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: Joplin, MO
As feelings of doubt crept into my mind, I pushed them aside, hoping my eighth marathon—the Nebraska State Fair Marathon—would be the one where I scored a Boston qualifying (BQ) time. The last three 26.2- mile races I’d run, I was sure I would meet my goal. The sting of falling short still resonated.
Under an overcast sky, I set out on the course. Practice had taught me that pacing myself would be key. To stay on track, I wore a wristband that listed the mile splits I needed to hit in order to finish under 3:55, the BQ time for my age group.
As the miles ticked away, I felt strong and stayed right on pace. The cloudy sky kept temperatures from soaring, adding to the ideal race conditions. It wasn’t long before I reached mile 24, where I was still on track—but I knew that the wall could hit at any moment.
At mile 25, I finally allowed myself to believe I would BQ. With gas still left in the tank, I pushed as hard as I could and strode across the finish line with a final time of 3:51:39.
Overcome with the excitement of earning my BQ, I couldn’t stop smiling. Of course, I’d also squeaked out a new PR!
During my first few attempts to BQ, I only wanted to qualify to be able to say that I did it. Because of the travel expense to Boston, I didn’t think actually running the race was in the cards for me. But the more I learned through my research about the historic race, the larger my desire grew to go. Before the Nebraska marathon, my husband and I decided that if I qualified, going to Boston would be an experience we couldn’t afford to miss.
Knowing that my final try resulted in a big family vacation made the achievement all the sweeter. My husband even surprised me with the sought-after 2016 Boston Marathon jacket for Christmas. Though I won’t officially wear it until I finish the race, I can’t wait to don it proudly after I earn every stitch.
Qualifying for the Boston Marathon taught me to trust in my training. I’m grateful to have a supportive husband and awesome coach, both of whom helped me achieve my dream. By working hard and believing in myself, I was able to drown out the doubt. I’ll be repeating my favorite mantra, “She believed she could, so she did,” all the way into downtown Boston with a huge smile on my face.