I’ll never forget the first day I ran 10 miles, for no other reason than to see if I could. Everything about that morning—the weather (just on the edge of being too warm), the music playing in my earphones (old-school Michael Jackson), even the number of times I scolded myself for not bringing water (come on, Blades!)—stands out in my mind. I wasn’t training for a race; I didn’t have a coach giving me pointers on cadence or breathing. I was on my own. I didn’t even have a mapped-out route. It was just a regular run on a Saturday morning. But once I decided to go for 10, the regular of it all started to fall away, and the day turned into this very definite, sparkling moment when I recognized how strong I was.

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As I cleared mile five and then six, the notion of endurance became a real thing I could feel moving through my body. And as mile seven slid into eight, I started not-so-quietly rooting for myself: “I can do this.” There was no thought to it, because it was happening, because the finish line was in sight and every fiber of my being knew I would get there.

That 10-miler is one of the main reasons I still run today. It reminds me in a very literal way that I am strong. I can handle the long haul—whether it’s on the road, putting in those miles, or in life, trying to stay the course on the seemingly endless road of writing a novel. All of it comes back to perseverance. I can do it. I can sustain it. And, most important, I can make it to the finish line.