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Persevering in Hard Times

In most Ironman-branded races, there is a rest stop at each mile of the 26.2-mile run course. It is needed.

In the last Ironman I completed, I didn’t do much run training because I had back surgery five months prior. I couldn’t begin to run again until two months before the race.

Because I had years of triathlon training under my belt, I knew I could suck it up. I would just take it one mile at a time.

My intention to quit

It was about mile 14 that my knee started hurting. I knew mile 16 was just ahead, where I could abandon the race, meet up with my parents and grab my stuff. That was my plan — to quit. But I had just one more mile.

“Just one more mile” became my mantra.

My body had really suffered internally — every rest stop emptied my lower intestines. I was running on fumes at that point, and my joints, especially my knee, were telling me so. But I was still running.

Just one more mile.

I had passed two men who were walking. It didn’t even look like they were sweating. One guy said, “I’ll be happy to finish in 16 hours.”

Sixteen hours. That was six hours later. I wanted to be done NOW. I wanted to go home, take a shower, and get a nice, substantial meal rather than suck down more sugary “sports” drinks and gels.

Just one more mile.

In spite of my wanting to quit, I was still running. I had run into the center of town and got motivated by the crowd. I lost my footing going downhill and my knee gave out. A volunteer rushed to me and said, “Are you ok?”

I enjoyed the reclining in a horizontal position. I hesitated before responding, “Yes.”

“Do you need help getting up?”

“No.” I was loving the cool cobblestone on my cheek. “Just give me a moment.”

I eventually got up. I was at mile 18. Those of you know that mile 18–20 in a regular marathon is a real mental struggle because you’re already done physically.

Just one more mile and I can use the bathroom again.

I ran to the next rest stop. Then I would continue through. Once I got to mile 22, I told myself I could walk and still be finished in about an hour. But I wanted to be done quicker.

Struggling through Ironman Maryland 2014

I got into a rhythm of doing the run/walk thing. I just didn’t want to be walking for that long. I was passing people, but I also knew they were probably only on their second or, gulp, first lap.

I got to mile 25 and knew I was in the home stretch. Indeed, it is just about one more mile. I could walk, crawl, backstroke and still make it.

I approached the town center again, seeing the crowd. My throat constricted. I knew I would finish. I arrived at a turn where I could turn right and run another eight miles or turn left to the finish.

I stopped, looked at the spectators and played. I pointed left, then I pointed right. They laughed. I thumbed left towards the finish, and the spectators roared. It was nice to have a moment like that.

Heading towards the finish, I could hear my friend Jeff making the announcements. I knew he could see me, so I struck a pose underneath the finish line.

“Beth Bradford from Lakeland, Florida, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”

Striking a pose at the finish line

In our trials of life, the doldrums of life, the strain of life when we can’t see the finish line, know that we can do one more mile.

We can stop for a moment. We can stumble and take rest. We can enjoy a moment of comfort. But then keep going.

One more mile can make a difference. One mile keeps you moving forward. One mile gets you closer to your finish line.

Just one more mile.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

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