“It always seems impossible until it’s done” was the Nelson Mandela quote I printed on the back of my NYC Marathon shirt. Before crossing the finish line at 3:49pm this past Sunday, 5 hours and 18 minutes after starting, “done” felt a long way off. But here we are — this fundraising page and the 2014 NYC Marathon are officially DONE!

Now, our connection to our She’s the First Scholars begins, and that is the best part.

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit our scholars and partner organization Starfish One by One in Guatemala, and then I returned to NYC just 48 hours before the marathon. I feared all that could go wrong — getting sick, twisting my ankle on a cobble stone, bad weather — but I knew no matter what, we had raised more than $10,000 to support 10 girls in school. That was comforting. Our grand total is in fact almost $13,000 now!

Marathon Sunday was, as cheesy as it sounds, magical. Seeing my friends and family cheering at miles 8, 18, and 23 in their STF tshirts was electrifying and unforgettable! Though she was still in Guatemala, my co-founder and Director of International Operations, Christen Brandt, surprised me by commissioning posters that pictured the girls we all sponsored together. (Last week, I got to meet Petronila in Guatemala – pictured on the poster I am touching below – and thinking of her carried me through many parts of the race.)

 Mile 18 of the NYC Marathon (Photo by Kate Lord

Mile 18 of the NYC Marathon (Photo by Kate Lord

 Meet my mom Cheryl, dad Scott, and sister Shelley (Photo by Kate Lord

Meet my mom Cheryl, dad Scott, and sister Shelley (Photo by Kate Lord

Any of you who are runners know that even when you train properly and work hard, you don’t always get a good race, so I feel incredibly lucky that all the stars aligned. Believe it or not, even when I crossed the finish line, the song blasting from the big Central Park speakers was exactly the same one I used as my “power song” all throughout training season on my Nike app. (That’s the song that plays every time you finish your goal distance. Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” if you must know.) I just lost it. Don’t let these smiley photos deceive you. I was bawling at the finish, though fortunately with uncontrollable happiness and not excruciating pain.

This year, I so badly wanted to add the next chapter to our She’s the First “Run the World” fundraising campaign and teach myself that I, the kid who couldn’t run a mile in gym class, could do something that was once “impossible” to me. It was good fate from the start that I got in via lottery on the first try, which any New Yorker will tell you is virtually unheard of. Last year, Erin Leigh Patterson ran the first NYC Marathon for She’s the First, and next year, I hope more women (and how about a man!) will also run the world’s largest marathon to send more girls to school. If you do, I promise to be an outrageous cheerleader.

I will forever be in awe of this group of names that you are a part of below. I met each of you through such different avenues of my life and a few of you, I actually never met in person. My heart is tingling to see you all here together for the same purpose.

THANK YOU Adam, Adrianna, Ale, Alison, Ally, Amanda C., Amanda K., Ami, Amy S., Andrea, Angel, Becky, Belma, Brianne, Brittany, Brooke, Callie, Carrie H., Carrie M., Cassandra, Catherine, Chanelle, Chelsea, Cheryl, Christen, Christian, Craig, Crystal, Dan, Daniela, David, Denise, Donna, Emily B., Emily D., Emma, Erin, Gemma, George, Gina, Glenda, Grandma, Holly, Irene, Jamie, Jan, Jane, Jayne, Jenn, Jenna, Joan, Judy, Julie K., Julie P., Kate, Katie, Keds & Seventeen, Kelli, Kim, Kristen, Kristen & Greg, Lauren Horn, Lauren Hurwitz, Lianna, Linda, Liriel, Lisa, Long, Maggie, Marc, Marci & Marty, Marcia, Mariam, Mariko, Matthew, Michael, Michelle, Mike, Mom & Dad, Nadia, Nicole, Nina, Lady Project, Opal, Partha, Rachel Simmons, Rachel Sklar, Rachel & Lorne, Rethink Gainesville, Rob, Rose, Roseanne, Ruth Ann, Samantha, Sammy, Shelley, Sierra, Simtec, Stephanie F., Stephanie S, Therese & Casey & Gianna, United Way, Uyen, and Yamile.

And to Elly in Tanzania, a graduated She’s the First Scholar – You wished me all the lucky in the world, right here on my fundraising page, and I got it. Nakupenda, dada!