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It was February 2010 on a cold night when I opened up my laptop and started to do some research on local half marathons. I was searching for the perfect location and time of year. July and August were definitely out of the question; the thought of running 13.1 miles in the hottest months of the summer was not happening. I continued my research and there it was: a 13.1 mile run for the local firefighters in Ocean City, New Jersey on October 3. Many thoughts crossed my mind: Should I do it? How will I train? When will I have time to train? Am I crazy for even thinking about running 13.1 miles? I slept on my decision, woke up the next morning and said, “You can do this, Courtney.” I printed out all the information, filled it out and mailed in the registration fee.

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Next, I began researching training plans. I purchased this amazing book that was geared towards women training for their first half marathon. About a week later the book arrived and the training was about to begin. The book I purchased was called “The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training”, and it was a great book to get me off my butt and start training. Each chapter was broken down by week and told how many miles I should be running each day. It was the perfect approach for my training. Every week became harder and harder but I knew I had to do what I had to do to prepare me for 13.1 miles. The harder and longer my training got, the harder I pushed myself. If I were to do this I couldn’t give up before the half marathon was even here.

During my training, I shared my news about signing up for a half marathon with my husband, family, friends, and coworkers – basically everyone. The more people who knew, the more credible I had to be in fulfilling my dream to run a half  marathon. The training continued and my run was looming closer and closer. One of my final training requirements was to run 10 miles. It was too hot to run outside since most of my training took place during the summer, so I decided to run 10 miles on my treadmill. Talk about exhausting and boring, but I did it anyway. Three hours later and 1,300 calories burned, I ran 10 miles on a treadmill. Wow, I thought to myself, “How did I just do that?”

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>> Read more: Is Running On the Street the Same As Running On the Treadmill?

The morning of the half marathon approached me quickly and I felt as ready as I was going to be. My husband and family were there to support me and cheer me on during my 13.1 mile journey. It was cold October day and all the participants were lined up and ready to go. Some participants looked more prepared than me but I didn’t let that intimidate me. I was there, I trained and I was ready to start running. Before I knew it, the whistle blew and we were off running. My iPod was on shuffle and I ran my half marathon. Three hours later, I completed my first 13.1 mile run and I was on top of the world. I was also exhausted but I knew that sometimes you have to have some good pain in order to accomplish your goals. I learned that you can do anything you put your mind to, no matter what it takes; you just have to believe in yourself.