When the end is in sight, sometimes the best way to get there is with an epic effort. That’s how I felt on Sunday, for two different reasons.
First, Maddie and I teamed up to defend our title as Mixed Relay Champions of the Middlebury Maple Run. We had stiffer competition this year in the Middlebury Cross Country coach and her husband, and though the rain held off, stiff winds blew all over the course. My opening leg left a little to be desired, especially because I gave Maddie about a minute of time to make up over our competition during her leg, but I was proud of my effort and the way I ran the final mile. Fortunately, I had a talented and fast teammate who blew away her leg of the relay and ensured that we kept our title. We finished in 1 hour 30 minutes and pocketed $100 for our hard work!
I had little time to relish over the victory, though, because of a more pressing deadline. My critical thesis, the 40+ page comprehensive analysis of the fiction of Alistair MacLeod that I had been dreaming about since the Fall of junior year, was due just over twenty-four hours after the Maple Run ended. So, I set out to suspend my fatigue, compartmentalize the soreness in my legs, and complete my thesis.
At noon the next day, after forfeiting a few hours of sleep and consuming a few extra cups of coffee, I submitted a bound copy of my thesis to the English department. I felt as if there were very few works left in me, but that mattered little, because the final product was polished and coherent. The words that I had been trying to nail down since September finally fell into place in a way that was clear, presentable, and made me proud. Hopefully, I stumbled upon some profound statements about MacLeod’s work along the way.
It is both rewarding and strange to complete a project that has enveloped so much of my time and thoughts over the past twelve months. I am glad that I kept a few journals going along the way, because the process is what I will remember years from now when I forget the details of my critical stance or finer points of my arguments. It was a long process, but I am glad I gave myself the time to thoroughly understand the material, to learn to love it not just for the brilliance of the storytelling but also for the layers of deeper meaning that unveiled themselves only after months of analysis. I am not quite finished, as I still have to defend my thesis, but I am glad that I have finished the biggest hurdle.