I’ve been feeling like writing something graduation-speechy (after having to endure some truly terrible graduation speeches) lately. Inspiring the masses with some token advice is totally a skill I’d like to develop.
So, I thought I would tie 5,000+13.1 up with a nice big red, sappy bow: what I learned about myself during those 5 or 6 months that I ran for hours at a time on the weekends, tracking sweat all down the North Oval and questioning why I keep doing it. It’s distinctly different than what I learned about running, and it needs to be said. Because I think it will help someone who was just like me.
Here it is: my big piece of advice in one neat line…
…dreams don’t always find you.
Sometimes you have to find them. Sometimes you have to do something insane to realize what you’re really made of. Sometimes you have to just randomly select a goal out of the ether, and see if it works for you. You have to decide to go run three miles (?!?!) with your best friend through Dallas even though you’ve never done it before. You, the girl they shouted “Run, Forrest, Run” at during soccer practice. You, the one who always copped out of working as hard as the other cheerleaders because you were fatter and “couldn’t do as much”. You have to decide to do something you’ve never done before.
And then, of course, you have to see where it goes. You might end up hating the thing you choose to try out. I’m sure if I had decided to take up fly fishing or calculus, I wouldn’t be feeling so fulfilled at the moment. Don’t consider yourself a failure if you don’t know what you want. Figure it out, and don’t beat yourself up about it.
After that 5k, I decided to run one mile a day for a year. That was my 2012 New Year’s resolution. And then I did more. And then I watched “Spirit of the Marathon”, came out of my boyfriend’s room into the living room, and announced to three other people that I was running a half-marathon.
And so goes the growth of a dream.
If you could have gone back to January 1, 2012 and ask me if I would ever run a half-marathon, I would have shamelessly laughed in your face. “Me? I’m a terrible runner. I’ve never been good at running. What a joke.”
I have always dreamed of being strong. To have toughness, both mental and physical. Most of the time, I feel very weak. I cry a lot, over silly things that shouldn’t get to me, but do. I don’t feel strong during most of my daily life.
The half-marathon made me feel strong. I never felt weak, never felt like I wasn’t good enough, never felt like I wasn’t achieving something great each time I trained or talked about it. Now that I’ve technically achieved my dream, I’m going after more. A two-and-a-half-hour half in the fall, then maybe an even shorter one after that. I want to always feel this strong.
I beg you to try something new. If you feel like I did, like you have no real dreams, like you are weak, like you have never truly achieved anything great, do something you’ve never done before and do it with your whole heart.
There was a time when I thought I had no dreams. Now I know that I was wrong.