Countdown to St. George; the Last Run of Summer

Love this view – River sunrise

Last Saturday, I finished the longest training run I need to complete before running the St. George marathon. The run was 20 miles.  I completed this run solo, due to scheduling conflicts with my running buddy friends.  I was nervous, running late (as I had a cousin’s baby shower to get to at 1pm, and I knew I would be running for about 4 hours…), and when I got less than half a mile down the road, I remembered that I had a raw spot on the back of my left heel from a poor fitting pair of flats the previous day.  I was pretty sure that was a bad start, and did not bode well for the next 19.5 miles.  Fortunately, my favorite local coffeehouse had a first-aid kit with the perfect little round band-aids.  I was saved!

I finished the run in three hours, 40 minutes (and some-odd seconds).  With an overall pace of about 11 min/mile, I am now confident I can run the St George Marathon two weeks from today.

This morning, I was fortunate to be able to run with three friends, and the mileage was much less (only 12… I can’t believe I am saying only!).  The weather report was full of warnings: possible thunderstorms, hail, excessive amounts of rain, but when I woke this morning the skies were cloudy yet non-threatening.  

Fountain at sunrise.

The water on the river was notably calm and smooth.  I could not stop admiring it’s remarkable mirror-like quality.

Looking back toward the city from the Sellwood Bridge.
The Steele Bridge.
The City.
The Hawthorne Bridge – watching the storm roll slowly over the city.

I was lucky this morning; 20 minutes post-run, the sky darkened and the hills blurred seconds before hail began pelting my windowsill.  I narrowly avoided the storm, and will be forever grateful that I have not yet experienced hail while running.  With the change of seasons, and the reliably unpredictable weather in Portland, I’m sure I will be initiated to hail sooner than later.  🙂

Wishing you all glorious and joyful running!
~Alaina

Running and Goals: Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Running and completing a marathon is a challenge, no one will ever deny, and one that many runners choose to pursue.  This hurdle they jump is a kind of right of passage.  A runner’s status changes after this test; they are no longer just someone who runs for exercise.  They are now called a ‘Marathoner.’  People look at marathon runners in a different way; they’re not just crazy runners, but really crazy runners!

Training for the upcoming St George Marathon has been a serious change of pace for me.  I have committed to running four times per week, a level of dedication I have not had since my high school junior year on the cross-country team, and the most encouraging thing about it is I made this commitment to myself – without a high school coach telling me I wouldn’t get to race if I didn’t show up for practice.  It has been a great test of will and courage to break past each “longest distance” barrier, only to learn that after all… it really wasn’t that hard.  If I just try, and do, then I can achieve. This weekend I will run 20 miles, and the only thing I am worried about is being wet the whole way (it is supposed to rain), and that I might – might – for the first time while training, get blisters.  A relatively minor concern in the grand scheme of running 20 miles.

A very good friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article that got her to thinking about some of her life choices, and it had the same effect on me.  From Psychology Today, written on January 27, 2011 by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D,  The Trouble with Bright Girls, tells us “bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.”  

As a young girl, I was encouraged by my family and told I could do and be anything I wanted to be.  The world was my oyster.  And yet, from the six-year old dream of being “an artist”, my goals molded into something much more practical than the painter I imagined and I find myself sitting behind a desk, at a computer, working for a large company.  Which is fine.  It’s great, actually.  It just wasn’t my dream.

So now, as I am training for this marathon, and I am learning that by putting effort and practice into this goal, I can develop the ability to be a marathoner.  And therefore I can extrapolate that if I put forth as much effort as it has taken to be able to run 20 miles into the six-year-old Alaina’s dreams… Perhaps they will come true, too.

It is remarkable how many of us end up in careers we never expected to be our mode for living, and while I love what I have learned and what I am doing, there is a part of me that yearns to spend an entire week, day after day, secluded in a room, painting landscapes.  And I have never painted a landscape in my life.  My college drawing courses were simultaneously the most difficult personal test of my ability, and the most liberating task I had ever given myself.  Now it is hard to imagine where to begin…

How do you find a way to start living your childhood dreams?
Can you remember who you wanted to be when you were little?
When did you let go of that dream?  Why?
Do you plan to come back to your youthful dreams, and take action to achieve them?
or… Are you living your dream?
I would love to hear from you!
sending joy and wishes of delight in pursuit of your dream…
~Alaina