RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician University rising sophomore Giana DiTonto (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst) achieved a personal goal when she completed the New Jersey Marathon on May 1. While a lofty achievement for any 19-year-old, the accomplishment was especially notable for DiTonto for her unique approach to running.
DiTonto is a midfielder on the Felician women's soccer team. She was a member of the track & field team at Lyndhurst High, but does not like to look at running as a competitive endeavor.
"I took to running in high school; I found it relaxing," she said. "It's a hobby for me – some people bake, I run. I just wanted to go the extra distance to see if I could do it."
DiTonto chose the New Jersey Marathon as her first 26.2-mile test not only due to the proximity, but because the race does not have qualifying standards. "It's an open race," she said, "but there are pace standards you need to meet during the race in order to be allowed to keep competing."
The open, relaxed nature of the New Jersey marathon seemed to fit in well with DiTonto's training regimen. She decided to dispense with enlisting the help of a coach, preferring a self-guided four-month training program she found on a Google search. After coming up with a preferred pace per mile and doing some quick math, she came up with a goal for the race of four hours, 15 minutes.
She exceeded her expectations by completing the Monmouth County course in 3:57.22. DiTonto finished 809th overall among 1,950 entrants, including 239th out of 797 women.
"Around miles 21 to 23, I thought that this was the worst idea I've ever had," she said. "But getting to the end is so rewarding."
DiTonto, who routinely logs three daily miles in the fall over and above the running involved in soccer training, has her eyes set on a new goal.
"The Boston Marathon in 2017 is the next goal I have," she said. "But I have to drop 20 minutes in order to meet the qualifying standard. I will probably need a coach for that."
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,100 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.