For those of you who know me, you know I am a slow and steady marathon maniac. For the past decade, I run a couple of marathons a year trying to someday run a marathon in all 50 states. For me marathoning is a metaphor for my life: committing to audacious adventures and figuring out how to get there step by step, finding dedicated partners to jog along with me, and riding the adrenaline rush when crossing the finish line. The other metaphor, which has been a focus of my year, is mile 17.
At mile 17, I lose hope. I am a long way in with a long way to go. My feet feel like someone is setting a torch to them, my stomach is doing back flips, and my brain is shutting down lobe by lobe. I go into a very dark place inside myself, put my head down and shuffle along, talking myself into one more mile. And then another. I hate this part of the race. For me, this year – with all of the accomplishments and celebrating – has had many 17th miles.