"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your
dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best.” - Meb

"I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!" - Phil 4:13

Have you ever wanted something so bad, but you didn’t get it? Well, that is the how I feel about the Boston Marathon. I want to win this race so bad, but it hasn’t happened yet, and unfortunately it won’t happen this year. Today, it was announced that I will be withdrawing from the Boston Marathon due to an injury.

Thanks to John Hancock, this would have been my third opportunity to run the prestigious Boston Marathon. Last year, the BAA gave me the great honor of being the Grand Marshal for the race. My two racing experiences, in 2006 and 2010 have been very memorable.

The 2006 Boston Marathon was the 7th marathon of my career. There weren’t as many elite half marathons at that time (or maybe I just wasn’t as aware of them), so I still hadn’t run a half marathon. I came into the 2006 Boston Marathon with great fitness and confidence. At this point I had an Olympic Silver Medal, 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the New York City Marathon under my belt. My competitiveness got the best of me, as I chased Kenyan runner John Yuda and ran on a (then) world record pace, not because I wanted to set a world record, but because I wanted to win the race. Our split for the 1st half of the marathon was 1:02:44. Little did I know at that time that John Yuda was assigned by his training group as a sacrificial lamb…he burned me out and dropped out of the race. Unfortunately I hit the wall and finished 3rd.  Robert Cheruiyot won in a then course record time of 2:07:14. Benjamin Maiyo finished second in 2:08:21 and I finished third in 2:09:56, still within 3 seconds off my personal best. I later realized that if I ran the race more conservatively, I would have run a better time, most likely sub 2:09. Running sub 2:09 on the Boston Marathon gives you a great chance to win…MOST of the time. Since that day in 2006, I believed I could very realistically win the prestigious Boston Marathon. (interestingly there were 5 Americans in the top 10 that year: http://tinyurl.com/botp49h).

I am grateful to John Hancock for another opportunity to race the Boston Marathon in 2010 after my big win in the 2009 New York City Marathon. That year, I was motivated to win two major US marathons back to back . However, due to a non-running injury while in Mammoth, where I slipped on black ice and got swollen knees. I was not able to run the type of performance I wanted to run. That year, I did miss some critical weeks of training,, but I managed to get to the starting line in one piece and ran a personal best for the Boston course . On top of it all, I sustained what I later found out to be a longitudinal tear in my quad pushing hard up the Newton Hills. When I crossed the finish line, I learned that a new course record was set by another and younger Robert Cheruiyot (in an incredible 2:05:52).

Well, I was hoping that 2013 would be the special year, because sometimes, the third time is the charm. In fact, I had set three goals for this year’s Boston Marathon:

1. Get to the starting line healthy
2. Run a PR
3. Win it

if I ran a PR and didn’t win, I would still have been happy. Trust me, I would have been jumping up and down with joy, especially if I finally broke 2:09. Unfortunately, I am not going to experience the accomplishment of any of these goals this year. I missed too much time of training due to injury.

You might wonder what kind of injury? Well, it all started on Wednesday, February 13, during my 18 mile semi-long run. I vividly remember how training for the NYC Half Marathon and the Boston Marathon was coming along so well up to that point. With only 3 miles left in my run, a leashed dog lunged towards me. I was startled when the dog sprinted towards me. I was caught off guard and tweaked my foot when I moved to avoid him. Coach Larsen was riding his bike behind me and asked if I got bitten. I said no, but I could not stop screaming and yelling at the dog owner.

I jogged it off and didn’t think the incident caused a serious or lasting injury. I did my regular recovery routine, ice bath, and regular massage at the Olympic Training Center. I was able to continue running regularly, but five days later, I started to feel a pain and tightness in my calf area. At that time, I decided to take a day off from training and focus on getting my calf better. Well a day turned to two, which turned to three and four. I resumed running, but it was hard to get the consecutive days of training I needed before the calf tightness flared up again. Sometimes I would feel the pain in my Achilles, which is a very vulnerable area for me. So there you have it, two months of great training, followed by a month of on and off training sparked by an incident with a dog. Those that know me, know I have had my share of incidents with dogs, and it always seems to happen before important races. I’ve had encounters with dogs in Central Park, in my neighborhood when I lived in San Diego, in Crete 10 days before the Athens marathon, and now the issue in February. Can someone please invent a portable invisible fence so these dogs keep their distance when I’m running?

