Marathon, when the Coast Guard, with a gunman prepared to fire, escorted each ferry to Staten Island and the start line. The 2013 NYC Marathon saw its biggest year yet, the largest marathon field in history. It would seem that in the wake of tragedy, people still want to connect to and support one another. 50,266 people finished the New York City Marathon, and over two million people spectated. That’s an awesomely overwhelming amount of support and enthusiasm.