BOSTON (CBS) – “I absolutely think I have a shot at winning.”

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Those are the words of confidence coming from Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan as she gets set to run her first Boston Marathon next week.

And why not? It’s what Flanagan has been doing since she started running as a little girl.

“Probably in fourth or fifth grade we had a physical fitness test. We had to run a mile, and I beat all the boys,” she remembers. “I thought ‘I kind of like this; I kind of like beating boys.’ That’s where the spark was lit, in grade school.”

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It started with just a mile, and now Shalane says she’s addicted to the marathon. There’s been a lot of success along the way, but it’s been a process.

“When I was little I couldn’t even fathom running 26 miles. But it’s something you chip away at. You make yourself a marathoner, you dedicate the time. There is nothing easy about it, but that’s what the beauty is; it’s a challenge.”

It’s been nearly 30 years since an American finished first in Boston – and that history isn’t lost on Flanagan. She cheered the runners along the course as a young girl, and now she’s ready to make some noise on the course.

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“Just showing that I can compete with the East Africans who typically dominate these marathons… just showing that I can be a factor and a presence on a world stage – that’s inspiring,” she said. “What better place to perform, and win, than my home course?”

But she knows all too well the expectations that come with being a hometown favorite.

“Boston loves their sports. I don’t want to get any boos,” she said with a chuckle. “They love to boo just as much as they love to cheer their athletes and their teams. I’ve been to plenty of Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots games to know.”

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Flanagan has competed around the world, but home is clearly where her heart is.

“To me, the Boston Marathon is just pouring your heart out. I’ll be thinking to not give an inch, own the course and just pour everything I have into that performance that day.”

Flannagan has been joking with her running coach that if she wins Boston, she will retire the very next day. She admitted that won’t happen, but winning the Boston Marathon would mean that much to her.

And it would certainly mean a lot to Marathon fans to see a hometown girl wearing the champion’s wreath at Copley Square.

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Tune in to the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 on WBZ-TV, the only station with start-to-finish coverage of the race!