This story is the first part in a four-part series about our Halfsy Hero Tonya O’Neel. Our series will follow Tonya and three other heroes as they train for the 2017 Good Life Halfsy.


It’s 11pm and Tonya O’Neel is tired. She clocked out of her office at 5, but here she is tending bar at her part-time job. While she enjoys both, she knows this isn’t where her night will end. She still has to run.

Most runners will tell you they find solace, peace, and relaxation in a few miles. It’s what they spend all day looking forward to. That’s why even now, as she trains diligently for The Good Life Halfsy, Tonya will insist that she is not a runner.

“I don’t enjoy jogging. If you told me a year ago that I was going to be voluntarily running, or that I had signed up for an event just to run, I’d tell you that you’re absolutely crazy.”

But nothing is the same as it was for Tonya last summer, and it all began at The Halfsy.

“I was at a point with work and life and some of my personal goals where I realized something just had to change. I applied to other companies, but nothing was really happening. I wasn’t happy, but I own my home and after five and a half years at my job, I couldn’t just quit. I had to find another way to make a change.”

Tonya made the decision to set three goals for herself each month. First, to try something she’s never done. Second, a “soul goal”, which involved learning and expanding her understanding. And third, a daily fitness goal. Last November, her fitness goal was to run one mile every day, no matter what.

“It’s what I hate most, which means it’s outside of my comfort zone. I thought if I was going to do it, go all in and do it. Embrace this thing I hate and let it help me make a change.”

At the same time, a good friend of Tonya’s was gearing up for last year’s Good Life Halfsy.

“It was her first half-marathon, and it happened to land right on her birthday. I was so proud of her! I planned to meet her between miles 8 and 9 and do a birthday cheer with her. The energy was so amazing and the atmosphere was so infectious!”

“That was the first time I realized, maybe running didn’t have to be terrible. That’s when I decided, if I’m going to do this, this is the one for me. The Good Life Halfsy just felt right.”

Tonya’s life was beginning to change, in more ways than one. She wasn’t running away from life’s problems, but she found that running might bring her closer to the good life she was looking for.

Check back for more Halfsy Hero stories, and to read the next installment of Tonya’s story.