After finishing a remarkable track and cross country career at Gustavus Adolphus College in 2005, Nichole Porath suffered a torn hamstring.
That's more than a devastating injury for any distance runner.
Now, the 2001 Marshall High graduate is making a remarkable comeback from that injury.
The former Nichole Petersen and Arco native was a MIAC track and field champion in the 10,000 meters in the spring of 2005, was third in the 5,000 meters and finished her college career as a five-time all-conference performer in outdoor track and field and a four-time all-conference performer in indoor track and field.
Porath still holds the school records in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters on the indoor track and the school record for the 5,000 and 10,000 meters outdoors. She was also a four-time all-conference and all-region performer in cross country at the school.
When she suffered the injury after college, Porath was downtrodden, but determined to run competitively again.
"I was pretty competitive all throughout college," said Porath, who married her college sweetheart, Nathan, who also ran track and cross country at Gustavus. "I wasn't able to compete for two years after the injury. Now, I'm hungry and back into it. I'm excited, especially considering the results I had last weekend."
This past Saturday at the half-marathon that was part of the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Porath and her husband ran together. Porath finished 14th in the female division with a time of 1:23:43. Overall, she was 103rd. Nathan wasn't far behind with a 1:29:33. He placed 175th overall and 146th in the men's division.
"I was happy with how I finished," Porath said. "I felt great. My training has really come along. I've been going hard for about six months. I just got up to about 50 to 60 miles a week during that time. Before that, I was maybe running 20 to 30 miles a week. I've slowly been working my way up."
Before suffering the hamstring injury, Porath had run in the full Grandma's and finished with a time just over three hours. She's hoping to be able to run the full marathon again someday.
"I think in the future I can do it again," she said. "I think I'll wait at least another year before I try it. I think running long distances is what led to the injury. It was just too much running."
Porath said her husband has been a big help in her training.
"He's been awesome," she said. "We're at about the same speed. I'm a little better at the longer distances than him. He was about six minutes behind me. It works out well. He's more of a skier than he is a runner."
The Poraths live in Eagan where Nichole works as a pricing analyst for a defense contracting company. She's also an assistant cross country coach at Holy Angels High School. She's attending the University of Minnesota to earn her masters degree in management.
She enjoys coaching and hopes to maybe one day become a head cross country coach somewhere.
"Eventually. Potentially," Porath said. "It has to be the right fit for me. Right now, I'm not ready for that responsibility. I really enjoy it, but it's becoming more difficult to do with me trying for my masters, working full-time and trying to train. It's definitely worth it, though. It's fun to see the kids improve."
When Porath arrived as an assistant at Holy Angels, the cross country program wasn't at its best.
"It was pretty terrible," she said. "We were always last in our section, but this year we finally qualified some individuals to state. We also finished second in our conference. That was the highest finish Holy Angels has had in 21 years. They're learning how to run."
Porath credits her MHS coaches for getting her into coaching.
"They prepared me well. In terms of training, they taught me what I needed to do," she said. "I was very well prepared headed into college. Coach (Mike) Jacobs does a wonderful job preparing his athletes. He, Marie Sample and Julie Kuecker were all positive role models. They continue to run to this day and enjoy it. That was a big inspiration."