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.
Fort Wainwright, AK
U.S. Army Reserve Soldier
When I was 27, I moved to the U.S. from Mexico to follow my husband, who was accepted into college in Utah. In my home country, I was a financial counselor, but when we relocated, I had to start my career from scratch. As a solution to this problem—and because I wanted to show my kids how to love their new country—I joined the Army.
Basic training was tough, especially because I knew very little English at the time. But my favorite part was running. I’d never tried it before, and I loved showing how much I cared about working hard through my miles.
Running gave me the confidence I needed to get through my second level of training. And it started to become more than just a way to prove myself in the Army’s fitness test. I ran my first half marathon that spring and was first in the female division.
Then in January, I ran the full Louisiana Marathon. That winter, my world crashed around me after my little brother took his life. I stopped running completely, unable to find reason or peace. Then one day, while thinking about him, I reflected back on our very last communication: I had updated my Facebook status that I was going out for a 20-mile run, and he commented, “Never stop.” At that moment, I knew I had to continue.
The first time I ran after he died, I covered three miles. It burned. I was so sad, but I kept running. It was what he would have wanted me to do. This year, as I was running a marathon in the mountains of Alaska, the awful sadness that once engulfed me slowly faded away. Through running, I have been trying to inspire my family to never stop living as well.
MY BEST ADVICE: LOVE YOUR RUN
The most important thing for a runner to learn is to love your run. Don’t just push the pace or the distance—enjoy the journey.