Running down the dream

By: Alison Dunn May 18, 2010
  Editorial

Have you ever dreamed of doing something that seems impossible?

I have. I always said I'd love to run a marathon one day. The only problem was I was decidedly un-athletic and not a big fan of exerting myself physically.

When I was a kid, I was poor at every sport and always the last one chosen for any team. Having grown to the height of 5'11" by the age of 13, I was awkward and gawky – all arms and legs, none of which worked together at all.

In my 20s, I dabbled in working out a bit. Joined a gym, then quit, got an exercise machine for the basement that I used half-heartedly and, every so often, I'd go for a "real" run outside. I'd manage to run a kilometre or two and think I did a great job. But the next day my legs would be so sore I'd just say "forget it."

Still, I'd talk about how "one day" I'd run a marathon. I never really believed I would do it. It was one of those things I'd say from time to time but dismiss as an impossible dream.

One morning, three years ago, I woke up and said to myself, "I really SHOULD run a marathon." It occurred to me that if I didn't do it now, another decade of my life would go by without realizing that dream.

I decided to take action. I chose a goal – run a marathon at age 35 – and a goal race. I did some research. I joined a 5K online running clinic. I figured I needed to do at least a few 5K and 10K races and at least two half-marathons before my goal race. And, most importantly, I started running.

Two days ago, I crossed the finish line of my very first marathon. Officially, it took me four hours and 16 minutes. But really, it took every minute of those three years. It took hard work, dedication and training. It took countless early morning runs, quite a few pairs of running shoes and even more lost toenails. It quite literally took my breath away at times. But I did it – I made my dream come true.

Sometimes dreams are just that – dreams. Those dreams are not usually rooted in reality. You know those ones: I'm going to win the lottery. I'm going to be a movie star. I'm going to become world-famous. But a lot of our dreams are things we can actually achieve – a dream job, meeting someone to share your life with, buying a home, running a marathon.

Right after I crossed the finish line, volunteers were handing out the finishers' medals. I said, "I'll take that," and immediately slung it around my neck with pride. I'd just run 26.2 miles (42.2K) and I deserved that medal. It was only fitting for a dream achieved.

What's your dream? Ask yourself that question and figure out how you can achieve it. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but with enough hard work and dedication, you can make your dream a reality.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.