I want to tell you a quick story, and it begins 5 years ago.
I sat in a camping chair near clusters of other supporters, wiping sweat from my forehead and waiting for my husband to pass by again. Bob was running 3-mile loops as part of a 6-hour trail race. Long before we arrived, a few dozen athletes had kicked off the 12-hour version. As I watched the runners pass by, I categorized them into race lengths based on the amount of dirt caked up their shins, the strain on their faces, and the exhaustion in their strides. One guy with sweaty shoulder-length waves—held back only by a headband, not even a pony tail!—ran barefoot all day long.
Unbelievable, I thought to myself. There’s no way I could ever run 12 hours.
Those people were special, I assumed: born with something I didn’t possess. Back then, the longest race I’d run was a 2-hour half marathon. And that was hard.
Those people were special, I assumed.
A year and a half ago, when I started training for my first ultra marathon (the gorgeous 50K in Golden, Colorado that I ran last summer) I added the 12-hour Dizzy Goat to my bucket list. (Yes, I have an actual book.) Now, it felt within reach.
And a week and a half ago, after 6 months of training with a sustainable 85% level of effort instead of perfection, I checked it off!
For the first 4 hours of the race, I felt amazing. I was flying at a pace faster than I expected, feeling no pain, and enjoying myself.
By 6 hours, my brain was going in circles, arguing about giving up or sticking with my planned commitment. My heart rate was fine, but my legs were tired of the hills. My feet were tired. Everything was tired. Gratefully, Bob and his mom arrived around this time.
“Do you know how many laps you’ve done?” Bob asked as I jogged away.
I turned around with a big grin, reenergized by their attention. “I’ve run 30 miles!”
Around 8 hours in, I stood near their chairs and cried before heading back up the starting hill. I walked most of the rest.
I made it all the way to the end, which was just over 11 and a half hours and 45 miles. Forty-five miles! I finished 3rd among 25 badass women.
Afterward, my body hurt. The following Monday, between my thermoregulation systems being out of whack and various ankle and leg aches, the 2-block walk to let Keira pee in a patch of grass was all I could handle. It would be days before I’d go to bed and not cringe at the weight of the blanket on my blistered toes.
Now, the pain has subsided, but the expanded reality is here to stay: I did what I once thought impossible.
This was my dream. Maybe you can relate to the thrill of a race; maybe you can’t. But either way, you know what it’s like to accomplish hard things.
What new dreams are twinkling at the edge of your awareness, eagerly awaiting your pursuit?
What curiosities have you yet to explore?
What dreams are twinkling at the edge of your awareness?
In the heat of midsummer, between doing all the things and catching up on rest, I hope you’ll let your mind wander into a dream. And whether you act on it or not, let the existence of the dream be enough to lift you.