“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”

Henry Ford

If Henry Ford had met my wife Shelley, he’d probably nod in approval and think, “Now, there’s a lady who got my message.” Shelley’s marathon journey was the embodiment of Ford’s timeless saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”

Let’s rewind a bit. Shelley was not a runner, not by any stretch of the imagination. But one day, she decided to run a marathon. On the face of it, this was akin to me announcing I’d be entering a professional knitting contest—laughably absurd. She enlisted two friends in her seemingly quixotic quest. Their first day? A mere mile. The aftermath? Three women questioning their sanity.

Seeing them that day, hunched over, gasping for breath, made me wonder if their marathon dream was a tad ambitious. For a fleeting moment, I saw the flame of enthusiasm sputtering, threatening to be extinguished by the gusty winds of doubt.

But Shelley? Oh boy, Shelley wasn’t having it. She was made of sterner stuff. I had never seen such persistence in her before. With each passing day, she laced up those shoes and hit the road. From one mile to two, then three, and then even further, she chugged along.

I decided to join her, not running, mind you—but on my trusty bicycle. Riding alongside her, I was her cheerleader, water provider, and the occasional comic relief.

One morning, still groggy from sleep, she gently let me know it was only a ten-mile run, suggesting I catch some more Z’s. I blinked in disbelief. Was this the same woman who, only months ago, was floored by a single mile? The transformation was astounding.

And then, the day arrived. The marathon day. It rained. But, in what seemed like a movie scene directed by Fate itself, Shelley ran. Every drop of rain was a testament to her dedication, every step a defiance of that first mile of doubt, and every mile an embodiment of belief.

She crossed the finish line, drenched, triumphant, and a living testament to Ford’s philosophy. The journey taught me that if we nurture the seed of belief and water it with persistence, there’s no milestone we can’t achieve.

It’s not about the marathon, the distance, or the finish line. It’s about the belief. And Shelley believed she could. So, she did. If there’s any advice I’d give based on this journey, it’s to think you can. The road might be long, sometimes rainy, but at the end of it, you just might find your marathon.

My Favorite Marathon Champion

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.