Photos by Marathonfoto.com. Buy your race photos! Pay money for them because it ain’t easy sitting at 13,000 feet for 10 hours. Plus, they are worth every penny!

A year ago I ran Pike’s Peak Marathon and was so very proud of my accomplishment.

I ran the marathon once before I got married. I ran it with my new husband the year I got married, and we ran together. I ran it the next year and we ran separately.

Then a lot of stuff happened. Job troubles, a miscarriage, two babies, weight gain to a new high.

A lot of things happened emotionally too. Marriage was supposed to be ‘wedded bliss’ but I was in a worse state emotionally than I had ever even known was possible.

In 2010 I attempted Pike’s Peak and failed. I felt abandoned and unsupported before the run. I was physically with my family and yet I was more alone than I’d ever been in my life. I’ve since come to realize that wasn’t “just me imagining things.”

Marriage isn’t easy, and virtually all marriages have troubles. When both partners are willing to work on things, those problems can usually be solved.

Without going into too much detail, that turned out to not be the case for me.

So now here I am, and I’m continuing this new chapter. When you’re doing something like this, when you’re in upheaval, anniversaries become important. They are markers of where you are, of what you’ve achieved.

So what is different this year? And what have I learned?

Last year I was just beginning to get to know the friends who are now my life support system. The compassion and support shown by my running buddies brings me to tears sometimes. I don’t say this to them because it would probably be embarrassing for everyone concerned, but maybe I should. Hey guys, you know who you are. Near and far, I couldn’t do without you. Thank you for being you.

Last year I was nervous about doing everything perfectly. Not just on the run, but “behaving” and abiding by rules during my trip. I felt like I had to justify every action, every decision, to my husband. This year I let myself have fun and maybe make a few mistakes (like climbing the incline at Manitou Springs on Friday!)

Last year I was anxious coming home. This year my homecoming was peaceful. There was actually a light on for me! (Because someone who loves me — me! — left a light on!)

And that was the kicker. Walking in the door, actually being able to see my way to the staircase, all those dark nights came back and then washed away. You can fail. You can make mistakes. You can let go.

You can move on to better things. Failure is just a rock in the trail. It might trip you up but you can’t let it stop you.

Here’s to a beautiful year passed, and a beautiful year to come!