Every marathon is a challenge. Having eight under my belt, I know this to be true each and every time. The Milwaukee Marathon this past weekend kicked my tail a little more than I expected though.

Yes, I signed up to run a marathon. Yes, I signed up to run said marathon on hills. Oh how those hills jumped up and bit me in the a** – literally!

Here’s how it went down and my thoughts along the way:

🏃🏻‍♀️Miles 1-2

I start the race with a friend who is doing the half marathon. At this point it’s all fun and games, chatting and laughing along the way.

🏃🏻‍♀️Mile 2

Take a left turn as the full marathon diverts from the half and I begin the first climb. It is a BEAST of an incline on not-quite-warm legs that is rewarded with a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.

🏃🏻‍♀️Miles 3 – 10

Up & down I run through neighborhoods and a seemingly long out-and-back on a trail. Honestly, it feels more like a training run at this point with a smaller athlete field than I am used to these days.

I am running a little slower than I am truly comfortable for my fitness level, yet it is still faster than I have run at this point in a marathon before. Is it going to be great or is going to bite me later? TBD. We shall see.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Mile 13/14 (ish)

I catch up to another pace group after feeling like the first was just a bit too slow for what I can do right now. I still have a ways to go, but there’s a fine line between “too fast” and “too slow” for comfort. Definitely feeling like Goldilocks a bit.

Finally we get some downhills to compensate for all the climbing and rolling I’ve been doing so far.

Then my left glute starts talking, “Hello up there, remember me? I’m not loving what you’re doing to me right now.”

🏃🏻‍♀️ Mile 18

I realize that my glute will be quiet if I run slower, so I leave pace group 2 and slow down for a bit with the hope it’ll allow me to pick it up again in the 20s.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Miles 18- 22

I am in a very negative headspace. Fun has left the building and it’s just work. Work at a slower pace than I want it to be as well, which means it’s going to take even longer to finish this race. Ugh.

Glute sends random cramping pains to my lower back sporadically requiring stretching to calm it.

I am disappointed with how my body is reacting.

I am TRAINED for this.

I am strong enough to conquer these hills.

And yet, my body is just not having it the way I want and my head is throwing a pity party.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Mile 22.5

I stop to stretch and end up making a new friend, Nick. It’s his first marathon and he’s deep in the pain cave too. He’s been running alone for a while now and decides to try and keep up with me.

I slow down a bit to help him get going and hang on. This race is no longer about me. It’s about supporting him. Reminding him why he signed up for this. Showing him it can be fun.

Ok, headspace is getting positive again.

🏃🏻‍♀️Mile 23.5(ish)

OMG another big hill. Now?!? 🤬 Just get to the top. One foot at a time, just get to the top.

I lose Nick along the way. He has to walk. I keep encouraging him as I go, but I have to go. If I start walking it’ll be even harder for me to get going again and I can’t do “harder” at this point.

So I cheer for him, “Forward is a pace. Just keep going. No stopping” as I chug along. “I’ll see you at the finish!”

🏃🏻‍♀️ Mile 24

I finally feel like I got another wind in me. Then I look up and see even more rolling hills ahead.

I’m over this. I have to get done. I need to just finish this as fast as I can.

[voice in the back of my head] You don’t have to be a hero though. Eat something! It’ll help.

I break out more chews for whatever fuel they can provide at this point and hit the gas.

runner crossing the finish line of the milwaukee marathon

🏃🏻‍♀️Mile 26

A downhill! A downhill and a right turn into the park and I’ll be done. I can see the finish. The end is near! Push push push…

And just like that…. I am done – finally!

*Cue the tears*

Finish Line Feelings

The emotions at the finish line overwhelm me each time. Both the “I did that💪🏻”  and “OMG I did that?!? Again 🤯

MARATHON 9 ☑️ But seriously…

Marathon NINE.  From the hospital bed of 2 heart attacks to NINE marathon finish lines. It still blows my mind.

I am continually amazed by what my body is capable of enduring and CONQUERING!

I got my medal, grabbed three bottles of water, chugged one before I was even out of the finisher chute and found the closest spot of grass to lie down. My legs needed a break and I could finally give it to them.

I perked up when I realized my time and that Nick shouldn’t be too far behind. Sure enough, he crossed the line and I got to cheer for him. Then, as I lay on the ground, I watch other marathons come join me.

They finished their first too and felt dead to the world. I HAD to celebrate them. I had to reassure them that this is a HUGE accomplishment.

Finishing a marathon is no joke and they DID it. Even if they felt tapped out, missed a goal time, or just wanted to whine (as I did) they finished a MARATHON and that is worth celebrating.

(A solid reminder to myself as well.)

This race challenged me in a way I didn’t expect, but I am still SO grateful I could do it. And even more proud of myself of finishing with the tie I did (just 6 min over my PR), despite those challenges.

Forward IS a pace and Saturday I ran forward and it paid off.

Now we rest, recover, and get back to work. Shorter distances are on the horizon before working back up to 26.2 for the Chicago Marathon in October, which is all too fitting to be Marathon 10.


Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications, based out of Chicago. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of Labrador Retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association.

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