The Difference Between Throats and Toes

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

The wind whipped across my face, grabbing the hair I had attempted to coax into a ponytail, pushing it into my mouth, and tangling it around my neck. Water splashed with unrelenting ferocity off the blade spinning desperately in my hands. My muscles ached with a vengeance and my throat stung from the harsh intake of breath, but I ignored my discomfort. I wanted this race more than anything.

For the past three years, my favorite part of the day has been settling into my kayak seat, slipping my feet beneath the foot strap and on either side of the tiller bar, and sinking my blade into the murky, pollen-filled lake that was my training arena. School day afternoons consisted of lifting weights in my high school weight room, surrounded only by testosterone-fueled young men, and then spending two hours on the water. Because I fell in love with a unique water sport in ice-infested Minnesota, most of my training has been done on my own and thus required a large amount of willpower, extensive cross-training, and a working stop watch. Each spring, summer, and fall, I spent hundreds of hours working with my amazingly supportive coach to condition my mind and body in hopes of achieving my dream. I yearned to compete at the Junior World...

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