The Columbus attorney remembered her college days at Valparaiso, when spur-of-the-moment ideas would set the body into motion.

Kirsten Bouthier, now 54, laughed when she recalled the time she entered a half-marathon in Wheaton, Illinois.

“I had never run one before, but I was in shape and I figured, ‘Why not?’” she said, as her facial expression broke into a grimace. “The night after I ran, I went to Chinatown (in Chicago), and I could barely walk. I was so sore.

“I didn’t train properly … so I learned that proper training is essential.”

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As Bouthier moved into her 20s and 30s, she went from running 5K events to mini-marathons.

Then, earlier this year, she had another spur-of-the-moment thought. It was one that could cause her more pain.

Bouthier decided to enter the Mill Race Marathon. The full marathon.

“I guess I am doing it for the challenge and the social part,” she said. “I like competing in the races where you are surrounded by people but you don’t know who they are. Everyone is on their own pace.

“It makes you push yourself.”

She will be pushing herself twice as far as ever before. The farthest she has run is the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

“It’s partly to prove to myself that I can do it,” she said.

Bouthier will write a diary about her training and her struggles as she prepares for the Mill Race Marathon. Her first diary item will be published next Sunday in the Republic and will then every other week through the marathon.

Although Bouthier is a rookie marathoner and will be documenting the challenges that surround her, she has loved to run since she was a child.

“I always was a fast runner,” she said of her childhood. “I just liked it.

“But I’ve always believed in using your body to its greatest potential. Running is something that we are meant to do.”

If running short distances comes natural, she knows that distance running does not. She signed up for the Mill Race Marathon’s free 17-week training program taught by Alejandro Contreras.

“I feel like I am in decent shape,” said Bouthier, who loves yoga and has competed in triathlons. “But I want to get into better shape, and I like the group with Alejandro. Normally, I wouldn’t get up on Saturday morning to go running. It forces you to push yourself, and I like the camaraderie.”

She hopes she isn’t pushing herself into a train wreck. What does she fear most?

“I guess hitting the wall,” she said about reaching the marathon’s late stages when fatigue rips apart a runner’s will to continue. “And also that it will be really hot. I worry a little about cramping.

“My goal is just to finish. I am a plodder.”

Whether or not she plods, she will be prepared, unlike her first mini-marathon in college. She is enjoying her workouts.

“I like the alone time, the solitude,” she said of her individual runs. She also runs Saturday mornings with the training group and Tuesday evenings at the Central Middle School track, where the group works on shorter distances and more speed.

“It is a faster running tempo that pushes you beyond your comfort zone,” she said.

She wanted to get out of her comfort zone the past two years in the first two Mill Race Marathons, but she said other obligations kept her from running.

Nothing stood in her way this year, however.

“I’ve always wanted to run one,” she said. “Why not now? This partly is to prove to myself that I can do it.

“I feel young, and I have a hard time believing that I am 54. I’ve battled some hamstring issues and a knee injury but no big injuries. I am crossing my fingers that I can do this without injury.”

Kirsten Bouthier

AGE: 54

HIGH SCHOOL: Watseka High School (1979), Watseka, Illinois

COLLEGE: Valparaiso University (1983)

PROFESSION: Attorney

CHILDREN: Bente, 18; Nina, 17

RUNNING CAREER: Ran track in high school; started running 5Ks in her 20s, started competing in mini-marathons in her late 30s; The Mill Race Marathon will be her first full marathon; her top half-marathon time is 2:17

Follow Bouthier's diary

Kirsten Bouthier, whose first full marathon will be in Columbus, will write a training diary for the July 12 edition of The Rundown, and it will publish every other week leading up to the Sept. 26 Mill Race Marathon.