Her letter popped into my mind over the weekend as I read these words from Alana Hadley:
"I am writing this blog as my stand against people who think it is okay to tell people they will never succeed. To put out the truth about my running struggles and to let everyone know just how wonderful my parents are. I refuse to let my parents be hated any longer all because they support me on following my dream. No one should be hated and talked down to just because they support those that they love. If you have a goal or dream go after it, chase it down, no matter what anyone says. Because it is your life to live not theirs and if people spend their time tearing down someone else's dream it's because they are too scared to go after their own."
It's all awfully sad, if you think about it. To consider that she lost her love for the thing she loved more than almost anything in life not because of overbearing parents, but because of overbearing criticism. I'm not saying I know for a fact that they aren't overbearing parents (it's not an accusation, it's "I don't know," just like you don't know), but I am saying I know for a fact that the criticism was overbearing.
And as I said, that's profoundly sad.
But there's still hope here. A new chapter is beginning. She's an adult now. She now gets to succeed and fail on her own merits, based on her own decisions. I asked her directly if she would let me interview her for this column (I used to route requests through her dad), but she declined – saying she felt she'd said everything she wanted to in her blog.
The last paragraph of her recent blog entry reads: "I'm getting back into running and I'm honestly not sure where it will take me, if I'll go back to marathons or just stick with some shorter races. I just want to go back to that time when I was excited to go to the track with my dad and have long chats with my mom on long runs. While my parents maybe in Oregon now and I'm still in Charlotte I can't wait to go home over spring break and once again share with them the joy of running in which they showed me all those years ago."
In other words, she's ready to start from scratch, with a more positive outlook.
Perhaps, when it comes to our preconceived notions about her and her running – we should all do the same.