Can a Dream Be Too Big?

I’ve always tried to be pretty open with my goals. Goal for Half Marathon this weekend? A PR. Goal for Philly Marathon in 5 weeks? Somewhere around 3:12-3:15.

I’ve talked about races I want to do one day. I’ve discussed my “Everest“.  I’ve shared my Ironman journey.

But, I’ve been keeping a secret. I’ve been hesitant to share my biggest goal – the one that crosses my mind most days. I think it’s because I feel like some people will laugh and think I’m aiming for the stars and although outside opinions shouldn’t matter, they do. Nobody wants to hear others laugh at a goal or worse – tell them that it’s not feasible.

I think that’s the beauty of keeping a dream to yourself. If nobody tells you it’s impossible, then it’s not, right? 

When is a dream “acceptable” to being shared?
When does it go from being a little kid dream to a concrete goal that you proudly tell family, friends or readers?
Do you have to be within striking range? What is striking range? 10, 20 minutes of your BQ? What about going to Kona? How high up in your age group do you have to be in your previous IM?
When does a dream go from being realistic and supported to impossible and laughed at? Who determines this?
Can a dream be too big?

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This weekend is the Ironman World Championship. I’ve watched the race on TV for years; each year I would make a promise to myself that I would learn to swim and get the courage to do something unknown to me – triathlons. It wasn’t about Kona. I wanted to complete an Ironman. Any Ironman.

Last February I began training for Lake Placid. I spent a few months learning how to swim and getting comfortable on the bike and then a couple of months putting it all together and working on my endurance. I had a time goal, but I also didn’t really have one. My overall goal was to finish. And on July 28th, I crossed that finish line I had dreamed of for so long. It was everything and more I thought it would be.

Best race ever.

Best race ever.

And fortunately (maybe unfortunately if you are my family?), it ignited something in me that I can’t seem (or want) to put out. Somewhere along the line….sometime during those months of training, those long bike rides or 4am wakeups, a crazy idea kept popping into my head. A goal, that despite being totally out of reach and impossible at the moment, makes my heart beat and keeps me up at night.

I want to race Kona. 

There was an opportunity last fall to apply for the Become One campaign with Got Chocolate Milk. I applied hoping I would win and get to do my first Ironman at Kona. I wasn’t selected. And while I was bummed at the time, I could not be happier now.

I don’t want to win a contest or lottery to get there. I want to qualify. (*Note: I am not trying to take away anything from those who raise money for a charity for Kona or Boston – I think it is an amazing thing)

I ran my first marathon (and race) in 2002. I didn’t know what my BQ time was because my only goal was to finish. I surprised myself and finished in 3:54. However, when I learned of the BQ time, I knew that if I trained smarter, I could do it. And I did. My next marathon was 3:22 – a 31 minute PR and my first BQ.

First BQ finish

First BQ finish

While I knew what range {roughly} I would have to be in to qualify for Kona for my first Ironman, it was not even a thought in my mind. My main goal was to finish (I had time goals but they were secondary). And so now I find myself in the same position I was in 11 years ago. My heart is telling me that if I train smarter and just spend more time doing it all, I can do it.

How far out do you dream? Are you always chasing the next race or is there something way out there on the calendar that you have your eyes set on? Are all the races over the next few years building blocks for that one huge goal? Qualifying for Kona may not happen this year (actually, I’m 99% sure it won’t happen this year), or next year, but I believe it will happen. I’ve made the decision to step away from training from marathons after Philly this year for the foreseeable future.

The only way I will ever know if I am capable of qualifying for and completing Kona is to focus 100% of my attention, energy and heart on it. 

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I am sure there will be people who laugh at me.  People far more seasoned than I with triathlons and Ironman competitions. I mean, I finished my first Ironman in 13:04. To qualify for Kona in my AG, I would have had to finish over 2 hours earlier. That’s a significant amount of time.

But I just can’t shake the feeling that I can do it. I believe in my heart that I can do it. I’ve learned that the only person who needs to believe in your dream is yourself – you are the only one who knows in your heart what you are truly capable of. And so begins the next chapter of my lifetime endurance journey – chasing the Kona dream.

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Do you have any dreams you keep private? 

What is your next goal? 

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    51 thoughts on “Can a Dream Be Too Big?

