When 25,000 of the country's best marathoners line up at the starting line of the revered Boston Marathon in April, Johnstown's Cindy Warner will take her place among them.

When 25,000 of the country's best marathoners line up at the starting line of the revered Boston Marathon in April, Johnstown's Cindy Warner will take her place among them.

For the 45-year-old mother of three, it's just one more opportunity to show herself what she's made of.

"It's just me out there, proving to myself I can go farther or faster than I went before," Warner said.

She ran her first marathon in Columbus three years ago, alongside her friend and running buddy Deb Michel. The busy, working moms had set out to prove that the old excuse, "I don't have time for that" was nothing but a cop-out.

In an interview following that race, Warner said she would continue running but that another full marathon wasn't something she was excited about. She had crossed that first finish line in the worst pain of her life, she had said.

So she didn't run a marathon the following year. The year after that, she and Michel ran the half-marathon in Columbus, but the event proved anti-climactic for her.

"I felt like I wasn't meeting a goal," she admits. "So then I wanted to prove to myself I could run a full marathon and actually feel good at the end."

The duo got down to training again and completed the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pa. Warner went on to run the half-marathon in Chicago this past September as part of her training for the full race in Columbus in October and, ironically, as a "birthday treat" for herself.

"I'd never been to Chicago, so my husband (Brad) and I made a three-day weekend of it. When I tell people the half marathon was a little birthday gift to myself, they look at me like I'm crazy," she laughs.

Warner works as a personal trainer at the New Albany Country Club. Before she teaches a boot camp on Friday mornings, she logs five or six miles to warm up.

"My husband calls me sick," she said.

At the start of this latest Columbus Marathon, Warner said qualifying for Boston was not even a goal. A 45-year-old woman would have to complete the race in less than four hours and 59 seconds to qualify. "I went in just wanting to improve on my old time," she said. "Then I hit mile 20 and realized that I not only hadn't hit a wall yet, but that my time was good. I sped up. It's the first time I've run one where I was faster in the second half than the first. In the last two miles, it occurred to me I might qualify."

And she did, with a finishing time of four hours, 11 seconds.

Michel signed up for a spring marathon, as well, so the running partners could continue to train together through winter something Warner admits is not fun. She runs when it's "cold, dreary, windy, snowy," she says. She also bought a treadmill, because "the cold might be okay, but ice and snow doesn't work on the bike path."

Warner says running is what keeps her sane as she not only works and trains, but also keeps up with three active kids: Brayden (16), Sophia (12) and Noah (8). Though she hopes to be an example to them, her kids aren't big on running, she says with a smile.

"Brayden runs to train for soccer, but that's it. He hates it. He can, however, beat me in a mile run and is very proud of that."

The Boston Marathon, the country's oldest and most prestigious marathon, takes place on Monday, April 19. The course takes participants through a series of eight cities and towns and ends in Boston's Back Bay.