I've always hated running-even as a competitive volleyball player growing up I dreaded doing it. I'd often have to hit the track during practices, and within a few laps I'd be cursing my tired legs and out-of-breath lungs. So when I started my PR job two years ago and found myself in an office full of runners, I immediately informed them that I wouldn't be joining them in their after-work jogs or races.

They let me be until our employer organized a 5K (Find out the 10 things you need to know before your first 5K.). I had my usual excuses-I'm too slow, I'll hold you back-but this time my colleagues didn't let me off the hook. "It's not like we're training for a half marathon!" they told me. So I begrudgingly agreed to participate with them. I went into that first race with a sort of defeated attitude. I had tried to run before, but was just never able to do it, so at the end of the first mile, when my legs were cramping and my lungs were burning I gave in a little mentally. I had an "I knew I couldn't do this" moment and was extremely frustrated with myself. But the coworker who was running next to me said that while we could slow down, we weren't going to stop. And amazingly, I was able to keep going. When I finished all 3.2 miles, I couldn't believe how good I felt. I was so happy that I didn't quit!

I started joining my coworkers on a 3-mile loop around our offices once or twice a week. I began to find myself excited to run with friends and coworkers; it turned my workout into more of a social thing versus "I have to go exercise." That's when a coworker told us she was training for a half marathon. The next thing I knew, all of us had signed up. I was beyond nervous-I hadn't run more than 4 miles before, let alone 13.1-but I'd been pounding the pavement with these women for a while and felt confident that if they were going to train for a half marathon, I could do it too.


As a novice runner, I was initially intimidated about training for a 13.1-mile race but my coworkers and I joined a half-marathon training group that met every Saturday. It took the guesswork out of preparing for the race. They have a standard training schedule; all I had to do was commit to following it, which I loved. I also learned how to pace myself by training with more experienced runners.

I vividly remember the day we did 7 miles. I felt strong the entire way and, when it was over, I could have kept going. That was a turning point for me. I thought: I can really do this, I'm training for a half marathon and it's not going to kill me. The race was June 13, 2009, and even though I was excited and knew I had trained properly I was terrified waiting with the 5,000 other runners. The gun went off and I thought: Okay, here goes nothing. The miles seemed to fly by, which I know sounds crazy but it's true. I even finished a lot faster than I thought I would-I made it to the finish line in 2 hours and 9 minutes. My legs were like jelly but I was beyond proud of myself. Ever since then, I've identified myself as a runner. I'm even training for another race this month. I'm proof that if you have the right support system, you can push yourself to distances you never thought possible.

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