February 13 2018
Colleen Kelly Alexander discusses the accident that changed her life and how she has rebounded in spite of the trauma to her mind and body.
Athletics have always been in my blood. As a child, I played everything from volleyball to basketball, and as a young woman, I ran corporate races with my coworkers for fun. I was never a serious runner, but I enjoyed being active and getting outdoors.
A month before my 30th birthday, everything changed. I lost my job and gained a significant amount of weight. In an effort to fill the empty afternoons, I began meeting with a running group. In just three months, I dropped 30 pounds and fell completely in love with running.
I started to become more competitive and won a number of age-group trophies and medals. I raced frequently, covering every distance from the 5k to the half marathon. I even ran the full 26.2-mile distance in 1996. I hadn’t trained properly, and at mile 16, everything began to hurt—even my eyelashes were in pain! But I knew I was going to make it even if I had to crawl. Reaching the finish was an exhilarating experience.
Shortly after finishing the marathon, I began focusing on track racing. I raced the 1,500 meters and got my best time of 5:31 in my late 30s. Eventually, the wear and tear on my body led to a very serious injury. A hemorrhage in the bone marrow of my femur forced my racing career to a standstill for nearly two decades.
Last year, at the age of 58, I decided to make a comeback. They say it’s never too late to start. In my case, I believe it’s never too late to start again. I’m currently training to run a marathon—my second one ever. At the same time, I’ve gone back to school to earn my masters degree.
Now that I’m older, I don’t train as hard as I did in the past. I’m disciplined, but I also make sure to give myself ample rest. I meditate while I run. It’s a very spiritual experience. I block out any worries and focus on the peacefulness that running brings. That’s how I want to run for the rest of my life.