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Blankenship with students at Tallassee Elementary

Blankenship completes Boston Marathon

By Michael Butler

Julie Blankenship teaches English as a second language at Tallassee Elementary School. She also runs marathons.

Last week, Blankenship ran the Boston Marathon, completing the 26.2 mile trek in four and half hours.

"It was an amazing experience," she said. "If I could compare it to anything, it was a 26.2 mile block party. The streets were lined with people cheering."

The TES students showed their support as well.

"They do the 50-mile club. Now they all want me to come run with them," she said. "For the kids that run around the track, if we run around it 107 times that's how long it was."

Blankenship receiving her medal during the 2012 Tallassee Now! 5K

Growing up in Florence, Blankenship was on the cross-country team but not one of the top runners on her high school squad.

"I was the one at the back who the coach would yell, 'Pick up the cones as you come in.'"

Fellow runner Barry Parker trains with Blankenship and saw her potential.

"He noticed as I was keeping up with him that I might have more talent than I thought I did," she said.

Parker added, "There's a thing called VO2 Max about how you can take in air and turn it in to energy. By that, I could see she had something special. The guy that looked at that said, 'She could beat you, if she would train harder.'"

Blankenship, who is 42, narrowly missed the Boston Marathon qualifying time by one minute in a qualifier in Pensacola, Fla. She hit her mark four months later in Albany, Ga.

"In Albany, Barry was at the finish line and I nearly collapsed," she noted. "He picked me up. Tears were rolling down my face. People were coming up and asking, 'Are you okay?' I said, 'Absolutely.' He said, 'Congratulations on a BQ,' which is Boston Qualifying Time."

Blankenship in Boston

Hitting the "wall" at Boston came approximately at mile 17. "You have five consecutive hills," she said. "They call one of them "Heartbreak Hill." It's grueling."

30,000 runners turned out for the 120th running of the Boston Marathon, three years after the bombings that killed six and injured 280.

"Some of the bomb victims were running. I did see several of them. It was emotional. After the bombings, I made that my goal to prove that you can come and terrorize, but we're going to keep running."

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