On March 18th, 2018, I ran the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. For some people, that is no big deal. They dole out half marathons regularly and barely feel the effects of 13.1 miles. For others (like me), it is the longest distance they have ever run and they worked super hard to get there.

Training for and running a half marathon is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I could not be more proud to have completed it. About three years ago, I was in the worst shape of my life, both physically and mentally.

I struggled with insecurity and hated the way my body looked. I was unathletic and could barely run a mile without gasping for air. Most of all, I lacked confidence in myself, not only in my appearance but also in my ability.

My newfound passion for health and fitness has changed my life and I am happy to say I am doing much better.

Last semester, I was sitting in the car with members of my a cappella group on the way back from a gig and my friend, Julia, casually brought up running a half marathon. She used to be on the cross country team in high school and has legs probably two times the length of mine, so her running that distance made sense.

Then, out of blue, she asked me to run it with her. I have never turned down something so quick. I wasn’t confident covering that kind of mileage was ever going to be in the cards for me and I just accepted that. But something changed my mind. I thought–– I am in the best shape I’ve ever been so why not give it a shot? I started training.

Prior to training for this race, the furthest distance I had ever run was a 5K, three miles. Adding 10 miles to this distance was going to be brutal and time-consuming but I was determined to do it.

I began training in December and started to hit distances I never thought I could. Before I knew it, spring break was ending and race day had arrived. If you have ever participated in a running race before, you know the atmosphere is electric. People are tired but excited and ready to prove to themselves and others that all the training was worth it.

I went into the half marathon with no experience in long-distance running and therefore had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know how my body was going to feel at mile six and I didn’t know how dehydrated I was going to feel at the finish line.

So in my inexperience, I took note of everything at every mile. I wanted to remember just how it felt so that if I ever decide to put myself through this again I will be prepared. Here is what I learned:

Mile 1

It was a blur. The sun hadn’t risen yet and every runner was trying to find a rhythm to hold onto for the race. Downtown Atlanta was asleep and all you could hear was the thud thud thud of tennis shoes on the road.

Mile 2

Almost lost my leg in a pothole (thank you Atlanta roads) but made it through this mile without too much trouble. Still feeling relatively fresh and working hard to warm up my body.

Mile 3

I felt sweat on the back of my neck begin to accumulate and I felt like my body was unprepared for what was about to hit it. But I kept running because I knew we were only just getting started.

Mile 4 and 5

I grouped these together because they honestly felt about the same. I found my running pace and stuck to it. I was still cheerful and taking in all the sights and sounds.

Mile 6

Halfway! Sort of. I couldn’t believe I still had seven miles left because it felt like I had been running forever but thank God for loud spectators and their hilarious signs. One read: “You’re running better than our government is right now.” Anything that put a smile on my face was much appreciated.

Mile 7

Blister time! I felt a little rubbing on the side of my foot which only proceeded to get worse but I didn't stop because I knew I would have regretted it.

Mile 8

The sun was rising at this point and the sky was BEAUTIFUL. Despite my bouncy running style, I managed to sneak some pictures of the sunrise and the Atlanta skyline. It was a pleasant and welcome sight for sore eyes.

Mile 9

Nothing much to say here other than I found the pace-setting team and stuck with them for a little while. They carried me through this more difficult part of the race up and down some pretty tough hills.

Mile 10

Everyone says you hit a wall in races like these. Mile 10 was my wall. Soreness and fatigue like I have never felt before crept into my lower body. I wasn’t about to give up but mentally I was starting to feel drained and a little broken.

Mile 11, 12, and 13

The last three miles felt like they were never going to end. My legs started to feel like cement blocks and my knees began to feel the effects of the past 10 miles. I was exhausted and what I wanted more than anything was to be finished.

.1 miles to the finish line

I sprinted. I saw the finish line and I heard the announcer calling out the time. I wanted more than anything to get in before 2 hours 10 minutes. Every leg muscle was screaming at me but the supportive crowd drowned them out and I crossed that line at 2 hours and 8 mins 59 seconds with the biggest smile on my face. I had achieved something, a younger version of me would have deemed impossible. It was a huge accomplishment.