Road to 26.2

Copy Editor Courtney Kueppers reflects on her first full marathon finish Saturday in Kenosha

Graphic by Karl Enghofer, The Spectator

Graphic by Karl Enghofer, The Spectator

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

“Oh gosh, here we go,” I thought as my boyfriend Johnny and I crossed the starting line of our first full marathon Saturday in Kenosha.

With each blue mile marker sign we passed, my legs became more and more sore, but my confidence that we were going to accomplish our goal of finishing grew stronger.

By mile 23, tears began to well in my eyes. I couldn’t feel my legs, my brain felt like mush, and I just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other.

With 0.2 miles to go, I grabbed Johnny’s hand, we picked up our pace, focused on the finish line and crossed it hand-in-hand.

After six months of work, determination and training, we finished our first full marathon: I cried like a baby.

Moments after finishing my mind just kept saying, “I can’t believe we did it, I can’t believe we did it.” There is something truly incredible about attaining something you have wanted for so long.

I have thought about running a marathon for years and seriously working toward it most of this school year.

In this age of instant gratification, we sometimes lose sight of long-term goals. We want our food fast, grumble about slow Wi-Fi and demand news updates constantly, and working toward something bigger can certainly get lost in that day-to-day shuffle.

I implore you to make time for it. Set a goal you couldn’t accomplish today or tomorrow or maybe even a month from now and start working toward it — whether it’s running-related or not. I was so amazed by how it felt to accomplish my goal. A goal six months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do.

Throughout training, people often asked me how long it would take me to finish the run, my response was always “I just want to finish.” It was true, it never mattered to me how long it took me as long as I crossed the finish line with Johnny by my side.

The course through Kenosha weaved all throughout the city, with an unbeatable view of Lake Michigan. There were a few instances in which the route led the herd of runners out and back in the same direction. It allowed us to get a glimpse at the top runners who were heading “back” as we headed “out.”

They were miles ahead of us, and their pace minutes faster than ours, but yet I felt united with them.  We were all out there taking a stab at the same task, we all wanted the same thing and in that there was such a connection.

As they sped past us, we cheered them on, and they returned the favor. Between the support of my fellow runners and the spectators I knew the feat would be possible.

Among the crowds of spectators was my mine and Johnny’s families. By bus and car they all traveled to see us take on the marathon. They screamed, cheered and waved fat heads of our faces in the air. Their support was priceless. Accomplishing the goal was incredible, but sharing it with them made it that much more special.

After finishing the race, many people have asked me countless times, and understandably so, how my legs felt.  For the first couple of days it mostly just felt like I had quickly aged 80 years. Each time I stood up I felt stiff and walked much slower than usual. Now, I feel fine.

In the days since the race my life has, of course, gone back to normal. I am done running long miles, and it’s time to move on to my next bucket-list item. Only there’s one difference, I’m a marathoner and I have the bumper sticker to prove it.

It gives me a great sense of accomplishment, and it makes me feel like I can set my sights on any goal and work toward it. I’m thankful for the marathon, for the blisters, the pain and the joy it brought me.

The road to 26.2 miles was full of potholes, snowy days, icy terrain, laughs, tears and extreme highs with extreme lows and I wouldn’t trade any of it.