The first weekend of May was an especially busy one for 17-year-old Meaghan Wheeler.

The high school senior flew in from Westwood, Massachusetts, with her mother and grandmother on Thursday, went on a University of Oregon campus tour on Friday, and completed her first marathon at the 10th edition of the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning.

Although Wheeler walked for some sections of the race, the ecstatic crowd at Hayward Field spurred her on. She mustered a final burst of energy to sprint the final 200 meters, crossing the finish line in 4 hours, 10 minutes, 21 seconds.

Although it may not have been a perfect race for Wheeler, the marathon weekend was definitely held at a perfect time for her.

“I wanted to finish a marathon before I graduated from high school, and I needed to visit Oregon, so it worked out,” she said.

Her mother, Katie, 44, chimed in, “Yesterday was the decision day. You had to have your deposit in if you wanted to come to the university. The timing was getting a little tight, and we had to get it done.”

Meaghan has narrowed down her college choices to Oregon, Villanova and American University. From her brief time in Oregon so far, culture, location and the school’s strong environmental science program have stood out to her.

The friendly, laidback culture is a welcome change from her hometown, where she says people tend to be more high-strung. The mountains and the close proximity to the ocean make Oregon even more appealing.

Having participated in six track seasons before, Wheeler skipped it this year in order to accomplish her goal of completing a marathon before graduation. She had been focusing more on speed work than long runs leading up to the marathon, and she admitted that she should have spent more time on the latter. The longest run she had clocked before the marathon was 21 miles.

“It was a big jump,” Wheeler said. “I’d only run 16 miles the week before. I felt great (running the 21). It was my favorite kind of weather, which is rainy, so it cooled me down and kept me going, and I ran through the woods a lot. That helped me a lot.”

With a marathon under her belt and recognizing which aspects she needs to work on, Wheeler is ready for more 26.2 fun in the hopes of someday qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

“Today was a learning experience, and I really just wanted to finish one before I graduated from high school,” she said. “I definitely want to run 3:30-3:35. If I adjust my training properly, I think I’ll be able to do that.”

Her mother was initially mind-blown when Wheeler first told her about her marathon plans. Meaghan had gone on about wanting to visit Oregon for a couple of months, but it wasn’t until two weeks before the Eugene Marathon that Katie realized her daughter was serious about combining the Oregon visit and her first marathon.

“She’s only 17, but she’s really determined and focused,” said Katie. “It was just sort of funny, especially with the timing, she’s like ‘Oh, I really want to look at UO, and while I’m there, I’m going to run the marathon.’ And I’m like ‘Oh, of course that’s what you want to do.’ I’m sure that’s what every kid wants to do when they go on a college visit, do a campus tour and then run a marathon.”

When Katie saw the forecast, which called for the temperature to be 80 degrees toward the later morning, she adjusted her expectations. “Any expectations I may or may not have had just went out the window. I was just like, ‘Please just finish and be alive at the end of it.’

“It’s her first marathon – I think it’s good to get one out of the way and understand what its like to do the whole thing as a runner. It’s all fantastic, it’s great, I’m so proud of her.”

Meaghan’s parents have been especially supportive of her running career. Meaghan has been a vegetarian since she was 12, and her parents have put in effort to prepare healthy meals for her. “Her father gets up really early in the morning to prepare these elaborate low carb, high protein, with lots of vegetable diets for her,” said Katie. “She’s not a kid that’s grabbing a Pop Tart and heading out the door to school. She’s pretty focused on what she does to prepare mentally and physically for the race.”

Being away from home made things slightly complicated for Meaghan to maintain her healthy diet because she did not have easy access to the foods she usually ate. To circumvent this, Meaghan packed some familiar ingredients on this trip while Katie searched Yelp for restaurants with healthy options. They also made a trip to the local health food market to stock up on foods such as sweet potatoes, tuna fish and almond butter.

“Whatever she wanted to do in the past five days, we were up for anything,” she said. “We just tried to give her space and let her be in her own zone.”

Can Meaghan count on her mother’s support in future marathons?

“Definitely. A hundred percent,” Katie replied without hesitation. “Maybe it’ll be a little bit closer to home next time, but whatever she wants. I’m just so proud of her.”