Dreams – What Happens When They Die

Dreams they can be fleeting and yet so motivating.

They are more than a goal, so much more than that.

True dreams are something that can make a huge difference in our lives and become a part of who we are, not just words on a performance evaluation or a blog post. Dreams make us work harder than we ever thought possible and when they are dashed, can be disappointing at the least and be devastating to who you are, if you allow it.


We put so much of ourselves in our attempts to prepare for and then work to complete those dreams that we truly want to achieve. They are something that we want to accomplish so badly and when or if we don’t or can’t finish our dream, a piece of us dies.

Am I being negative – no.

I am simply being honest.

All the motivational shit that is out there about failing says:

  • failing builds character,
  • failure is not an option,
  • failure is going to happen
  • what matters most is what you do after you fail
  • all the other ad nauseam stuff about failure

is just that shit.

A dream dying changes you forever – it is more than simply failing, so much more. 

No one who has a dream about something they really want to do, wants or simply allows a dream to fail without fighting for it and when a dream does die, it might not be the end of a world to anyone else, but a piece of you dies.

It hurts like hell and is something that you never forget. Yes, the pain fades, but the memories of what happened always remain.

Dreams Died

Over the past couple of months I have had two dreams die:

  • A small business that I started – A Veteran Runnah.
  • Running in the Marine Corps Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon 30 years after I failed in 1983.

My business.

I worked hard to create and build something that I believed in, that I could do well and enjoy. Unfortunately, after I got into the world of owning my business, I found that I do not have the personality or even more important – the attitude to be successful in the field that I chose.

The reality of what my business became was not the same as the dream that I had for it. My business died not because I could not do the work or because I had unrealistic expectations of what would be necessary to be successful, but was that I did not fit the niche I had chosen and I walked away before I became someone who I am not.

Yes a piece of me died when walked away and shut down A Veteran Runnah, but at the same time it was a relief when I did and looking back it was the correct decision.

Marine Corps Marathon

This one hurt. Running the Marine Corps Marathon and qualifying for Boston there, was a dream that I have had since I failed back in 1983 and had been actively working towards this time since 2011. This dream became the basis for my blog, my business and the hook that brands liked about me, when they were looking for someone to “represent” them.

However, running the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday was something I really wanted for me more than anything else. Running and achieving a BQ there, would have been a redemption of my MCM marathon 30 years ago, when I finished, but did not live up to my expectations and did not qualify for Boston.

Last Sunday, MCM happened without me, due to a freak running injury (a partially torn Achilles tendon) that occurred while running in a race back in May, which eventually dashed my dream. Quite honestly, the weeks before the marathon sucked.

Right up until the last couple of days before this race, I held out hope for a miracle to happen and that I would be able to go and run MCM at the last-minute.

It didn’t happen.

Finally, the Thursday before MCM, I accepted that I would not be going to Washington D.C. to run the Marine Corps Marathon – the dream died. It sucked!

Yes, It hurt and yes a piece of me died that day.

It is all about Choices

What you do when a dream dies is important and I had choices, just like anyone else when their dream dies:

I could go into a deep, dark depression


Accept that this dream is over, think about what actually happened, take the lessons I learned to heart, make changes that I can, move on, but most importantly not forget the dream and the things that I did achieve as a result of having that dream.

Instead of looking back to my dreams dying and wallowing in despair, I am moving forward and in the process of creating new dreams.

The reality is that

As I go through the seasons of my life, yes I am approaching the winter, I know that I still need dreams to aspire to, but that those dreams are and have changed as I have gotten older.

No, I do not dream about starting another business, that dream is dead. I have moved on.

However, I have had the dream of qualifying and running the Boston Marathon for over 40 years. It is time to let go of qualifying for Boston at the Marine Corps Marathon and focus on running a BQ in a smaller race, that doesn’t have the memories and negative emotional baggage that MCM has for me.

Do I have other dreams, sure – but I am not writing about those here.

Now to figure out how I am going to chase or should I say achieve this old dream of mine. I have a few ideas to explore and you know something, I am getting excited about the possibilities that are going to come along with going after my Boston Qualifying dream and how it will affect my running.

I am not starting over, I am improvising, adapting and moving forward.

