35-year-old native Knoxvillian Margaux Cowan-Banker has been running ever since she was a little kid. A passion that led her all the way to a Division II Cross Country and Track program at Carson Newman University. She now works as a personal trainer.
To describe her as anything less than “veteran” would be shortsighted, yet she is new to the marathon. In the 25 years she’s been continuously running, she has run the distance one time at Kiawah Island in South Carolina in a stout 3:33, which solidified her place at Boston this coming April 15th. Margaux’s journey to the marathon may seem like a natural path to some (considering her background), but according to her, it wasn’t where she saw herself going.
“It was something I never thought I’d do. I thought ‘What’s the hype?’ Bobby was like ‘Boston is really cool.’ I guess I kinda got hooked in. I was still really skeptical, but figured I might as well give it a go.”
“Running just feels like the most natural thing. So many people say ‘Oh I can’t run,’ and I’m like ‘what does that even mean?’ Running is just kind of like the most normal, natural, human thing to do.”
While Margaux understands the simple joy of running quite deeply, through marathon training she has discovered something of an appreciation for the grind that the training puts you through.
“I consider that process to be one of the most ‘changing’ for me. It was very awakening of your ‘self.’ Like what your worth is. It’s not too bad in the beginning, and it gets hard. Throughout a marathon cycle, you just experience all these kind of ups and downs. Stuff starts to hurt. Stuff starts to break down. And having to push through that, it was a real test of mental toughness. After I completed it for five minutes I was like ‘Oh my god you could literally do anything. You just ran a marathon.’ And then after that, I was like ‘okay I want to run another marathon!’”
Listening to Margaux talk about her journey of ambivalence towards the race, to rigorous enthusiasm for it, is a special kind of inspiring that not many people talk about in this sport. While we’re busy chasing PR’s, some of us might be missing the real light at the end of the tunnel. That through stepping out of the bubble of our own comfort, self-discovery often follows. In Margaux’s words, this is what keeps her coming back to running, and fuels her awakened passion for the marathon.
Like many of us, Margaux doesn’t always have amazing workouts that go perfectly. We all have moments where we wish we could have done better, where we feel terrible, where we want to give up, where it’s not our day. Running has highs and lows. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like life. Margaux shows us for sure that one thing is certain. That through genuinely stepping out of our comfort zone, and tackling a new challenge, we learn what we are truly made of.
Indeed, Margaux isn’t stopping with Boston.
“I decided I wanted to check off the big six ones: [Boston, New York, Chicago] Berlin, Tokyo, and London. I decided that when I watched this last year’s New York City Marathon.”
Seeing her set these goals, and hearing her talk about her journey, you would think there must be something special she possesses, right? She must just be one of the lucky ones that are naturally gifted. How else is she able to do this?
“I think I just get up and make myself do it. I think there’s a million reasons every single day to have an excuse not to do it, and it’s just [about] shooting those down.”
4/1/2019 – Mike DiGirolamo