By the time I hit mile 16 I was feeling the fatigue start to hit my quads and my hands were red with pain. Unfortunately I did one of the two things I swore I wouldn't do. I walked for a couple hundred yards, my legs felt as if they were made of stone. As the pace groups caught up with me around mile 18 I started to get some drive and determination back and I hung with them as long as I could. After that the race was a joint effort of jogging and walking, more jogging than walking but still I felt like such a failure to be walking, especially when I saw people 3 times my age and twice my weight floating past me. finally with three miles to go I had enough with my slow pace and I dug deep and forced myself to leave it all on the course and finish strong. I picked my pace up and started passing people back, not nearly as many as had passed me but it felt good to be going faster again. As the finish drew near I saw my dad on the side yelling my name and that gave me an extra bit of energy. 300 yards left I saw my mom on the other side cheering, and again I felt a rush. 200 yards left i saw my girlfriend of over a year screaming and running along the outside of the course following me to the finish. All at once I felt more emotion than I had in long time. I felt the pain and the joy, I felt excitement and relief, but most of all I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and not let go. I felt that this was one of the biggest accomplishments of my adult life and I was so happy she was there to share it with me. All I remember after I crossed the finish line was shaking some guys hand, being handed my finisher medal by one volunteer while another wrapped a space blanket over my shoulders and off in the distance I could hear yet another volunteer shouting that cold beer was on the left and hot chilli was on the right. I wasn't worried about either of those locations at the moment. My eyes were too busy scanning the crowd for the girlfriend. Finally I found her and it was one of the most needed hugs I had ever experienced, call me a nerd but it took every bit of remaining energy to keep hold of my emotions.
400 yards to go!