You never forget your first half marathon. In part it has a lot to do with the medal that you get at the end. That feeling of accomplishment, the recognition of awesomeness after having achieved something that is more than just a 5k or 10k. The sight of your friends cheering you at the finish lines. Your husband who got up at 4am to get you to the start line. Your old high school friend from 10 years ago, who drove 5 hours to come and see you run. Your awesome roommate who helped get your hair marathon ready by braiding it up for you. And you new MWF friend who turned out to be a kindred spirit. The sight of these four people at the finish line made me pick up my pace and want to run an extra mile, although I really did not want to!

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There is a clear lesson of leadership in your first half…

I was introduced to running a year ago and a 5K run in just under 40 minutes was a big deal for me. I even wore my medal to work for most of the week! Suffice to say,  the idea of running a half marathon a year later seemed ridiculous. Especially since I fail to commit to a real running schedule. When I got the invitation to come to America for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, I decided to challenge myself.  Why not run a 13.1M in every continent starting with North America!

The only reason I ran this race very close to the end of my fellowship is because of the number of times I hesitated to sign up for a race. It is also because of the excuses I came up with. There was always something more important than training for this race. Sometimes, it was too hot, or too late or too early in the day! So when I ran out of excuses, I stayed loyal despite having literally broken a toe bone and nail! The day before the marathon, it rained and I got caught in it while completing my final training. My shoes never dried despite leaving them in the dryer overnight! I had no choice but to ran with wet shoes! Yes, I ran the half marathon with really wet shoes and a what seemed like a broken toe bone&nail (dram much?)

You never forget your half marathon… And for the first few days after, your body refuses to let you to forget your run. . The very same day after it dawns on you that you have just done the craziest thing yet, your body starts aching so badly. Every muscle, every joint screams at you, questioning your sanity for putting them through this strain. It is like your body wants to punish you. It seems to be talking to you, very aggressively. Saying “I didn’t ask you to do this! Of course you have a nice medal and you have accomplished another milestone, but did you really have to do it at my expense? 2:44:16 of strain and stress to my muscles it not a joke”. My body hates me right now… But I feel this is only the beginning of a mission to run a 13.1M race in every continent. Take that body! You probably keep forgiving me a little more with every run.

I will never forget my half marathon. It taught me to keep going no matter how painful, to look to the end, to be a driver even when I am not naturally inclined to. But here I was, driving my stubborn indignant body to the finish line… and It has been worth every pain in my body!

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