MERIDIAN — Last July 4, Idaho State University pharmacy student Jodine Steemers did something no woman on the planet has ever done.

She ran the Inca Trail Marathon — one of the toughest races in the world — in just over seven and a half hours, setting a new course record for women and logging the best time of the day. The second-fastest time was a male runner, who came in 18 minutes behind her, according to results provided by race sponsor Erik’s Adventures.

“I knew the race was going to be really, really hard mentally and physically, but this was a whole other ball game,” Steemers said.

The course boasts an elevation gain of 10,400 feet with two grueling mountain passes and steep, rocky descents through the Andes Mountains of Peru. The race is so difficult, organizers recommend only experienced trail runners — those who can handle a 50-mile trail run in a single clip — give the Inca marathon a shot.

Steemers, a former collegiate track star and experienced marathoner was up for the challenge, spending a year training for the Inca race with her fiancé.

They ran the foothills of Boise, logged countless hours on treadmills and stair climbers to replicate the elevation changes of the Peruvian course that finishes at the ancient city of Machu Picchu. They hit the gym several times a week, lifting weights to strengthen legs, hips, core and thigh muscles.

Steemers, 27, managed this rigorous routine while working full time on her doctor of pharmacy degree at ISU-Meridian and holding a part-time job in the outpatient pharmacy clinic at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise.

“I know it sounds like a cliché, but I want to experience as much of life as possible and not be confined to just one journey,” said Steemers, explaining why she took on the marathon adventure while in pharmacy school.

Steemers, who will graduate in spring 2021, shared her thoughts with students and faculty at a recent seminar on mindfulness at ISU-Meridian. A member of the Rho Chi Society — the national honor society for student pharmacists — she acknowledged the pressures of academia can weigh heavy, but encouraged her peers to experience new things and make time for family and friends.

“I think it’s so important to have that balance,” she said.

Maintaining that balance has helped Steemers develop the self-discipline and time-management skills to meet new challenges and achieve personal and professional goals in her own life. While running track at Eastern Oregon State Universality, she battled gastrointestinal problems that threatened her collegiate running career and sent her into a depression, but she muscled through, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a master’s in science teaching before enrolling in Idaho State.

Steemers is not the kind of student who defines success by a single grade on an exam or assignment, but whether she did her personal best. A low-test score is not a reason to beat yourself up, she says. Use it as a moment to reflect and analyze. What held you back and what can you do differently next time?

“It’s always easier said than done, but my advice is don’t let mistakes define you. Reach out to a teacher or friend if you need help,” she said.

Steemers says she didn’t think about setting a world record when she tackled the Inca Trail Marathon. She wanted to just to do her best. The race was so mentally grueling, at one point, she laid down and stared up at the sky, wondering if she could go on.

But she got up and charged forward, battling blisters and nausea, crossing the finish line in an official time of 7 hours, 36 minutes and 10 seconds.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was so nice to be done. I was just so happy to lay on the ground and eat a sandwich,” she said with a laugh.