So fun to interview @FrielMolly about qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials at age 50. Yes, she eats cereal for dinner, which underscores an important point: The miles are more important than the macronutrients or the fancy shoes. https://t.co/HhfsIGVqIB pic.twitter.com/oQny1wjYRx— Sarah Lorge Butler (@slorgebutler) January 10, 2018
If age is just a number, then for Molly Friel, that number is 2:43:57. That's her finish time at the recent California International Marathon, well under the 2:45:00 (that's two hours and 45 minutes) that she needed to run in order to qualify for the Olympic trials in 2020. She certainly isn't the only woman to achieve that goal in 2017, but she's the only 50-year-old to do it. In fact, Friel's recent feat makes her the second-oldest woman ever to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon.
A native of Fresno, California, Friel has been running and racing for the past three decades. She has qualified for the Olympic trials twice before — in 2004 and 2016. By qualifying again at age 50, Friel was catapulted into the spotlight.
The only other woman to top her is Sister Marion Irvine, who qualified for the trials in 1984 at the age of 54. It's worth noting that the qualifying time in those days was 2:51:16 so Irvine's 2:51:01 (also at the California International Marathon) was just enough to earn her a spot at the table. Not to diminish that accomplishment, because most of us mortals can never even dream about running a marathon that fast, but Friel not only had to finish six minutes faster in order to qualify, but she also topped even that by crushing the qualifying standard.
In an interview with Runner's World magazine, Friel explained the no-frills approach to training that helped her reach her goal. She doesn't get swept up in the latest fad. It's unlikely you'll ever see Friel at a Zumba class or trying gyrotonics. In fact, she said she tried CrossFit once and hated it. How does Friel stay so fit? Running. Lots and lots of running. To train for the marathon, Friel ran 90 to 100 miles per week. She's also an expert at listening to her body — taking easy days when she needs to and pushing it when her body is ready.
Fortunately, Friel also happens to truly love the sport of running. "I love the training,” she told Runner's World. "I love the process more than the end result."
Look for Friel to hit the streets of Los Angeles for the next Olympic trials in June 2020.