Sometime during my first year of graduate school, I sat up late one night wondering whether I had it in me to cross the finish line. I was tired. I was uncertain. I missed my usual level of contact with family and friends. I dreaded another week of 1,000+ pages of reading. I could not bear the thought of another paper that analyzed a book’s argument. I questioned why the hell I ever left Atlanta, moved to Louisiana and did this to myself and family too.

All of this over a dead Frenchman, but we’ll get to him at another time…

Across town, one of my classmates was suffering a similar bout of existential blues. That night, we exchanged inspirational You Tube videos featuring a battery of knockout punches, rah-rah speeches and the like, anything to spur each other on and remind each other that we could do it. One of the videos I sent him was the 1938 match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. War Admiral was a Triple Crown winner and the odds-on favorite to win. Seabiscuit was a plucky little pony from the West Coast, a horse whose never-say-die style inspired Americans during the Great Depression.

Here’s that race:

There have been times when I’ve wanted to quit, drop out, say “enough is enough,” but I’ve kept going. I had faith that down the stretch I could make it across the finish line if I just kept digging. Some people have stuck by me throughout this process and cheered me on when I’ve fallen behind. For that I am grateful. Others have proven themselves to be less understanding. And you know what? That’s okay too. The finish line is so close I can taste it and as hard as this race has been, I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and excited about what lies ahead.

I still have a final and a thesis defense before me, but I’ll take everything one length at a time.

In the meantime, I’ll be inspired by I’ll Have Another, a pony with Seabiscuit’s heart (and Left Coast successes), who took speedy Bodemeister by surprise this past weekend at the Kentucky Derby: