This has been a REALLY fun month. Okay, not the beginning – I spent the beginning of March finishing studying for the GRE, which mostly meant I spent the week before the test making flash cards, practicing yoga, looking up ridiculous vocab words, brushing up on formulas, watching Friends, and eating. But taking the test wasn’t really so bad, and I did well (yay!) and was so glad to have it over with. Celebrating included tapas and sangria downtown on a warm evening with my good friend Rachel.
I purposely scheduled to take the GRE a week before I was to run my first half-marathon – I figured if I bombed the test, I had no choice but to get my butt in gear to run the race well. Jesse surprised me by coming up to D.C. a week early :) and we had a great few days doing things in the city, biking, and enjoying the gorgeous weather. At the dinner table one night that week, I announced that I was going to run 10 miles the next day in preparation for the weekend’s race. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, and then proceeded to tell me I was crazy. “Uh… you’re not running. You have to take it easy the whole week before a half-marathon!” Oh. More biking ensued.
Race Day was 73 degrees and sunny. We ran all over the city, and the streets were lined with supporters, fans, babies, cheerers, live bands, posters, and free beer. This was a celebration! I loved seeing so many people out, sitting on their front steps, running alongside us, shouting encouraging words. Jesse’s Elon shorts even got us some Elon cheers! The atmosphere was really great, and made for a fantastic run. I saw mother-daughter teams, groups of people running for a cause, a woman with a shirt that read, “Today’s my 50th birthday!”, and a man who was a paraplegic using crutches to travel the streets. Some of the most inspiring people I’ve seen in a while.
The half-marathon was such a blast. Ben, Tim (Ben’s good friend), Erika, Jesse and I ran it, and college friends Riley, Christy, and Kayla came to town from NC & PA to watch us and enjoy D.C.’s cherry blossoms throughout the weekend. I think around 27,000 people ran this Rock n Roll USA Full & Half Marathon – so many people! The Metro was beyond packed on race morning, and by the time we were all done running, St. Patrick’s Day crowds had started forming. Let’s just say the nation’s capital was a sea of green and sweat that weekend.
This was my first-ever running event. I’ve always enjoyed running for fun, but had never ran long distances or even timed myself. The competition aspect of the half marathon was really great for me – I like performing, and on race day, I told myself, This is it. This is the big day; prove to yourself training has been worth it, show yourself you can run this thing. Jesse and I ran side-by-side the whole time (no hand holding, promise) and honestly performed better than we each thought we would. We walked once after Mile 6 (the entire mile was uphill, thank you Dupont Circle) but that was it! We had a great pace throughout and finished strong – or, as Jesse put it, “We had rock solid splits, babe!” Selfishly, these 13.1 miles were exactly what I needed. That sense of accomplishment, pushing myself so, so hard that morning, feeling close to dead at Mile 10 but continuing on. It’s a funny thing, losing feeling in your legs. I recommend it.
And having so many people I have been missing here over the weekend, in my space and bed and eyes and ears – there’s nothing like accomplishing something you’ve been working toward and being greeted at the finish line (literally or figuratively) by friends and family. Thank you again, you guys. So happy you were there!
Fast forward a couple weeks and it’s a Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. I’m writing an email. I see my Inbox label go bold with a (1). I see that the email is from a Pamela. I do not read the subject line. I open the email – I see “Congratulations” and “Fulbright” and “Sri Lanka” in the same sentence. I jump ten feet in the air, spin my chair around, and race to the living room where Dad is smiling because he heard my scream. I jump around gleefully for a while, make some happy phone calls, then let the news settle in. The months of waiting is over – I have been selected for a 2012-2013 US Student Fulbright award to Sri Lanka.
This opportunity means so much to me. When I was in Sri Lanka last fall for the second time, it really hit me how invested I am in that island nation and its people. While there, Jesse and I taught at a rural school called Seetha Eliya for a short period of time in October (if you missed it on our blog, you can read about it by clicking here) and I loved it. I decided while there that I wanted to go for this Fulbright award that would support me returning to Sri Lanka to teach. It was certainly a process, applying for it while abroad, but I had great support from Elon. (And from my mother, my most revered editor, who helped me on multiple essay drafts during her visit in Sri Lanka!) I am so excited to be going back to a country that I have come to truly know and love, and I’m really looking forward to working with so many great people there. I also really believe in the Fulbright program and what it has done for humanizing international relations and cultural exchange for so many years. I’m proud to be a part of it!
And let me say how grateful I am for all the support from my family and friends. It means a lot that I can share this experience with you guys, and that you were pulling for me. Thank you so much. You all are the best.
In the documentary 180 Degrees South (if you haven’t seen it, RENT IT TONIGHT), the main guy Jeff Johnson says, “The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.” This is the beginning of another great adventure, and I know there is a lot – good and maybe not-so-good – in store for me. (I’ve definitely been bitten by the travel bug again – I’m already itching to go, and I won’t leave until this fall!) I’m so excited; I’m so thrilled. When I fell asleep Wednesday night, I thought, I know where I’m spending almost all of 2013. That’s weird. But I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. And I can’t wait.