Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Running the Race, Literally

Here are some goals I would like to accomplish in my life time:

1. Finish college
2. Own a home
3. Have at least one piece of my art displayed in a gallery (even if it is the school gallery)
4. Run a marathon before my husband and I have children
5. Write a book

They are large but achievable right? I don't just say these as some abstract idea of something that I would like to accomplish but has no part of my life. I am currently in college working toward my bachelor's degree, my husband and I are building our credit to be able to get a home loan some day, I am currently in an art class to help refine my drawing skills, and I am training to run a marathon... I will be training to run a marathon... I really want to train to run a marathon, that's it. And, let's just not talk about the book thing right now.

About three years ago I took up the sport of running, so you could say I'm fairly new to the world of running. Soon after I started my journey my goal was to run a marathon, maybe even train to run one within a year... that didn't exactly happen. Not only have I not run a marathon, but I actually haven't run steadily in about 10 months... or so (I don't want to say a year because that sounds much worse). Lately it has really been plaguing me, the desire that is. I say plaguing because A. I am dying to run regularly again B. I don't really want to get off my butt and actually run, and C. I am terrified to actually commit to running a marathon... even if it is months or years in the future.

I go through this cycle about ever few weeks or months where I decide I am going to start running regularly again and then I will start to train for a marathon (as soon as I am back in shape). All of a sudden life will be perfect and the motivation that I need to run a marathon will appear out of thin air because I decided that it will. Obviously I have never run a marathon but, I have a feeling that it takes a lot more than that.

I have heard that the first step toward actually running a marathon is signing up for one. Finding a real life marathon, paying the fee and signing up. I decided I'm not quite ready for that so I'm going to start at square one, a 5k run/walk. That's right, Alex and I have signed up to run our very first race on September 11th of this year! For some a 5k (a whopping 3.1 miles) can sound like a marathon, and others it can sound like a warm up. For me it is somewhere in the middle, not extremely easy but achievable. We started training about two weeks ago and I am remembering why I fell in love with running in the first place. I can't really describe to you what is so great about it; I just feel... empowered, I suppose. We will spend the next 11 weeks in training, which consists of varying running distances, yoga, swimming, pool running, and some walking.

I am not writing this to say "look at me! I'm so fit and I am going to run a 5k!" I do not want to run a marathon to get really fit and lose a bunch of weight. There isn't a cause that I personally am extremely passionate about that I want to raise money for (you have to be pretty passionate about something to be willing to run 26.2 miles for it). The real reason? I want to prove (to myself) that I can accomplish something so much bigger than I have ever dreamed. I want to get to the place where I think I can honestly go no further, and then discover that I have so much more left to give.

I have so many aspirations in life and it is time to finally start going after them. If I want to run a marathon, then I should run a marathon. If that means that I must start at the bottom then that is what I am going to do. If anyone would like to join us in the 7th Annual Dayton Fiesta Run please do!

My new goal: to run a marathon before I turn 26... I have a little over two and a half years to accomplish that. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A topic near and dear to my heart... Marriage

My husband and I have been married for nearly 8 months. Thus I am a complete expert on the subject of marriage... not really. However, in my little experience this is what I have learned:

The biggest struggle that I have faced as a new wife is learning how to ignore those who are waiting to see us fail, and resist the pressure to be the perfect couple. Recently a dear friend of mine said something that I think sums up what I am trying to say very nicely, "When you get married you find out who your true friends are." I think we can agree this is true for any major change in life. You can tell when someone's happiness for you is genuine or fake. Thinking maybe I was the only one who felt this way I started listening to what people were saying about other couples getting married (I even listened to the words coming from my own mouth). I listened to other brides vent their frustrations of friends not sticking by their decision. That is when I realized that this truly is a common theme for us newlyweds (or soon to be). For some reason, as human beings, we have decided that we have a right to judge other peoples actions and motives.

The truth is, I guess I am writing this because I don't want to be the perfect couple and I am tired of feeling pressured. I have recently discovered that we newlyweds try to compare ourselves to each other... but why? There really is no newly married couple that I look up to, and I don't think any others look up to us. Not because I don't believe that any of us do or do not have a wonderful marriage, but because as newlyweds we have little to no experience (let me just say that I have many newly married friends that I love and respect and I enjoy sharing our experiences and learning from each other). The marriages that I look up to are the ones who have been married for 10, 15, 20 years, and still have a deep appreciation for each other. The ones who truly know what "for better or worse" means. These are the ones that astound me. I cannot compete with that, and I don't want to. We have so many years left to grow and understand.

For a few months I fought to keep the "spark" in our marriage, because I thought then we would become like those older married couples. Then I realized, we cannot recreate the feelings we had while we were dating, but that doesn't mean there are no "sparks". Most of the time these "sparks" don't show up as overwhelming feelings at all, but rather as things I have come to appreciate. I have learned that going out on dates isn't the highlight of my time with my husband. The things that I appreciate the most are much more simple than that, like the fact that he often makes me breakfast in the morning even though I have the day off and he doesn't. That he doesn't care if the house is messy for a week or two even though I have had plenty of time to clean it, and then that he helps me clean it even though he works all the time. That I can say anything I am thinking and he never thinks I am stupid. When we get in a fight he is always ready to apologize much sooner than I am ready to forgive (or when he isn't even the one that did anything wrong), and he always, without question, forgives me. These are the types of things that make me think, "I could not have asked for anyone better."

Before deciding to get married I thought that if its the right person then everyone in my life would be supportive. Then I got engaged... that is when I found out you can't win 'em all. I realized that ultimately the only person who knows for sure you are making the right decision is yourself. There will be many people giving you their own opinions about how you should find the right person, how long you should date before you get engaged, how long you should be engaged for, what you should do on your wedding day, how to be the perfect wife or husband, the list goes on... and on. The fact of the matter is, you will only be happy if you make decisions based on your own convictions. And isn't the point of marriage not to be the happiest you have ever been, but to make a life long commitment to someone?

I love my husband with all that I have and not a single day do I regret my decision to marry him. I am thankful every day that he is in my life, teaching me how to be less selfish and more caring. However, I never want to claim that my marriage is perfect, or even that it is better than any other. To all of my friends I have talked to about this, thank you for allowing me to be sincere and for being sincere in return. And to the couples I look up to, thank you for setting a wonderful example and, most of all, being truthful about your struggles and hardships. I truly value your wise words.