This Runner Qualified for the Olympics After Completing Her First Marathon *Ever*
Molly Seidel, a 25-year-old barista and babysitter, battled countless injuries, an eating disorder, and struggles with mental health to get to where she is today.
Molly Seidel, a Boston-based barista and babysitter, ran her first marathon in Atlanta on Saturday at the 2020 Olympic Trials. She is now one of three runners who will represent the U.S. women's marathon team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 25-year-old athlete finished the 26.2-mile race in a whopping 2 hours 27 minutes and 31 seconds, running at an impressive 5:38-minute pace. Her finishing time put her second behind Aliphine Tuliamuk, by just seven seconds. Fellow runner Sally Kipyego came in third. Together, all three women will represent the U.S. at the 2020 Olympic Games.
In an interview with the New York Times, Seidel admitted that she didn't have high expectations going into the race.
"I had no idea what this was going to be like," she told the NYT. "I didn't want to oversell it and put way too much pressure on, knowing how competitive the field was going to be. But talking with my coach, I didn't want to phone it in just because it was my first one." (Related: Why This Elite Runner Is OK with Never Making It to the Olympics)
Even though Saturday marked her first marathon, Seidel has been a competitive runner for most of her life. She's not only won the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, but she also has three NCAA titles, earning championships in the 3,000-, 5,0000-, and 10,000-meter races.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 2016, Seidel was offered multiple sponsorship deals to go pro. Ultimately, though, she turned down every opportunity to focus on overcoming an eating disorder, as well as struggles with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Seidel told Runner's World. (Related: How Running Helped Me Conquer My Eating Disorder)
"Your long-term health is more important," she told the publication. "For people who are right in the middle of it, that's the worst thing. It's going to take a lot of time. I'm probably going to deal with [these mental health issues] for the rest of my life. You have to treat it with the gravity that it demands."
Seidel has had her bouts with injuries, too. As a result of her eating disorder, she developed osteopenia, Seidel told Runner's World. The condition, a precursor to osteoporosis, develops as a result of having much lower bone density than the average person, making you more susceptible to fractures and other bone injuries. (Related: How I Learned to Appreciate My Body After Countless Running Injuries)
In 2018, Seidel's running career was sidelined again: She suffered a hip injury that required surgery, and the procedure has since left her with "residual nagging pain," according to Runner's World.
Still, Seidel refused to give up on her running dreams, reentering the world of competitive running after recovering from all of her setbacks. After a few strong half marathon performances on the road to Atlanta, Seidel finally qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Antonio, Texas, in December 2019. (Related: How Nike Is Bringing Sustainability to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics)
What happens in Tokyo is TBD. For now, Seidel is holding Saturday's victory close to her heart.
"I can't put into words the happiness, gratitude, and sheer shock I'm feeling right now," she wrote on Instagram following the race. "Thank you to everyone out there cheering yesterday. It was incredible to run 26.2 miles and not hit a silent spot along the whole course. I will never forget this race as long as I live."