In this BDN file photo, Tracy Guerrette of Bangor runs the Bangor Labor Day 5 mile road race in 2017. Injuries prevented the St. Agatha native from running the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019. Credit: Ashley Conti

Tracy Guerrette, finally recovered from a fractured bone in her foot, continues her quest to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials scheduled for Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta.

But the St. Agatha native won’t be training in the streets of Bangor much longer.

The former two-year basketball captain at the University of Maine is leaving her job as the director of faith formation at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

“It is something I have been thinking about for a real long time, since my early 20s actually, but I never had a chance to do it,” the 38-year-old Guerrette said. “In the past couple of years, I’ve been considering it more seriously. I’d been praying about it and thought it was a good time to apply.”

She said she was accepted to a couple of schools and chose the Pontifical John Paul II Institute. She is enrolled in a two-year program.

“I feel like I needed to take a step back. It’s almost like a professional sabbatical. I want to study to better myself in my faith,” Guerrette said.

She feels it will help her better serve the Lord and the Catholic Church. It will also give her a variety of career options after she completes her degree.

“I could continue to go to school, I could come back and work for a parish or a diocese or I could teach,” Guerrette said.

“My most prized possessions besides my running shoes are my theology books. But I haven’t had time to read them all because of my work, which is also a blessing,” Guerrette said.

Her degree study will focus on society and the current culture, and she said it will help prepare her to make a difference in people’s lives.

It wasn’t an easy decision, however.

“I’m a Maine girl at heart. My family is still in Maine, and I love the people I work with in Bangor, especially Father [Frank] Murray,” she said.

Guerrette, who finished 25th among 13,391 women in the 2018 Boston Marathon and was first among Maine women with a time of 2 hours, 54 minutes, 2 seconds, has recently returned to running.

In March, she fractured a bone in her left foot when she tripped while running on Essex Street in Bangor. That put her on crutches and then a protective boot.

Guerrette used last Saturday’s Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth as a return to competition. She admits that she rushed her return to running and reinjured the foot in June, which shelved her again.

This time, she let it heal completely before putting on her running shoes. She has been running for three weeks now.

“I came out of it great. I think it was a blessing. I’m healthy now,” Guerrette said.

She credited Dr. Cameron Trubey of DownEast Orthopedics, the head team physician for UMaine athletic teams, with playing an integral role in her recovery.

Guerrette’s time at the Beach to Beach 10K was 40:15, which is not up to her standards, but she said she used it as a hard workout and was pleased she came away from it without pain.

“I wanted to gauge my fitness, my strength is coming back. I need to work on getting my speed back,” she said.

Her goal is to build up to a fall marathon during which she can achieve the U.S. Olympic Trials standard of 2:45. She is particularly interested in the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 24 since she has friends in Philadelphia, which is only 152 miles from Washington, D.C.

Guerrette has already joined a running club in Washington, D.C., the Capital Area Runners, thanks to what she called God’s providence.

After she contacted the club, coach George Buckheit quickly responded and told her he and a group of their runners were coming to Bangor and would spend a week running at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor.

Guerrette drove down to meet them.

“George is a wonderful man and there was a nice family feeling. It was a great group and they’re pretty competitive,” Guerrette said.

She ran a personal best of 2:43.47 in the 2017 Maine Marathon, which achieved the “B” Olympic qualifying standard of 2:45. But a postrace check determined that while the Maine Marathon was certified as a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon and by USA Track and Field, it did not qualify as an Olympic Trials standard.

She is confident she can eclipse the 2:45 standard. She hopes to run 80 miles this week and said running will remain an important part of her life.

“Running is part of who I am. I’ve realized that God made me an athlete,” she said. “I was born to run. I love it. Aside from my faith and my family, it is a priority for me. And it is my time with the Lord.”