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From Non-Runner to Marathon Runner

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Race Day

"The night before the race, I had everything laid out already -- I even went to bed in my running clothes." Just one problem: she was so nervous she couldn't sleep!

"I couldn't stop thinking about the race: the weather, how many other runners were going to be there and if I could even finish the race. I think I only had about 20 minutes of sleep, but I was excited." She had a breakfast of a bagel, a peanut butter PowerBar, and Gatorade before heading to the starting line with her team members.

When it was time to start running at 7:50 a.m., the first-time marathoner describes the experience as exhilarating. "All the hard work was finally put to the test, and every minute of training paid off! I know I would've done better if I had trained better. You get out of it what you put into it." (Hussa finished in 6 hours and 7 minutes, at about a 13-minute/mile pace.)

Because parts of the marathon are opened to traffic after 1 p.m., she had to keep track of her time to "beat the bridge." In the Marine Corps Marathon, runners who don't reach the 14th Street Bridge at mile 19 before 1 p.m. are picked up by a bus and not allowed to continue the race. After passing the bridge, Hussa ran/walked for the rest of the marathon.

With about half a mile to go, her running coach jumped in and ran along with her. "He told me there was a hill before the finish line, but that it was nothing compared to the hills we trained on before," she said. With these motivating words Hussa found herself running faster and feeling more positive and energetic than before she started the race.

"When I saw my family on the stands by the finish line, I didn't feel the pain in my legs anymore."

Crossing the Finish Line

How did it feel to finish a marathon? "It felt great! Proud, accomplished, and like I could finally rest!" She rewarded herself by eating a burger with fries and a soda and getting much-needed sleep.

Though her legs were in so much pain after running that she couldn't move them in her sleep that night, Marisa Hussa is looking forward to running more marathons. "I didn't really think about doing another," she said. "But I was able to do so much: I took care of myself better, met great friends, raised money for a charity, and trained myself to be more disciplined and committed."

"I might run another marathon next year, but then again why not run one every year? I definitely caught the marathon bug." That's a strong statement from someone who couldn't run a mile four months ago.


Originally published on, November 2009.


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heatherdomabyl wrote:

Great story! I am training for my first marathon and raising money for a charity as well! I am blogging about it at

7/11/2013 11:38:22 AM Report Abuse
pollaws wrote:

Great motivational piece! Thanks

1/25/2010 10:15:41 AM Report Abuse
kimrwillems wrote:

In Fitness Magazine's March 2009 issue I saved an article titled, 'Consider Yourself a Newbie Racer' that outlines an eight week plan to run a half-marathon. I referenced this while training for my half & now want to tackle a full marathon. Therefore, I'm wanting to locate this same article for a full marathon & amnot having a luck. Can you please help?

12/30/2009 12:57:56 PM Report Abuse

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