Well, here we are. Seven months later. It’s a funny moment of reflection for me, thinking about that specific period of time.
I made a big career shift before moving to Vermont. In 2014, I quit my job, enrolled in a program where people who know nothing about code spend seven months learning to write it, and then, theoretically, receive a job offer to write code for a living.
It worked for the majority of my cohort, and hey, it worked for me, too! After seven intense months of study, I accepted a web development role that brought me here to Burlington. Now, after seven intense months of marathon preparation, I’m convinced it’s the sweet spot of a time period needed to learn nearly any new skill.
A period of seven months provides the flexibility needed to wrap one’s head around the inevitable labors of success and failure. It provides the time needed to build muscle—the physical muscle, the mental muscle, and the muscle memory. It positions a person at the perfect intersection of clarity, confidence, and curiosity.
Over these past few weeks, I’ve thought back often to that moment in October, sharing a casual meal with a friend at our neighborhood bar. Locked in my memory, I can still hear her off-the-cuff suggestion that I train for my first marathon. The whole idea of it was completely ludicrous until suddenly… it wasn’t. All it took was a quick shift in perspective. Dare I say it, the hardest part of my marathon training was as simple as that.
By distancing myself from the obvious weight of the task, running a marathon became just another new hobby. Just another side project. And, if you’ve ever met me, you know that the itch to take on new side projects is an itch I scratch often. Prior to the marathon, I was deep into the discovery of printmaking, and what I loved about it was the idea that I could repeat exactly the same techniques using exactly the same tools and yet produce ineluctably unique results.
Running, I’ve discovered, follows a similar pattern.
Running, I’ve come to appreciate, pairs the practice of discipline with the delight of surprise.
Running—commence! I lace up my shoes, I plug in my headphones, I pound on the pavement. I lose myself in the regularity of the task and in the predictability of my pace. I find comfort in the routine, and yet every time I’ve run these past seven months, it’s been different. There’s something so special about that.
As for Sunday? I have no idea what to expect. I’m filled with excitement, I’m simultaneously terrified, and I’m hoping the adrenaline carries me through.
After Sunday, I’ll be excited to scheme up whatever side project comes next. But something tells me — some hint of a new habit formed inside me — that I’ll keep running alongside, too.