As she rounded the corner she saw it – the 25 mile marker. She had done it. She was here. Hours of motivational videos turned into weeks of dragging herself out of her cozy NYC apartment to the cold and foreign streets outside which became months and months of ruthlessly pounding her feet against the cement floor of the concrete jungle. She looked down at her watch: 3:13:30. At this moment, the only thing that mattered was this next mile. She’d run this distance tens of thousands of times. What was another mile? Her brain yelled at her to stop, but she wouldn’t have any of it. As her legs screamed no, her arms pumped harder. As her stomach burned with the pain of 25 miles run at such an incredibly fast clip, her brain screamed at her to keep going. The runner’s body slowly shut down, part by part, but her heart whispered into her ear: you’ve done it. You’ve been here before. There’s no need to push any harder. Stake out your place in the pain cave and sit there. No need to venture deeper inside. 3:23 was the time she needed to qualify for the NYC marathon and victory was so close. Baila ran alongside Rivky as she barreled her way through the final mile. Rivky knew she could ease off the throttle but she ignored the pain. She dug deep down and pushed with everything she had. She was picking up speed and nothing could stop her now. She faltered a step here, but she regained her composure and fought onward. Her gait took an unusual fumble over there, but the warrior grit her teeth and refused to give up. This was her moment. There was no holding her back and no denying her the taste of sweet victory she’d flown over 1,200 miles for. She was a runner. She’d ran in the rain, the sleet and the snow to prepare for this very moment. She’d sprinted in Brooklyn and she’d raced in the Bronx. Everything came together in this singular moment to ready her for these final meters. In the distance, someone, a teammate, was waving an Israeli flag. Baila ran over and grabbed it. 100 meters to go. Rivky squeezed her eyes shut tight and ignored the pain that seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Her legs were on fire and her lungs decided to stop working as they should. She gasped for breath as she sprinted across the finish line with her arms flailing and her legs pumping. She didn’t see the clock that read 3:22 as she stormed her way across the finish line. She’d done it. She’d won her age group and qualified for the NYC Marathon in November. She was the new reigning champion.