Growing up as a Super Hero! by Shelley Xue

Seven weeks ago, in the dead of an excruciating winter, the relentless chill of New England blizzards whipping my skin numb, I hit rock bottom. Having to wear an orthopedic boot 24/7, I was consumed with a terror that I might never be able to run again. The month and a week I spent with a fractured foot and a shattered soul has stirred within me an identity crisis. I craved the excitement after crossing another finish line. I felt like a superhero with no cape, or in my case, a unicorn with no horn (which is really just a horse, but an accomplished one).

One Friday, I decided to take one of the best risks I’ve ever taken: I abandoned my boot against my orthopedist’s orders, walked from class to class that day and trekked the three miles home that afternoon. The next day, I ran two miles. The week after, I ran four miles. And the next week, for the first time in a long time, I woke up early and picked up my uniform: an orange shirt. I dusted it off, and I ran six. Then eight. Then ten-point-five. Then thirteen... I know that only the joy of returning morning after morning ready to hit Comm Ave with my teammates can tame even the most hectic schedule of school, violin, job, SATs, twenty college applications, a billion AP assignments, and countless restless nights. I know that once I run-- putting one foot in front of the other, repeat for tens of thousands of times-- I would be free. A bubbling effusion of joy would take me over.

Fast forward to today. I completed another half-marathon, my longest run of the season, with a chip time of 2:25:12.00, resulting in a surreal FORTY-minute PR!! Although I was a little bit bummed at first that I could not run a full marathon, thirteen-point-one miles is still a heck ton of miles! I’ve spent mornings wrestling with the concept of infinity in Calculus, but somehow nothing seems as big as thirteen-point-one…

A palpable excitement rushed through the gentle spring air. A symphony of applause and cheering drew me closer to every mile mark. Dashing towards the finish line along “you’re here, there’s nothing I fear” from <<My Heart Will Go On>>, I felt like I was soaring. Everything was singing. The buildings, the lake, the flowers, the grass, the crowd. There was no need for any pain, and no need for tears. Because crossing that 13.1 finish line on May 6th, 2018 brought out my purest sort of tears, the kind of tears that revitalizes my world.

I am incredibly lucky to celebrate my 18th birthday on the day of the Providence Marathon! I want to thank my mentors, Amy and Jess, for supporting me through every birthday mile, over every birthday uphill and birthday downhill! I am super proud to run with you today and to be a part of the glamorous tutu squad! I also want to thank Patti, Sara, and Amy Jo for the gifts, cake, and pictures! I hope you all are having awesome recoveries! Furthermore, I want to thank all of my Dreamfar High School Marathon - DHSM teammates, leaders, mentors, and directors-- you embody an incredible deal of perseverance. Congratulations everyone! I have had amazing runs, and trust me, I would never want to do anything else with anyone else at 6 AM on a weekend. And I want to thank my mom Cindy for everything. Your fortitude is truly refreshing. You inspire me every day when nothing seems possible. When I joined you at mile 26 and crossed the finish line with you, I left the whole world behind.

Tonight, for the last time, I placed the orange shirt into the washer, took it out, hung it up, and waited for it to dry. The shirt’s still-blinding orange shouted sunny 6 AM’s, sporadic bursts of energy, and cheering crowds by the finish line. Carefully, I place the orange shirt that gave me strength on the top shelf of my drawer, saving it for the times that I will look at it and remind myself that I grew up as a superhero. With my orange shirt here, there’s really nothing I fear. I hope I could return one day and mentor the team, and I then can pick up one of those nice navy mentor shirts.

Looking ahead, I know that I know nothing about my future, except that it’s mine to create. No matter what happens, like I wrote in the conclusion of my Common Application personal statement, “What I need are my legs, a limitless road, and the power of loving myself… I run marathons”.

26.2/13.1 together!

#13.1 #RhodeRacesRI

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