Marathon runner receives inspiration from those who knew her best

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Marathon runner receives inspiration from her family, Deborah Wrigley reports.

For each of the more than 10,000 runners in the Chevron Houston Marathon Sunday, there's a story to tell.

This is not about an elite runner, but a name you might not have heard before.

Donna Herrera Bell is 39-years-old and she barely met her self-imposed goal of running the marathon by the time she turned 40.

As a child in New Jersey, she was a young spectator at the New York Marathon. It inspired her to run herself.

In recent years, she ran two of the half marathons at the event. She intended to run the full 26.2 miles last year, but a respiratory infection in 2015 postponed that.

For months, she's been in training for the event.

"I've done 20 miles, but 26? That was no man's land for me. I didn't know what to expect," she said.

She, her husband and their 2 young children spent Saturday night at the Hilton Americas, so she could walk to the starting line. What she called no man's land was something far different.

"Houston showed up for all of us," she said. "I was given food and drinks by people I didn't even know. People along the route handed out pretzels and cut-up bananas."

Despite the provision and support, the event was grueling.

"The last mile I had to force myself to the finish line. When I started to fade, I got texts from sweet friends, telling me to keep going. I was never running alone," she added.

That faded when she saw her husband and kids at the finish line, yelling her name. She paused, hugged them and crossed the line.

She now has a marathon medal, and... one very sore leg. "It's common for runners," she said. Bell is also a healthcare professional.

She ran to meet her own goal, but she also ran for her children, to reinforce the message of good health, as well as a metaphor for life.

"My daughter was asking me if I was going to win Sunday, and I said no honey. I'm not going to win but I'm going to finish. I wanted them to learn just because something is hard doesn't mean you put it off," Bell said.

Maybe that's the kind of win that counts.
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