CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Falfurrias native and Texas A&M-Kingsville alumnus Erica Alvarado Kirkwood has been running for as long as her mother can remember. It is that joy for running that led her to a successful career at Falfurrias high school and earned her a scholarship to run for the Javelinas.
After she graduated, life got in the way of her running. She went to California to earn a master's degree, got married and now has two kids. Marathons didn't seem like a real possibility, but she was determined to lace up the shoes once again.
Alvarado Kirkwood starting getting back into the routine, running marathons at a rapid pace. She was aiming for the mark of three hours and thirty minues. All she was trying to do was qualify for one marathon.
"My goal was to qualify for Boston," she said.
It was her running partners that noticed it: she was far better than qualifying for the Boston Marathon. They urged her to push for even lower times. That is when she ran a marathon at the blazing speed of three hours and two minutes. That is when olympic qualifying became a real possibility.
"If I stay focused and disciplined then maybe I could qualify," she said.
It has taken her years of training and sacrifice and now she and her family will head to Atlanta, Georgia. Erica will attempt to punch her ticket to the biggest sporting event on the planet, her parents will be there aw well watching with pride.
"I cannot believe that she is my daughter," her mother Martha Alavarado said. "I just want to cry."
Kirkwood lives in San Antonio now, but knows her small hometown of Falfurrias will be cheering from a far, as the small town is put on the big stage.
"We're making this town known," she said. "Making Falfurrias proud that is what it's all about."
The qualifying takes place on Februray 29th, and if all goes well, a small part of Falfurrias will be heading to Tokyo, but an even bigger part will stay behind cheering her on.