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    3. Omg! Do it! One of the best things I ever did was finishing my first im in Malaysia, but even better than that was when I saw the sign in coeur d’alene that said, “if your name is above the line you have qualified for kona”.
      You are so inspiring and you can totally do it!! You will never, ever regret something like that! Go for it!
      Ps, I’m so glad I found your blog!
      Jane recently posted..The stay-at-home-mum conundrumMy Profile

    4. Holy Moley girlie you are my hero. That is pretty kickass and I think you can definitely do it. ROOTING FOR YOU!!

      I am training for my first 70.3 (next Sept) and I definitely in the frame of mind where I just want to finish. But obviously doing well is always a secret wish xox
      Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) recently posted..Random Glam ThursdayMy Profile

    5. I truly believe you can do it. You’re healthy, you are not starting from zero and, most important, you’re stubborn. If you really want it so badly, you’ll get there, I have no doubts about it. However, if there is one thing that running has taught me, is that it takes times and a lot of hard work to reach our goals. But when you do… wow, I cannot find the words to describe that feeling! Finally, what’s most important in my opinion is to be patient and set smaller goals that will eventually take you to your final goal. For instance, my main goal is to BQ. However, I started running just a few years ago and the NYC marathon will be my first marathon. I cannot even dream to go out there and BQ just like that. So I decided that my goal from NYC will be to try to finish sub 4 hrs. My next goal will be finishing my 2nd marathon sub 3:45. Then, eventually, I know I’ll be finally ready to BQ.
      MartinaNYC@runtomakeadifference recently posted..Secrets of a runnerMy Profile

    6. I LOVE this post! I know 100% where you are coming from! Luckily, I have coaches who believe in me the same (if not more) than I believe in myself! They are helping me reach the dream of Kona also (someday!) I actually received my race schedule last weekend with a surprise in the month of Septemter…a little note saying “70.3 Worlds? You never know when you’ll have a breakout year. DREAM BIG!”…It was the most inspiring thing to see. Especially since I have never verbally and 100% stated to him “I want to qualify for 70.3 World and Kona someday. They talk about it and I always laugh and say maybe someday because I have the same thoughts you do…If I say it with certainty, does that mean I’ll fail if I don’t? Or someone will think I’m crazy.

      DREAM BIG, LADY!!! I have no doubt we’ll be tracking eachother someday in Kona! :)

    7. I love this! Kona may be a Big Fat Audacious Goal – but big fat goals are accomplished in little baby steps. And of course, lots of hard work. It may take a couple of Ironmans but you’ll get there – you’ll put the work in and earn it.

    8. Love this! Thanks for sharing, Michele- I just saw your FB share and loved the comment someone made that by sharing your dreams, you ignite a spark that fuels you along even more to meet your own! So excited to cheer you along as you go for it!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Divas Half Race RecapMy Profile

    9. I love this post. I love everything about it. Love that you are sharing those deep, secret dreams. The ones you’re almost embarrassed to tell people about. I most definitely felt this way about my 1:35 goal for the half, but now I KNOW that it will happen. My big, goal, the one that I just keep secret in my heart is to run in the Olympic Trials for the marathon. It seems ridiculous. But that’s my dream. I too would have to shave over an hour off my marathon time. It would be hard. But that’s my dream. I have people discourage me, either because it would take too much focus away from my family they say or because it is just so ridiculous. But I’ve also spoken with people who say that it is all in the mind, that the body will do (with work) what the mind believes. I know you can do it Michele. You will put the work in and it will come. And the truth is that you probably only have to shave off 1:30 hours if you subtract the time you spent pumping:)
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..To Do: Stick Finger in BlenderMy Profile

    10. A dream can NEVER be too big! I just did my first triathlon last weekend and I have been bitten by the bug too! I started eyeing Kona too-but considering I have only done a Sprint Tri, I didn’t want to talk too big. I do have a habit of not following through sometimes, but this is something that I WANT. I love following your blog! My Alma Mater couldn’t beat Navy-so it is up to yours!
      Mary recently posted..My Summer Vacation or the most Confusing Summer EverMy Profile

    11. Good for you to have big goals! I believe that if you want to go badly enough you will! Just remember that for Kona qualifying it’s not about the time, it’s who else shows up. My fastest race on the IMFL course got me the lowest place of all my IMFLs. Kona sure is exciting to race, especially if you’ve been watching broadcasts of it for 15 years like me! :)

    12. I say NO dream is too big, if you are willing to put in the time, work, and heart to make it happen. Don’t listen to those who tell you that your goal is too ambitious, and don’t listen to yourself when that voice of doubt creeps in. You can do it!! I felt the same way when I set the goal and shared my dream of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Here are two quotes for you!
      “If we write our dreams and goals down, we dramatically increase our odds of realization. If we share them with others, they become potent and alive.” – Kristin Armstrong and “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
      Erin recently posted..Back to work!My Profile

    13. You can never dream too big! The nice thing about goals like Kona (or even Boston) is that they can be lifetime goals because you can still get there at 50 or 60 (or even older!). When chasing big dreams I do think it is important to set intermediate goals along the way. It’s awesome you put your big goal out there – it’ll be so fun for your readers to follow your progress along the way!
      Andrea @ The Fit Scoop recently posted..Week 34: Baby PhotoMy Profile

    14. I don’t think a dream can be too big. My attitude is that if you set a big goal and work toward it, even if you don’t succeed, you’ll still be in a better spot than you were before (faster runner, triathlete, etc,.).

