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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Being a parent can be a real marathon

If there is a parental chant, it's probably: Do as I say, not as I do.

But that didn't satisfy Mary Sabin.

This explains why the 43-year-old, whose idea of exercise has historically been 20 minutes on a Stairmaster, faithfully trained for her goal to run today in the Glass City Marathon.

Explained Mary, the mother of sixth-grader Kate:

"I make her crazy. I tell her that attitude is everything. I tell her that a million times a week, and I was looking for a way to make it tangible."

Granted, the Perrysburg marketing executive admits she's a "cheerful, chatty" morning person - maybe hitting the pavement at 5 a.m. isn't as grim for her as might be for those of us who require a solid hour with the coffeepot before speaking.

But, still.

"I would run a block, walk a block, run a block, walk a block. I started really slowly and built on it. I think part of it is, I run so early that I'm half asleep and don't know what's happening. "

Out the door on East Second Street to East South Boundary, over to Front, onto Hickory.

A three-mile loop, repeated as often as the day's training schedule required.

Over the last year, Mary's gone from chirpy platitudes over dinner ("You can do anything you set your mind to!") to concrete lessons in persistence. Kate, her daughter, got the picture.

She sets out mom's Gatorade and asks about the day's mileage. And Kate practices her soccer moves with determination and tackles new piano pieces methodically.

Mary's achievement came about the low-tech way. No personal trainer. No fancy treadmill. No high-tech gadgetry beyond her iPod, filled with Motown tunes.

"When I made the decision to run the race, I bought a book, 4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon. It was simple and to the point. It gave you little schedules, told you what to eat, what to wear."

The book's first sentence: Running is the easiest exercise to master.

Maybe so.

But marathon-running is intimidating, and Mary confessed to moments of discouragement.

"But I set a goal, and I wanted to be successful. And I was keeping Kate in the back in my mind. But I think I was starting to panic as it was getting closer, frankly."

Mary's solution was to double-dare herself: She decided to use the marathon as a fund-raiser and did enough arm-twisting to raise pledges of at least $8,000 for the Toledo-Lucas County Furniture Bank.

"I picked the bank because it symbolizes what I'm trying to do, start from nothing," said Mary, a board member.

The furniture bank, a new nonprofit, is a little-engine-that-could, beginning with little more than founder Paula Massey's good idea.

It has scraped and scrounged for every single penny, and recently ended its first year having exceeded its projected level of service.

"It's been really inspirational for me," said Mary, "and also, in trying to prove something to Kate, I think I've proved something to myself."



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