Walking Through the Storm

Pain… Anxious … Sick… Sad… Angry…
Pain… Anxious … Sick… Sad… Angry…
Pain… Anxious … Sick… Sad… Angry…

This cycle pretty much summed up how I was feeling that particular day and for most of 2012. It is bizarre how the mind can feel a multitude of negative emotions and yet be fully functional. Kelly Clarkson’s song “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” was playing on the radio, as I wondered why I was getting weaker by the day.

My life had just taken a U- turn. Everything was topsy-turvy. I felt completely broken and shattered. My health was going downhill and my eyes were burning constantly, like I had already cried a lifetime’s worth of tears.

People I considered friends started ignoring me. Perhaps they thought I would depend on them during these tough times— which I never would have! An occasional phone call to see how I was holding up would have been nice. New acquaintances became like family trying to encourage me to come out of my shell. They brought back the music lover in me. My parents, granny, aunt, close family members, best friends, and few colleagues became my strong emotional support system.

Life is strange—it puts you through trials and tribulations to teach you valuable and important lessons. When I was little, my granny used to say, “Don’t count the number of friends by the ones who laugh with you when you are happy; make room for those who will wipe your tears when you are sad.” I never really grasped the meaning of these wise words until reality struck me.

Days passed, and though I poured my entire energy into my work, I felt I needed something apart from my career to look forward to that would challenge me and help me prove my worth to myself! I racked my brains and pondered my options. I thought about how passionate M (my manager then) was about running. She would tell us about the races that she took part in and upon request showed me some of the medals that she had won. Suddenly I decided I would do a half marathon. I discussed this with M, and she encouraged me. Her next race was the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Half Marathon. I Googled the race and realized that the fundraising was for a good cause, so I decided this was going to be the one. M told me the best way to train was to join a group and suggested MIT, or Marathoner In Training.

After a long time, I was excited and filled with positive thoughts. I was all set to do my first half marathon! Wait, I spoke too soon…Didn’t I have to get up from the couch, pick my feet up, and actually run?

The following Saturday I went to a trail near my apartment and started running. It wasn’t that bad. I checked my watch—Whaaat?? Just 30 seconds and I was already breathless…I walked for 10 minutes and I was done!

I could hear voices inside my head taunting me. “You and running?!? Seriously, you have never walked even 200 meters in your life, so how are you ever going to walk 13.1 miles? It’s not too late to QUIT!!!”

Dejected, I called my parents. They just said, “We are sure you can do it, so go for it!” Their belief in me, their encouragement and moral support, boosted my confidence and I was back in the game!

In the months that followed, due to the personal turmoil that I was going through, I couldn’t focus on training and had walked only up to 6.5 miles in one go. It was October already and I seriously considered backing out, but there was a tiny fire inside me that was still burning despite the harsh winds…

Race day was finally here. I got up feeling nervous and second-guessed myself. After reaching my designated corral, I was amazed to see the sheer number of participants…the energy…the crowd…the music…

Everything seemed so surreal! I started feeling the adrenaline rush through me, and then there was no looking back…

Every mile there was a sick child cheering us, kids who had undergone major surgeries. I could feel a lump in my throat and emotions rushing through me as I gave one of the kids a high five and he smiled sweetly in return. Then it hit me that people go through unfortunate situations and bad phases; you can pray for God’s grace and blessings, but sometimes, for no reason, bad things happen to good people. Life is so unpredictable, and anything can happen to anyone at any time! To understand the pain, you have to experience it first hand.

The first five miles were tolerable, but there were still miles and miles to go. I kept repeating to myself, “Do not quit.” By the ninth mile I was so exhausted, my legs were so sore, my feet were so numb, and I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I started to break down, but I couldn’t accept that I had come this far to fail. Having no PR (personal record) in mind, my goal was to reach the finish line. With every step that I took, I tried to stamp out all the negative energy, emotions, and everything that had happened to me that year! Before I knew it, I could hear loud music and see a big crowd wave—and then I felt overwhelmed, overjoyed, and truly victorious when I received the medal. I couldn’t believe it! I actually DID IT!!!

That night, in retrospect, I realized that though this race was a grueling test of my physical and mental endurance, it was the best gift that I could give myself. As a result of the struggle, a stronger new ME was born.

Welcome, Sheetal 2.0!

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About the Author | Sheetal Kongattil

Sheetal Kongattil is a Tanzanian born Indian, settled in America. A novice blogger whose interests vary from music, dance, fitness, food, health, and books! Her simplicity and genuine smile are her beautiful assets. She is sensitive, emotional and surprisingly a realist.

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1 comment to "Walking Through the Storm"

  • Sneh Patel

    Love this blog Sheetal!! Sometimes its the simplest things that teach us a heart felt lesson. Always remember you are stronger than you think, just keep believing, have faith and everything will work out just the way you want it to! So proud of you for doing the half marathon!! Now you know that with determination and belief anything is possible :)