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updated: 11/3/2013 10:18 AM

Johnson: 'I just signed up for a marathon. Am I crazy?!'

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  • Debbie Johnson

    Debbie Johnson
    Courtesy of Debbie Johnson

By Debbie Johnson

My name is Debbie, I am a wife of 20 years, a mother of four amazing children and I am training for my first marathon.

I started my journey June 2007. After a weekend with my college girlfriends, I decided I needed to make some changes to my life. After much soul searching, I decided to lose weight. I lost 50 pounds in 10 months on Weight Watchers. I was thrilled, but I knew I needed to be more active to keep the weight off.

I started going to the gym. Taking classes, using the different machines, I felt good about the activity I was doing. My very close friend asked me to run a 5K with her. I just laughed. I never liked running and I would never run a 5K.

My friend challenged me and I went for it. We ran our first 5K here in Naperville at the St. Paddy's Day 5K in 2011. Then, in 2012, we ran St. Paddy's and the Turkey Trot. It is now 2013 and we again ran the St. Paddy's 5K.

Then, in a joking kind of way, I said to her, let's run a marathon. She laughed at me and said no way.

Maybe a week later I heard about Naperville's first marathon and I thought, "maybe." I was so unsure because a 5K seemed doable, but a marathon? It was signup day and I was still unsure. I got on the marathon site and saw it was almost full and I filled out the application and hit send.

I thought to myself, "What did I do?" It took a few days to sink in that I just signed up for a marathon. Am I crazy?!

So I talked to a few friends who have done marathons and they suggested I find a training schedule. I found Hal Higdon and his 30-week marathon training guide for Novice Supreme.

I started training the week of April 15 and I am still going. I was running on a treadmill but knew I needed to start outside and I was scared. After much encouragement from my husband, outside I went.

I liked it; it was my time. The runs were short, just a few miles a few times a week. I knew I would be running long weekend runs and I did not know what to do, but I did know I could not do those long runs on my own.

I joined the Naperville Running Company's marathon training group. It was the best thing I could have done. I did not know a soul and I was not even sure what time I wanted to run for 26.2 miles, but I went that first Saturday and I have never looked back.

When I began this running journey it was a group of runners. Now this group has become my friends and supporters who have helped me on the tough runs. I could not have trained for my first marathon if it were not for this amazing group of running friends and the support of my family and friends outside of the running group.

Since training, I have raced in the Quad-Cities Bix 7 in July, and in September I ran my first half marathon, Naperville Trails. They were both amazing experiences, but still the challenge of the full marathon is ahead of me.

Am I ready for this? I ask myself this every day, and when I have self-doubt I have five people in my home who are supportive, encouraging and remind me of the challenge I took in April.

I have survived two 18-mile runs and one 20-mile run, I have to know in my heart and in my head I can and will accomplish 26.2 miles.

I love the idea of my first marathon and Naperville's first marathon being on the same day. A new journey for myself and for our wonderful town.

My goal is to finish the marathon with my friends from the NRC group and to have my family cheer me on at different points along the way.

In the end, I hope I am able to say, "My name is Debbie, I am a wife of 20 years, a mother of four amazing children and I am a marathon runner."

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