You Snooze, You Lose (And Have To Run a Mile)

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It was my first run at UMD. One morning I was sprinting throughout campus, my heart pounding, wind blowing against my face, the steady pace of my sneakers thudding against the ground–and I continued to push myself. I sprinted up Stamp hill and raced across the Mall. I didn’t pause to absorb the beauty of my school.

When I reached my destination, I stopped abruptly and a cool wave of relief washed over my body. I opened the door to my Communications class and hoped I wasn’t too late.

My first run at UMD didn’t take place in the gym at a nice, reasonable hour. No, it occurred during midterms week.

The first exams of my freshman year came quickly, but I was ready. I studied extensively and everything went smoothly. I went to bed early and set three alarms before my 8 a.m. exam. “BRRINGG BRINNG BRRINGG!” I jumped out of bed, started to get dressed and then looked at the clock.

Before I could comprehend the time, my roommate shrieked, “MAG!! It’s 8:30–don’t you have an exam right now?” I’d woken up to my roommate’s alarm. My alarms hadn’t gone off. I froze; what do I do? I didn’t know my professor well, it was only October and I had no clue what he’d do if I showed up late.

“Fake an injury, fake sick, go to the Health Center,” suggested my roommate. I thought, How do you fake a sprained ankle to avoid a test? I can’t do that. Instead, I decided to go on my first run at UMD. I threw on sneakers, grabbed my backpack (fingers crossed it contained a pencil) and started running.

My first run at UMD was half a mile in length, mostly uphill. I was sprinting at 8:30 a.m., probably the earliest I have ever exercised; I ran as fast as I could through campus. I started to see people from my class walking back and panicked even more. I kept running, then stopped to catch my breath and attempted to collect myself before entering class. I burst into the classroom breathing heavily, wearing pajamas and sneakers, looking like a wild woman. I didn’t have time to be embarrassed.

My first run at UMD had a hurdle at the destination. I was prepared to beg and plead with my teacher, but he didn’t even make eye contact with me. He simply said “here,” and handed me the test. It turns out I missed a video at the beginning of the exam–which half of the questions were based on–and I almost started to cry. I was so disheveled. My heart was racing, my head was searching for the answers and my hand was scribbling any words it could.

I ran out of my class as fast as I had run into it. I wish I could say that I did well, that my adrenaline kicked in and suddenly I knew all of the answers, but sadly that was not the case.

bombed my first exam of college. Granted it was only a Communications class, but still, failure is not a feeling to which I’m accustomed. I’m not alone in this endeavor, sadly; I’ve heard sob story after sob story of sleepy students banging on the door to a final and professors shaking their heads, of students forced to retake a course. I was one of the lucky ones–but it didn’t feel like that in the moment.

It was my first run at UMD. It wasn’t a cute sprint across campus in new Lulu’s. It was a pajama race filled with wild uncombed hair, a clunky backpack and the fear of failure. It was my first run at UMD, and hopefully it was also my last.

Maggie is an undecided freshman at the University of Maryland. She has a passion for writing and is a chocolate connoisseur who can quote every episode of The Office.

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