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Add "Runnin' Down a Dream' to Gleason's song list

Most people are aware running can help shed pounds. But how many run to improve their singing?

Jenny Gleason ran herself right into an audition for American Idol. She actually sang well, though she chose not to fly out to Las Vegas for the next step.

Gleason, 26, started running two years ago. A native of Jonesboro, Ark., Gleason has a full plate. She is married (husband Jonathan) with a 5-year-old son, Jacob. She teaches music at Seven Rivers Christian and sings in a Christian contemporary group, the Remnant, which recorded an album last summer.

The Saint Leo University graduate started running for the usual reasons.

"I wanted to lose some weight and some friends talked me into it," she said. "I lost 30 pounds in six months."

Gleason, also an assistant cross country coach at Seven Rivers, found running was loaded with benefits for her singing career.

"It definitely builds confidence," she said. "It has given me more lung capacity. I sing a lot louder. I have a much more powerful voice. It relieves stress."

Gleason said she auditioned for Idol at Greensboro, N.C., in October. And, no, she didn't get to see the famous folks at this audition.

"You have to make it through five rounds before you get to Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul," said Gleason, who is a second soprano and can sing alto as well.

"I sang Lean on Me. I thought I did really good. They suggested me flying to Vegas for further auditions. I didn't think that was conducive to being a teacher. I didn't think my bosses would go for that. I will do it again next year."

Singing in front of a national television audience isn't Gleason's ultimate goal.

"My biggest goal is to inspire kids to know they can do anything," she said. "I never thought I would be comfortable on stage. I hope through teaching and coaching, I can help these kids."

Gleason said she is really happy being a teacher but thinks God has something bigger in her future.

"I run every spare minute I have," she said. "I usually run 6 to 12 miles a day. I will run at the Gasparilla this year. I ran the 15K last year. It might be either the 15 or 5K.

Gleason, who said she can run a 22-minute 5K, may just run enough to have the lung capacity and confidence to be strutting her stuff next year before Simon, Randy and Paula.

CITRUS ROAD RUNNERS RACES: The next event is the Shamrock Scamper 5K March 4 in Inverness. The Road Runners will host the Citrus Summer Showdown 5K July 8 at Whispering Pines Park.

The Citrus Road Run 5K is Aug. 5 at Citrus Middle School. Beat the Sheriff will be in downtown Inverness on Sept. 30. The Jingle Bell 5K will be Dec. 9 in Inverness.

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