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Friday, January 18, 2002
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald

Popalis is preparing for Boston Marathon
Staff Writer

SHENANDOAH - Imagine all the people in the world who have ever decided to start a project and later realized that it was one of the greatest ideas they ever considered.

Just a whim, like going out for your high school football team with no experience and having a scholarship offer at the end of your senior year to one of the best colleges in the country.

Renee Popalis decided that she wanted to give running a try and as she put it, "all you need is a pair of sneakers."

Eleven years after she began running for the Cardinal Brennan cross country team, she's now preparing to run one of the biggest races of her life - the Boston Marathon.

On a day when Americans have to file in their annual income tax returns, April 15, Popalis will have other things to contend with as she takes part in this legendary race.

"I just want to finish and enjoy the experience of being there," said Popalis, who has an added twist to her running.

Her husband, Matthew, and her younger brother, Brian, both plan to run with Popalis to keep her company and help motivate her along the route.

At the Philadelphia Marathon held Nov. 18, Brian, who resides in Queens, N.Y., ran the first 14 miles, and her husband the last 12.

Because of it, Renee achieved the necessary time to qualify for Boston.

"I needed to finish in 3 hours, 40 minutes," said Racis, who lives in Bloomsburg. "I finished with a 3:30.03 and was really happy that I brought my time down from 3:45."

Popalis has begun her training regimen by running 20-24 miles in one week, then incorporates speed work in another to build endurance.

Some of the races she's participated in include the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon in Virgina Beach, the Atlantic City Marathon, the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton and the Runner's World Half Marathon in Allentown.

Like most things, though, Popalis wasn't the greatest runner when she started, nor did she have much endurance.

"You've got to start somewhere," added Popalis. "When I first started, I couldn't run a mile without stopping.

"I guess you just have to get into a certain mindset and go ahead and try it. You have got to start somewhere and just take it day-by-day."

A simple but easy phrase, along with encouraging parents, brother and husband, have allowed Popalis to forge ahead in overcoming what some may call overwhelming odds.

"My parents, Matthew and Brian have all been great with everything," said Popalis. "I enjoy fundraising for the different events, such as the Team in Training for Leukemia' and Courage for Cancer.'

"It's a lot of fun and I enjoy running."

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