Image Credit: Anna Casassa

Greatness is a phantom whose presence is often felt in my life but never quite realized. It floats past me and sometimes moves things around—if only I could grab it with both hands and hold on until it materializes.

But that feeling is an illusion. Anyone who has ever read about lottery winners knows that being suddenly coiffed and coutured does not transform a bum into a Mother Theresa. The bum is still a bum, despite the better clothing.

Sure, some lives can be instantly transformed, but generally speaking, a person is not made great in a single moment. Greatness is something that is nurtured in a thousand minor incidents during the course of one’s life—it’s just that some people get the opportunity to demonstrate in more public ways.

As a marathon runner, I understand you have to start with 3 miles and slowly build up to the big race. Despite this knowledge, I still find it hard to place proper value on the training runs of the heart.

It is ridiculously easy to be a hero to my kids: reading a chapter of a book, teaching them to crochet, or baking cookies with them: these are things which make them look at me in ways that make my heart ache.

As the year winds down and I contemplate my life goals, I have come to realize that greatness has little to do with getting published or running an ultra-marathon (though those are still dreams); but my revised goal is to give my best effort in a myriad of ways that nobody sees but everybody feels–to be the phantom of great things in my little world.


Miles: who knows? I’ve been running 15 to 20 miles a week—outside if it’s not muddy. I even ran through the snow.  I’ve also done the treadmill on occasion, but it doesn’t seem like actual running.

Knees: no problems as long as I use my knee straps.

Diet: before you groan–yes, holiday cheer=vast quantities of sugar & cheese logs—I have dipped my toes in the Zone Diet. I haven’t been following it to the letter and over two weeks I have lost 3 inches from my waist. I eat all the time, am never hungry, and still have a glass of wine on occasion. I’m thinking I’ll stay in the Zone for a while—it will be easier when the candied nuts are gone.

Weather: I prefer ankle-deep snow to mud any day of the week. And I might be crazy, but I actually love running when it’s cold and snowy out, as long as the trail is somewhat packed.

Gear: I bought a pair of goreTex lined Nike’s, which honestly, are junk. They are good for walking the dog on the farm road and for keeping my feet warm when I drive the kids to piano lessons, but for running they kill my arches (as usual). *Note to self: stop wasting money on Nikes!

However, I found a pair of goreTex socks at military clothing sales, and I wear them with my beloved Mizunos, which never let me down. So now the Mizunos can run through rain or snow, which makes me WAY too happy.