After a decision seven months ago that sent me down the path of months of training, almost five hours running through the streets of D.C., countless blisters, and a soreness that would last for days, I vowed to never run a marathon again. I was mostly kidding, because what I learned about myself along the way made me value my experience enough to try again. 

I've always enjoyed running, but it had always come second to sports like soccer and lacrosse throughout high school. But once I reached college, I realized that I'd need something to keep myself motivated and active, especially once I factored in all the late night pizza trips - Marks, I love you and I hate you. As soon as I had the idea of running a marathon, I was hooked. 

I'd never run over ten miles in my life, but I was determined to make this my goal for my first year of college. After all, I told myself, I'd never be in better shape than I am right now. It's all downhill from here.

Over the six and a half months I spent training to run through the streets of D.C. at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I learned a lot about myself along the way.

I learned about mental pain vs physical pain

As my training seemed to drag on and on, I found it was harder and harder for me to motivate myself to go for the long runs I needed to, or to complete my four runs a week. I realized it wasn't that I was too tired, or too sore, but that I had to overcome my negative mentality in order to complete the training that was necessary for me to compete. 

I learned about my body's limits

Some days, I felt like I could run forever. My 18 mile training run felt like a breeze, but when I went to go run my 20 miler, I could barely breathe. Sometimes, when training for a marathon, listening to your body's warning signs is more important than pushing yourself through the pain and potentially causing an injury that may prevent you from racing. 

Not every day will be your best day

On my actual race day, the temperatures were below freezing, I was tired from traveling home from school, and I hit a park with four consecutive hills in miles 22-26 that made me want to quit. But, not stopping was more important to me than trying to PR - my goal was to finish, and even though that race was one of my hardest, I did. 

You will be sore. Everywhere.

As soon as the adrenaline stops pumping through your body post-race, the soreness will creep up. Don't be surprised if after you sit down for the first time, you can't really get up. The morning after was the most pain I had experienced in my life, and I don't think I would have made it out of my house if it had started to burn down. 

I became addicted to the runners high.

The mythical runner's high is not only attainable, but surreal. There's nothing better than hitting the point of pain and pushing beyond that, only to feel like you could run forever. Especially because I was training by myself, I had more time to think than ever, and the peace that came with the runners high allowed me to think more than before.

My feet will never be the same.

I've always had some funky things going on with my feet because of years and years of soccer, but after running a marathon, I'm not sure they will ever be the same. My toenails fell off and broke, my feet bruised and hurt for weeks, and putting on shoes was both painful and uncomfortable due to the swelling. But they're runners feet, feet that carried me 26.2 miles, and I'm proud of them for that

I found that I was capable of more than I ever thought

I never thought that I would have both the mental and physical strength to run 26.2 miles, but I did. I realized I was capable of more than I realized before. I realized that I was capable of not just running a marathon, but doing more things than I thought I would by putting my mind to a task, setting a goal, and going after it.

Running a marathon was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things, that I have ever done in my life. I got to check something off my bucket list and do something that I never thought I would do. If you're planning on training for a marathon, check out these tips on how to train. And after you race, celebrate yo'self, because damn, do you deserve it.