The other day I was walking into the NDSU Wellness Center for a pool workout (which I despise but will do because SOMETIMES you must do the things you hate to get back to doing the things you love) and had the passing thought, “I’m a 26 year old child.” What kind of life is this that I’m living? I don’t totally feel like I have it all “figured out” or that I’m “adulting” in the “real world” with a real handle on “health insurance and credit” or whatever. But the more time passes, I realize that most adults don’t ever really know what they’re doing. People are just super great at faking it (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). It’s okay to be in a spot where you’re just putting your all into your passions, even if that means barely breaking even. What is life if not working hard towards something that drives you? I’m just fortunate enough to have the best friends, husband, coach, bosses, and parents who support my goals and remind me why I’m doing this whenever I start to forget.
A little bit about me before you get in too deep…
I grew up in Perham, Minnesota, land of licorice, chips, and dog food. I spent most of my childhood at the library with my hair in front of my face and spent all of my money on Skittles and Red Bull. Joining cross country was a game-changer. I was never naturally talented in any sort of sport, but for some reason the individual pursuit of running resonated with me. I learned what it was to set goals, work hard when I didn’t feel good, be a leader on a team, and persevere through setbacks. Running and I clicked.
Running led me to NDSU, where I majored in English and English Education. I was involved in a multitude of clubs, groups, and activities while competing with the cross country and track team and working two (sometimes three) jobs. I’m really good at spreading myself thin and telling myself sleep is really just “suggested.” In my last year of college, largely because of the guidance of my new coach, I trimmed some of the excess out of my life and chose to keep only what mattered most to me. This renewed focus allowed me to become an All-American in the steeplechase.
You might think that’s when I decided I wanted to continue running, but it’s not. I remember running on the treadmill next to my coach in January, sweating profusely and heart pounding due to nervousness rather than the pace, because I wanted to ask him to continue coaching me after college. I finally calmed down enough to ask if he thought it would be ridiculous for me to continue running, and he was in immediate support. He made sure I knew that not many would understand what I was doing (I mean, get a “real job” already), only a handful of people would encourage me to fully devote myself to this pursuit, but if I had the passion and the drive to get better, I should do it. This was when I was a 10:15 steeplechaser, 16:47 5k girl, never close to All-American type of runner. After that conversation, I knew that I was going to keep running until I couldn’t, whatever that meant. No specific goal in mind but to find out, with focus, dedication, and a lot of hard-a$$ workouts, how good of a runner I could be. And here I am, three years later, living this life and still loving it. This is my day-to-day as I pursue becoming a better Maddie Van Beek–friend, mess-maker, wife, kitchen destroyer, lover of all things furry, and runner. Thanks for following!