By Jessica Seaberg
Updated: February 29, 2008

Five months of training finally culminated with my 20-mile run. After two weeks of x-rays, doctors appointments, ice, bandages, fittings, and physical therapy, I was given the green light to continue my training – the sports medicine doctor I visited diagnosed me with tendonitis, prescribed ibuprofen, ice, custom orthodics, physical therapy, and authorized me to “run through as much pain as (you) can handle."

After facing the scary reality that I might not be able to run the marathon, this was such welcome advice that I nearly hugged my doctor.

So on Saturday, Sept. 15th, I embarked upon my final training run before the taper. I woke up early—5:30 a.m—and walked out into 36 degree temps. It was a beautiful, brisk Minneapolis morning, complete with sunny, bright blue skies. I bundled up to brave the cold (UnderArmour, track suit, ear-band, and gloves), and after the first hour, had to take a detour back towards my house and fling sweat-soaked clothing into the living room before continuing.

Some significant foot pain set in around mile 13, and I had to sit down and stretch for about 10 minutes before continuing on. And the last 5-7 miles were tough—considerable pain, several walk breaks, and surprising hunger, despite eating a solid breakfast and bringing extra energy gels. I covered 20.2 miles in approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes. At home, I plunged both feet ankle-deep into a garbage can filled with ice, and zoned out for the rest of the day, basking in the glow of what Id just accomplished.

Since then, Ive been tapering—just a few light weekday runs, early bed times, and my remaining Saturday runs now consist of 10 miles and 6 miles rather than half-marathon distances.

Starting on Sunday, September 23rd, Ill be putting myself on a rigorous 2-week program of self-care—Im going on “social hiatus,” enacting early bedtimes, hydrating, and carb-loading.

Another Bingham quote I believe is, “True long-distance success is more about tenacity than talent.” There were many times along this journey that my body wanted to quit, but my mind was too stubborn to give in. Around every corner, there were roadblocks that, had I not been mentally tough, could have kept me from my goal. In distance running there's phrase called “hitting the wall,” and it refers to the moment when your body has burned through all glycogen stores and starts to shut down—usually occurs around mile 18, and my last few runs were no exception.

No matter what happens from here on out, I will always be able to say that I completed a marathon training program. People talk about the cool stuff they do before they turn 30: vacations around the world, tattoos, getting married or jumping out of airplanes.

Me? Well, the summer before I turned 30, I ran approximately 350 miles.

I cant imagine a more empowering way to end my third decade. One of John Binghams best pieces of advice for first time marathoners is that your training goal shouldnt be to get to the finish line, but the start.

Well, Twin Cities, bring it on. Because come Oct. 7, Ill be there at the starting line, ready to hit that wall and climb.