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Milton, Tilson finish strong in ZhengBian Marathon
After months of training, Lyndi Milton and Drew Tilson were prepared to take on the inaugural ZhengBian Marathon from Zhengzhou to Kaifeng on May 6 in the Henan Province of China. The Sias International University instructors trained around Xinzheng, running through villages during the cool of the day. Unfortunately on race day, they found themselves staring down a very long, flat road as the temperature was starting to soar. The duo overcame both boredom and heat to finish their respective races. Tilson ran a full marathon, 26.2 miles (42 kilometers), in 5 hours and 11 seconds. Milton finished a half-marathon, 13.1 miles (21 km), in 2 hours. “I found out that I’m stronger than I thought, mentally as well as physically,” said Milton, a second-year teacher at Sias. “This shows me I can overcome things that I didn’t think possible.” Tilson said: “I learned that you can put your mind to accomplish something and you can do it. That’s the best lesson that comes out of an experience like that.” Milton and Tilson boarded a bus with a handful of friends early in the morning and headed for Zhengzhou. Upon arriving and checking in, they found their places at the starting line. It was the last time they’d see each other until the finish. Tilson started near the front of the pack with the full marathon runners, while Milton was placed in the middle of the pack with the half marathon runners. There were also 48 Sias students who ran. The 26.2-mile course was run over a new 10-lane highway that connects the ancient Chinese capitals. Aside from a few billboards, there was nothing to see but flat farm land for mile after mile and mile after mile. “When Drew and I would train we’d avoid straight routes because they’re boring,” Milton said. “(During the race,) I could not see the end. There was nothing to distract me from my pain.” Milton’s goal for the race was to finish in 1:45. She had run a full and a half marathon before in China. Her previous half time was 1:59.40. “It seemed attainable,” she said. “Then the heat, and I was thinking just make it in two hours. Then I thought just finish.” When Milton finally saw the finish line, the time clock was at 1:59.35. She put her head down, gathered all her final energy and crossed at 2:00.00. “Because my experience was so bad, I’m looking forward to doing another to forget this,” she said with a smile. “This really taught me a lesson. It’s a lot about positive thought. I want to do it again, to prove to myself that I can overcome again.” When Milton crossed the line, Tilson still had several hours of running left on the asphalt stretch. It was the second-year instructor’s first marathon, so he wasn’t sure what to expect. He set his goal at 5 hours and was a few seconds off the mark. “One of the biggest lessons is persistence and staying with it,” he said. “You can accomplish something you didn’t think was possible. “When you’re running and you see people sitting on the side of the road,” he continued, “all you can say to yourself is just keep going. You can either take one more step or just quit.” Neither of them quit. They were propelled forward by the crowds on the side of the road, their friends in a car and their inner strength and desire to finish. By Kim Orendor Sias correspondent Lyndi Milton sprints for the finish line in the first-ever ZhengBian Marathon. The second-year Sias International instructor finished the half marathon in 2 hours. Drew Tilson lets his friends know he's doing good. He finished the marathon in 5 hours, 11 seconds.
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