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Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women

Subtitled "Get Off Your Butt and On With Your Training", Dawn Dais's book The NONRunner's Marathon Guide for Women is a fast, fun read. Like the movie Run, Fatboy, Run, it's also sweet. Unlike the movie, it contains useful advice about training and life. Dais explains what motivated her:

How is it that I went from Elmer Fudd to the Road Runner? Well, I came home one day to find a postcard from the American Stroke Association in my mailbox. It showed very happy people very happily running a marathon to raise money for the American Stroke Association (hence their being featured on the association's postcard).

My grandfather had a debilitating stroke years ago and recently passed away. I sat staring at the postcard, feeling as if this were somehow a sign. "Do this marathon," he was saying. "Raise money for this cause."

There was also a coupon for Jimboy's Tacos in my mail. Apparently Grandpa was also saying, "Eat a discounted taco"—a message that seemed more his style.

But still, I could not ignore the sign. When you lose a relative, there's a feeling of wanting to do something—something huge and profound, something that honors a life that shaped and influenced your own. Though I knew I couldn't ever do anything big enough to honor his whole life, I figured this was something proactive and challenging and something that would have made my grandfather proud. And moving my lazy ass for twenty-six consecutive miles—that's pretty profound.

So at age 25, Dawn Dais runs the 2003 Honolulu Marathon in a little over 8 hours, toughing it out in spite of severe ITB pain. Between comic asides she offers some excellent thoughts. She brings to mind Jon Kabat-Zinn's comments on Present-Moment Reality in Chapter Six ("The Moment") when she observes:

More than just one big moment, your marathon will be the culmination of little moments, subtle changes, and noteworthy milestones. Sure, the point of all of these moments is to lead you to the finish line; but if you look a little deeper and get in touch with your Oprah side, you'll find that training can be about a lot more than just one race. Most of the things you'll learn about yourself, your limits, and your abilities won't come during the actual marathon. They'll come during less-obvious times, times that might be overlooked because you're focusing so intently on the marathon itself. They'll come when you lace up and hit the trail, even though the lacing up itself is enough to aggravate your poor sore muscles. They will be the times you exuberantly proclaim, "I only have to run nine miles this weekend!" when a few weeks earlier the mere thought of a nine-mile run would have sent you whimpering into a fetal position. They'll come at times when you run through pouring rain, sideways wind, and scorching heat, because you made a commitment and you intend to keep it, regardless of Mother Nature's rather mean-spirited sense of humor.

Dais concludes her Epilogue with some remarks on challenges and self-actualization:

... I now see that my marathon marked a very real shift between being a person who talks about things and a person who does things. My training wasn't so much about the running as it was about the challenge and how I approached it. It turned out to be the first in a series of challenges I took on. ...

The specific challenges I took on following my marathon aren't really important; what is important is for you to do the same. Recognize what you've done in completing this tremendously difficult task and the inner resources you used to accomplish it. You'll be able to tap those same resources to accomplish other things in your life. ...

Do yourself a favor and review the journal entries and lists you've jotted down while taking on this challenge. You will see that the journey has involved more than just running; you've explored and found ways to take your body and mind out of your comfort zone and into a foreign (and very uncomfortable) land. The resources you used to navigate that land are the same ones you can use to navigate anything else that comes your way. Except don't wait for the challenges to come your way. Go looking for them. And when you do, I guarantee you'll find even more of yourself waiting there for you.

Well done, soldier, well done.

(but I still don't believe in running as fund-raising — cf. For Themselves, ThisSpaceNotForRent, Running to Run, ...) - ^z - 2011-11-15