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…