LiveWellWomen is checking back in with Hannah of  “a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.” We have been following her 1/2 Marathon training progress over the last couple months. The race has come and gone, and Hannah did great! Read below to find out more about her great achievement!

It’s taken me some time to be able to process the fact that the race has come and gone. In fact, it happened over 2 weeks ago!

The Heroes

Virginia Beach was really hot; almost everything about the place was different than the conditions in the Boston area. I didn’t quite realize how different everything would be, and how those little differences make for an unpredictable experience. On race day, we woke up at 4 am in order to get to the starting line on time, and to be able to have a chance to eat and use the bathrooms before 20,000 other people started forming lines. We saw the sunrise, and I drew on my arms with a sharpie so that everybody on the sidelines would know my name. My starting point was corral 22, which meant that I didn’t actually start running for almost 40 minutes after the official clock time. By the time I did start running, the elite athletes were already at mile 11. My teammate S. ended up at the same starting place as me; we were both so incredibly excited that we could hardly talk. We were literally in the midst of thousands of other runners, and it felt so overwhelming. This was it, the moment I had spent months preparing for, and I was in shock. S. and I held hands as we ran through the gate.

After about a mile or so, S. and I parted ways– she’s a faster runner than I am, and I didn’t want to overdo it too early in the game. It was difficult to navigate the course at first– there were so many people running all around me, and I found that I had to weave my way in and out so that I could maintain the pace I wanted to. At first my excitement pushed me to run very fast, but I soon realized looking at my watch that my first mile was far beyond my normal rate. As I continued running, I passed so many different kinds of people; in fact, I followed one woman for about 10 miles. The back of her shirt read: 2005, Double Lung Transplant Survivor. I didn’t speak to her at all, but was amazed at her endurance and speed, and decided to chase after her. Also motivating was the fact that bands lined the course of the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, so I sort of just ran from concert to concert.

I was very careful to drink enough water and to take in some sugar; still, though, the heat and the hardness of the pavement really started to get to me. Mile 12 was probably the longest mile of my entire life. At that point, I started talking to myself out loud, “Hannah! You are awesome! You can do this! 1 mile to go, 1 mile to go” Thankfully, Coach J. looped around after she finished and helped me get to the finish. She was amazing, and kept telling strangers to cheer for me. We crossed the finish line together, and I managed to keep my emotions in check until I was positive I had passed the cameras.

And then I sobbed.

I hurt everywhere, from my toes and feet, up my legs, into my core and arms. I felt so emotional at the fact that I had actually managed to accomplish this feat. I, who had never run a single mile in her life up until February, trained all summer long and actually finished a half marathon. I still can’t believe it. I set out to run this race because, cheesily enough, I wanted to change my life. I wanted to change the way I thought about exercise and my body, and I wanted to really do something to prove that I could. Maybe my training won’t be as intense as it was during the summer, but I think it’s safe to say that my habits and expectations really have changed. I should take the time to thank everybody who helped me; I never would have done this without Coach J. or my time at the gym. Really, though, I want to thank myself. I want to thank myself for making a huge change, for sticking to the plan (for once) and seeing it through, for taking a risk, for being committed to really make it happen.

So, self, thank you.

What are you training for? Leave your comments!