Grace James and 12-year-old Maria found each other at the perfect moment.

By Faith Brar
Updated: March 20, 2018

Long-distance runner Grace James was not expecting to run the LA Marathon when she arrived in the city for a work trip. Last minute, she changed her mind and decided to just go for it. But while Grace is by no means a novice when it comes to running 26.2 miles, she hadn't quite trained for the race-and it's safe to say her body was feeling it as she started running. (Related: 26.2 Mistakes I Made While Training for My First Marathon So You Don't Have To)

What helped her push through to the end was an unexpected encounter with 12-year-old Maria. "During the last half of the marathon, I pulled over to stretch and this young lady asked to use my phone," Grace wrote alongside a photo of them together at the end of the race. "She called her mom and began crying because she was in so much pain from a broken toenail. Her mom coached her through and told her she had to finish. The roads were closed and there was no way to get to her."

"It was at that moment that I decided my finishing time didn't matter. I decided to walk the rest of the way with Maria," she wrote.

While Maria was shy and embarrassed in the beginning, she opened up when Grace started talking about music. "I asked her if she wanted to listen to music to help distract her from the pain," she wrote. (Here are the 17 things to expect during your first marathon.)

Grace learned that Maria's favorite music was from Hamilton, the musical that Grace helped market through her job at Atlantic Records. "Yesterday was a day where two of my worlds collided," Grace wrote. "While doing my absolute favorite thing (running), I was able to share a special moment with a young lady utilizing my other favorite thing (music)...and music I actually have a hand in! Sometimes in the music business, I question whether I make a difference in the world. And yesterday, that answer was a resounding YES."

The duo sang and rapped Hamilton loudly to the finish line with big smiles on their faces and their arms held high. "Her final words to me were, 'that went a lot faster than I thought it would. Thank you,'" Grace wrote. (Related: 12 Amazing Finish Line Moments)

And while she said she'd never run a marathon again without training, she was beyond grateful for the experience. "Feeling grateful for the gift of today, the gift of mobility, and the ability to casually run/walk 26.2 miles," she wrote. "Let's also give a round of applause for Maria who ran her first marathon at the age of 12." Seriously though!

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