At the finish line of my first trail half-marathon in October. Photo: Mile 90 Photographyh

At the finish line of my first trail half-marathon in October.

Photo: Mile 90 Photographyh

They say that much of what carries you through those last miles in the 26.2 of a marathon is mental.

Basically, if your head and heart isn’t in the game then your legs won’t carry you to the finish.

And now that I’m in full taper/eat-all-the-carbs-I-can-get-my-hands-on mode (I think maybe I’ve heard differing opinions on the value of carbo-loading before a race but I fully don’t care because I. Love. Carbohydrates.) I’ve officially ran the most miles I’m going to before The Big One.

With about one week to go, and with all but a few of my training miles under my belt, my number one goal is to maintain positivity and carry that attitude with me to the finish line. When I first decided I was going to tackle a marathon, and I started telling people, I received more than one anecdote about experiences that were physically and mentally painful enough that a first marathon also became a last marathon.

Since ultimately my goal is to run a 50k trail ultramarathon in 2017, from Day One I’ve viewed this marathon as a stepping stone to the ultra distance, as opposed to an end in and of itself (although make no mistake, this marathon is, for me at least, one BIG stepping stone).

With this in mind, my primary objective all along has been, quite simply, to end the race smiling. Commit to the training runs, keep it fun, don’t beat yourself up over speed, and listen to and respect what your body tells you throughout this whole process so that you cross that finish line smiling, sore, and ready to take on the next challenge - this is the refrain I’ve been looping in my head. And so far, I’ve held to it!

Full disclosure, I did refine this objective a wee bit several weeks after, on the morning of my trail half marathon in early October, I noticed one of the 50k participants wearing a Pikes Peak Marathon jacket. A Google search told me that the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a race that takes participants up to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs and, if you’re running the marathon, back down again. I’ve hiked up Pikes Peak before, I thought to myself, how much harder can it be to repeat the performance at a light run?

I know what you’re thinking - VERY HARD. And you would be 100% correct.

Thanks for carrying me so far, legs!

Thanks for carrying me so far, legs!

To qualify for the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Marathon, the potential participant has to have completed a marathon in the last two years in under 5:45:00. This is actually an achievable time goal for me, I thought to myself when I read this. I’m going to use this race to qualify for the Pikes Peak Ascent. And maybe even run it come August 2017!? My toes start tapping every time I think about it.

So now my new objective is to finish the race smiling AND do it in fewer than 5 hours and 45 minutes. I’m stoked to take this race on! Now please excuse me - I’ve got some carbo-loading to do.