I missed qualifying for the Boston marathon by a measly 8:44. It had stung and it had shaken me deep down in my strong box, that box that puts up the never ending battle to persevere, to achieve, to not give up. It made me wonder if the 3hr 40 min wall was impenetrable.
I had taken the summer, to mentally regroup in hopes that I would want to try again in the fall. I had blown up and suffered the last 8 miles. The possibility of that happening again was a very loud and in my face thought whenever I seriously considered signing up for another one. The idea of losing control of my race and stopping repeatedly, trying to get the cramps out of every muscle in my lower body as I played the role of the broken and defeated runner was horrifying.
I had been watching the olympics, specifically the women's gymnastics when I heard the back story to Nastia Liukin and her ambitions to win gold in Beijing. She had made a vision board. The board was a collage of pictures and words that served as a vivid reminder of the "dream" at hand. It had stirred something deep inside me. I loved the idea. It was a sign for me that it was time to try again.
I set to work, thinking about what I wanted on the board. The race itself was in Philadelphia. I wanted to qualify for Boston. My mom was a huge cheerleader, sherpa, supporter and inspiration.
I found a lot of "Runner's World" magazines I had laying around and started looking for pictures that would be appropriate for my collage. Each picture, I selected became committed to memory over the course of the next 4 months as I prepared myself. I spent time physically training, but also building up my mental walls to shut out the negative voice and remember all the reasons why I was meant to do this and why I wouldn't fail a second time.
The vision board itself has no magic of course, but putting it on paper made it "real." It became that thing inside me that I all too often forget and lose sight of because it's overshadowed by doubts. It became the belief inside me that I don't have to be afraid of failing that I can succeed and I will achieve my dream.
Oh and I did run sub-3:40 when the day came, just as I had forseen.