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updated: 11/3/2013 10:17 AM

Dodson: 'After saying it out loud, I thought, why not?'

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  • Jennifer Dodson

    Jennifer Dodson

By Jennifer Dodson

The reason I started running begins with my mom's death in 2011. She died of mastic breast cancer in July 2011. After her death my sister and I decided to do the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in August 2012.

When a friend who had been bugging me for several years to do the women's triathlon in Naperville found out that I was going to do the 3-Day, she insisted I do the tri. Of course, I signed up and did very well that year in my first triathlon.

Once I decided to do the 3-Day and the triathlon, I decided I should probably drop the extra weight I was carrying -- at this point in my life I weighed 214 pounds. I started to work with a personal trainer at the YMCA and started to work out -- walking (which led to jogging and then running), lifting, swimming, biking -- and lost more than 50 pounds.

After doing the 3-Day walk, I ran my first half marathon. After I finished the half marathon, my multi-marathon running brother asked if I would ever do a full marathon. I jokingly said I would do the Chicago Marathon as a 45th birthday present to myself. But after saying it out loud, I thought, "Why not?"

Through my father, I found out Naperville was going to have its very own marathon in November. I decided my first marathon should be done in my own backyard (almost literally, as the racecourse goes two streets up from my house).

So in 2012 I ran three 5Ks, a half marathon, one triathlon and a 60-mile walk. I then started looking for a training plan to start preparing for the marathon. A dear friend who works with me at the Fry Family YMCA and the Naperville Running Company told me about the NRC's marathon training program and highly recommended it as a place for me to start training.

Meeting every Saturday morning with a bunch of like-minded people with the same goal in mind -- run a marathon -- was one of the best decisions I could have made. I would not have put in the hours needed for this race without the help that came from this great group of people.

So here I am, approaching the Naperville Marathon. And while at the beginning my goal was just to get across the finish line, now I feel I can say with some degree of confidence that I will get across the finish line before the race closes.

To say I am nervous is an understatement, but I have put in the miles to get to the finish line and I am ready to get there. Will I do it again? I won't know that until I cross the finish line.

Thank you for letting me share. It has been an incredible journey.

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