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Up Around the Bend

February 17, 2009


We all have dreams. Some big. Some small. Some professional. Some personal. Some we share out loud. Some we clutch tightly to our chests forever, never allowing them to see the light of day.

For years, I’ve had a dream – to run a half-marathon – a somewhat abstract and impossible dream – but one that steadfastly waited for me, tucked way in the back of my mind – waiting for me to let it out of its hiding place. And I can’t say exactly when that occurred, but it did and I did…I ran 13.1 miles. Done. Check that off the life list. And maybe add another…


My training prior to the race and the race itself have given me an enduring and immeasurable gift, one that I’m still opening long after I crossed the finish line (it’s kinda like those Russian dolls, one inside the other, inside the other). All along, I had one fairly simple goal – that of just finishing the race – without walking any part of it – I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do this. That’s all. But as I trained and during the race, I found my goals shifting with every stride.

When pursuing most dreams, you invariably hit some kind of wall; and whether its 10-feet or 3-feet high, solid brick or forgiving chain link – it’s that oh shite moment of being over it. And I hit one as hard as those wacky wall walkers I used to throw against my bedroom wall as a child. A big, loud THUD about two-thirds of the way through my training (not as entertaining as the wacky wall walkers, I can assure you).

Forget Just Do It!; I was just sick of it. So over it.  Over running. Over training. I’d run when I was tired. I’d run when it was cold. And rainy. And snowy. And just downright gross (training during the months of November through February is not 100% recommended weather wise – but holiday eating wise it’s a good call, well hello second helping of cornbread dressing, fancy meeting you here). But after hitting the wall, I rallied and an emerging desire – fueled by my consistent increases in speed – to not just finish the race, but do it in less than two hours.

Then, during the race – my goals shifted yet again as my under two-hour goal became a little less important. In part because – and I know I’m at risk of sounding like a Burning Man or Bonnaroo devotee here – during the race I embraced my thankfulness.

I realized how thankful I was for my body and that I was healthy enough and physically strong enough to run the race in the first place.

And that I could truly enjoy the time with my half-marathon partner – my twin sister. My memories of us running together took me back to the teenage years with me crying because I couldn’t keep up and her annoyed that I tagged along in the first place. She and I had never run great distances before together (other than metaphorical ones), and here I was literally right alongside her for 13.1 miles.


And just soaking in my glorious surroundings; after all, how often do you get the chance to run down Bourbon Street or through the amazing Garden District with a birds-eye view of all those gorgeous Victorian homes?

My time? I went exactly one minute and forty second over goal. I stopped for a bathroom break. Because the way I was raised you had to have some level of pain for it to count, and as an adult I’m not comfortable with making things painful when they don’t need to be. So, I went as fast as my body told me to go, and I was hydrated so much I relieved myself when I needed to. That’s a bigger accomplishment in my eyes. So, maybe me running 13 miles in under 2 hours wasn’t the real goal? That’s the funny thing with goals – they change and evolve as we do.  You might start out with a highly defined framework that you realize needs to be tweaked the closer you get.

Now, a couple of weeks after, I’ve returned to running without a watch, but I’m able to work longer runs into my workouts. None of which would’ve been possible without deciding to run the race.

So, here’s to making it count – starting and completing goals. And the stickwithitness that really is the biggest lesson and test of one’s character than any one goal.