Charlene is a marathoner who has run 12 marathons in the last 6 years, 4 of which were at the Boston Marathon. Here is her journey to her first Boston Marathon and the power of setting intentions:
Running Boston was not a part of my initial goal when I started running. I was initially intrigued by all of the colorful race participants who ran past my neighborhood each year for the Huntington Beach Marathon, and that curiosity turned into an ongoing love affair that continues to fuel my spirit. In January 2012, I signed up for my first half marathon in Huntington Beach, CA. As these things often go, I jumped right back into another half marathon that May. Then ultimately decided to go all the way and ran my first full marathon that October, just 10 short months later.
Running a half marathon already sounded crazy, and now, I was planning to double the distance and go for 26.2 miles?! The idea of running a full marathon was both exciting and daunting. If I was to invest 4 months of grueling training, I might as well set an outlandish goal and see if I can use my first race to qualify for the Boston Marathon. As the positive thinker, Norman Vincent Peale, had once said, “Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” By aiming for something inspirationally lofty, even if I don’t achieve it, I would still be somewhere much, much better than where I started. This led me to think about the tremendous dedication of those Bostonian athletes who trained in the rain, heat and snow, it didn’t matter, there would be no excuses. I had to embody the same strength of WILL and DEDICATION – I set the powerful intention of POSSIBILITIES - training strong and giving 100%. Intentions help to set my level of energy and establish the course of action that best supports whatever it is that I am trying to accomplish.
An intention is less about the actual result or outcome, and more about inspiration and aspirations. I was inspired by the Bostonian athletes and aspired to train just as hard as they do. Each time that I brought my best to the table, in and of itself, was a victory even before I reached the finish line. For someone who was NOT a morning person, every morning that I made it out of bed, hit the trail and did the lonely work, I felt like a total bad-ass. Over time, I became an unrecognizable version of myself. I woke up at dawn. I ran in the rain. I showed up on the track, ran hard and continued to push and expand my physical limits. On those occasions when I had to skip a training run or splurged on an indulgent dinner with friends, I did not beat myself up because my intention was still there to guide me back and move me towards my goal. My focus was on the intention of training hard and giving a 100% effort and qualifying for Boston was merely a byproduct of that intention.
To be able to experience the Boston Marathon on race day was a dream come true for me. Having my first experience of it be in 2014, the year after the bombing, was both emotional and unforgettable. I can still recall, standing there at the start line, the entire City’s population and the world’s running community were all united under one giant intention of “Boston Strong”. The early morning air was electric, charged with the thunderous clapping of excited spectators, and the jostling of runners’ bodies as they worked to stay warm. I was nervous and knew that others around me were also trying to shake off their pre-race jitters. The amazing thing was that my nervousness instantly evaporated once the gun went off and the mass of runners started to lumber forward. I felt energized and uplifted by the endless sea of spectators who were roaring their heartfelt cheers of encouragement and appreciation. The entire experience was utterly surreal. Setting intentions has been life changing. It is the path towards my goals, but more importantly, it sets the stage for who I choose to embody in order to attain those goals.
- Charlene T.