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Categories: Lifestyle

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Seen

By Kellee Donovan

The best thing I've ever seen on a run? Nothing at all.


I've been on a lot of runs in my life. I've seen ancient castles, waves crashing upon the Spanish coast, even a man dressed as Santa Claus walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight not even close to Christmas time (we high-fived). The best thing I've seen on a run, though, is nothing at all. It's the rare time when my mind goes completely quiet. I don't think about bills to pay, dishes that need to be put away or the appointment I should make. All I think about, all I hear, is the sound of my feet hitting the pavement one after the other.


Thump, thump, thump.


I've struggled with anxiety my entire life, but I was 17 when I had my first anxiety attack. It was in the middle of the school day my senior year of high school. The only way I can describe it is it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest and wouldn’t get up. Anyone who has anxiety knows there's not a whole lot you can do once an attack starts, so at the time the only thing I thought I could do was run down to my guidance counselor's office and sit in the dark until it felt like I could breathe again. Eventually my chest loosened its grip, and I went back up to class like nothing had happened.


Thump, thump, thump.


I think my anxiety can be attributed to a lot of things, but the one overwhelming obstacle has nothing to do with anyone else - it's the pressure I put on myself to be perfect. I grew up in a very prestigious school district in Grand Rapids, Michigan where many of my classmates went off to Ivy League universities. Success wasn't a nice surprise, it was expected. In fact, "Tradition of Excellence" was, and still is, my high school's motto. And perfection doesn’t just come from academics, it has over 130 athletic state championships, and counting. This was the first encounter I had with the pressure to be perfect. For me, running is one of the only things in my life that takes some of that pressure away. You can't fake the clock - you're either fast, or you're not. And I'm not fast. And that's one of the only aspects of my life where I'm okay with not being perfect at it. And I like that. No, I LOVE that.


Thump, thump, thump.


I've seen the sunrise over Ambassador Bridge, the sunset over Beaumont Tower, and the winding roads of the Traverse City shoreline. I’ve seen people who have just finished their first race hug their families, the perfect combination of relief and anguish on their faces. I’ve seen true moments of triumph, hugging and crying tears of joy with my teammates after realizing we had won a state championship, and disappointing moments of defeat when we came up short the next year. The best thing that I have and ever will see, though, is the clear and open path in front of me with nothing in my way, the tree-lined streets passing by, my mind shut off and the only thing to think about is how lucky I am to be able to lace up my shoes and go out for another run.


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