Willow Tree

Common Application - Free response question

June 4th 2006


The volunteers in the red shirts direct us to enter our corrals. It's race time. Twenty-three thousand of us cram into our assigned areas and stand shoulder-to-shoulder, no room to move. I know what lies in wait—fifty-four thousand steps, or twenty-six and two tenths miles. It is surreal to think that among all these thousands of competitors, I am the youngest participant. How did I get here?

~ 1996

Every night around 8:15, my dad started running on the treadmill upstairs. The placement of our treadmill was that it was directly above the chandelier in our kitchen nook, near my bedroom. For forty-five minutes, five nights a week, our chandelier rattled as my dad ran, and as it was a comforting sound, it lulled me to sleep. Saturday afternoons my dad ran outside and my brothers and I tried to keep pace with him—an all but impossible task. The "Saturday Run" was three miles round trip, with a steep downhill for the last half-mile that needed to be climbed on the way back. My brothers and I were always instructed to wait under a particular willow tree just before the hill so we would not have to face the challenge.

One weekend, I decided it was time to bypass that willow tree, to "go the distance...

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