11/27/2012, 8:00am PST

Fair Oaks woman continues recovery in marathon debut

Nov. 27, 2012
For immediate release

Leslie Duket wanted a sense of normalcy, something to hold onto after enduring a cancer diagnosis, major surgery and chemotherapy.

She found what she was looking for in running.
The 48-year-old Fair Oaks social worker steps to the starting line of the 30th annual California International Marathon eager to continue her recovery from a challenging battle.

Duket was diagnosed with Stage IIc ovarian cancer in 2008. She underwent a hysterectomy and also had 39 lymph nodes and part of her stomach removed.

Chemotherapy ended in 2009.

“I was really, really scared and overwhelmed,” she said of her diagnosis. “I wasn’t sure I’d
live to see my 45th birthday.”

On Sunday, she takes on her first marathon.

“I’m a little nervous,” she said. “I also feel like I’m prepared for this. My goal is to finish and have fun.

“I have sort of a renewed respect for my body.”

Duket started running casually in the morning with a neighbor six months before her diagnosis. But fatigue was a regular companion.

Her running grew serious after chemotherapy and some strength training. She joined a Fleet Feet training group for the 2010 Urban Cow Half Marathon, which she finished in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 2 seconds.

“I wanted to see if I could do this,” Duket said. “I really felt building my physical strength would build my confidence. I signed up and just kind of went from there.

“Finishing a half marathon was a huge sense of accomplishment.”

So was doing those Wednesday night workouts in the summer heat. On one night, in particular, Duket embraced an epiphany.

“It was 100-degree weather and I thought, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ she said. “Irealized chemo is a lot worse than running in 100-degree weather.

“I thought, ‘I can do this.’”

And she did. Duket, who now appears to be cancer free, completed the Clarksburg Country Run Half Marathon in 2010, the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2011 and the Berlin Half Marathon in April.

“Somebody in our training group said, ‘We should do CIM,’” Duket said.

On Sunday, she will.

The CIM, which is expected to attract a field of 9,300 marathoners, 4,400 relay runners and 2,000 Kaiser maraFUNrun entrants, begins at 7 a.m.

The race is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

Other SRA events include the recently concluded Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.