When I was in second grade, everyone knew Alyssa Grenfell was the fastest runner in Montana City Elementary School. I could outrun every single boy… even Jake, who was the most athletic in our class and easily my biggest crush of 2003.
For an end of the year school project that year, we had to create a drawing and write something nice (a fill in the blank kind of thing:_____ is special because ______) about each one of our classmates. Our teacher carefully sorted out each little creation, and on the last day of school, everyone got a little book full of nice notes. Now, put the last paragraph and this paragraph together… can you guess what images and comments covered the pages of my notebook?
Me. Running. On almost every page. It’s pretty clear: everyone knew running was my thing.
“Alyssa is special because she’s good at sports especaly track and is fast.”
- “Alyssa is special because she is honest and is great at running in gym and outside.”
- “Alyssa is special because she looks out for peple wen she is runing fast she finishes her work quickly she pushes in her chair”
I loved the taste of sprinting across the finish line and the feeling the surge of absolute victory from beating a classmate burst through my body. There is no equal to how powerful you feel as your feet pound against the ground, propelling you forward and past everything around you. Running makes me feel like the most beautiful and powerful being on earth. I have a runner’s soul.
In high school, I kept running. The days of sprinting across the court during gym class disappeared and were replaced by a longer and more complex challenge. My milage felt as high as the sky, and after long summer runs I would sit in the sun which fell into my room, and I would nap. In college I discovered that running and keeping up my fitness without a team or a coach was nearly impossible. Long runs were replaced by long nights… or just all out all nighters. Veggies and water said goodbye as In-and-Out and Sprite walked in the door.
My runner’s soul started to starve. But, one day, out of some crazy bucketlist dream of a thought, I signed up for the Utah Valley Marathon. My training? Five miles a week once or twice a week. A twenty mile freak out run when I realized the marathon was two weeks away. And. And. That’s about it. My time? 4:21:59. The time was okay, but my training was incredibly minimal and potentially dangerous.
But there was this moment while I was running that marathon. It was between mile 10 and mile 18. I felt phenomenal. If you were to look in the dictionary for a definition of “runner’s high,” you would find a picture taken some time during those perfect miles.
Little Alyssa Grenfell and her runner’s soul is back. Gone are the days of Alyssa Grenfell is the best runner around and let’s try to beat Alyssa in a race during recess. The likelihood of me winning a marathon anytime soon is pretty low, but I do have this new goal, this new dream: I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon… and then run it of course. Running that marathon and qualifying for it has always been this impossibly out of reach goal. To qualify, I have to run approximately 8 minute miles… for 26.2 miles. I would have to be in such amazingly great shape, and I have always been fairly certain that I could never achieve that level of ability.
But I have this plan. As you, my reader, may or may not know, I am an English teacher. And though working in public schools does not always mean the best pay, it does mean you have a three month summer break, and, wonderfully enough, you still get paid throughout those long summer months. This summer, I will finally have the hours in my day to completely dedicate myself to my Boston Marathon dream.
When I think about it, my heart drops into my stomach. Should I actually tell people that I’m trying to do this? Will it really suck when this dream and goal and hope fails miserably? But being fueled by fear is dangerous. It may be impossible to ever achieve this if even I do not think it’s possible.
So, my friends, here’s to running. To running hard. To running with passion. To running towards something that you may never reach… but you keep running anyway.