The course was a double out and back. This is on our way in, round two. Me, on the left. The best running partner in the world, on the right. Smile through the pain, baby! Photo: Mile 90 Photography

The course was a double out and back. This is on our way in, round two. Me, on the left. The best running partner in the world, on the right. Smile through the pain, baby!

Photo: Mile 90 Photography

It is an incredibly humbling experience to work for months towards a goal and then, when the big moment finally arrives, you still find yourself fighting to the finish.

I started running during my senior year of high school. I completed my first half marathon - a small, hilly race in Leavenworth, Kansas that I barely prepared for, either mentally or physically. That races remains, without a doubt, the least fun thing I’ve ever paid money to do.

I ran off and on during college, sporadically and never more than four or five miles at a time, and never seemed to be able to stick to any of the resolutions I was constantly making to become a ‘runner.’ I even signed up for a couple of additional half marathons that I either didn’t participate in or downgraded come race day to the 10k or whatever shorter distance they offered.

I don’t know yet if I would call myself a ‘runner,’ but as of Sunday I am a marathon finisher. And that feels pretty damn good. Because honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever worked harder for anything in my life. When I started training in mid-August, I wasn’t even sure I could run 10 miles, and now I’ve done 26.2.

There’s still so much I don’t know - I am very much a novice. I pulled my training plan off of a Google search (Hal Higdon’s novice marathon training program). I learned what cadence was a few days before the race in a conversation with my roommate. I had no idea that people buy cheap long-sleeve tees and gloves from Goodwill that they can ‘throw-away’ on-route while they’re running and start to get warm.

They say those last few miles of the race are all mental (and that is absolutely, painfully true), but personally, this whole endeavor has been more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Pushing myself to get up for long runs on the weekend. Pushing myself to get my miles in for the week. Pushing myself to go just a little farther this time around, because I can.

I had to fight through the last couple of miles on this one - my feet hurt, my muscles tightened, my mind was done, but I hit my goals. I finished smiling, I had fun, and I came in under 5:45:00....which means I qualify to register for the Pikes Peak Ascent in August of 2017.

You’re capable of so much more than you think. Colorado Springs, here I come!