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Crossing the finish line
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Courier writer Danielle Hipps and her boyfriend, Jon Besser, celebrate crossing the finish line at the recent Savannah Rock & Roll Half-Marathon. - photo by Photo provided.

Two hours, 28 minutes and eight seconds. That’s my official finish time in the Savannah Rock & Roll Half-Marathon on Nov. 3.
Let’s pause for a second so I can holler crazy things like “woohoo!” and sing “We are the Champions.”
My finish time was quicker than I anticipated. As I lined up early in the 2:25-2:30 corral that morning, I sized up the people around me. Several wore shirts from other races, and they seemed leaner and looked more eager.
I became a bit unsure of whether I’d keep pace with them or if they would all storm off and leave me in their dust.
In the first couple miles, I held my pace between 10 and 11 minutes — faster than any of my long training runs but about the same speed as my shorter, faster runs.
The crowd around me included men and women of all ages, heights, body types and weights. That inspired and reminded me that athleticism is not only for Olympians and NCAA standouts. Anyone who makes fitness a priority and sticks to their goals can achieve incredible feats.
A glimpse at the search results indicates that 47 registered runners were from Hinesville, 15 were from Midway, 12 from Fort Stewart and four from Allenhurst. And we all are among the 17,000 participants who prove that we can accomplish our goals.
For me, the first five miles were an adrenaline rush fueled by the cheers, applause and spectators’ witty signs. One sign even elicited laughter: “You’ve trained for this longer than Kim Kardashian was married.”
When I crossed the 10K point (that’s 6.2 miles, or just shy of halfway), the time on my phone said about 1:07 had passed since I began. Not bad, since that time was five minutes faster than a 10K I ran in August.
As I wound around Oglethorpe Avenue, my excitement began to fade and the realization sunk in: “Oh my goodness —I’m going to spend at least the next hour of my life running.”
Then tingling took over my toes and tension hit my right knee. I became wary at some points, impatient for the next Gatorade station and mile marker.
But most exciting is that even when I was at my weakest, I never thought, “I can’t do this.”
Instead, I pushed on and reminded myself that I’ve run eight, nine and 10 miles at a time, so 13.1 must be attainable. I’d loaded up on whole-wheat pasta, sports drinks and a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich. I was fueled, so the minor aches and pains were nothing a little ice, Tylenol and sleep can’t fix, right?
That’s right, though I’m still getting awe-filled responses from people who think I’m crazy for running so far.
But I’m here to encourage you: If I can do it, you can, too. Just remember, fitness begins one step at a time.

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