I can honestly write that I have never quit something that I have started, besides maybe a game of Monopoly with my siblings that I knew I was going to lose. Even with things like books and movies, I never could just start one and completely push it to the side, even if I was put to sleep multiple times by its contents.
I think this is mostly because my dad had a sign in his office that read, “Quitting is not an option.” Every time I wanted to quit something when I was younger, whether it be a soccer league or piano lessons, he would assure me that “if there is one thing you are not, it’s a quitter.” I guess this is why I always associated quitting with liars, cheaters, and generally bad people and have developed over the years a subconscious revulsion to quitting anything.
But this week I actually decided to quit something for the first time in my memory. I decided to quit training for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
On Friday evening, the announcement that my fellow runners and I had been anticipating and dreading for months came in the form of a long email from the Campus School executive board: the organization will not be busing runners to the starting line this year, as bandit runners have been strictly banned from entering the race. Even though I had known this announcement was coming, it didn’t make the news hurt any less.
I think it was the moment when I read, “it would be irresponsible for our organization to transport 360 undergraduates to Hopkinton,” that I started the quitting process. As soon as I mentally registered that I wouldn’t be running the historic route with an expected one million spectators, complete with friends and family from Ohio and Boston College decked out in custom-made tank-tops for my roommate and I, I knew my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
And if you recall my last column about the mental strength needed to complete the training, you know that if my brain was not convinced I could do it, my body would not be able to do it either.
As I put off the news to enjoy a Friday night with friends, I awoke Saturday morning to a pit in my stomach instead of the usual ball of energy, knowing that I had to run 18 miles in a few hours. When I didn’t get out of bed at 11, then 12, then 2 p.m., I realized it was time to call in the reinforcements: my mother.
“Do what your heart tells you to do,” she repeated, as she always does when she wants me to make a decision for myself and knows that all I want her to do is make the decision for me so that I can blame her and not myself if it goes wrong.
I put on my running shoes and walked to the dining hall to get some fuel-my usual training routine. I passed some of my good friends: “Hey, are you headed out on your run? How much do you have to do today?” As I sat down at their table to explain the situation, one of them confirmed what I already knew: “your heart isn’t in it anymore.”
When I finally got back to my room, my roommate and training partner was back from her run. “We need to talk,” she said, and I agreed. She explained to me that she didn’t complete the whole 18 miles, and she admitted that she could have if she wanted to, but she had lost the enjoyment in training, knowing that the race she had dreamed of running would no longer be a possibility. As I agreed and explained my sentiments about my lack of enthusiasm, we officially quit-but quitting together didn’t make it any easier either.
As soon as I made my final decision, I didn’t turn into an awful person like I always thought quitters were. I didn’t start lying or cheating. I simply came to peace with the situation, making resolutions to continue the healthy habits I have developed over the past few months of training as well as to have no regrets about all of the time and effort I had put into my regimen.
I’m a quitter, and I couldn’t be happier.