Thursday, February 6, 2020

2:45:01 and Beyond: Marissa Ward

Marissa was one of the gritty last chance OTQ chasers I met in Houston.  Both before and after the race, I loved her attitude of “why not try?!” regarding doing big things.  Her optimism is catching and she was very encouraging to all of us who missed the OTQ in HOU.  Plus, this woman may be superhuman – she ran Berlin and Chicago 2019, then followed them up with Houston 2020, putting down 3 fast marathons within a short period of time.  She also ran her first two marathons while pregnant with her daughter, and ran her first and second sub-3 marathons 5 weeks apart (mine were 4 weeks apart, which makes me love this fact about her even more).

Name: Marissa Ward
Age: 24
City/State: Strongsville, Ohio
Occupation: Accountant and Mother

Hobbies/interests outside of running:
walking my dog, baking, long naps on the couch

When did you start chasing the OTQ and what inspired you to try?
I started dreaming about the OTQ after my second sub-3 marathon in 5 weeks in November 2018.  In late September that year I ran a 2:59, then in NYC I ran 2:56.  Honestly at that point, I still wasn't totally sure what all the "OTQ" talk was about, but a new challenge/barrier had presented itself and I was ready to tackle it.

Tell us about the races you attempted to OTQ at and the outcomes. 
After two spring marathons in 2019 without seeing a PR, and still being 11 minutes away from the standard, I had started to question an attempt at the OTQ. I was signed up for Berlin and Chicago 2019.  Berlin I was looking to run 2:50, and finished in 2:55.  Then two weeks later in Chicago, I knew I wasn't quite ready to try for 2:45, but I felt I had nothing to lose that day and just ran hard for as long as I could - I finished that race in 2:51 and the fire to my OTQ dream was reignited.  Truthfully, I signed up for Houston before Berlin, but was still on the fence about it until after Chicago.  Houston Marathon was my one true attempt at the OTQ and while the race didn't go as planned, I wouldn't change a thing about the experiences.  In Houston I ran with the 2:45 pack about through halfway, then once I fell off that was it - I finished in 2:56.

What did you gain from this journey?
Confidence and I became a run-streaker 

What are you most proud of about your OTQ pursuit?
Daring to dream big and being able to balance the marathon training with working full time and being a single parent to a toddler.

Do you have any regrets or things you wish you’d done differently in your OTQ pursuit?
I have absolutely no regrets in this pursuit.  I put myself out there and did what I could to tackle a big scary goal.  I had a lot of fun doing it, learned a lot about myself, and now I have nothing but time to chip away at my marathon time.

What message would you like to send to those following your running pursuits?
Never let someone tell you that you can't/ don't let them define your journey.  There's going to be people trying to tear you apart, but it's most likely because they're jealous.  Keep positive energy only in your circle. 

Tell us something unique about yourself. 
I ran my first two marathons while pregnant with my daughter (21 weeks and 24 weeks).

What’s next for you?
Boston Marathon!


  1. Wow, pumping her fist as she crossed in 2:56, I love her attitude! So awesome!