Sometimes the life of a runner can include a very promising start blighted at the very end.
So many miles, poised, and well in front of the pack - then cramped up after falling way behind.
That was Charles Hillig's Monday morning at the American Discovery Trail Marathon. The 28-year-old was passed on the 15th mile by Boulder Running Company's Mario Macias, 32, who broke the tape and the course record at America the Beautiful Park with a time of 2 hours, 24 minutes and 11 seconds.
"I'm not in the race shape I wanted to be in and it hit me today," said Hillig, who finished more than 16 minutes later at 2:40:55. "I haven't had as much time as I'd like to train and that showed today. It just wasn't a good day for me."
It, of course, wasn't his first disappointment in running. He missed the 2012 Olympic marathon trials by 23 seconds. And now, he said he doesn't have as much time as he needs to train for the 2016 trials.
But Hillig - who coaches the cross country team at Regis Jesuit, works a full-time job and sandwiches runs between them without personal coaches or sponsorships as inspiration or incentives - said none of that, no matter how narrow or frustrating, will keep him from taking his shots and chasing his lofty dreams.
"You don't give up on your passion," he said.
On Monday, he fell short to Macias, who (this may be hard to hear for Regis fans) said he was using the race as a workout. Per orders of his professional coach, Brad Hudson, Macias started off easy at the start line at Palmer Lake, "6:40-miles easy", and slowly built in speed along the way.
He caught a hurting Hillig in mile 15 and surged ahead for good.
"It's hard to let someone take a big lead on you and have to hold back," Macias said, grinning. "I think Charles was like 40 seconds ahead of me after the first mile, and I'm guessing, but he probably had a four-minute lead by the 10th mile."
Macias joined Monday's other winners, Jess Palmer (1:18:27) and Kari-Anne Samuelson (1:27:43), who won the men's and women's half marathon, respectively, and Brittni Hutton (2:57:26), who won the women's marathon in her first time running a marathon.
About 900 runners signed up to run in the marathon, half marathon or marathon relay. And no matter their chip times, finishing was more often than not a silver lining for all.
Yes, even for Hillig.
"The $500 (prize money) at the end helped," he said.