Two days ago I ran my first half marathon. Yes you read correctly, I completed 13.1 miles at the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in DC. Let’s go back in time a bit. I’ve never been super athletic and wouldn’t necessarily say that I am athletic now. I played tennis in high school and I have worked out on and off since. About 7 or 8 years ago, I really started to get more focused with my fitness but unfortunately this came to a halt when I started to suffer from chronic pain and fatigue, to what was later diagnosed as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. My dreams of working out the way I wanted to came to a crashing end and I struggled for the next couple of years with extremely tiredness and lack of energy and just plain feeling bad. I write this to say that if anyone had asked me at that time in my life if I could ever contemplated running a half, I would have laughed in their faces. With prayer, time, self care, assistance from a Naturopath doctor and better eating habits, I was able to “get better”. Of course I still have days where I feel tired and fatigued but nowhere near where I was during those painful years. Let’s fast forward to January 2013. I woke up one day and DECIDED that I wanted to run a 5K. For me this was big because I hated running. So I looked up running groups in the area and saw a group call Black Girls Run. I was so excited and joined because I knew I couldn’t do this on my own. Thankfully, they were starting a couch to 5k program in which you build up over a course of several weeks and run a graduation 5k race. I remember my first day…I had to run for 60 seconds and walk for 90. I was so out of breath but determined to do this. I trained with a group of ladies, which we later named ourselves “Iron Maidens” and we have since developed a friendship out of running. We are now each other’s accountability partner when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I was disciplined and ran 3 times a week even in frigid cold temperatures. So on April 21, 2013 I ran my first 5k and was ecstatic that I was able to accomplish my goal. Well, this was the beginning of my journey to other races. I then trained for longer distance races and in October 2013, I DECIDED that I would begin to train for a half marathon. The thought was overwhelming but I saw other BGR ladies who successfully trained and accomplished their goals. I trained along with one of my “Iron Maidens” who also had a goal of running her first half marathon. We were each other’s accountability partner and made sure that we supported each other during our training months. There were some setbacks and sacrifices made during my training. Most folks know that I am not a morning person; however I work up early some days to make sure I was able to get a run in and on Saturday mornings I was up early to complete my long run (I eventually became a BGR run coordinator for this run). The weeks leading up to my half were challenging as the weather often did not allow for outdoor running so I often had to run on the treadmill which I hated and I started to experience some knee and foot pain so I was diligent in making sure I iced, massaged and stretched as much as I could. I also started to incorporate more strength training, yoga, and pilates on my cross training days. As I entered the week before the race, I was so nervous because I became sick I was unable to complete my last long training run, which meant the longest run I had completed was 11 miles. Well, I decided that I had done all I could and prayed that God would bring me to the finish line. And that HE did! I was a ball of nerves the night before and did not sleep well, but I was DETERMINED to complete what I had started. I took a nice easy pace in the early miles and was able to finish STRONG. Was I tired? YES! Did I feel like giving up at some points? YES. But I had to prove to myself that I was capable of doing something that was beyond my comfort zone. As I approached the finish line, I was overcome by tears; not tears of sadness but tears of joy at what I had just done. I was met with a fellow “Iron Maiden” who ran the last stretch with me to give me an extra boost to the finish line. And today I can say that I ran my first half marathon. To some, this may not seem as a big accomplishment, but for me there was pride in what I had just done. I write this entry not to brag but to perhaps inspire someone that may have a goal, any goal that they may not think is possible. Running has taught me so many valuable lessons and in the process I have met some amazing women and made some wonderful friendships along the way. So maybe your goal is not to run a half marathon, but to write a book, open a business, sky dive, or simply to run a 5k…whatever it is I invite you to challenge yourself and believe in the possibility. You never know, you just might succeed! Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 10 Running Lessons 1. Never put limits on yourself. 2. We need other’s support. 3. You must be willing to make sacrifices when you are working towards your goal. 4. Setbacks makes success so much sweeter. 5. Believe in your greatness. 6. The more your practice, the better you get. 7. Be consistent. 8. Enjoy the process. 9. Pace yourself. 10. Celebrate your success.