YUMA, Ariz. – Oh the places you’ll go…the words of Dr. Suess provide a perfect backdrop to Alexia Poon’s running career. What started as a half marathon for a free necklace has become a chance to race in the biggest marathon in the country: the Boston Marathon (Type in “Poon” in the last name section and click “Alexia Poon” here).
“I never used to be a runner and didn’t start running until 2014,” said Poon. “My sister and I signed up for a half marathon for a free necklace. A Tiffany necklace.”
That race grew into a running streak that is still current and spans more than three-and-a-half years (October 2014-present). Last year, Poon was cajoled by a friend into signing up for a marathon while still in California training for a half marathon.
“I signed up a week before the race, and you can imagine how that went,” she said with a chuckle. “I told myself during that race that I would never run a marathon again, so the Boston marathon was never in the picture.”
Yet the race went better than she planned. She ran it, and she ended up qualifying for Boston in her first marathon ever. To qualify, runners have to run a marathon under a minimum qualifying time that scales by age group. For Poon, that meant running a marathon in less than three hours and 35 minutes (she ran it in 3:30:20). She ran a second marathon in December to help support a friend who was also running. She said she has been intensely training since January 1 and has logged more than 820 miles.
“Once I booked the flight, there was no turning back,” she said. “It’s non-refundable! I did that on purpose so I can’t turn back.”
All that remains is the race itself, and Poon said she her goals for the race line up with what she teaches to her soccer team.
“The only goal I have is to have fun and to not set any expectations for myself,” she said. “Just to finish the race and know I did the best I could…That’s something I try to teach my girls. Just to go out and have fun and not leave anything out there.”
Poon said she uses her running to set an example, and it isn’t just about the Boston Marathon.
“Running Boston isn’t just a goal,” she said. “I love running and living a healthy lifestyle because it shows my student-athletes and other student-athletes on campus that you can live healthy. If I can run, there is no excuse for them not to run and exercise on their own.”
After the race? Maybe one cheat day is allowed.
“I cannot wait to eat all the cannolis in Boston!” she said with a smile.