When Shannon Chenoweth first joined her running group, she showed immediately she was not frightened by the unknown.
"She didn't know the routes very well, and I believe it was her first season," running mate Molly Novosad said. "She actually got lost, so she got the nickname Dora the Explorer, because she would just go off and find her own little, new path."
Chenoweth always did.
If Chenoweth wasn't into exploration, she wouldn't have become a comic-book publisher, lost 80 pounds, started a running blog ("The Girl's Got Sole") or run five marathons. No. 6 was Sunday at the New York City Marathon. Chenoweth, ran it in support of 261 Fearless.
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The nonprofit organization, founded by Kathrine Switzer, strives to empower women through running. Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a bib number – 261 – in 1967.
"We are all about educating women and getting women out there to move and realize that they are stronger than they thought they could be," said Deborah Mills, events coordinator of 261 Fearless.
Chenoweth, 35, did not unlock her strength through running until, encouraged by the weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser," she was inspired to become a much smaller version of herself several years ago. She joined a five-kilometer program for beginning runners, and away she went.
Using a method that mixes running and walking, she completed her first marathon in Jacksonville in February 2013.
"It was like 30s with the wind chill, and I remember thinking, 'What did I get myself into?' " Chenoweth said.
The payoff came at the finish line.
"I just felt every emotion," Chenoweth said. "Marathons are such a different beast. I remember I was smiling, then I would cry. Everything comes out of you."
Chenoweth finished the New York City Marathon in six hours and 50 minutes. It was the world's largest 26.2-mile race, for the second time in three years. This year's field drew in a field of about 50,000 runners, including Switzer.
According to Running USA, 44 percent of the more than 507,000 marathon finishers – about 223,000 – last year were women.
"She's a group leader, so she is very encouraging to the rest of us," said Lourdes Prince, who runs in Chenoweth's group. "She keeps in touch through email and Facebook. I had a left-knee injury, and every once in a while, she checks up on me.
"She said she would walk with me if I couldn't run."
Chenoweth, who works with prior authorizations for a specialty pharmacy, used to give her creative side a workout as a comic-book creator.
One was called "The Line," about a police officer who was passed some powers after her partner died. Another was a teen super-hero story called Hypersonic.
Chenoweth is no super hero, just one determined road warrior.
"When you're running, you see the best and worst out of people," she said. "You're getting to see them in real life. There's something to be said for pushing people beyond their limits. There's an encouragement, and it becomes a sisterhood."
Chenoweth relies on that knowledge every step of the way.