Goal: Achieved

What. A. Weekend. 

This weekend I accomplished a personal goal of completing a half marathon. I registered for the Clontarf Half Marathon in May after my friends told me it would take up too much of my time to train, my parents worried it would put me at risk for injury, and my brother wondered why anyone would voluntarily pay to run 13 miles. Running has been a constant source of relief for me in stressful situations. People are usually surprised to learn that I do not listen to music when I run; I use that time to completely unplug and force myself to almost meditatively focus on just the simple action of running. 

I ran cross country for four years and have ran in more races than I can count. When I realized that Dublin had a half marathon along the beautiful coastline at a price unbelievably low by American standards I decided that there was no time like the present, and I registered. I knew I would train and run alone, and I knew that when I crossed the finish line no one was likely to be there for me. While my mom expressed some guilt at missing her daughter’s first half (she’s ran two halfs and a marathon with more to come) she understood when I explained why I was doing this completely for myself. I think for the first time in a long time I set a goal not because anyone was expecting it of me, or to impress someone, or even to seek some measure of approval. I ran, alone, in a foreign city, 13 miles, simply to see if I could. 

And I can. 

I finished the Clontarf Half Marathon on Saturday, July 2nd and have a finishers medal to prove it. With all of the challenges I have experienced so far, from homesickness to travel pains, public transportation and cultural differences, running that race was proving to myself that despite all the exhaustion, stress, and reasons to quit, I chose to do something difficult and loved every minute of the experience. The course was a stunning flat race along the beaches of Bull Island, the Clontarf promenade, and pier with views of the coast, Howth, and beautiful seaside homes. The memories I made running will stay with me for a long time. 

Or at least until my next half marathon. 

On Sunday I made a day trip to Howth. Sore and exhausted from the race we embarked on a hike along the cliffs of Howth for spectacular views of crystal blue water. Audrey, my roommate from the University of Maryland, and I went together early in the morning and sat on the pier for a while, just taking in the sites of the boats on the water and Irelands Eye in the distance. I can not get over the colors here. The water was the bluest I have ever seen and in the bright sunlight the island in the distance was so clear even from a distance. 

The hike itself was amazing, the views of the cliffs were incredible and I took tons of great pictures. It was a little bit painful on sore legs, but I am glad I was tough and did it despite the pain. We had the best fish and chips for dinner and went to a small beach where I found really cool rocks and a few pieces of sea glass! Ireland is so unique to have a seaside town with cliff hikes, a major city, and a beautiful county of farmland all within one hour of each other, and I am so glad that in this experience I have been able to see everything that makes Ireland unique. 

Leadership has always been important for me to develop, and I have invested a lot of time and energy investing and reinvesting in developing myself as a leader. Before this experience when I was in positions of leadership I knew what was expected because I had the time (and the dedication) to study the leaders in the position before me. Jumping into this internship with no prior experience in Irish politics meant that I had to learn how to lead even when I do not always know the answer. It requires a lot of humility and patience to ask questions when I do not know the answer, especially when I am working with a constituent or handling a case. Learning how to lead in an environment I am not totally familiar with has been a valuable leadership lesson for me throughout this experience.