Mile 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 - These are the grinding miles. The years that are filled with ups and downs. There is a huge amount of joy with every mile completed but you start to feel your legs getting tired. Maybe you are dehydrated a bit and could use some electrolytes to add balance back to your system. You know that you need to make sure to take care of yourself in the miles ahead so that you can keep going.
Mile 19 and 20 - It seems like the start of this adventure may not have been the best idea. You prepared and went to marital counseling. You talked about finances and how to blend your families. But, the truth is that you like your Brooks shoes and your significant other likes Nike. After what sometimes feels like an eternity just the sight of a pair of Nikes puts you in a bad mood. A part of you questions why you thought this marathon was a good idea in the first place. The grass looks really green where your friend is standing cheering you on. Maybe you should have just been the cheerleader and not the one who committed to 26.2 miles. Your head is filled with doubts and you wonder if you are alone or if others around you feel the same way.
Mile 21 - Everything is annoying you. Everything. The guy running with coins in his pocket, the woman humming as she listens to her iPod. Your shorts are rubbing you in places that you didn't even think it was possible for them to rub. And forget the socks, oh the socks, you will never wear those socks again.
Mile 22 - Things start to look up. You feel bad that you considered quitting and you remember the possibilities you saw reflected in your partners eyes the day you said, "I do." You remember that you wanted this and feel grateful that you didn't DNF a couple of miles prior. It's not easy working through the miles. While you know that there are times that deal-breakers happen to a runner, you are glad that you didn't quit when the going got really tough.
Mile 23 and 24 - Your legs are tired, heck everything is tired, but you are happy. You are feeling some of the magic of knowing something big is near. A huge milestone awaits you and you feel renewed and exhausted at the same time.
Mile 25 - You're thankful that for the past 25 miles you had someone nearby who loved you through and through. They may have annoyed you by asking you silly questions, but you are grateful even for their annoyances. Life is better with a partner guiding you through the miles.
Mile 26 - The moment you never thought would arrive is almost here. Millions of people a year get married but not everyone makes it past the 20-mile mark. Your hard work was hard, but the rewards have been great.
Mile 26.2 - The finish line. Had you known how hard it was going to be when you signed up for all this, you may not have done it. In the days and weeks after that momentous day, though, you find yourself unable to shake the smile that emanates from your core. The ultimate finish line is a life lived happily—a life where you push through the hard moments, stick with your commitments both to yourself and to others.
Marriage is a marathon. You come out of it stronger than when you entered it.
Find your next race.