Going the distance to reach a goal can be inspiring

May 21, 2006|by JOEL HUFFER

At some point in time, we've all had our to-do lists.

Some were for work; some were for school. Some were even written for us by others (wives, husbands, parents, children, etc.)

I have one that I made about 10 years ago.

For a while, I carried it in my wallet. Now, it's etched in my memory.

On the list are six things that I'd like to do in my lifetime.

1. Write a book.

2. Run a marathon.

3. Attend a World Series game.

4. Go skydiving.

5. Visit Alaska and Hawaii.


6. Own a motorcycle.

I must admit that I've never gotten close to crossing anything off the list. Marriage, children and job changes have kept me plenty busy.

But recently, running a marathon and visiting Hawaii have appeared within reach.

In the fall, I started running several days a week.

At Thanksgiving, I ran my first 5K race (3.1 miles) since high school. A treadmill purchase and five months later, I ran another 5K and took more than four minutes off my time from the first race.

My next challenge comes in two weeks at Antietam National Battlefield, when I run my first 10K (6.2 miles). My goal for that race, as it was for my first 5K, is to finish.

After a few 10Ks, I'll likely try to complete the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C., in October.

Publisher John League has invited me to run my first half-marathon with him. And, assistant sports editor Andy Mason - a veteran marathoner - has offered to help me prepare for my first 26.2-miler.

Distance running has never come easy to me. In high school, my preferred events were sprints - 100 meters, 200 meters, whatever got me from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. I ran cross country for one season, but I wasn't good at it because it required me to be patient and to pace myself.

And I'm really not one for those kinds of things.

But over the past few months, as my three runs a week have become five or six runs a week, I've discovered that I am committed to reaching a goal. In fact, on a recent business trip to Florida, I rose an hour early each day so I could get in my daily run.

I know I'm still a long way from completing a marathon, but I'm closer now than I was at this time last year.

I'm also closer to visiting Hawaii, thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard.

One of my best friends since elementary school recently received orders for a three-year assignment at the USCG detachment in Honolulu.

He applied for the tour last year, but was told several months ago that he was being sent down the California coast from Oakland to San Diego. A staffing change in the past few weeks presented the opportunity to move to Hawaii, and he gladly accepted.

I've been to visit him during his stops in Philadelphia, Houston, St. Croix and Oakland. And I can't see any reason I wouldn't cross the Pacific Ocean to spend time with an old friend.

Who knows? Maybe someday, I'll write a book about running a marathon in Hawaii.

Joel Huffer is managing editor of The Morning Herald. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7587, or by e-mail at

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