      My big goal is to qualify for Boston. I made this goal when my PR was 4:21, and I now have it down to 4:03 (trying to break 4 at CIM in December). Even though I’m still a long ways away, I just know I can do it (eventually).
      Megan recently posted..Healthy Breakfast CookiesMy Profile

    15. You are SO FREAKING inspirational. Geeze louise.

      I just ran a 71 minute PR for the marathon (went from a 5:15 to 4:04 whoop!). And pretty much since I started running, my goal was to maybe/someday/haha BQ. I’ve gotten kind of down on myself lately thinking there is no way that could happen. But honestly, after reading this post, you’ve totally given me a little spark of hope again :) Even if it never happens, you gotta try, right? Kind of like, you’d rather have loved and lost than never loved at all…. you’d rather have ran and tanked than never have run at all? :)
      Nicole @ Curly Mommy recently posted..Hey, remember me?My Profile

    16. Welp, consider it done! You set your mind to something and you do it, lady, so I can’t wait to see you at Kona in 2015 (or whenever you choose). When I saw this in my FB feed and you said your biggest dream, I KNEW it was going to be Kona. And I thought to myself, yup. She can do it. I don’t think anyone is going to be laughing at you. And if they do, you can laugh back all the way down the finisher’s shoot when you do it. I’m so excited for you. I loved following your journey to Ironman (I mean, I signed up for one…so yeah), and I can’t wait to follow your journey to Kona. So, now I just need to start saving. I feel like this is the perfect excuse for a trip to Hawaii to cheer at Kona! I’ll just need to convince my husband…
      meghan @ little girl in the big world recently posted..Weekly Workout Recap 9/30-10/6My Profile

    17. I LOVE this! Yes, we need to dream big. We need to also set realistic goals to get to that dream and not get disappointed a long the way. My big dream right now is to break 3 hours in the marathon. The dream is more realistic now that it was last year at this time but it’s taken A LOT of practice. I think a big part of dreaming big is having patience along with perseverance. So many times we want it now without realizing there are a lot of steps a long the way. Two hours for Kona is a lot now but think of how far you’ve come in the marathon. You just finished your FIRST Ironman. I’m sure with continued training and practice you would knock off chunks of time. Keep dreaming big!!
      Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Wicked and a 5K!My Profile

    18. Since becoming a runner I’ve always just assumed while yes, I’ve have gotten a little faster, I’d never be able to run a sub 2 half or a 4:30 full. I don’t have a “runner’s body” and my form is probably horrific. But I love distance running always impress myself nonethless when I cross those finish lines. (PR in half is 2:09 and full is 4:48)…..But I secretly have a dream of hiring coach and really pulling these PRs off. I truly believe my desire to run faster and my heart and lungs are ready…..I still don’t think I’ll qualify for Boston until I’m 70 lol but perhaps that will be my future secret dream.
      Sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Wednesday and what notMy Profile

    19. Great post (as usual)! I have secretly been dreaming to one day qualify for Boston. It seems so far out of reach right now, but I also know that if I really put in the effort it could maybe be a possibility! But I can’t sit around thinking about how I “one day” want to qualify for Boston – I need to go out there, put in the work and training, and try!

      Thank you for this post and helping me see that no dream is too big (and I may have to steal your quote (the one in the picture) – I love it)!
      Kate recently posted..Fall Drive Part II (Dallas Divide & Owl Creek Pass)My Profile

    20. I’m running my first marathon in a little over 3 weeks (NY) and even though it’s my first and I have yet to experience it, I know there will be more. My goal is sub-4 and my BQ is 3:35. My goal is to BQ in next Fall’s marathon (hoping to get in the lottery for St. George or get into Chicago) after running NY and doing Yuengling VA Beach in the Spring. Taking 25 minutes off is far from easy but seeing people like you, as well as several of my marathon veteran friends who ran 4 + hour marathons and then worked and qualified gives me so much hope that it’s possible. If I don’t ever BQ then I won’t run Boston- not to offend, but it’s a shame that there are SO many people who legit qualified this year and are unable to run due to the cut off, while people running for charity that did not qualify are running it.

