Reaching a Goal is Bittersweet

On October 16, at the Columbus Marathon, I achieved a personal goal I’ve been working toward for the past year. I got a personal best for my marathon time, 3:33:49, and qualified for the Boston Marathon. I can’t quite put into words how amazing it feels to work so hard over months of training to achieve a goal. And then to actually do it. 

Running the marathon started out the way they always do. A slight feeling of waking up from a dream and being thrown into a crowd of people. Waiting in line for almost an hour to use the bathroom. Suddenly, everyone is running. Legs and arms are moving fast, but your mind is still numb from the cold and waking up at 5:30 a.m. You know you’re trained, tapered, “ready.” But there’s a little voice inside of you saying “can I really do this?” And then another voice says, “too late to turn back!” 

I ran the first half pretty quick, with minutes to spare ahead of my goal time. I was feeling great right around mile thirteen. And then all of the half-marathoners veered off to their finish line, and I had to run another thirteen miles! From a combination of this mental frustration, and losing electrolytes and dehydration, I got a horrible cramp from about mile 15 to 17. Somehow, I pushed through this excruciating pain, and by mile 20 I knew deep down that I could finish strong. 

The last six miles required my complete focus—mentally, physically and spiritually. If you were cheering for me during the last few miles I’m sure you saw this look on my face. Focus. 

Crossing the finish line, seeing Joel’s face in the crowd, I said emphatically “I did it!” After shoving a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie and some Snowville Creamery chocolate milk down, I spent the next few days relishing in the achievement with the people I love most. It was one of my best moments from the past several years. 

So now what? Right after the race, I stared researching marathons in the other six continents (oh yeah, Antarctica too). Realistically, I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it to the Great Wall of China or the polar circle, but this obsessing over races made me realize that I need another goal or I might go crazy.   

It’s a strange feeling to have accomplished a huge goal and be proud of it, but simultaneously realize that I need something else to work towards now. I’m still working on that, but I hope to run a half marathon in the spring and compete in a triathlon next summer, too.  

On a final note, I finished the marathon with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for keeping me healthy and blessing me with amazing, supportive husband, parents, siblings and friends. I am grateful beyond words for the love and support that receive from each one of you.

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