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Norwalk Woman Enjoys Life on the Run

NORWALK, Conn. – Dawn Bolling’s distance running career started 28 years ago in the Army, of all places. She stopped briefly but picked it up again 12 years ago.

Her running career now includes more than 500 races, with 26 marathons, and more on the way. The Norwalk woman will be one of more than 300 runners on the starting line for Sunday’s Boston Buildup 10-kilometer run at Brien McMahon High School. The 10k is the first of a four-race series to help runners prepare for Boston and other spring marathons.

“The Boston Buildup is a great motivation through the winter,’’ said Bolling, who will run the Long Island Marathon in May. “I look forward to it every year.”

Bolling picked up running when she went to basic training. Most of the other women hated it. “We had to run 2 miles in basic training, and then I ran even more on my own,’’ she said. “I would just keep going around the base, and everyone would see me. They’d say, ‘How many times have you gone around?’ They were in awe.’’

When Bolling returned to Norwalk, she became part of the running community by attending races. In large part, the camaraderie of runners keeps her motivated. “It’s really like a big family,’’ she said. “You get to see the same people every weekend.”

Last year alone, Bolling ran in 63 races, almost all of them in Fairfield County. She ran everything from 5Ks to half marathons. She participated in the summer series races in Norwalk, Westport and New Canaan, and won her age group several times.

Her accomplishments include two New York City Marathons and six marathons in one year in 2006. Her best is a 4:12 marathon in Mystic in 2004.

The key for Bolling is consistency. She has not had any serious injuries, and she finds her pace and sticks to it. “If you’d like to run a marathon with me tomorrow, I could do it, and it will be right around 4 hours and 30 minutes,’’ Bolling said.

The training for such an ambitious schedule is not easy. Bolling admits some races are casual training runs. The bulk of her training, however, is done in the predawn hours. Even on a day such as Wednesday, when temperatures reached single digits, Bolling stuck to her workout. “It took me a little bit to get going Wednesday,’’ she said. “I don’t think I’m as fearless as I used to be.  I still know that I have to do it. That’s how I keep at it.”

Bolling writes about her training on her blog, called Life On The Run. She is thankful for the race directors who provide so many opportunities. She also draws inspiration from her friends in the Fairfield County running community and embraces older runners who still frequent races well into their 60s and 70s. “They are my biggest inspiration,’’ she said. “Not only them, but all of the runners who are out there every week.”

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