Conway’s Alexis Duseau finds her stride for Globe Santa

  • Conway’s Alexis Duseau at the finish line of the 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon at Coney Island in New York. The Williston Northampton and Babson graduate is running the 2019 Boston Marathon to raise money for Globe Santa. COURTESY/ALEXIS DUSEAU

Staff Writer
Published: 4/14/2019 9:16:27 PM

Even a half-marathon appeared out of reach for Conway’s Alexis Duseau.

The former college swimmer began running after graduating from Babson in 2016. One of her college friends suggested their whole crew run the 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon.

“I dove in and trained for a half marathon having no idea what I was doing,” Duseau said. “I never thought I would be able to run a half marathon. It seemed impossible, and far.”

She completed the 13.1-mile trek to the Coney Island Boardwalk in a little over two hours and loved it. Running the Boston Marathon on a charity team entered her brain. Duseau, 25, works for The Boston Globe as a digital campaign manager. The Globe runs a nonprofit foundation that provides scholarships and distributes toys to needy children through its Globe Santa initiative. They were looking for runners to compose the two-person team, and Duseau applied.

“I thought it was a cool opportunity,” she said. “It fell into my hands a little bit.”

After completing an 11-page application and interviewing for the opportunity, Duseau was selected late last year. Working with kids has long been an interest for Duseau. At Babson, she and her sorority sisters volunteered with Reading is Fundamental, a literacy project that helps kids have access to books. One aspect of Globe Santa that attracted her was, in addition to toys, the program also distributes award-winning books.

“It seemed like a good fit,” Duseau said. “I was looking for ways to get involved after college.”

To earn the Boston Marathon charity bib, she had to fundraise $8,000 for Globe Santa.

“That was stressful,” she said. “If you don’t raise the money on your own they charge your credit card the difference.”

She got there largely through personal networking — selling candy grams at work, Super Bowl squares and donations from friends and family. Duseau offered the opportunity to add a song to her running playlist for $10. One of them commissioned a Frédéric Chopin track.

“I’m dreading that coming up during my run. I said I would actually listen to it during my marathon,” Duseau said. “That friend is going to be laughing to himself as I am sweating to a slow, classical piano piece.”

Training for long-distance runs hasn’t been a natural transition for Duseau. She sprinted in college, specializing in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

“I was always about being fast,” Duseau said.

She ran cross country in high school at Williston Northampton but only because she had to participate in a fall sport.

“I was there to check the box and go along my way. Distance running is a whole new thing to me,” Duseau said. “You hear about people doing these things and you’ve never ran further than a 5K — it seems super impossible.”

Sometimes people call Duseau crazy when she mentions running the marathon. She joined the Heartbreak Hill Run Club to train and found others engaged in similar pursuits.

“The community around running has been really cool to get involved in,” Duseau said. “It makes me feel less crazy with a lot of other people around me.”

Through training, she discovered similarities with swimming and running: barriers and limits only exist until an athlete pushes past them. Every run that covered greater distance felt like an achievement.

“You have to give into the process,” Duseau said. “It’s been a slow burn to get up to the mileage but very cool to see that you’re able to do that.”

Duseau missed competing after her college career ended. Swimming, while technically a race against other athletes and a contest between two – or more – teams, boils down to challenging oneself to improve. Running provided the same adversary.

“It’s satisfying to go for a run and go faster than you’ve ever gone before or further than you’ve ever gone before or hit a rhythm you’ve never hit before,” Duseau said. “I’ve always been competitive with myself more than anything. Running fell into that role for me in a way I never planned it to.”




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