Dreamer Episode 1: Half Marathon

If I have been reminded of  anything over the past few years, it has been the importance of dreams.  Not the crazy kind you have while you're sleeping (I recently dreamt I was a secret spy;  I'd be an awful secret spy), but the goal kind.  The kind that get you up in the morning, light a fire, make you go that extra mile.  While a big part of the constant reminders about dreams is due to my current job that is fairly focused on dreams, a lot of it has to do with everything else as well. One part is the fact that I grew up being told that I could do and be whatever I wanted (super important).  Add one part of mostly believing that, another part of surrounding myself with supportive people (invaluable).  Throw in a little professional curve ball, and voila, dreams are magically at the forefront of my mind again.

Whatever the combination of reasons, I have come to value, or perhaps re-realize the value of dreams - big and small. While it is easy to make a list of dreams, it is harder to create the steps to obtain them.  I mean, yes, I dream of owning my own winery, but in reality I know nothing about wine.  It's difficult to balance focus.  Acknowledging my dreams on a semi-regular basis has also made me an even tougher self-critic.  The best way to balance it a bit is to give yourself a little pat on the back for what you HAVE done, rather than focusing on all that you haven't.

Today marks the two-week countdown to the Illinois Half Marathon.  If  we went back in time two years and someone asked me if I would ever be running a 5K, let alone a half marathon, I would have laughed in their face, rolled my eyes, and/or punched them in the jugular.  I hated running and I had zero endurance, but in the summer of 2009 I unknowingly started on this progress path to scratching a number of dreams off my list:

  1. Get laid off  March '09 (life change; not a dream)
  2. Like to eat. A  lot.
  3. Have so much time on your hands/emotional eating situation due to lack of employment
  4. Fear putting on jobless weight
  5. Start running by utilizing an online run/walk program
  6. Freak out when you work up to actually being able to run for 30 minutes straight (Dream 1)
  7. Realize running is mentally therapeutic...a form of meditation, great thinking time!
  8. Injure knee running in ancient shoes (hell, unemployed people can't afford fancy running shoes!)
  9. Get fitted for and buy a great pair of shoes anyway
  10. Knee pain persists
  11. Get new job (Dream 2)
  12. Stop running, but knee pain persists for 6 months (enter doctor)
  13. Ridiculous x-ray, MRI, and a couple of weeks of physical therapy ($$$)
  14. Heal knee  (Dream 3) and realize the value of running shoes. Big time.
  15. Run a 5K  (Dream 4) in July '10 with 2 great friends (enter the race bug)
  16. Add running a half marathon to my dream list
  17. Raise some cash for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and run their 10K  (Dream 5) in September '10
  18. Randomly run with a great friend over the winter who puts the spring half marathon bug in my ear
  19. Decide to sign up for the Chicago Area Runners Association Spring Half Marathon Training  with said great friend, even though it starts in February, which is soooo not spring in Chicago.   It is also 8 a.m. on Saturdays, which is early in my book.  I like my sleep and I like my Friday nights.
  20. Sign up for Illinois Half with said great friend. Gah!

The spring training has been amazing.  It is a fabulous feeling to reach a new mileage goal each Saturday.  I was weary of running with a group, but I don't think I would have made it out nearly half of those blustery Saturdays, or put in the right mileage on my own.  It's really easy to just start walking instead of running.  Accountability is everything.  Today I ran 10 miles for the first time, downed my second packet of gu ever, and I lived to write this post AND felt way less guilty clearing my plate of Irish soda bread french toast afterward.  In two weeks, I will run 13.1 for the first time (Dream 6).  Perhaps a small feat in a seasoned marathoner's book, but leaps and bounds here.  Rewarding and so inspiring for other dreams and aspects of my life. Applying these kinds of small, persistent, and deliberate steps to other, more complex and daunting dreams, might lend to their progress as well...

What dream(s) are you working on?  How are you getting there?  What's next?  And when was the last time you acknowledged your progress and rewarded yourself?  Did I mention that was Irish soda bread french toast with a big side of bacon (Daily dream)?