From an application letter I wrote in early 2006 to the University of Maryland Applied Math department:
As an example of my determination in achieving goals, I would like to mention one of my personal interests—marathon running. Having always been involved with athletics and fitness, I decided in 2002 that I would run a marathon (26.2 miles). At the time I made this decision, I was not able to run more than three miles. I trained for five months, making the obvious sacrifice of committing to four weekly runs and weekend runs of 10 to 20 miles each (while in college, no less), and in June of that year I completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. Unfortunately, a shin injury prevented me from running in my target time of four hours.
After recovering, I began training again, and again my shin got injured. This happened a few more times, and every time I made adjustments to my training to increase my chances of success. Finally, in January 2006, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in a time of three hours and fifty minutes, shattering my four-hour goal. My training was still not free from injury, however, and I know that my personal best time is still to come. My next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of three hours, ten minutes. While perhaps lofty, I know this goal is realistic and I have no doubt that eventually I will achieve it.
What I didn’t mention in the letter was that the Boston goal had been in my mind from the very beginning; any intermediate target times were nothing more than stepping stones along the way.
I was really excited to find this letter and read it again. Not because it shows me how far I’ve come, though it’s kind of neat to remember how excited that 3:50 made me when my previous marathon had been a 4:53. What really amazes me is the confidence I had that I could qualify for Boston. I went through so much frustration in dealing with the shin stress fractures and just to get under four hours! How, I now wonder, did I possibly have “no doubt” that I would eventually do it, when it meant taking off 40 more minutes (about a minute and a half per mile)?! Did I have no idea of how much work this would take, how impossible this would feel at times?
To anyone who knows anything about running, I must have looked like a complete fool going around saying I’d eventually qualify for Boston, when I’d never even trained for a marathon without getting injured. Yet I’m 100% positive that this naive certainty is the very reason that in just over two weeks, I’ll go to bed the night before my race knowing, for the first time, that when I wake up I’m going to have a chance of qualifying for Boston.
As corny as it might sound, this entire process has served to completely reinforce what I know to be true, that when you believe with every ounce of your mind and body that something is possible, that alone makes it so.
There’s a chance that it still won’t be my day this time. But even if it’s not, there will be more race days, and eventually one of them will be my day. Of this I’m certain.
(In case you’re wondering, I did get accepted, but without funding. So I went to a different school. Jerks!)
This post is part of 10-part series on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Check out the rest!