The thought of a half marathon can be the most exhausting experience to some and the most inspiring thing to others. The talk of 13.1 miles definitely elicits a different reaction in each person who discusses it. However, it has always been something that motivated me. So after years of saying that I want to run a half, I have finally kept my promise to myself and signed up for one.

Now first, let me say that training for a potential half and training for a half you have signed up for are two completely different things. Once you've signed up, the training becomes less of an option, and well frankly, an expectation. And add on to that the feeling of knowing that you need to keep this promise to yourself.

But throughout these few months of runs, both long and short, I've learned a lot more than how to (hopefully) run that ultimate 13.1 miles. Quite honestly, way more than I ever expected to learn.

I've learned that you can have a wild dream. And follow through with it. To some avid runners, 13.1 is just the start but to a girl who proudly exclaimed "I don't run!" and was out of breath at the thought of a full mile even within the past year it's the real deal. So to actually come from not running to running 13.1 miles being feasible is proof that your craziest dreams are only as far as you let them be.

I've learned that training pays off. You often hear that practice makes perfect and that little things each day or week can culminate in something much bigger. But I've actually seen that come to life through my training. One mile slowly evolved into two, into four, into seven, and so on. And while it's insane to say it, the first few miles months ago were much harder than the long runs I'm doing now.

I've learned that most things in life are mental. I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten on the treadmill and told myself "Okay, you're doing x amount of miles or x minutes" then wanted to get off within five minutes. But, each time I remembered that I made a deal with myself and that the time was going to pass anyway so it was time to push through. The only person I would have been failing was myself and this half was taught me how exactly not to do that.

I've learned that you can (and should) have mini victories on the way to your bigger goal. Five miles is nothing compared to 13.1, but you bet I celebrated that five as if it was race day itself. Allowing yourself to celebrate your steps toward success, believe it or not, will get you to your ultimate goal faster and happier.

When I cross that finish line on race day, I will have run 13.1 miles. But I will have gained so much more than some miles under my feet and a medal. Looking back at each of these lessons learned makes me feel so thankful that I strapped up my sneakers a few months back and set out on this journey. Run by run, I've become a better me. And for that I'm forever grateful.