You Have to Believe

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!



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  1. twitter worthy!

  2. very cool to look back on our history of running, and you are sooo almost there!
    .-= lindsay´s last blog ..drowning =-.

  3. this gave me the chills. i love stores like that.
    .-= Mel @ She Runs Brooklyn´s last blog ..Coffee & Apples. =-.

  4. I totally believe in you!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..New York is cold, but I like where I’m living* =-.

  5. How very cool! I love your dedication & confidence. Ah! Keep pushing 🙂
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Chicken Parm, Marinutta, Dress Help! =-.

  6. I LOVE this post. I will probably print this out and read on my way to the marathon with a few race reports that I have saved from Runners World. I love reading that you began where I did. (My first marathon was 5:12) I would have guessed you had been an athlete your entire life and that you ran a 3:40 on your first marathon. Your positive attitude seriously made me smile and gave me confidence for my marathon. October 4th will be a good day, as long as we are all ready to lay it on the line and not give in. Thanks again for an awesome post!
    .-= Robin´s last blog ..New Bergstrom Baby! =-.

  7. this is very awesome! I actually think that believing in yourself is a good thing– it’s often mind over matter, and if your mind already knows your body is capable, it’s harder to take it easy just b/c you don’t THINK you can do it 🙂
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Hanging on to Summer =-.

  8. i love when you find old things you wrote and find that you are achieving your goals! it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling like no other!

    screw them, glad you got some $$$ from somewhere else 🙂
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..My Rx? Exercise. =-.

  9. I love it when I found old things that I had written and see how far I have come as well. It makes me laugh when I look through my old “food journal” and saw what I ate. No wonder I have so many problems with food allergies and all. But you learn from your past and hope for a better future. I think it is great that the Boston Marathon is a goal for you, my older sister has the same goal. I like running in marathons though I do not have any goals just yet because I am about to run in my 2nd one. So I feel I need a little bit more experience! Keep up the good work.
    .-= Lori – pure2raw´s last blog ..What a lunch – Fennel tarts =-.

  10. Jerks – LOL!
    Goosebumps reading this one! And you WILL achieve it.
    .-= Mia {runs and rests}´s last blog ..Nutty Sweet Love =-.

  11. The end made me laugh – and you are so right that if you don’t get it this time, you’ll still be one step closer. Way to be a rockin’ roll inspiration on setting goals and working so hard to achieve them!
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right =-.

  12. Way to go! You’ll be at the Boston marathon soon, I’m sure of it. 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Kohlrabi: The Funny Looking Vegetable =-.

  13. Ah…I was hoping you would say you go to the University of Maryland…my beloved alma mater!

    They didn’t give me any money, either…
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Sweet Home Chicago – 20 Miler! =-.

  14. Very true about believing in something to make it possible. “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.” Have a great rest of the week!

  15. Great inspiration!

  16. Hi! Thank you so much for your inspirational blog post! One of my goals has also been to qualify for Boston. I actually met my goal after training all summer and qualified during a race this September with two minutes to spare for my age group. Unfortunately I was notified last week that I did not make the cutoff time this year, as it was significantly faster than previous years. I missed the cut by seconds. I decided to sign up for another marathon in the spring and try to qualify again, but am lacking motivation to dedicate another half a year to train for this race. They say that rejection can mean a nudge in a better direction, but for some reason I am having a hard time visualizing success, and so am asking for your advice on motivation. Thank you for any tips or tricks you may have! 🙂

    • Alberto Manjarres says:

      Hi…I just read your post. Rejection can be hard, but with time….once again you will want to achieve your goals. The sooner the better…before old father time creeps up on you. Stay the course…you can do it.

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