My ode to runners and dreamers

by Kim on April 13, 2011 · 35 comments

What Running Taught Me About Chasing My Dreams

(Kim’s note: I’m supposed to be running the Boston Marathon this weekend (I qualified with a 3:36 baby, whoot!) but because we’re saving for our trip I just couldn’t justify the expense of traveling for it.  I’m okay with it, our RTW is my ultimate dream after all, but this post is my little ode to all the runners and dream chasers out there).

If you read this blog with any regularity you know by now that this ‘trip’ is so much more than a trip to me.  It’s more than a career break, more than a year-long vacation.  I still don’t have the right words for it but, simply put, this time off is my chance.  It’s my shot at my dream.  In case you’ve missed it: writing + traveling (but not necessarily writing about traveling) = my dream.   

But I am not going to lie.  At least ten times a week I ask myself what the hell are you doing? I think who are you to chase your dream?  And, oh god, the worst for a writer: What makes you think your voice is important?  Don’t you realize you HAVE! NO! TALENT!?   

Let me tell you, believing in your dreams is not easy, though you’d think it would be the most natural thing in the world.  The truth is, at least my truth is, that following my dreams has been one of the most humbling and ego-crushing things that I have ever done (which is, of course, why I’ve put it off until now). 

People say that life doesn’t come with instructions but I don’t think that’s true.  There are instructions in life and we can recite them from an early age.  Go to school, raise your hand, do your homework, make good grades, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, work, work, work, have a child, work, work, work, have another child, work some more, retire, die. 

What no one really tells you is that you don’t have to follow those instructions.  Life is not some Ikea chest of drawers to be assembled step-by-step.  And yet, let the good lord help you if you decide to rip up those instructions and create your own rules.  We as a society do not look kindly upon those that do not follow the instructions.  The rule breakers are looked at as eccentric dreamers at best, selfish assholes at worst (unless they make a lot of money, then we call them geniuses).   

Anyway, all of that just goes to show you what any dream-chaser has stacked against them.  The pull of “normal” life, the life with instructions, is really strong.  To deny it is to live in paradox: to doubt your dreams even while simultaneously chasing them. 

Here is something that I have learned about chasing my dreams from running marathons: there will always be a time when I want to quit.  Always. It’s just the nature of the beast.  No matter how hard I’ve trained and no matter how badly I want to reach whatever goal I’ve set for myself, there inevitably comes a time when I’m not sure that I can go on.  And always, in that moment, I’m just so damn tired and uncomfortable that I can’t recall exactly what the point is. 

But each time I round the final corner of  a marathon and get the first glimpse of the finish line all of the reasons come flooding back to me.  I do it to test myself, to push my limits, to accomplish something that seems impossible.  I do it for the sense of pride I take in setting a goal and following through.  I do it because I’m never quite sure that I can do it, and then I do, and it makes me remember that I should never, ever doubt my ability to make my dreams come true.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Lenzen April 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I agree. Life is about being happy, chase your dreams.

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Kim April 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Totally. I’m enjoying watching you guys chase yours Mike!

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Andi Camp April 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Yes! Running is a metaphor for everything! :)

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Kim April 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm

SO TRUE! I could write 8 million blog posts about what running has taught me about life.

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Scott - Quirky Travel Guy April 14, 2011 at 6:23 am

Anyone who can even think about competing in a marathon has my admiration. But that event will always be there next year or in 5 years…

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Kim April 14, 2011 at 7:28 am

Oh yeah, the event will never go away. If you are interested I always say that ANYONE can run a marathon!

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Dalene - Hecktic Travels April 14, 2011 at 7:14 am

F%$& instructions. Especially shitty Ikea ones! :)

There will be times along your travels when you will definitely want to quit too. Sometimes, as bugs are crawling all around you and you lay your head on the rock hard pillow, it is so easy to think of the cozy bed back home and wonder WTF you’re doing!

But, just as with running, there is good reason to keep going. The positive far outweighs the negative. I think you’ve got that figured out… :)

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Kim April 14, 2011 at 7:31 am

Hi Dalene. Someone said the other day that things are tough no matter what you decide to do so you might as well decide to follow your passion. A lot of people (including myself up until this point) take the path of least resistence because.. well, there’s no resistence! It’s easy. Swimming against the tide is hard. Anyway, I’m anticipating that there will be times when I’ll want to quit while traveling (I’ve heard it from so many long-term travelers) and I’m mentally preparing myself accordingly.

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Skott April 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

I, for one, like being a selfish asshole…

As far as turning down your chance to run the Boston…that’s pretty huge. You should be incredibly proud of yourself…I have only run one marathon, and let me tell you, I won’t be qualifying for the Boston anytime soon…

Keep Writing Kim – you got some mad skills!!

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Kim April 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks Skott. I hope I can qualify again at some other time when life isn’t so up in the air.

Thing is, I needed to run 3:40 to qualify and I ran 3:36… but I hear they are changing my qualifying time next year to 3:35. So I’d have to run even faster (makes me tired just thinking about it)!

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Amy April 14, 2011 at 7:47 am

Great post! It is amazing how people don’t take to well the breaking the “rules”. Love it.

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Kim April 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thanks Amy :)

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jill- Jack and JIll Travel April 14, 2011 at 7:55 am

Very inspiring, Kim. I think conquering that desire of wanting to quit definitely makes the ‘win’ that much sweeter.

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Kim April 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Jill, you just hit the nail on the head. It’s such a mind game and overcoming your own “stuff” is just about the most powerful feeling in the world.

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Anthony April 15, 2011 at 1:32 am

I’m doing a half-marathon this summer and everyone is expecting me to beast it as I used to race semi-professionally. I have to remind them CONSTANTLY that I’m a middle distance (800/1500 metres) runner so this is mammoth for me haha :p

I really liked this post, especially with the theme of running and thinking you’re not able to make it.

