Within the past 5 years, half marathon participation has reached an all-time high, with over 2 million runners completing the distance in 2014, according Running USA’s annual survey. Among these 2 million+ half marathon finishers, a large number of participants were racing 13.1 for the first time. What should runners who are new to the distance expect? Below are the thoughts that every half marathoner has during the race.

Before the race: As you stand on the starting line with thousands of other runners, you will experience thoughts ranging from excitement to dread. Before the gun goes off you may find yourself thinking, “this is so exciting! I can’t wait to start!” followed by, “wait…13.1 miles is a LONG way to go.”

Mile 2: After the gun goes off any dread you may have felt will disappear. At the second mile you will likely feel invincible, and wonder what all the fuss about half marathons being tough is about.

Mile 6: Approximately around mile 6 you will realize that you have been running for a while yet you are not even half way done with the race yet. At this point, panic might ensue.

Mile 8: After you are safely past the half way point of the race you will get a second wind and feel much the same way you did at mile 2. You will feel strong, confident, and ready to fly for the final 5 miles!

Mile 10: At mile 10 you realize you have now been running for a really long time, but you still have 5k to go. Panic may again ensue.

Mile 13: Only 0.1 miles to go! During this final stretch you will forget any pain you felt during the race and focus instead on the beer tent, but not before stopping by the registration table and reserving your spot in the race for next year!