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Article updated: 11/3/2013 10:18 AM

Lang: 'Running a marathon was always on my mind'

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By Kirsten Lang

I started running in seventh grade with no clue as to what I was getting into. Little did I know running would bring me such success, joy and satisfaction in life.

I ran cross country and track all four years at St. Charles East High School and continued my running career at Illinois State University. While at Illinois State, I was pushed harder than ever before and learned a lot about myself, my body's limits and what it takes to complete at the Division 1 level.

Even before graduating college in 2011, running a marathon was always on my mind; I was just waiting for the right one. I chose to run the Naperville Marathon as my first full marathon because it is close to home and it is a lot smaller than the Chicago Marathon.

I do have dreams of running the Chicago Marathon one day, but I didn't want it to be my first marathon because it is so big and I thought it would be too overwhelming. Plus, I wanted to make sure I could see my family and friends throughout my race.

My longest previous race is a half marathon, and after my first one I couldn't believe how people did that distance twice in a row! Being a runner, I know how important mind-over-matter is, but something that really surprised me was how the mind truly does overpower your body, even when you have to run 21 miles as your longest long run. Knowing you have to run 21 miles somehow makes it easier to go out there and do it. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.

I feel like my training has been really good the last few months. I got off to a slow start and had a minor setback with a foot injury, but that is all in the past, and after my last few long runs, I'm feeling really good about my race.

My goal for this marathon is to run sub 3 hours and 30 minutes. Running a marathon is going to hurt no matter what, but I believe I can run around 3:25 if I stick with my pace.

With this being my first marathon, I'm excited and nervous. I was able to go to some training runs in Naperville with other people who are also running the marathon, so that was helpful. Seeing them on race day and knowing I can run with some of them is comforting and will ease my nerves a little.

In addition to my fellow runners, I would not be anywhere if it weren't for the love and support my family continues to give me. My parents, my brother, my boyfriend, all my other family members, friends and co-workers all inspire me in many different ways, so THANK YOU! It feels amazing to chase your dreams and accomplish your goals.

One last note: My dad will be the loudest cowbell ringer out on the course.

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