All race withdrawals hurt, but this one REALLY hurts. I know the number of marathons I will race before I decide to retire are winding down, so I put all of my eggs in the 2013 Boston Marathon. Knowing I had this race made the hit of the NYC Marathon cancellation a little softer. I skipped a lot of races and appearances to make the Boston Marathon my priority and focus. Most times these sacrifices pay off, but an important life lesson is: not always, and usually not immediately. So what now? Well, now its time to reset the goals, and execute them. I have the NYC Marathon this fall, and I’ll line up some road races for this spring and summer. Cross training is a regular part of my training, but I took it up a notch during my injury. Using my ElliptiGo, I have been able to maintain my fitness and I look forward to some great results in my next races. For now, a I would like to say good luck to everyone who is running the Boston Marathon. I will be in Boston to make appearances for John Hancock and other sponsors, so stay tuned to twitter and facebook for details. Thank you for your support!

Run To Win,

Celebrating 25 years in the USA

It has been 25 years since I landed in the United States of America on October 21, 1987. At the time it was my beautiful and unselfish parents and my six siblings. We came empty handed, but with the support of the Red Cross. The reason we traveled to San Diego was because my oldest sister was already living there with an uncle. It was a cultural and financial shock to say the least. Furthermore, besides my dad’s limited English, none of us spoke the language. We spent almost two years in Italy, so we could speak Italian. People were mesmerized to see black kids that could speak Italian but not English.

Little by little we learned English and adapted to our new environment. My parents were all about education. In fact, they made the older kids wake up at 4:30 am to learn the language. My dad was awake with us during these lessons. My parents’ main goal in moving to the United States was for better opportunity. If it was for safety and freedom, we had already found it in Italy. But my parents, much like many other recent immigrants or past immigrants, wanted a better life for themselves and more importantly a better future for their kids.

25 years later, my siblings and I have accomplished a lot. It has not been easy, but through perseverance, we have made it. Thanks to our parents for showing us determination, commitment, and hard work from the very beginning. Thanks mom and dad for the lessons, such as “nothing is easy” and “nothing will be handed to you.” “Education is the key to life” was their montra.

During this quarter century, our family has grown. I have three additional siblings, which were born in the USA. I am happy to report that all of us have gone and graduated from college, with the exception of the youngest two (they are currently attending university).

While we are on the subject of family, I am happily married to Yordanos and we have three daughters under the age of six. In my book, “Run to Overcome,” I wrote about how my siblings and I did not have any contact with my dad for five years (for me that was from age 5 to 10). Since, I did not have that time with my dad, I try to embrace these priceless moments with my daughters. I try to read to my girls, go watch their soccer games, say a prayer before they go to bed and when I drop of them at school. Most importantly, my wife or I are there to tuck them into bed every night. It is hard enough when I travel for a few days or weeks, but a complete 5 years, that is unimaginable. However, my dad
and mom sacrificed those few years so we could be together for the rest of ourlives.

To celebrate my 25th anniversary in the USA, here are 25 of my favorite moments in my running career:

1. My family and I made it to the Land of Opportunity on October 21, 1987

2. In 1988, my God given talent was discovered when I ran a 5:20 mile at Roosevelt Jr. High during a Coach Dick Lord’s physical education class. Now, I am able to keep 4:54 minutes per mile pace for a marathon…non-stop.

3. In 1989, I was on the sideline cheering for my older brothers Fitsum and AK on Coach Ed Ramos’ San Diego High Cross Country team…I was shadowing them, hoping to one day join the team.

4. In 1990, I was happy to make my first Cross Country Team at San Diego High School.

5. I improved my mile time to 4:22 as a 9th grader.

6. I finished 3rd at the C.I.F. San Diego section and qualified for state meet.

7. In 1993, I won my first C.I.F. San Diego Section title in Cross Country.

8. In 1994, I graduated from San Diego High and got a full Scholarship to UCLA….I ended my high school career with three state titles in (Cross Country, 3200m and 1600m). I also finished 2nd at Foot Locker Cross Country Championships and won two National Scholastic Races.

