BLOOMFIELD — Running the Boston Marathon has always been a goal for Bloomfield resident Brenda Brown.
Brown took a step toward that target when, in October 2013, she qualified for the marathon by running Albuquerque's Duke City Marathon in 3 hours and 27 minutes.
And now she's on the cusp of making her dream come true. Brown, a 43-year-old Mesa Alta Junior High School Navajo culture and language teacher, left San Juan County on Thursday to travel to Boston for the annual marathon on Monday.
She is one of three San Juan County residents entered in the year's marathon. Kristin Allen, 40, and Heather King, 41, both of Farmington, are also on the list of runners.
To qualify for this year's Boston Marathon, the three women had to run a marathon in 2013 in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes. Last October, Allen ran the St. George Marathon in Utah in 3 hours 26 minutes, and King ran the Tucson marathon in December in 3 hours 27 minutes.
King planned to run the Boston Marathon last year but dropped out when she injured her calf during training, she told The Daily Times last year. She was sitting at home when she heard the news that a bomb at the marathon had killed three people and injured more than 250. Brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are accused carrying out the attack.
After the bombing, King told The Daily Times the attack didn't change her determination to compete in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
The bombing also didn't deter Brown from the 26.2-mile race. Brown says she is more concerned about finishing the marathon. She said she only thinks about the bombing when people talk about it.
"I do feel for those people who were injured," she said.
As for feeling safe, Brown, who usually runs alone, reminded her husband, who is a little worried about his wife running this year, that during the marathon she will be surrounded by other runners.
Brown's dream of running in Boston began 20 years ago after she finished her first marathon in Tulsa, Okla., at age 21.
"It's been a long road," Brown said.
Her love of running began when she was a child.
"In our culture, one of our beliefs is that we're not allowed to sleep when the sun's up," Brown said.
So, Brown recalled, her mother would wake her before dawn and instruct her to go run.
The mother of two teenagers said the only time in her life when she didn't run was during one of her pregnancies. She managed to still run through the other pregnancy.
Every morning, Brown gets up to train. Her neighbor's dog, Blackie, runs beside her, and her husband follows behind in a car to make sure she's safe.
Running demands sacrifices, and Brown says she has missed family events because of it.
"It is a selfish activity," she said.
But her family remains supportive. Her two sons, ages 16 and 19, have cheered on their mom at many races, and Brown's husband traveled with her to Boston.
Wednesday was Brown's last long run before the marathon. She ran eight miles that morning and has been resting since.
"My body wanted to do more, but I said no," she said.
Brown's desire to run the Boston Marathon stems partly from its prestige. Runners have described it as a tough course, and Brown wants to experience it for herself.
Brown keeps a list of marathons she wants to complete. Boston was the final one on her list, behind marathons in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix. But when she qualified for the Boston Marathon, Brown said she was happy to break the order.
Although she hopes to finish the marathon in less than 3 hours and 30 minutes, Brown said she isn't aiming for a specific time.
"I'm just going to race with my own shadow," she said.