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.
FITNESS STUDIO OWNER
I grew up on the soccer field. I played from the time I was 5 years old up through high school. However, when I was a sophomore, I didn’t make the team. Being cut was disappointing at first, but it ended up being a positive turning point in my life. I joined the cross-country team that year instead, and found I liked it even more than soccer! I ran all through high school and continued running after I graduated.
In 2001, I ran my first marathon in Chicago. It was just after 9/11, so patriotic and personal emotions were at an all-time high. I saw several people running the race carrying full-sized American flags, pole and all. One section in the beginning of the race looped under a long overpass. Everyone was cheering and chanting “U-S-A,” creating a powerful echo in the tunnel. This moment carried me through the next 21 miles. Crossing the finish line confirmed that marathons would be a big part of my life from this point forward.
It was after finishing this race that I realized even though I’m not exceptionally fast, I am a true athlete. One of my personal and professional goals is to help others realize that anyone can be an athlete. I now own and operate a boutique fitness studio that incorporates spinning, personal training and Pilates. I’ve found mixing these workouts into a running routine can make an amazing difference in terms of speed, injury prevention and weight loss.
I continue to challenge myself through endurance competitions. The hardest race I’ve ever run has to be the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. The hills were brutal, but I toughed it out. It helped that my husband and father were at the race. Knowing that I would see their faces at the end kept me going. After I crossed the finish line, I started crying. I was so happy that it was over. My dad probably thinks I’m crazy because about a month later I told him I was going to run a 50-mile ultra-marathon. I have challenged my friends and family to come in after mile 27 and pace me. I’m waiting to see who will be up for the task!