    21. Wow, you can totally do this! Your swim and bike portions could easily go down by an hour combined on a flatter bike course, yes? And not having to pump would save you a bit of time, and remembering to keep taking in salt all day would totally bring down your marathon time! Wow, did you really just learn how to formally swim this year? I’d be so nervous about open water stuff, great job conquering that!
      Okay, I am inspired to do a sprint tri in the next year, and to try to do the 26.2 before 2014 ends. 😀

      • HAHA. It’s funny everything you mentioned about my times b/c that’s what my husband and I have said, too.
        I did. I took one lesson about 4 years ago but then found out I was pregnant so stopped. I watched a few videos and just kind of taught myself. I’m not fast at all – but I was pretty happy with how quick I was swimming a mile (5 weeks) after not being able to make it more than 100 yards.
        My first OWS ever was on race day back in June and was a bit nerveracking but it was in a lake and was “just” an olympic, so I felt okay about the distance. =)
        I think you should sign up for one!!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Can a Dream Be Too Big?My Profile

        • Will do! Just need to get a training suit and some goggles… not wanting to do laps in an old bikini. :-)

    22. This is truly inspiring and I can relate to this 100%. There is never a dream “too big”, and if people criticize you, then they aren’t worth listening to. I say as long as you’re able to juggle your family with training, go for it! I’m eyeing 2015 as my year to possibly complete a full IM! Kona will always be in the back of my mind, but we shall see :)
      Swimmykimy recently posted..The concept of “rest”My Profile

    23. Michele, I believe if anyone can do this its you. I am constantly impressed by all of your accomplishments and what gives me hope for what I am thinking of (trust me nothing compared to your goal) is that now I know my thought pattern is similar to yours and though it may not be 2013 or 2014, I’ll get to my Half Marathon and finish it. I also know my stepping stones and I think you are right. When you accomplish the next step the bigger dream is within reach. My friends son has completed 2 100 mile Ultras in Hawaii in the last 2 years and this year he placed 11th or 12th, one or two places better than last year. So I say, GO FOR IT!!!

    24. I have no doubt you will do it and I totally understand about wanting to Qualify. I’ve run a Marathon for charity before but not for Boston, like you said nothing wrong with running for charity and it’s an awesome thing to do but my heart and soul want to Qualify for it. I wish you the best and will keep your dream in my prayers.
      Adriana @Laced Up With Lipstick recently posted..Athleta Paisley Chaturanga Tight: Photos and ThoughtsMy Profile

    25. You are such an inspiration! I believe in you- just look at all you have accomplished thus far. You have the drive, determination, and ability to turn your dream into reality. I recently shared a big dream of mine and it was a bit scary. I’m new to running (first race was in May 2012) and am about to run my first marathon. My “big” dream is to BQ! Good luck to you and I’ll be following along as you tell us about your journey.

    26. You never know until you try. If you are going to fail, then fail having known you gave it your best and try again. Don’t be afraid to fail BIG!

    27. Everyone needs goals, so whatever makes you get up and out each day should be the one you pay attention to. I think the most difficult aspect of qualifying for a race like Kona is that it isn’t just about the time you need to race, like qualifying for Boston is. You are racing against others and your race ultimately depends on who else shows up. Many triathletes stalk race results all over the world so they can find the “easier” opportunity to earn a slot. Make no mistake though, you have to earn it no matter what race you compete in, but this is what Type A triathletes do. As the sport continues to grow, the competition to qualify increases with many people like yourself who share the same dream. Nothing wrong with that – you just have to want it more than them!
      LesserisMore recently posted..Race Report: Perfect 10 MilerMy Profile

    28. You are so inspirational. And SUCH an athlete. Wow.
      I totally keep dreams private. I’ve become pretty okay with sharing fitness/running goals and dreams but other things for personal growth I often don’t share with anyone but my husband. :-)
      Running Hutch recently posted..Fast and Full Recovery WorkoutMy Profile

    29. I don’t think Kona is too big a goal for you and absolutely believe that you will qualify someday. For me, there are absolutely things/goals that I keep private. For months, I told only one person that I was training for my first marathon. I think for me it was the combination of a fear of not making it to the starting line (let alone the finish) as well as not wanting to listen to people question my decision/fitness/training/etc. I’m learning to be more open about my goals, but there are still some things that I play close to the vest. I’ll share when I’m ready.
      Maureen recently posted..Race Recap: Totally Awesome 80′s RunMy Profile

    30. Love this!!! I definitely have goals and dreams that I keep secret. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a giant goal, especially if you aren’t even close to achieving it quite yet.

