‘What’s your goal?’  It was such a simple question from a stranger.  We inched our way to the starting line in a crowd of runners.  Our training and preparation were now to be tested.  This was the moment to show ourselves what we were capable of.  This was the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  This was the New York City Marathon.

She had a beautiful accent and a warm smile.  Her travels from Israel had been deemed her first marathon and the run would be her second.  It was as if she was an angel from God, sent to help me set my intention for the race.  ‘What’s your goal?’, she asked with a smile.  Holding back my real desire and playing humble, I said, ‘well I’d sure like to break 4 hours’.  My intention was set.

As we walked toward the starting line, my thoughts caught up with my words.  ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘what I really want to run is a 3:50’.  In a moment of panic, I wanted to run up to her, correct my words and tell my new-found friend that I had misspoke.  Those 10 minutes were what I really wanted.  Not for pride or prestige, but for the training.  For the miles and miles I had put in over the past several months.  This was going to show me the benefits of being committed to a plan and following it to a T. 

But the truth of what I believed had been spoken.  I wanted to break 4 hours.  And so I did.  After running in a crowd, dodging and weaving my way through slower runners, countless water stops, 5 Gus, 4 bridges, screaming crowds, a potty stop, inspirational signs, walking a bit longer through the final water stations as I took three careful sips of my Gatorade, tripping on runners as I inched between them, and carefully darting around one last walking runner, it was done.  3:59.34.  I broke 4 hours.

What if I would had believed 3:50?