Do you have dreams, what are you doing to achieve them or if a dream died recently what are your new dreams and what are you doing to go after your new one(s)?

4 thoughts on “Dreams – What Happens When They Die

  1. Hey Harold, I’m sorry your MCM didn’t work out. I missed out in a race to qualify for western states two years in a row. Now? I don’t even know if I’ll be able to run a couple days a week and stay pain free. Other dreams? I’m about 2 months or so away from having my first children’s book published. I never thought (now or in the distant past when I wrote) that my first published book would be a kids book but I’m so stinkin’ excited about it!

  2. I definitely felt for you with the MCM. I mean, even though I started running in 1989, that was all slow pokey stuff related to my morbid obesity at the time, and it wasn’t until 2012 that I even ran a 5K and then a marathon … and then this year pushed myself to go too fast and while I ended up with a couple of PR’s, never got to the milestones I wanted because I got greedy … and felt very disappointed. So I can only imagine having the opportunity taken away for this year.

    But the thing to remember is THAT dream isn’t gone – it is just different. Why do we hang on the ‘even number anniversary’ thing. Is 25 years married more magical than 24 or 26? We set things in our head, but sometimes they are random – like 30 years. My point – don’t focus on the anniversry, focus on THE GOAL!

    As for your business … I totally get that. I have separated some of the stuff I was doing for Gear Diary and started piling it into my personal blog (some combination of what made sense and the politics that exist anywhere) … and I had thought about some of these blogs where they are pushing, pushing, pushing … involved in networks and ambassadors and so on. Truth is in Western NY there are no major outlets for these things, and I am really not willing to do what it takes – so I headed myself off before getting into it. But there are many other areas through the years where I thought ‘this is my goal; … only to have it not pan out. That sucks.

    And I also agree – failure doesn’t build character … failure is failure and it sucks. Living builds character, which is full of success and failure.

    1. Thank you Mike. Looking back objectively, my MCM dream was an old fart’s attempt at personal redemption for failing to BQ there 30 years ago. It made for a good story line and motivated me to do more than I ever thought I would/could do, until I got injured. Now that my 30 year MCM attempt is over, running at those “huge” races with 10’s of thousands of other runners, honestly doesn’t hold very much appeal to me, unless it is because I have qualified for and am running at Boston. I just don’t like being around that many people all that much, even if they are fellow runners :-).

      Otherwise, I will plan to go to Runner’s World most Octobers, but otherwise race locally up heah or maybe out in Minnesota when visiting my daughters.

      I plan to run a local Boston qualifier marathon – probably in the spring, to see if I can BQ or not (there is a lot less pressure, stress and travel involved). I had allowed MCM to become the only place that I wanted to BQ and it was the wrong choice.

      Looking back I should have just ran a spring marathon this year, I was in good enough shape then and not injured. I could have then run MCM for the experience and simply enjoyed myself. Oh well, 20/20 hindsight is always nice, but imperfect in the real world.

      My dream has always been to BQ, now I that I have gotten over my MCM hang-up, I believe that I finally will.

      My social media business failed because, I was not willing to become someone who is not really me. I enjoyed many parts of it, learned a great deal and it came down to me making the choice to shut it down, but not because it wasn’t successful, but because it wasn’t the right path for me. However, I will sadly admit that I did get caught up in the you too can make $$$ with your blog mentality for a time (especially when I did) and then when I saw the path I was on – stopped. My personal code, sense of honor or loyalty, didn’t mesh with the direction that it seemed that I needed to go to become more successful.

      Which was too bad, because I met a lot of GREAT people, did some really cool stuff and attempted new things that took me waaaaaaayyyyy out of my comfort zone (which was a good thing).

      I wouldn’t mind working again in social media marketing, but it would not be as an independent contractor (there is a lack of respect by many brands for bloggers/social media – they under-value how much work they do and forget that free gear or trinkets do not pay the bills and you still have to pay taxes on them). I would only return to full time social media marketing as an employee for a brand that shared similar ideals to mine. I guess I am old-fashioned and thankfully at a place in my life where I can say and do this.

      It seems as though you have achieved a nice balance in your professional life and your blogging, that you have worked hard to achieve and works well for you. I gotta admit I am a bit jealous :-).

Leave a Reply, but I moderate all comments

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.