I ran a half-marathon last weekend, but it’s not something I like to flaunt, especially since I’m not as avid a runner as I used to be. But running 13.1 miles – besides being painfully agonizing at times – really gives you time to think.
Running such a seemingly long race is a whirlwind experience. Even though at times I thought the race would never be over, when I look back and reflect on it, I realize how fast it really went. It only lasted a little over an hour and a half, just as life as an undergraduate at Georgetown only lasted a mere four years.
The beginning of the race is exciting. I feel anxiety and anticipation, and I don’t know exactly what to expect. All of the sudden, I am released amongst a sea of people who I don’t know but to whom I somehow feel connected. They are Hoyas, just as nervous and anxious as I am, but also ambitious and ready to dig into Georgetown’s campus.
I’m full of energy, running a little too fast. I’m ready to get involved, taking on too much at once, but that’s always how the first couple of miles go. Before I know it, three miles have passed and freshman year has come to an end. I’m excited to come back next year to continue the friendships that started on my floor in Village C West, and I am ready to take on all that I have started.
I jump into mile four completely rejuvenated. I become immersed in THE HOYA, which gives me a new adrenaline boost – at least for couple of miles. To be part of an organization that tirelessly works to serve the Georgetown community and live up to professional journalistic standards as much as possible is a humbling experience, one that I would never trade in.
But it’s not always easy. Mile six passes by, and I’m struggling to keep pace, also astonished that somehow, I’m almost halfway through this race.
A couple of semesters on THE HOYA takes its toll on me as someone who doesn’t always deal well on little sleep. It isn’t as easy for me to juggle hours upon hours in Leavey 421 along with everything else I’m doing at Georgetown, but with the things I learned, the experiences I had and the friends I made, it was completely worth it. However, half of my junior year is already over, and the eight-mile marker flashes by.
I refocus and conserve what little energy I have left for mile nine. I find more time to relax, spend time with my roommates and appreciate other aspects of Georgetown that I hadn’t yet had the chance to discover. But that was an all-too-quick ninth mile.
And now it’s senior year – miles 10, 11 and 12. It’s much more complicated. My mind starts playing mental games with me, telling me all I haven’t done and what I should have done that would have made things better.
But I have to fight it. I realize that there’s something more than physical strength that will get me through this race, something more than I ever thought would be possible.
It is the adrenaline that comes out of nowhere, sustaining me when I thought I had no energy left.
It is my friends at Georgetown, some of whom have been there since freshman year providing me with memories, lending support and always motivating me to do more.
It is the professors I’ve had over the past four years, leaving marks that don’t always appear on a graded paper. It is people like Joan Holmer who tell me that part of learning is to figure out something only to find that it leaves so many other questions unanswered. It is people like Fr. James Schall, S.J., who tell me that we won’t discover anything if we read a book only once. And it is people like Wayne Knoll who encourage me to connect our personal and emotional experiences to what we are reading or studying in class.
Finally, it is my family that continuously provides a source of love and inspiration to help me through just about anything.
This is how I can get to the end: through lasting relationships with the people who mean the most to me. It is what carries me through a race, what carries me through life, what carries me through four years at Georgetown. The 13th mile might be the hardest yet, but looking back on all that I’ve done and how far I’ve come, it is no longer just me that puts one foot in front of the other – it is this wonderful place and the people that comprise it.
I will be ready to run another race, but that will only be possible because of the race I will have just finished.
Patrick Skeehan is a senior in the College. He is a former senior opinion editor, contributing editor, news editor and member of the editorial board at THE HOYA.