Julie Stoner is in Boston right now. Along with 27,000 other runners, the Raleigh mom of two is preparing to run the Boston Marathon on Monday.
It's her first time to run in the world's oldest annual marathon, which draws some of the fastest long distance runners in the world. And Stoner has trained hard for the past 18 weeks to prepare.
"It's such an honor to be able to go," she said. "I'm so excited."
Stoner never expected to be where she is. She's always been an athlete - running cross country on the recommendation of her father in high school, playing all kinds of sports and being a regular at the gym.
But she was a little burned out on running and swimming after high school. She'd run a 5K here and there, but it wasn't something she relished. Instead, she took fitness classes, played golf and participated in other sports to stay in shape. Runner Moms: Running as 'free therapy'
That all changed two years ago when she signed up for the Ramblin' Rose Raleigh sprint triathlon. Participants swim 225 yards, bike nine miles and run two miles. She finished second in the masters division. Stoner wondered if maybe she should try for a more rigorous triathlon.
Then her sister, who had completed four marathons, suggested she attempt that instead. Stoner decided to train for a half marathon - the Shamrock half marathon in Virginia Beach in March 2012. Half way through her training, she realized she was more than ready for the 13.1 mile run and decided she'd compete in the full marathon instead.
At the Shamrock, a Boston marathon qualifier that draws about 28,000 runners, she finished the race in 3 hours, 48 minutes. Her time qualified her for Boston. She submitted her time in September. An hour later, she got a reply. She was in.
That's when Stoner, 47, knew she needed some help.
"I didn't know how to train for a marathon properly," she said.
Stoner credits all the people who have helped her in the past 18 weeks to get ready. Brennan Liming, a friend, local mom and personal trainer, helped her map out her training schedule. And she met up with two other local moms - Tiffany Bjornstad and Allison Roach - who also will run the Boston Marathon on Monday.
"I've made two great friends from this experience," said Stoner, who met Bjornstad at a run club and Roach through her hairdresser.
And she said she couldn't do it without her husband Tom, who has helped to make sure there's time for her time-consuming long runs and training.
"Without his support, I would never be able to do it," Stoner said, "He has just been there, very supportive."
Like so many other moms who have participated in our Runner Moms series these last few weeks, Stoner says the physical, but also emotional benefits of running keep her going.
"It's free therapy," she tells me. "I feel so good when I'm done. I do a lot of praying. I talk to God a lot when I run. It just sets me right."
What's next after Monday? Stoner plans to take a break and get her house back in order. But only for about week. She's already thinking about the next event.
Best wishes to Julie, Tiffany, Allison, WRAL-TV's Kelcey Carlson and all of the other local runners in Boston on Monday!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday. This is the latest post in our Runner Moms series.