Three laps on my school’s beat-up cinder track—a mere three-quarters of a mile—was as far as I could run without stopping in eighth grade. I had never done any sports in school before—sports were not exactly a big part of the curriculum in my previous school, an orthodox yeshiva—and I struggled with asthma and allergies. In ninth grade I joined the cross-country team, and while I could run the full race distance of 2.5 miles without stopping, I was dead last in every race. But I kept training, working on my form, my stamina, and my speed. By my senior year, I was undefeated in the two-mile on the track, and I continued on to reasonable success in college and beyond. I was no all-American, mind you, but I did pretty well for a guy ...

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