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Just about every Lincoln Marathon runner will have a reason for trekking 13.1 or 26.2 miles through these streets Sunday.

Tré Bryten calls her reason "the beautiful paradox."

"There's this moment when you cross the finish line, in that one instance you are mentally and physically the weakest you will ever feel in your entire life," she said. "And in the same moment, you are mentally and physically the strongest you'll ever feel in your entire life.

"I love that feeling, and it's kind of become my drug of choice."

The "beautiful paradox" is the best part for Bryten. But it's only a small part of an elaborate journey.

The Los Angeles resident is taking part in and finishing 52 full marathons in 52 weeks in 52 states and territories. Sunday's 41st Lincoln Marathon is No. 44.

Crazy, right? Bryten will think so at times.

"Every time I started a new marathon, I'm like, 'What am I doing?'" said Bryten, who is an actor stand-in in LA and has stood in for the likes of Lady Gaga. "And then something will happen where you'll meet up with a nice person. You don't know that 20 marathons later they're like, 'Come to my house?'

"You'll have a really, really bad run, and then you'll turn the corner at mile 24 and there's a kid smiling, going, 'You can do it!' And you do."

Bryten moved to the United States from Australia in 2000, and this marathon of a marathon has allowed her to see every corner of the country.

It started Aug. 26, 2017, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Keene, New Hampshire. Lizella, Georgia. Washington, D.C. Honolulu. Dubuque, Iowa (in the dead of winter). Seattle. Flagstaff, Arizona. Los Angeles. Lake Village, Arkansas. Louisville, Kentucky.

And now Lincoln.

Bryten keeps all of her followers up to date on her website (http://ithinkican.us), where she posts blogs, videos and her marathon list.

What started it? Bryten said she wanted to lose a little weight, so she took up running and signed up for a marathon a little more than a year ago.

"Halfway through (the race) it stopped being about losing weight … and it became about finishing the marathon," she said.

Bryten, a novice runner, wanted to try something harder, and one thing led to another.

"Then my brain gets overactive sometimes and I just went, 'I wish I could do other states,'" Bryten recalled. "Work was finishing and I just felt, 'What if I could do the states now while I'm not working?'"

The planning took about three months.

As you can imagine, an undertaking this large can have its snags. Travel issues could arise, and health hiccups have forced Bryten to make revisions.

Another one: A marathon in Tennessee changed its distance from 26.2 to 30 to honor its 30th anniversary. Bryten had to find a replacement. It's got to be a true marathon.

The key: Identifying backup marathons in the planning stages.

"I'm a bit of a planner," Bryten said. "I usually have a Plan B, C and then Z."

There was one setback that nearly stopped the journey in its tracks.

"I think the biggest hiccup was I ran out of funding (about a month ago)," Bryten said. "All the credit cards were tapped out. But my tax refund came in, and I went, 'Woohoo! Keeping going!'

"I was crying (before). I had no gas money."

There, of course, are limitations from a physical standpoint. Running hard 52 marathons in 52 weeks?

Bryten walks-runs most of them. And some she has to walk from start to finish.

(Another one of her rules: You have to cross the finish line before the time limitation.)

Bryten recently did five marathons in one week. In between was a trip to Urgent Care, and a recommendation from the doctor to walk her next two marathons, which she did.

There was another series of marathons earlier on that caused Bryten's feet to swell. She couldn't put on her shoes, so she competed two races in flip-flops.

A bulging disc and a pinched nerve in her back also had Bryten off her feet for six weeks.

"You have to listen to your body and you have to listen to (the doctors)," she said. "You have to push through the discomfort but never ignore the pain."

Because Lincoln is her only marathon stop this week, Bryten said she is feeling good and is hopeful to run and keep up with a pacer.

After Lincoln, Bryten will compete in some marathons on the East Coast and take part in another in Alaska. No. 52 is the Pike's Peak Marathon on Aug. 19 in Colorado, which is considered the toughest marathon in the country. She's built in time to rest and train for the finale.

Bryten said she's on Mile 22 of this physical and mental quest. The finish is near, yet it still seems far away. But something keeps inspiring Bryten to keep going.

"I think my favorite thing I love about America, which I learned before I even started this, is that they just believe anything is possible," she said. "I love that mentality. If you try, anything is possible."

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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