MCM rookie Tanner has high hopes
By Kaitlyn Funk Special to the Examiner 10/23/08
Bethesda resident Melissa Tanner, 27, will run in the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time Sunday — and is expected to be one of the first women across the finish line.
Tanner, who began running marathons two years ago, chose the Marine Corps Marathon as her fourth long-distance race because of the “hometown” factor and because it is one of the most respected races among runners.
She won the Frederick Marathon in May with a women’s course record of 2:56:17. After finishing the Army 10-Miler in October with a time she said proved her “training is on track,” Tanner said she was confident she could reach her 2:50 goal and hoped to win the women’s field.
Last year, marathon rookie Kristen Henehan won the race in 2:51:14.Tanner has been running competitively since middle school in Alabama, where she won the State Cross Country Championship in 1995.
At Harvard she earned the MVP award for her cross-country team in 2001. In her first 26.2-mile race, the Frederick Marathon, she finished second.
Over the summer, Tanner worked up to 100-mile weeks, juggling two daily runs with her work schedule at American University, where she is a graduate psychology student working on her dissertation and advises student athletes.
“Running forces me to stick to a schedule and prioritize better,” she said. “Training for a marathon requires so much discipline, which translates to other things.”
Now, she has reduced her mileage as she rests her legs. She plans to run the entire course in stages before race day so she knows what to expect.
To get through the tough moments all runners inevitably encounter, Tanner said she keeps her race goals realistic.
“Sometimes finishing a race is as much a victory as doing well.”