Training for a Half-Marathon on List of Goals for 2010

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. If I want to do something badly enough, I try to do it during the year. This year, though, I’m feeling more motivated to think about my goals for 2010, in part because I have a lot I want to accomplish in the months ahead.

I’ve found that writing down my goals helps ground them in reality and sometimes makes them seem more feasible. And publishing them for an audience of readers creates more of an incentive to actually live up to what I say I’m going to do!

So, here’s some of what I hope to accomplish in the year ahead:

Start cooking more for myself — and others. After a long day at work, it’s much easier to heat up a veggie burger or some soup than it is to make a meal for myself. I have no trouble, though, cooking for others, and I love seeing people eat the food I make. Since coming home, I’ve prepared more meals than usual, probably because I have a family to make meals for here. I find that the more I cook and bake, the more relaxing and enjoyable it becomes.

Help out with some Habitat for Humanity builds. Nearly every Saturday morning, the local Habitat for Humanity chapter for St. Petersburg, Fla., has organized construction days for people who want to help build a Habitat home. I’m not a morning person, and Saturday is my one day to sleep in, so I often don’t wake up in time to volunteer. I’m hoping to help out with at least a few builds, though, this year.

I led Habitat for Humanity groups all throughout college, and spent three of my four spring breaks building homes in Rocky Mount, N.C., Baltimore, Md., and Concord, N.H. These were some of the best weeks of my college career. Even though I hardly knew the people on the builds prior to our week-long adventures, I always came away with a sense of accomplishment and a new group of friends. Seeing how happy the soon-to-be homeowners looked when they saw their houses being built was enough to remind me why I spent my spring breaks putting up drywall, painting walls and hammering lots of nails.

Continue to write more personal essays. Someday I want to write a memoir. It’s a lofty goal, I know, but I already have a lot of material for what could become a book about my mom and how her death has shaped me. In the past decade or so, I’ve written dozens of personal essays and filled up more than 20 journals. I don’t journal as much as I once did, but I still write a few entries a month in addition to the personal essays I write for my blog.

When writing essays for publication, I try to be truthful to my own experiences while addressing universal themes that others can relate to. The best indication of a “successful” personal essay is one that touches others. If I can help just a small group of people through a piece of writing, and make them realize that they’re not alone, then the time spent writing was more than worth it. In 2010, I hope to write more personal stories and draw greater connections between my more recent essays and those I’ve written in the past.

Run a half-marathon. Since I started running cross-country in high school, I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I’m not quite ready for one yet, though. So I’m going to attempt a half-marathon — a Disney Princess half-marathon. I’ve been running regularly, and I recently ran in some 10K road races, so I feel up for the challenge. My best friend from home is flying from Massachusetts to run the race with me, as is her mom, who was our high school cross-country coach. We’re planning to wear tiaras during the race, and there’s been talk of even wearing a tutu. We can’t help but want to embrace the race’s theme. …

Swim in a triathlon. One of my friends recently signed me up for the St. Anthony’s triathlon in St. Petersburg. I’m going to do a mile-long swim while my two other friends bike and run. When I first heard that I’d have to swim a mile, it didn’t seem as though it would be that difficult. But I was thinking from a runner’s standpoint. An open-water, mile-long swim is pretty far, especially for someone like me who doesn’t swim regularly. I’m willing to do it, though, so long as the waves aren’t too rough the day of the race. My plan is to swim two to three times a week when I get back to Florida after the first of the year, and do a few open-water swims. Any training-related tips would be much appreciated.

I’m still thinking about how I plan to measure the success of these goals. I’ll keep you updated on my progress in the coming months.

What are some of your goals for 2010?