People often say something is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Most of the time, it is not. Sometimes, it is.

Yesterday I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to run a marathon (26.2 miles) on my 26th birthday. I seized it.

It was slow and it was hard but I never stopped running. I was in worse shape than a month ago and my back had been acting up but I decided during my last week in Georgia that I would try it, so I did. Sometimes it is good to do something precisely because circumstances are imperfect and because it will be hard. If you can do that thing without all the proper conditions in place, it shows you how much you can do when things are wrong and expands your perspective on your potential with all things right. I was not 100% sure I had it in me yesterday but once I started running I knew I was not going to stop before the marathon was finished unless my body gave me an obvious sign that I had to. Fortunately, that sign never came.

Running 26 on my 26th was my birthday gift to myself. My mother summed it up perfectly in a text, “something no one else can give you.” I believe many of the greatest gifts in life are of this nature.

I am thankful for Lauren’s help meeting me at a few checkpoints to refill my water bottle. I could not have done it without her. I am also thankful for my mother’s help bringing me food and water and some towels to lay on once I got home. I would not be here at all without her. Lastly, I am thankful to Jack for inspiring me to run, Eric for inspiring me to run far, and David Goggins for showing me the greatness of human potential.

The side benefit of running a marathon on my birthday was that for the rest of the day I could totally relax and people would make food and get water for me. I watched movies, played Scrabble, and ate cake. It was comically different than my 25th birthday in New York which included dinners at Del Posto and L’Artusi, brunch on a boat, and bottle service at Catch, but I would not have preferred either any other way. I expect to remember these birthdays as two of my best for the rest of my life.

This is going to be a great year.