TJ Bryan: Explains How She Saved Herself at Age 64 By Taking One Step at a Time 

by | Aug 24, 2022 | Podcast

TJ Bryan is a career educator, an author and a runner who continues to run well into her seventies. TJ is a member of a small group of women over 70 who run in marathons. She is a rare African American woman competing at this distance. After TJ  retired from a 30-year career in higher education, she became a runner. She was 64 years old at the time–hardly the point at which most people embrace a demanding sport. No one was more surprised than she was when she demonstrated ability as a runner at a wide range of distances. At 78, she has completed 53 races. Even more impressive are her ten marathons and qualifying for the Boston Marathon on eight of these marathons.

She is the author of two books, Saving Myself One Step at a Time: A Running Memoir and Black Girl in Red, White, and Blue America. She is currently working on a third one. Prior to retiring, TJ served as a professor, academic administrator, and university chancellor. She has a bachelor’s, master’s and a PhD in English, Language and Literature.

Episode Highlights:

  • How TJ started running at 64.
  • Dealing with injuries and how they tried to  derail her running.
  • TJ speaks about  her most  memorable races.
  • What’s on TJ’s bucket list?
  • What motivates TJ to run, and some of her fears.
  • Some wise words from TJ.

Guest Bio

Born on August 21, 1945, T. J. Bryan is a member of a small group of women over 70 who run in marathons. She is a rare African American woman competing at this distance. After T. J. retired from a 30-year career in higher education, she became a runner. She was 64
years old at the time–hardly the point at which most people embrace a demanding sport. No one was more surprised than she was when she demonstrated ability as a runner at a wide range of distances.

From 2009 to 2019, T. J. completed 53 races. Regularly, she won age-group awards irrespective of the distances—in 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, half marathons, and marathons. Of her races, ten were marathons—eight of which she ran fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This marathon is one of the most prestigious 26.2-mile races in the world because competitors must qualify by running fast times in earlier marathons and must be accepted before they may register.

Initially, T. J. planned to run in the Boston Marathon only once. She changed her mind and registered five times. She ran the race three times. Injury prevented her from competing in the April 2013 and October 2021 versions of the race. T. J. has written about running in two books. In Saving Myself: A Running Memoir, she captures her running journey. The memoir is available through Amazon. Readers praise this book, citing its honesty and its inspirational qualities. In her five-star novel titled Black Girl in Red, White, and Blue America, T. J. devotes several chapters to her main character’s late-life running experiences; these sections are based on her own adventures.

Before retiring and becoming a runner, T. J. served as a professor, academic administrator, and university chancellor. Her academic credentials include bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in English language and literature.

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