Posted on 2/5/2019 3:22:39 PM
Molly Bookmyer loves running. LOVES. IT. Distance running is her specialty, she’s really good at it.
On January 20, 2019 in Houston, Molly qualified for the Olympic Trials for the women’s marathon in Atlanta in 2020. (BTW: a marathon is 26.2 miles; a half marathon is 13.1 miles; a 10K is 6.2 miles and a 5K is 3.1 miles.)
Molly’s journey to the trials wasn’t an easy one. They rarely are. Hers was peppered with challenges and roadblocks that tested her strength, determination and resilience.
Molly is a store planner in DSW's women’s seasonal business and has been with DSW since 2015. She’s been a runner her whole life, competing in high school (Brecksville-Broadview Heights High in Cleveland) and for three years on the varsity team at the Ohio State University.
During her time at OSU, she struggled with injuries and didn’t run her senior year. After graduating in 2013, she took some time away from running. In January 2015, she learned she had a brain tumor, which required two major surgeries that year. It took her a while to get back into running, but her love of the sport got her back on the road.
In the fall of 2016, Molly ran a full marathon, finishing in 3:20. She continued to train and shaved 20 minutes off her time at the 2017 Toledo Marathon.
Things looked like they were coming together: she was feeling healthy and looking forward to her wedding later that year. Unfortunately, after their honeymoon, her husband Eric was diagnosed with cancer. But after going through treatment, he is healthy again, often riding his bike with Molly on her training runs.
For the past two years, Molly has focused on improving her time, with the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. To qualify, she needed to finish a marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes or less.
She continued to improve, step by step, and finished the Duluth Marathon in 2:46, missing qualifying by one minute. “When I realized that all I needed was to shave off one minute from my time, I knew I could really do it,” she said.
Molly found a coach and support from Fleet Feet Running Store in Columbus. The training and support, along with her persistence and commitment to improvement helped her to finish the Houston Marathon in 2:44, qualifying her for the Olympic Trials.
On February 29, 2020, Molly will join an elite group of women distance runners at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta. She’s one of 200 or so women who will compete for three positions on the U.S. team for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. She has a year to train and continue to improve her time, and she’s ready for the challenge.
The women at the top of the sport, those who finish a marathon around 2:28 and go to the Olympics, are professional, full-time athletes. Working full-time and training at this elite level is a challenge.
Molly credits her DSW team for helping her pursue her dream. “I’m so lucky that my DSW team is so supportive of me, helping me prioritize my work to make sure I can still train,” Molly said. She said they know how important this is to her and now is the right time for her. At 28 years old, Molly is at the peak age for distance runners.
“It’s a very cool time to be a woman in distance running now. There are so many women who inspire me. Shalane Flanagan won the 2017 New York Marathon at age 36, and she was the first American to win since 1977. She is amazing,” Molly said. “I run with moms, nurses, teachers and women from every walk of life. We all just love it and all of us are dedicated to be the best we can be.”
Molly attributes her success to the support she’s received, especially in the past year. “I surround myself with people who believe in me – my coach and the people at Fleet Feet. Competitive distance running can be hard and lonely, but if you have people who believe in you no matter what, and you keep pushing, you can make your dream come true. I want to be the best version of myself to make them proud.”
What’s next? Molly and her coach are deciding which races to run leading up to the trials. Every year, she usually runs two marathons, two half-marathons, plus a few races at other distances … and plans to a 10K or a 5K “just for fun.” She plans to run US championship races to compete against faster women who will push her to get even better.
Molly will tell you that things can change very quickly in life. “First my health issues, and then my husband’s diagnosis, really put life into perspective. I love running and I’m going to give myself a shot. Life is too short not to try.”