It took me almost 32 years to realize I wanted to be a runner. I remember thinking every time I saw my stepmom’s dad lace up his shoes and head outside: why would someone want to run on these boring country roads?

But I also used to say the same thing about my mom drinking coffee every morning.

Sometimes it takes time to grow into things, and my recent passion is running. It’s been a little over a year now, and with three half marathons under my belt and the NYC Half coming up in March, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a lifelong habit. But how did it start?

It began simply: with a text conversation between some sorority sisters I hadn’t seen in a while. We all lived in separate cities, had our own lives, and didn’t see each other like we used to. A couple of them were runners and had done marathons in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, and were getting ready for a weekend getaway in Baltimore for the half marathon that was 60 days away. I joked and said I would join them—for the beers after—and they said in total seriousness that I should come run it with them. I had never run further than maybe a 5K in my life, but I was intrigued by the challenge. I was “sort of” active, and definitely could walk 13.1 miles— I walked about 5-6 miles a day in NYC. (Seriously; it’s one mile to my son’s school, one way, so that’s four miles a day already.)

I agreed to join, but was truthfully a little scared. I knew nothing about running, but figured if all these other people were doing it, so could I. I told myself from the start that even if I walked it, I would finish this race.

15 Tips for Your First Long Distance Race

Thankfully I had runner friends to help me learn how to get fitted for the best running shoes, leggings, headphones, running belt—the list goes on. I got thrown into it and was scared waking up early that race-day morning. But as I paced with my friends (almost) the entire way to the end—I came in about 15 minutes behind them at 2:25—I realized how strong I really was. They even all walked with me to ring my first “PR” bell, and then we celebrated with Shake Shack burgers and a nap.

I AM A RUNNER

I AM A RUNNER from Runkeeper on Vimeo.

Runkeeper has been there for me since I ran my very first “training” miles before Baltimore, and it’s always been a pocket friend. To this day, I still use it every time I run to hear my pace, see my routes, and of course, share my miles with friends. I’ve learned first hand that I AM A RUNNER. And that all runners start somewhere, and at some level. It’s not about running fast, long, or finishing first—it’s about getting out there to do something for yourself, and the runner’s high after the accomplishment is real. Whether it’s for one full mile or 26 of them.

Still skeptical if you have what it takes to be a runner? Think again—and see all the inspiration you need right here. Runners come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Even if you’re walking more than running that first mile, you are still a runner. #RKRunner

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