OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Beaming, with her hands in the air and a bright green balloon tied to her back, Alexis Erickson crossed the Capital City Marathon's finish line.

For the first time since her breast cancer diagnosis last summer, Erickson, an Olympia native, ran a race.

In May, she paced the marathoners aiming to finish near three hours, 45 minutes. She ran the second half of the race, finishing in perfect time alongside her friend, Katie Hackney.

"It was so great to be out," Erickson said. "It was so good to run my first race since everything. Just the energy out there. Everyone was so amazing and cheering on the runners."

Erickson, 39, enjoys pacing the race. She's run the full marathon twice, and the half-marathon several times, but she said pacing gives her an opportunity to be a tour guide in the city she grew up in.

She ran with a man from Iowa for a while, and with some familiar South Sound faces along the way.

It was a warm morning, deviating from an otherwise cold and rainy spring and a hard day for the racers, Erickson said.

She's had some hard days, too, the past year but was thrilled to be on the course encouraging others. Running propelled her through five months of cancer treatment.

"It's uplifting and heartwarming that you can see someone who has made it through to the other side, and is immediately giving back," said Kevin Wright, who coached Erickson at Capital.

Molly Ivanovich, a regular running partner of Erickson's, who paced part of the race with her, said Erickson always kept a smile, even during treatment.