A 50-year-old woman has qualified for the Olympic running trials

Few things are as inspiring as seeing Olympic hopefuls realize their dreams of competing in the big games. And even more inspiring? Seeing athletes shatter preconceived notions about who can meet those qualifications.

That’s why we’re cheering for Molly Friel, a longtime marathon runner from Fresno, California, whose latest marathon time earned her a spot in the Olympic trials. At the age of 50, Friel is the second-oldest woman to qualify for the Olympic races. As someone who’s been running for three decades, it seems fitting that she’s finally getting the chance to compete in the Olympic games.

According to Runner’s World, Friel ran in the California International Marathon last month with a running time of two hours, 43 minutes, and 57 seconds. Her time earned her the chance to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials by just over one minute. Back in 1984, Sister Marion Irvine qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials at the age of 54, which reportedly inspired women around the globe to pursue running and marathon training.

And Friel’s impressive time is no accident. She ran 90 to 100 miles a week to train for her latest marathon, sometimes running twice a day.

As for her other secrets to success, Friel admits that she never cross-trained and hates stretching. But if you think she subsists on protein shakes and steamed veggies, think again. Of her diet, Friel quips, “I eat a lot of crap. I like junk food. I like candy. I like cookies,” and says that if her husband isn’t around, she’d love to eat cereal for dinner. (Same!)

Plus, Friel loves to run with her dogs (could this lady get any cooler?). Her coach, Ian Torrance, said, “The easy runs are supposed to be easy; they should be enjoyable. The only way you’re going to get through a marathon cycle like that is to enjoy your running. For Molly, that’s running with her pups.”

Friel admits that though she’s been running for years, she still gets nervous right before a race, saying, “I get pretty worked up. That hasn’t changed. I’ve been like that since I was 20.” She also says she ultimately loves the training more than the end result.

We can’t wait to see Friel at the Olympic trials — we’ll be cheering her on every step of the way!

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