Knowing that, when Duda sat in her handcycle at the starting line of the Boston Marathon, she didn't know how she would fare.
"There was a lot of nervousness, of course," she said. "I kept thinking, 'I'm just about to start the Boston Marathon.'"
That nervousness subsided as the race began and she set out on the course.
"The adrenaline is just pumping throughout your body," Duda recalled. "There were points of happiness, there were points of anger, there were points of sadness. It's an emotional roller coaster. But, you know that at that finish line that you've got people that love you so much that will be there. That's your focus - seeing them."
And, that focus brought her across the finish line third in the women's sub-division, with a time of 2:10:37, beating her time for the Vermont City Marathon by more than two minutes.
"It's an accomplishment; anytime you beat your personal best is always an accomplishment," she said.
Though Duda would have liked to take home the gold, or even bring her time below the 2:00 mark, for her, it's all about challenging herself to do better.
"I don't compete to get a pat on the back. I don't compete to hear people tell me I did a great job or tell me I'm an inspiration," Duda said. "Do I hope people can look at me and take what has happened to me and see how I have turned it around? Absolutely. I do it not only for myself, but so other people can realize that if anything tragic is to happen to them, that they can also overcome their challenge. It's basically starting a new chapter in a book."
The next chapter in Duda's book is one in which she hopes to someday compete in and complete an Ironman triathlon. For now, though, she plans to train for the next Vermont City Marathon, set for Sunday, May 29.
(Editor's Note: What do you think about Jillian Duda's participation in the Boson Marathon? Does it inspire you to do more? We want to know! Comment on this story on our Web site, www.the-burgh.com.)