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TikTok's favorite mom completes NYC Marathon: 'I felt like a superstar'

Erin Azar went from reluctant runner to one relatable marathon mama.
/ Source: TODAY

She did it!

Erin Azar, the mom of three who became an unexpected TikTok sensation with her tell-it-like-it-is fitness journey, completed the 2021 New York City Marathon Sunday.

And just one day after crossing that iconic finish line, she ran over to studio 1A to share her post-race glow and honest take on the whole experience.

“I took some Motrin this morning, so now everything else works but not my feet,” she said as she took a seat and reflected on the run. “It was surreal. I didn’t even think that it was happening for real-real-real.”

That’s because she’d imagined running the marathon so many times before she actually hit the pavement.

“Then it was just like buckets of tears, like a mess,” she told anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb of the moment it all sunk in for her.

Leading up to it, Azar dubbed her personal training experience Team Struggle Run. It’s been her funny and candid way of sharing those struggles — as well as successes and more than a few declarations of “I’m dying” — that’s gained her an enormous and loyal social media following. On TikTok alone, where she goes by the name Mrs. Space Cadet, she has more than 26 million likes.

“I never ever thought any of this would happen,” she said. “I just was looking for a couple running friends on TikTok, and it blew up to millions.”

Erin Azar taught Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie how to do her famous running outfit of the day pose.
Erin Azar taught Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie how to do her famous running outfit of the day pose.TODAY

And a lot of those followers followed her all the way to NYC.

“In all honesty, I thought there would be a couple of cheer sections,” Azar said of her run-day expectations. “I’m pumping myself up — ‘There’s going to be a few people out there.’ It was like every quarter-mile, every tenth of a mile, people had ‘Mrs. Space Cadet’ signs. People were screaming. They’re like, ‘I love you!’ and I’m like, ‘I love you!!’ I felt like a superstar. It was amazing!”

She was amazing, too.

In fact, she didn’t even take a break from social media while she hoofed her way through the boroughs. Instead, she took her fans along for the run, creating and posting TikTok clips as she passed mile markers, landmarks and any uncertainty she may have had about the whole experience.

“I thought that it was (hard),” she said, looking back at her feat Monday morning. “I mean, I think everything’s hard, but the bridges! Obviously I didn’t realize you have to go uphill before you go downhill. That was rough. ... But the crowds keep you going.”

A good cause also kept her motivated.

Azar ran as a member of the Michael J. Fox team, raising money for Parkinson’s research at Sunday’s big event. It’s a cause close to her heart, as her father, Jim Gaffney, lives with the progressive nervous system disorder.

Jim Gaffney shared his pride in his daughter's big achievement.
Jim Gaffney shared his pride in his daughter's big achievement. TODAY

He joined her on TODAY, and said, “I’m really proud of her and proud of the Team Fox members who ran with her for Parkinson’s.”

And she isn’t planning to slow down now. Azar wants to use her marathon motivation to run races around the world.

“You can’t see the city like that ... any other time,” she raved. “It was such an awesome opportunity.”

Azar last appeared on TODAY in September, and during that mid-run video visit, she explained why she believes she’s become a beloved exercise influencer, despite having no athletic background — or maybe because that of that.

"Before I started all this, on social media, it was perfect-looking runners, perfect paces,” she noted at the time. “And I thought, I'm just going to show thigh-chafing and the ugly side of things. What's the worst that can happen? They don't like me."

But as it turned out, they liked her so much, they wanted to join her on her race to a fitter life.

"I started getting all these comments and messages saying, 'You inspired me to run my first mile,' or, 'You inspired me to sign up for a 5K,'" she said. "I never thought I'd inspire anybody to do anything, so that was huge for me. I'm going to keep going."

Now she’s gone all the way to the New York City Marathon, and it looks like there’s no stopping her.