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updated: 11/4/2013 10:20 AM

Sherman: Downers Grove half marathoner goes 'crazy' for full

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  • Karen Sherman, 49, of Downers Grove, is running the Naperville Marathon as a charity runner for the American Brain Tumor Association.

    Karen Sherman, 49, of Downers Grove, is running the Naperville Marathon as a charity runner for the American Brain Tumor Association.
    Courtesy of Karen Sherman

By Karen Sherman, 49, Downers Grove

• Karen Sherman is running in the Naperville marathon on behalf of the American Brain Tumor Association.

I'm running a marathon in five days -- a FULL marathon!

If you would have told me I'd be running a marathon a year ago, I would have said "Not a chance, you're crazy. I can't run that far." Turns out, I'm the crazy one.

Last winter, I heard the "Naperthrill" news about the inaugural marathon and I began to think "Maybe ..." Naperville's inaugural, my inaugural (that's pretty cool!); close to home; late fall with cooler training weather; a small field with minimal race congestion. Do I go for it?

I've run several half marathons and always found them to be difficult enough. I believe half marathons (and peer pressure) are the gateway drug to full marathons. Twice as long, twice as hard. Again, go for it; or, way too crazy?

I knew the race would fill quickly; I couldn't be on the fence (which was a good thing).

I woke up early on Jan. 28 and registered. The race sold out in less than 10 hours. There was no turning back.

Since that day, I've had panicked knots in my stomach. What was I thinking? I struggled to find my confidence. Then, in the past month or so, a funny thing happened. I've finished two 20-milers; they were so hard, but I finished. The second one (which was 21 miles) felt better than the first, that HAS to be a good sign, right? I started to think, "Maybe I can do it."

The training has been challenging and time-consuming. However, there is no comparison to the amazing feeling you get after completing a long run. It's a happy place where you easily forget about the pain.

My inspiration has been the opportunity to use my marathon to raise money for the American Brain Tumor Association, in support of my mom and the 600,000 others living with a devastating brain tumor diagnosis. I've raised $1,370 so far! An accomplishment I am so proud of, even before I have that marathon medal hanging around my neck.

My secret weapons, and this is so important, are my friends from my running club. They have run at least 100 marathons, collectively, and are a wealth of knowledge and support, especially on long runs. I never would have even begun this adventure without them.

Along the way, I've met many runners who have been so helpful and inspirational. Runners are truly the nicest people. It has been an incredible journey so far, with only five days to go. It's so scary. And awesome. And scary.

I highly recommend bringing the family out to be anonymous cheerleaders for a couple of hours, standing at around mile 23, where racers can use your encouragement the most. It'll definitely be one of the most motivating and inspiring things you'll ever do.

And when you see me, in the orange sparkle skirt and ABTA tech tee, please shout extra loud.

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