      I 100% believe you will qualify for Kona. You have the willpower and strength to get there. :)
      Steph recently posted..Fall Racing & DNS(ing)My Profile

    31. This post gave me the chills! I love your determination and how much you believe that you can and WILL qualify for Kona.
      My big dream is to do an Ironman. I was going to do a 70.3 in 2014 but finances aren’t lined up (thanks government shutdown-furlough-no drill…) but like you I have said that i WILL do an IM one day. Time will tell what one it is.

      I also have an even more lofty goal of a BQ someday. But I am incredibly slow….ha.

    32. I love this. Dreams and goals are what keep you motivated and moving forward. And you WILL get there! you are an inspiring woman!

      I can fully appreciate what you are saying about wanting to QUALIFY for your spot. One of my dreams is Boston…and considering I just started marathons this year, my spring PR from my 2nd is 4:26 and my current goal is to sub 4 this weekend…I have a long way to go. But I have promised myself that even if it takes years, I will get there on my own volition. I want to earn it.
      Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Hartford Marathon Training Week 16My Profile

    33. That’s an awesome dream to have! You will get there.

      My sister and I both want to do an Ironman one day. We’ve never done a triathlon and the longest run for both of us has been the half marathon distance. As long as you have a goal AND objectives (how you plan to get to your goal), anything seems easier and attainable.

      Good luck!

    34. YOU INSPIRE and MOTIVATE ME!! Thank you for sharing your feelings in this post…I can relate…and have a secret goal of making it to Boston. I have a lot of hard work to do…but I KNOW I CAN DO IT!

      Best to you and your family as you strive towards KONA! WAHOO!!

    35. AH! Reading this almost had me in tears!! I am so proud of you for sharing your dream! No one should ever laugh or make a negative comment about it because its YOUR dream.. not theirs. I think its SO awesome to set your goals high. Thats what makes them goals. What kind of fun/challange would it be to set goals that were easily attainable. The sense of accomplishment comes from achieving something that seemed out of reach is unbelievable.

      I just ran my first marathon and was (secretly) hoping for sub 4….( I finished 3:57) and now i am like well maybe if i train hard enough… after a few more marathons… I can BQ (which for my AG would be 3:35– ahh!??!) .. I have some other big goals i would like to accomplish before I really set out to chase my BQ dream (like a sub 1:45 half this spring) , and this post literally (not to steal your words) ..just lit a fire inside me and is making me want to just DREAM EVEN BIGGER.

      Thank you for sharing this!! You are totally going to get to KONA.. and it will be amazing! XXOXOXO

    36. I am right there with you! I have not even competed in a full IM, but I am all signed up for Chattanooga next September, but my eyes have been on Kona since I was a middle schooler probably almost 20 years ago when I saw the broadcast while sitting on my couch. I know timing has not been right with kids/career/life, but someday I will go. You can dream and go for anything you want and for me, many people know my goals but sometimes I am choosey with who I really let in on the dreams…unless others are those that dream big they can be the ones to de-rail you!

    37. First off, there is no such thing as a dream too big! I Think that is amazing! You can do it! I am firm believer that you can do anything that you set your mind too! Yes it will take time, it will take sacrifice, but I know that the body is an amazing thing and you CAN do this!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Eating Healthy While TravelingMy Profile

    38. I love it! And I don’t think you are unrealistic at all with this goal. First off, you are just a triathlon baby–you have so much time that you will take off as you gain experience and get more training in. You’ve only scratched the surface on swimming and cycling. Second off, your run is already fast enough to hold up that end of the deal in an IM. So I think you have both the raw talent, the determination, and the improvements ahead to get you where you want to be. And for the record–qualifying for Kona is a BIG deal. I don’t think people outside of triathlon appreciate how much tougher it is to get one of those 1,500 slots compared to the 27,000 Boston slots. Much tougher and the people who do it are downright studs (like you!). I’ll be cheering you on!
      misszippy1 recently posted..How to make a smoothie that packs a punchMy Profile

    39. No dream is ever too big. I find that if I don’t set a lofty goal for myself then I don’t have anything to push myself towards. Push yourself towards Kona, or any other race you want to do, and if others say that its impossible then they are simply showing that they don’t believe in your ability to achieve. As you said, the most important person to prove your abilities to is yourself.

      I’m currently working towards running my first half marathon. Years ago, I never thought I’d be able to do this. And although some experienced runners may think that this is “too easy” of a goal to strive towards, its a challenge for me that I’m currently working towards preparing for.
      Kathryn @ dancingtorunning recently posted..Walt Disney World Half Marathon Training Log – Week 5My Profile