Never RUNNING on empty: Alejandra Martinez

HARLINGEN — You will not ever find Harlingen marathon runner Alejandra Martinez, 29, making excuses or giving up at anything.

For that reason, she’ll be one of the 30,000 qualifying runners at the 2017 Boston Marathon after qualifying Jan. 17 at the Chevron Houston Marathon.

It was the ideal race day for Martinez, who thrived off everything from the weather to the on-looking crowd.

“The weather was cold, the crowd was big; it was the perfect marathon,” Martinez said. “Every mile there were people cheering for you. The people, who don’t know you, are calling out your name and encouraging you.

“It definitely gives you encouragement to finish.”

Martinez finished with a time of 3:30:12, nearly five minutes better than the 3:35:00 needed to qualify in the 18-34 age group.

While Martinez accomplished her goal, the road there was not a particularly short one, nor was it without its share of obstacles.

“I began running marathons in 2013 in a San Antonio race, but little by little I started to train for the Boston Marathon qualifiers,” Martinez said. “It was by mid 2014 when I began training for those races with my coach, Footworks-Harlingen owners Jun and Edith Ellorimo.”

Martinez changed her way of eating and began training with speed drills, temple runs and 13 to 23-mile runs every week.

Later in 2014, Martinez ran her first qualifying race in McAllen and finished with a time of 3:39, about nine minutes short of her goal and four short of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

In February 2015, Martinez tried her hand at the USA Fit Marathon in Sugar Land, but came up short despite having the top time in the 18-34 age group with a 3:39:18.5.

It was then when Martinez’s confidence began to waver.

“I finished that race and I was devastated because I had been training for a whole year to try and accomplish a goal,” she said. “The first 20 miles were almost perfect, but the last six miles things began to happen. I was upset because I did not make my time in the end and because I had my two girls waiting to hear if I qualified.”

With Martinez discouraged, husband Juan Martinez stepped in, showing his wife motivational videos and giving her words of encouragement.

“After those videos, I told myself, ‘You know what? I can still do it; I just have to train better,’” Martinez said.

She climbed back in the saddle soon thereafter and continued with her training.

Despite trying and coming up short at an impromptu qualifier in McAllen — in a race where she was sick and the weather was windy and unpredictable — Martinez eventually had her day in Houston.

Now, after all she has been through, the Boston Marathon will be the ultimate payoff.

“I haven’t done it alone. My friends and other runners have helped me train throughout and I want to thank everyone who has helped out even a little bit,” Martinez said. “I will still do my training, but Boston will basically be my victory run.”