By Alexa Brewster
I never considered myself much of an athlete growing up. I spent most of my time on my high school sports teams laughing with friends on the sidelines and eating the team snacks. Thus, when Girl Up began recruiting for their 2016 Philadelphia half-marathon team, I almost completely ignored the idea. I have never run more than 2 miles consecutively, and could not fathom completing 13.1 miles.
However, as a university student, I found it difficult to stay motivated to be active. Before sophomore year, I made it a goal to prioritize my health, unlike I did freshman year, and re-considered the half-marathon as the perfect catalyst towards achieving my goal. Furthermore, not only would I be encouraged to exercise, but I would also be able to use this opportunity to fundraise for a cause I care deeply about.
I originally faced some discouraging responses after I announced I would run the race. One classmate even told me it would be “physically impossible” for me to finish 13.1 miles due to my previous lack of physical activity. But Team Girl Up came through for me and created a reliable and informative support system that was perfect for me as a beginner runner and helped me get in shape. Weekly newsletters from the team’s training and fundraising coaches gave me insider tips and kept me on track with my training and fundraising benchmarks. With other Girl Up members on the team, I always had someone to text to complain after a long 10-mile run, or motivate me to get out of bed and train on a rainy day.
On November 19, 2016 I ran my first half-marathon. The race itself was extremely challenging, but that made it even more rewarding. I accomplished a feat that others had told me was impossible, and I learned that an ambitious and determined mindset is the key to achieving any goal. Additionally, I surpassed my $750 fundraising goal by raising $1,197 for Team Girl Up. Completing the half-marathon was a personally empowering experience, and it was even better knowing the race helped empower other girls around the world.
Alexa Brewster is a 2012-2013 Girl Up Teen Advisor Alumna and student at the University of Pennsylvania.