9. As a Freshman at UCLA and in my first year working with Coach Bob Larsen, I finished 4th at the Pac-10 in the 1500m.

10. In 1996, I won my only Pac 10 cross-country title on the Stanford course.

11. In 1997, I won 4 NCAA titles in one year (indoor 5K, outdoor 5K/10K double
and Cross Country)

12. In 1998, after 11 years in the USA, I got my USA citizenship. I also became a
professional runner making $30k/ year for a few years.

13. In 1999, I accomplished my biggest academic goal, when I graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies and Specialization in Business. Prior to my graduation from UCLA, I focused more on my academics than my running. I didn’t want to be seen as an athlete who never completed college. My parents brought us to the USA primarily to get an education, not to run.

14. After graduating from UCLA, my new goal was to become an Olympian and lead the resurgence in American distance running. In the year 2000, I was so happy to win the Olympic Trials in the 10k. I was off to Sydney, Australia for my first Olympic Team. The 10K had a preliminary round and I ran two personal bests, and finished 12th in the final even though I had the flu.

15. In 2001, I earned my first American Record in the 10K when I ran 27:13 just a day before my 26th birthday. After doing my first 3-week altitude training session, I improved by 40 seconds over my personal best from the Sydney Olympic Games.

16. In 2002, I ran my debut marathon in New York City. I finished in 9th place in 2:12:32. That year, I also won 4 USA National Championships. I also won my first car at the Bix 7 (7mi USA Championships).

17. In 2003, I ran my 2nd marathon in Chicago, with a conservative goal of running the Olympic A standard, which was then 2:12 but later changed to 2:15. I ran 2:10:03 and finished 9th. Had I known my time in NYC would have been sufficient for the A standard, I would have run more aggressively in Chicago.

18. In 2004, I met my future wife Yordanos Asgedom, and won a silver medal in the marathon at the Athens Olympics in the Marathon. It was the first Olympic marathon medal by an American man since Frank Shorter. It was a great honor. 70 days after the Olympics I ran a personal best at the ING New York City Marathon.

19. In 2005, I got married to Yordanos, the one that knows me best. I am lucky to have her in my life.

20. In 2006, our first child, Sara was born. I won the Gate River Run 3 days after the birth of Sara. I ran my first Boston Marathon and finished 3rd.

21. In 2007, I ran my only sub 28:00 for 10k on the roads (27:58). I was the fittest I had ever been. Unfortunately during the Olympic Trials, I lost my good friend Ryan Shay and failed to make my 3rd Olympic team.

22. In 2008, our second daughter, Fiyori was born. In the last 10 years, this is the only year I did not compete in a marathon. After suffering a stress fracture in my pelvis during the Marathon Olympic Trials, 2008 was devoted to rehabbing from injury. I thought about retiring, but ultimately decided I had more to accomplish.


23. In 2009, my dream came true when I won the ING New York City Marathon. Since I did not qualify for Beijing Olympics in 2008, I set a new goal. Win New York City Marathon to prove people my career was not over. It gave me great pride in getting a victory in the biggest marathon in the world and strongest field assembled. I became the first American in 28 years to win this race, and I had come so close so many times.

24. In 2010, I finished 5th in the Boston Marathon (with an injury) and 6th in the NYC Marathon. Victories and PRs are great, but consistency is also very important to me.

25. In 2011, I ran a personal best in New York City at 36 years old. Since we are already here…let’s make the list 26.2 long.

26.2 In 2012, I finished 4th at the Olympic Games in the marathon. I became the 2nd American ever to place 4th or better twice. I became the only to do so 8 years apart. In exactly 2 weeks, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary of running my first marathon by running the NYC Marathon. I hope all of you can tune in on November 4th at 9am EST on ESPN2.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey with me and my family. You can read all of the details about our journey in my book “Run To Overcome,” and/or watch the following segment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crawnOmwhHo

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