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.
Hometown: Chico, CA
As Told To Kara Deschenes
Sitting on the bus making its way to the start line in Hopkinton, Mass., my body filled with nervous excitement as I wrapped my mind around the day ahead. Growing up in Nova Scotia, my family frequently vacationed in Boston. With many childhood memories rooted in the city, I considered it to be like a second home. Knowing that I was about to run my “hometown” race made me want to soak in every second.
Thanks to the early morning rain, I was a little wet and cold when I arrived at the Athletes’ Village, but by the time I crossed the start line, the air warmed and the sun came out. Launching into the race among a sea of runners, I fought the urge to go out too fast—not an easy task when the first mile is downhill and your body is pumping with adrenaline!
In the months leading up to the race, a foot injury prevented me from being able to train the way I had hoped. Because of this setback, I adjusted my goal for the race. I decided to relish the experience instead of worrying about my time. I high-fived kids on the sidelines and waved at the wall of spectators filling the entire 26.2-mile course.
As I ran, I thought about the time my family spent in Boston and my connection to this special race. My great-uncle ran through these very streets when he raced the marathon in 1926. I passed through the miles thinking of all the history those roads hold.
The race wound through the suburbs leading up to the city. Finally, I spotted the famous Citgo sign—the same symbol I’d gazed at as a little girl attending baseball games in Fenway Park—and knew I was getting close to the end.
With a final left turn on Boylston Street, my legs kept me moving forward as my heart felt like it was soaring home. I crossed the finish line and immediately found my family, who couldn’t have been more proud of my accomplishment. Having turned 40 years old only a week earlier, we celebrated two milestones that night: the start of a new decade and my Boston Marathon finish.
Running the Boston Marathon taught me to be patient. When I decided to try to qualify, it wasn’t until my eighth attempt that I finally earned the BQ time. Achieving a lofty goal is worth the hard work as long as you keep in mind why you started in the first place. The love of running keeps me going and reminds me that nothing is impossible if you try.