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Readers who inspire: A serial marathoner's last stop is Boston

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  April 8, 2013 09:09 AM

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Remember how a few weeks back I told you I wanted to share more of your stories because the best thing for me to come out of this blog is the fact that YOU have inspired ME?

Here's another one of those stories.

Gina.jpgMeet Gina Chupka, 35, from Westfield, Mass.

Chupka is a runner like me in that she's been running to reach her personal goals rather than running professionally (well, maybe not quite like me seeing as she has far more mileage under her belt). I was contacted about Chupka's story because of this blog, so I'm sharing it with you here.

Chupka, like many in Boston, is running the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15. Finishing the 26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston will end Gina's journey to run a marathon in every state.

"I ran a lot of short distances in my 20s, but always wanted to run a marathon," Chupka said. "But I had really bad IT band issues, always felt limited to 5 or 10Ks until a girl I work with had been talking about wanting to do a marathon, and we started training together."

Chupka started with the Boulder Back Roads Marathon in 2008, and a year later ran St. George in Utah. Until she said she got roped into running a marathon with her brother-in-law in Wisconsin. "Then, somehow," she said, "Someone was like, 'you should just do one in every state.' It all just sort of happened," Chupka said.

Her original goal was to finish with Boston in 2014. "But then I just started training and decided I was going to finish in 2013," said Chupka, who is running for The Joe Andruzzi Foundation.

While Boston will mark the 50th state in which Chupka will have run a marathon, it will be her 53rd marathon overall. It's taken her just shy of three years to complete her goal, logging 1,310.0 miles on foot.

What has she learned along the way? "Training with someone has been key. My friend and I had each other to help on the hard days, which helps get you out there every weekend," Chupka said. "For the first marathon we only trained to 20 miles, but it wasn't as bad on race day as I thought. It is a mental game. You have to put in the training, sure, but you have to mentally get past those points in the race that are tough."

What's next for Chupka once she logs her final marathon miles in Boston? "I'm doing an Ironman in August," Chupka said.

My kind of gal ...

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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