Molly Seidel has defied precedent to run her way into the sports history books.
On Saturday, the 25-year-old athlete took part in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in Atlanta, where she came in second place with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 31 seconds, according to USA Today. The performance wasn’t only impressive because it meant Seidel secured a spot on the Olympic roster — it was also her first official marathon attempt.
“I definitely did not expect to be up here,” Seidel — who works as a barista — said afterward, according to the outlet. “I wasn’t paying attention to the miles or pace and just going off feel, and when we made our move I just wanted to keep running the pace I felt good at. … The last part definitely hurt but it was calming to know it’s supposed to feel like this. It’s okay to hurt; it’s not okay to stop.”
She added: “A lot of it was trying to keep my emotions steady because it was a high tension situation.”
Reflecting on the feat, Seidel wrote on Instagram on Sunday that she “can’t put into words the happiness, gratitude, and sheer shock I’m feeling right now.”
“Thank you to my family and friends for coming to Atlanta to support me, and for supporting me in all the other less-glamorous moments,” she wrote in the caption. “These are the people that drove me to XC meets, made me PBJs, picked me up when I fell, and now get to share this incredible joy with me.”
Seidel also thanked her coach for helping her train for her first marathon — and for “being just as dumb as I am to think I could go out and compete in the marathon Olympic trials,” she joked.
“I will never forget this race as long as I live,” she concluded the post.
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Speaking with Runner’s World last month — for a piece in which she also opens up about her struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and undergoing treatment for disordered eating — Seidel was trying to stay realistic about the trials where she would soon make history.
“You never really know what it’s gonna be like until you get there,” she said at the time. “It’s going to be an unknown of what your body can do. Keep an open mind and know how much it’s going to hurt, and be prepared for that amount of pain.”
Seidel — who qualified for the trials with her half marathon time in December — added: “Tenth to 20th range would be a good day for me. All of these women are really good and have the times [to back it up]. I want to go out and be realistic, but not count myself out.”