It's the feeling all runners fear, the point in a race when their body says no and doesn't take questions.
Valparaiso's Peyton Reed experienced it in last year's state finals, when he passed out roughly two miles into the race.
"It was probably the hardest thing I've ever gone through," Reed said. "I felt dehydrated. My stomach acid was going. I tried pushing it out of my mind. I could barely breathe, then I went down. I don't know how long it was, a minute or two, but when I came to, I'm pretty sure it was a Portage coach, and he said, 'You need to get up and finish the race.'"
So that's what he did, struggling to the line in 20:01.5, 197th in a field of 197.
"There's nothing you can do when that happens," Valpo coach Mike Prow said. "We were proud he was able to get up and finish instead of just laying out there."
For Reed, it was never an option, noting the quote by acclaimed runner Steve Prefontaine: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
"Running in general is a mentally tough sport," Reed said. "Giving up would've looked bad on the Valpo program. The hardest part was getting going again. It was very agonizing, knowing where I wanted to be in the race and how much the team needed me. It hurt, but I needed to finish, for the team, as an example to everybody else. I was so glad to be done. I just wanted to go relax and get to breathing a little more."
Reed and the Vikings return to Terre Haute on Saturday, and he'd be lying if he said 2010's race won't be on his mind.
"It's definitely been a driving force for me all year," he said. "The one thing I wanted to do is prove to everybody I'm a lot better than I ran last year. It's what keeps me going a lot of times. I'll use it as fuel throughout the course."
If all goes well, Reed will be in the top 25, helping Valpo to a top five finish.
"It's not really about me anymore," he said. "As a sophomore, I was focused on how I was doing. Now it's about my team."
A good winter of training led to a strong showing in track, where Reed was among the region's best two-milers. But that, too, ended in disappointment, as he failed to qualify for state.
"I feel I closed a lot of ground on a lot of the better runners in the state," he said. "It gave me confidence coming into this year. But (the finish) was another reason to go out there and show how good I really am ... that I'm a legitimate runner."
Reed has done so to this point, running in the Vikings' lead pack with Ari Coulopoulos and, recently, Ahmad Aljobeh.
"I think Peyton's main strength is his strength," Prow said. "He's never really missed a beat in the summer time. He's able to go out and run a good, hard pace, try to hold on, and fight it out at the end. He's not afraid to go to the front. He finds the fine line, being able to push himself, not being a No. 1 frontrunner, but being so much better than everyone else's No. 2."
Up to now, Prow has emphasized maintaining the pack as long as possible. Saturday, he'll lay off the reins and let his top group, including Reed, see what they can do.
"I'm excited, of course," Reed said. "We're looking forward to proving ourselves. We can definitely do some damage."