26.2 miles down, 0 to go.

Actually, after running the Twin Cities Marathon yesterday with the RandBall Better Half (her first, our second, more on the actual event in a minute), we figured out that over the course of training during the past six months, each of us has logged between 700 and 750 miles since April 1. Now what? Now we rest.

Sunday itself, though, was mostly beautiful. After running through a steady and uncomfortable rain during most of our first marathon in 2008 (Twin Cities), Sunday's weather couldn't have been more glorious. Cool, sunny, not a cloud in the sky.

The first several miles seem to fly by. With all the people, with the spectacle of the thing, it's easy to get caught up in how good you feel. Around mile 11, the RBBH said something to the effect of "I feel like I could run forever." We nodded silently, knowing there is no way to prepare someone for the inevitable wall and trying to maintain that good feeling for both of us as long as possible.

Around mile 15, things were still good, but she was starting to notice a little fatigue and general pain. At mile 17, we saw an eagle soaring along the river. It was a beautiful sight, and it boosted our spirits and energy for a couple of miles. As for us, some hip soreness started to flare up. By mile 20, the RBBH declared, "I don't think I can talk anymore." Meaning, of course, that she needed to focus on one step at a time.

Between 20 and 21, a friend of the RBBH appeared from the crowd, pumped us full of enthusiasm, walked most of the way up a big hill along with us and vicariously transferred much-needed energy. By mile 23, though, the RBBH's signature phrase had changed from "I could run forever" to "why are we doing this?"

Once you make it that far, though, there's no turning back. The final few miles are a battle of will, and you finally understand why you don't run a full marathon to train for a marathon. It just takes so much out of you. The RBBH kept wanting to know why 26.2 was so much harder than 20. The only answer is that it just is.

But we made it. When we initially started running, we set a goal of finishing in around 5 hours, 30 minutes. By the actual day of the run, we thought 5:15 might be a reasonable goal, but really just finishing was the real goal. As it turns out, we made it in a little under 5:07.

We ate half a large pizza, a 12-ounce steak and more after the marathon. Today we are running zero miles. Same with tomorrow. After that? Well, after 2008 we weren't sure we would do another one. Marathoners should never say never.