Next time you feel that you’re not worthy, just remember who pounded the pavements for 26.2 miles ;)

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Kim April 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

Whoa! You used to run semi-professionally??! That is so badass! I bet you will still kill the half :) Yeah, I am such a slow sprinter… I am not a fast runner, but I do have good endurance. I can run at a pretty steady pace for a long, long, long time. Someone asked once what my superpower was and I said I can outlast everyone else! My point is that running, depending on distance, is so different. Might as well be another sport. Anyway, good luck!

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Anthony April 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

YES…someone I can talk geeky running terminology with haha :P

Well I thought I was initially a long distance runner but I started hammering 1500 metres and whacking out mile and a half races in 6 minutes, so I converted!

That truly is a superpower Kim!!! This is such a poignant day to have this chat-today is the London Marathon!!

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Kim April 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Holy crap Anthony… I would have converted too!

Have you run the London Marathon? I think that one is on my list for some day. It’s huge, isn’t it?

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Anthony April 24, 2011 at 11:53 am

It’s huuuuge! Nope I haven’t but I am doing the “Great North Run” in September. It’s in my home town and is the worlds largest half-marathon! I shall be writing about this of course :)
Anthony recently posted..Comfort Zone Challenge 1- Conquering My Fear of Horses

Amanda April 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

KIM. KIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot CANNOT believe you are not running in the BOSTON MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pardon me as I pick my jaw up off the floor! Knowing what running means to you this post has me floored! Lady friend, you are s.e.r.i.o.u.s. The next time that someone tells me they “really want” something – I’m going to say “yes, but do you want it like Kim wants to RTW?” BECAUSE IF NOT THEN PLEASE BE SEATED AND SILENT.

Forever and ever, amen.

And, I love you.

Oh, and, you’re totally inspiring.

Seriously.

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Kim April 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Amanda, THANK YOU. Guess what, I also turned down the New York marathon which I have been desperately trying to get in to for the past FOUR YEARS. BUT. I am serious. I can’t be spending thousands of dollars on marathons if I want to travel the world. Running will be here when I get back (and I signed up for a marathon close to home as a consolation prize). Maybe some day I will run a marathon next to you??

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Bluegreen Kirk April 20, 2011 at 6:06 am

Dreams arent easy especially when you have people around you who tend to think that because they cant accomplish something it means you can either. I enjoy running but a marathon is a bet much for me though.

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Kim April 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Hi Kirk, marathons aren’t for every one but if you ever want to run one I’m happy to tell you what I know!

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Usha April 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

WOW! That was highly inspiring. I have toyed with the idea of running a marathon some day, some day. When I look at the distance and I’m like..it sounds suicidal. haha!

Perspective does changes things. :) Thank You for writing this and you have a great site here.

Cheers

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Kim April 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Hi Usha, it FEELS suicidal. Haha, really, it isn’t so bad. I remember when I started running, I thought a mile was going to kill me. So it is all about perspective. You put in the work and you reap the rewards! I think I said it above too, but anyone can run a marathon, really, it just takes a bit of training.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and thanks for your kind words :)

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Lach May 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

This is poetry, Kim. I had no idea that you run marathons. I’m really awed by the focus and discipline it takes to do something like that. I haven’t been great at exercising for a while, but recently I started up again. Running. It wasn’t about getting fit. It was about recognizing that in order to do everything I want to do in life I have to stay sharp, and stay focused. And the resistance training you get from physical exercise is such a powerful tool for training the mind. Those moments that you want to quit aren’t so much about physical exhaustion as losing the mental edge. Keeping your focus on the goal in those moments is the test of life.
Lach recently posted..It All Changes In An Instant or Why I’m Riding a Motorcycle Across Asia

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Kim May 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Lach, you are so right, about all of it. I love running because of the mental game. After that 20 mile mark it is ALL MENTAL. Everyone hurts and everyone wants to stop but the strong push themselves to keep going. I learned so much about myself through running and I gained so much confidence when I learned that I really was the type of person that would keep going despite it all (you never really know that about yourself, you know?). Anyway, I don’t think it’s just marathons. No matter the distance, if you put your all into it, you will want to stop. And if you keep going you will learn things about yourself. Guaranteed.

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Jennifer Barry May 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hi Kim, I am one of those rule breakers. :) I’m sure some people think I’m selfish or crazy. I don’t have kids and I work for myself. I don’t live near any of my relatives. The reality is that the standard path felt wrong for me, and I didn’t fit into the corporate world at all. Good for you for going after what you want!
Jennifer Barry recently posted..5 Language Learning Excuses and How to Get Past Them

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Kim May 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Hi Jennifer, nice to meet you. Rule breakers are my favorite kind of people! I think you got to the essence of it all when you said “the standard path felt wrong for me.” We all need to follow our gut, what feels right or wrong. I really believe it will never steer you wrong. Thanks for stopping by!
Kim recently posted..The Moment- Don’t Just Accept It

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Lindsey May 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Hi Kim,

I know this is over a year late, but I just started reading your blog. So much of what you have to say resonates with me, especially this post. I guess I just wanted to say thanks for your inspiring writing, and I can’t wait to catch up to where you are now!

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Kim May 12, 2012 at 9:53 am

Lindsey, thank you :) Kind words like yours keep me writing and reaching out.

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Kim April 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I just signed up for a marathon in Bend, Oregon in September. It is a small marathon (1,000 folks, I think) but I booked a room in a hotel with a turkish soaking pool afterwards. Not sure what I’m looking forward to more: the race or the way I’ll feel soaking in that pool afterwards! Good luck on the Great North Run!

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