BY: ANNA SILVANDER
When I was 10 we had PE twice a week in school. Our school had a small gymnastics room where the whole class gathered to have 50 minutes of different physical activities. We would do different ball sports, games, play tag, obstacle courses and so on. It was complete chaos twice a week — too many people in too small a space. In April, we would start having the class outside instead. The class would meet up at a small rock on the schoolyard to listen to the plan for the day's class. It could be the Swedish game ”Brännboll” (a version baseball and therefore my nightmare since I never learned how to hit the ball), soccer (would never touch the ball since all the 10 year old soccer guys thought they were Ronaldo and that girls couldn’t play) or some kind of frisbee game (who can teach me how to throw the frisbee straight?!). PE was definitly not one of my best subjects in school at this age… I was super skinny with no strength nor coordination and had no idea how to throw or hit a ball. I put all my hopes in the warm-up. Before the class started, we all had to run two laps around the schoolyard. As you all can imagine, even the warmup becomes a competition for 10 year old kids. Half of the class would sprint away up the first hill and slowly die after one lap. Others would give up before we even started and walk the whole way. I can still remember the first time I was first to finished the warm-up, ahead of all my classmates. I think we all were surprised — me, the fastest guy in the class, and my teacher. Little did 10-year-old Anna know that 13 years later, she would move from Stockholm, Sweden to Boston, to run professionally.
As I write this, I’m not in Boston, but in my other hometown: Stockholm. I’m getting ready to do my first race in Sweden for this outdoor season later this week. The other day when I did my second run, I accidentally ended up by my old school and could see the little rock where the PE class would sit twice a week, crossing their fingers the teacher would call their favorite sport or game as the activity for that day's class. I thought of the surprise in my teacher’s face when I was the first one to finish the two laps around the schoolyard … and I remembered the happy feeling I felt — proving that I could do something neither of us thought I could accomplish. That’s the feeling that’s always been one of my strongest driving forces. I’ve always loved to shock people, both myself and others. Whether it's been doing something someone else says is impossible or doing something to challenge myself. Some people hate the saying ”nothing is impossible,” but to me that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been taught. I know some things might be hard to accomplish, but the worst thing you can do to yourself is to limit yourself. Therefore on Thursday, when I’m toeing the line of my race, I’m gonna be repeating the words ”nothing is impossible” to myself and be prepared to be shocked.