KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Olympic hopeful Jessi Allen is not in medical school or out running, she's working hard at Gary Gribble's Running Shoe Store in the Ward Parkway Center. Allen hopes she's a shoo-in for the Olympics after qualifying in a marathon in Duluth, Minnesota last month.
"It felt really amazing," Allen said. "I was not sure if I could run a 2:45. So to do it and be so much under it was just a dream come true."
Her time was 2:41:34. Allen was a cross country runner in Kearney and at Missouri State University, but this was her first ever marathon.
"I was always going to go for it, but I didn't think it was going to happen and I didn't think it would happen in the first one," Allen said. "So, I was amazed and it just made me realize hard work pays off."
She said training helps her balance the stress medical school brings.
"It's very rewarding, but it can be draining," Allen said. "So starting my day with a run just makes the whole day better."
What gave her the strength to go the distance the day she qualified for the Olympic trials? Her dad.
"I did a lot of it for him," Allen admitted. "I was thinking about him a lot during the race and just how strong he's been through his journey."
Allen's father is fighting for his life. He was diagnosed last year with pancreatic cancer. Allen said his prognosis is not great.
"Just knowing his strength, I knew I have some of him in me so I could finish," Allen said.
With him in mind she'll track mile after mile in Atlanta at trials Feb. 29, 2020.
"I hope that he'll be there," Allen said.
Before the Olympic trials, Allen plans to keep in shape running in the Plaza 10K and the KC Half Marathon.