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St. John's coach Barnes Arico to run NYC Marathon

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NEW YORK (AP)

St. John's women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico has had a lifelong dream of running the New York City Marathon. She'll get her chance Sunday.

''It was on my bucket list, I always wanted to do it,'' she said. ''I never thought in a million years I'd get to do it. I threw my name in the lottery and I got picked. It might be a once in a lifetime gig.''

Barnes Arico will join roughly 45,000 runners - including former New York Rangers great Mark Messier, Olympic softball star Jenny Finch, and Olympic short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno - for the 26.2 mile run.

The 41-year-old coach was looking for a new challenge. She played basketball at Stony Brook, helping lead the Seawolves to the Division III NCAA tournament in 1989. As she's gotten older it's been tougher to find competitive games.

''I always have run just to stay in shape and the last couple years I feel like I'm not playing as much basketball as I used to,'' she said. ''I needed something competitive for me other than coaching and this is something to do that gets the juices flowing.''

Barnes Arico has always been a runner, competing for the William Floyd cross country team in high school. When she first started training for the marathon in June she had a goal time in mind, but a knee injury in August derailed thoughts of achieving that time.

''I went to the doctor and said people know I'm doing this and I can't not show up,'' Barnes Arico said. ''I've been getting acupuncture, which is making me able to run again. To just finish, that's my goal now.''

Barnes Arico expects the last 10 miles to be the toughest and she plans on having a support system. Her Red Storm team, ranked 25th in the AP preseason Top 25 poll, will be out there to cheer her on and maybe even run a mile or two alongside.

''I hear the atmosphere is unbelievable and that will hopefully help me the last 10 miles,'' she said. ''I'll need them right before I get back into Manhattan.''

Junior Shenneika Smith recalled how one practice after coach had gone for a long run she was sitting in a chair and looked exhausted.

''Usually she's always up moving around with us,'' Smith said. ''You can tell she was tired. I'm excited for her as it's great having a coach who can do that. She's a great role model for us.''

Barnes Arico has used her marathon training to help teach her team some lessons. After a hard practice the Red Storm were just about to run sprints.

''The kids were lined up at the baseline and Nadirah (McKenith) was like I don't know if I can do this, I'll try'' she said. ''I said when I have to run 26 miles in a couple weeks I can't go up to the starting line and say I'll try. What are the chances I'll be successful then. So much is mental. I'm going to do this and I will be there.''

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Follow Doug Feinberg at http://twitter.com/dougfeinberg.

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