For some of us, the prospect of running 26.2 miles is unthinkable.
But for those who participated in the Boston Marathon last week, running 26.2 miles was an obtainable goal.
Chris Reno, Christine Corley, and Ellen Naughton were among who ran in the race, and they all had their own reasons for taking on the challenge.
This was Reno's third consecutive Boston Marathon. He was hooked, he said, after crossing the finish line for the first time.
"I ran the first year as a bandit and absolutely loved it. The fans, the feeling of accomplishment, and how proud it made my parents got me hooked," said Reno.
For the past two years, he has raised money for "Tedy's Team," which is an affiliate of the American Stroke Association founded by former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi to raise money for stroke awareness. Bruschi founded the team after his own experience suffering a stroke in 2005.
Reno and his family raised more than $5,000 this year. With last year's total, they have have raised over $10,000 for the cause. The entire team raised a new record for the 2011 marathon: nearly $350,000.
Reno said members of Tedy's Team all have their own reasons for supporting stroke awareness, and all have someone special in mind when they are raising money and running the race.
"I chose Tedy's Team because it represents a cause very close to our hearts. My mother had a stroke in 2007 that almost claimed her life," said Reno.
"After watching her get better for a year I wanted to be active in a cause to help families like ours, and Tedy's Team has been that and more. Everyone on the team has a personal connection to stroke and we all run for our 'stroke hero,' as we raise awareness and money to help the cause."
Christine Corley also chose to raise money for charity. She ran as a member of the Children's Hospital Boston Miles for Miracles Team, personally raising $5,750 so far.
"Children's Hospital Boston is one of the best hospitals in the world," Corley said, "and anyone who has ever worked there or been treated themselves or if family or friends have been treated there know how special this place is."
"Meeting all these kids and their families and hearing their stories of what they have had to deal with and still fighting through and living their lives to the fullest provided me with all the motivation that I needed. I had a special patient partner, Linda, who helped push me through it all," she added.
All three runners said the atmosphere in Boston on Marathon Monday is unexplainable and a motivational factor in itself.
"Last year was the first year I actually went in to watch the marathon. I fell in love with the atmosphere of the crowd and runners, all different ages and running for different causes. I knew I wanted to be a part of it in one way or another," said first time marathon runner Ellen Naughton.
"Running down Boylston street with hundreds of people just screaming and cheering you on is such an amazing feeling. You get so overwhelmed with this sense of accomplishment that you just ran 26.2 miles. And of course so happy that you are done," said Corley.
"The atmosphere of the Boston Marathon is part of what keeps my coming back for more," added Reno.