Persevere. Ask any runner and he/she can probably give you an accurate definition of this word, along with several examples. And while this may have been an S.A.T. vocabulary word that teachers tried to get students to memorize with some monotonous flash cards, a runner most likely learned the meaning of persevere on the track. Or a muddy trail. Or during one of those hellish practices where the coach made the entire team engage in an indian run on a ninety-degree day.
Persevere. Despite my stellar vocabulary, compliments of Sadlier-Oxford and quality television shows such as "Jersey Shore", I didn't quite grasp the meaning of perseverance until I began running. Even then, I don't think I could have prepared myself for the obstacles I would endure in my future - running related or not. But looking back, running indeed made all the difference.
Persevere. If I think back to the first time I was insanely proud of myself for overcoming an obstacle, it would be the New Riegel cross-country meet in eleventh grade. Being from the country, the course was flat and boring, and of course, included running around a man-made track in the middle of a corn field. Aside from dodging piles of cow manure during the race, it was an egregiously hot day. I was not in the mood for a 3.1 mile ass-kicking, which is precisely what happened the year prior.
However, my dad had showed up for moral/parental support, as he generally did. Sensing my negative (and bitchy) teenage attitude, dear old dad proposed a challenge - that I run without my watch. The control-freak in me panicked; how will I know my mile splits? I can't possibly run a personal record without constantly peeping at my sweat-infused Timex! As I pondered whether or not I could part with relinquishing control, dad upped the ante and proposed a bet: If I raced without my watch and improved my time, twenty bucks would be my reward. To a broke teenager who worked at Hardees, this was all I needed to hear.
Persevere. As the race began, I remember looking at my wrist several times, only to see a farmer tan where my watch used to be. After a few panicked moments, I easily settled into a pace and, for the first time, felt a sense of calmness during a run. Instead of worrying about mile splits, I set my focus on passing as many people as possible. As I flew by numerous runners, I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of me. In the end, I crossed the finish line two minutes faster and twenty dollars richer than I had the year before. Perseverance felt damn good.
Persevere: It comes in various forms and oftentimes, takes several attempts, as well as some blood, sweat and tears. But in the end, conquering a goal, in running or life, makes it all worthwhile.