Image Credits: Courtesy of the author
We all make impulsive decisions in our lives. Maybe it’s splurging and spending too much on an annual sale from your favorite store, or buying a fish for your college dorm room before realizing there’s more responsibility in taking care of a fish than the Internet leads you to believ. Maybe you sign up for a half marathon 50 days from the race. Now, this wasn’t a completely random decision. I was a huge runner in high school, competing in both cross-country and indoor track. Over the years, I began training for a half marathon multiple times and had picked out various races that I would run. Here we were, four years later and I still had yet to run a half marathon.
This semester has also been incredibly stressful for me, between my classes and extracurricular activities. I knew this semester would be my toughest yet and stretched myself very thin, so perhaps deciding to run a half marathon at this point in my life wasn’t the smartest decision. Training took time out of my very limited schedule. To be completely honest, I did not prepare nearly as much as I should have. Regardless, 50 days later, I found myself at the Baltimore Harbor after completing 13.1 miles, proud of the milestone I had just completed.
Training for a half marathon alone takes a huge amount of determination and accountability. When I signed up, my parents expressed concern that this wasn’t a proper amount of time to train. I brushed it off, being an athlete and someone who does not give up easily. I mapped out a training plan and thought, “Oh, I can do this.” In reality, I didn’t account for the horrendous cold that would prohibit me from training for three weeks, midterm season, or my own laziness. I did keep up with running a few times a week, but the longest runs I ever logged were only five miles, and even then I only did that a few times. The closer race day came, the more nervous and unprepared I felt. However, I knew in my heart that I would be able to get through the race, especially since my cousin would be there running with me every step of the way.
The race itself showed me more about myself than most challenges in my life. Seeing as I had only run up to five miles in preparation, I knew anything beyond that was going to be hard physically. As years of running competitively have taught me, a huge component of running is the mental aspect of it. From miles five to seven of the race, I really questioned what I was doing, why I didn’t train knowing how long it was going to take, and what the point of doing this was, considering I just wasn’t ready. Before the race, I knew there was going to be a tough point mentally, I just didn’t expect it to be as low as it was.
After hitting mile seven, things started to look up. I knew the distance and time left would decrease. Each mile I picked off, I started to feel better and my attitude improved. Once I reached mile 12, I turned on my favorite song to run to and pushed myself even harder. At that point I gave it everything I had. Crossing the finish line gave me one of the biggest senses of relief I have ever felt in my life. While I may not have been completely prepared for the challenge, I can say that I completed something on my bucket list after years of putting it off.