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The Final .2 of the Marathon



The Final .2 of the Marathon

Have you ever run a marathon? No?  No problem, you have certainly experienced the final .2 of a marathon in other ways. If you have, you probably know what I’m talking about. Essentially the final .2 of the 26.2 miles of a marathon is, in my experience and I imagine others’, the most painful and difficult of the entire journey.

Obviously, I can only speak to my personal experience of running a marathon so keep this in mind as you read. There are certainly those who have or do run marathons that enjoy the final .2. However, that was not me!

Allow me to explain my marathon experience.

I was pumped and truthfully, a little scared about the hours of running I would complete. The beginning of the marathon was great; I held a steady pace of 8.5 minute miles. As the miles went on, I slowed a little, but continued to rock and roll. I distinctly remember hitting the half marathon mark, 13.1 miles, and thinking to myself “hey, that wasn’t so bad, I’m half way there”. Admittedly, I had completed six half marathons at this point so I knew this was not going to be difficult, it would be the second half.

Things continued to be fine until I got to mile 16. Shortly into the 16th mile, I hurt my left foot badly. I went into the marathon with two goals, to never walk and to finish. This goal was incredibly hard to accomplish with the excruciating pain I endured for the final 10.2 miles. I wanted to stop so many times and yet, I continued to move even if it was slow, never walking.

My mood quickly shifted to irritated and cranky. I had asked a coach of mine to meet me at mile 22 to run with me for a couple of miles. Unfortunately this was at the beginning of a very steep hill which increased the pain and agitation; thankfully she was very patient with me.

At mile 24, I returned to running solo. I got another surge of energy which helped me get to mile 26. Then, I panicked. Typically, you can see the finish line when you’re this close, or at least I had in my other races. I couldn’t see the finish line and I needed to see the end. I had endured hours of unbearable pain, my spirit was tired, and I just needed to stop. At this point, I was running on nothing, but faith that the end would appear out of nowhere. I took a deep breath to calm myself.

I continued on and then all of a sudden, there was a left turn. I turned and saw the glorious finish line. I could hear the cheering of the crowd, the music, and the announcer. I nearly cried at this point and for whatever reason I didn’t, perhaps it was because I had sweat out everything I had.

I crossed the finish line and immediately moved to the right and sat down.  After a minute or so, I got back up and limped to my cheering crowd. I stretched and thanked God repeatedly in my head that I had survived; I congratulated my two friends who had completed the marathon with me.


this photo was taken before the run.


I learned a lot from this marathon. First and foremost, I learned that I can do anything I set my heart and mind on, even if I come across obstacles and let’s be honest, life is full of them! Second, I learned that it may hurt like hell while I’m doing it, but success feels so sweet! Third, outside support is essential. Four, staying calm when all you want to do is panic and give up is what will get you to the finish line. Five, find carrots to motivate you to the end- mine was getting to stop. And finally, no matter how much you prepare, you never really know what you’ll encounter on your journey.

I completed this marathon in October of 2010. In the years since, I have continued to be remindedof these lessons and the others I learned along the 26.2 miles. Surprisingly enough, or not, I have been reminded of these in the last four months of completing the written portion of my doctoral project. Here I am again, at the final .2. I am less than a month away from presenting, which is the last piece of this journey.

I know I can do it. It may hurt like hell. I may come across even more obstacles. I have an incredible circle of support who is still here cheering me on. I just booked a tropical trip with friends to help me get to the finish line. Lastly, I know that staying calm will help me finish, but don’t worry, I cry and relax when I need.

So, when you find yourself in the final .2 of your marathon, remember these things and know you can do it!


“If you can’t fly, then run,

If you can’t run, then walk,

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

but whatever you do,

you have to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Until next time,



headshotAbout the Author:

Dr. Lily A. Zehner, MFT-C is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice is located in Denver where she helps others reach their fullest relational and sexual potential. To learn more about her and her services, please feel free to take a look around her website.

About the Author