PARKERSBURG -Amy File is about to tackle one of her most important endeavors.
It's a challenge which parallels her job description as a relationship manager for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
On Sunday morning, the 1997 Parkersburg South graduate will compete in the ING New York City Marathon.
"I've been training for about five months, and it's been amazing," File said. "I've not only seen physical and mental changes, but also experienced emotional situations.
"I've received a lot of support from mom and friends, and couldn't have done it without them."
A total of four individuals, including celebrity chef Richard Blais, are representing Team Healthier Generation. Their goal is to not only run their first marathon, but also raise awareness to help the fight against childhood obesity.
According to the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, West Virginia has the third most obese population in the country. File works with 10 counties and more than 100 schools in the Mountain State to combat this issue by increasing access to nutritious meals and physical activity for students and staff.
"Some kids don't know anything but video games," said File. "But when you talk about kayaking, hiking and biking they are amazed. They take it all in.
"I come from West Virginia; you can walk out your back door and it's like a big playground. We're trying to encourage kids to go out and play."
File played softball for Parkersburg South High School then continued her career at West Virginia State University. While in college, she studied health sciences, health promotion and wellness.
Before joining the Alliance, File was the youth markets manager at the American Heart Association for Northern West Virginia.
File's passion for her line of work is a carry-over from her father's (Mark) long and debilitating battle with diabetes. Before his death nine years ago, he lost both his hands and legs to amputation.
"Our family definitely knows the struggles of not leading the healthiest lifestyle," File said. "He was working shift work at Dupont and not eating right.
"I get up every day and that drives me to create a change around the state of West Virginia."
File has run The News and Sentinel Half Marathon the past two years, including a 13th place finish in her age group (female 30-34) this past summer. But preparing for the NYC Marathon has been a whole new experience.
She has set a personal goal of finishing in less than 4 hours. However, a recent hip injury has put a crimp in her training regimen. As a result, her workouts have been limited to deep water running at the YMCA.
Cortisone shots and acupuncture have helped in the recovery process.
"I've been willing to do about anything," File said. "It's pretty frustrating to have this happen so close to the race. All that hard work and not to be able to embrace and run to my full potential has been discouraging the past three weeks.
"But I have had tons of support and we will see what happens."
File left for New York City Friday and will meet with her team members today. Sunday's race will take runners through the five boroughs of New York City - Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. File is a anxious to see what the atmosphere of two million spectators provides.
Her cheering section will include her mother (Kathy), along with a handful of friends.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," File said. "I never considered myself a runner, but it's been a journey that I've learned a lot about myself.
"Hopefully, I've inspired some of my colleagues and some of my friends and family members to push themselves, and do something scary."