It has been a tough road back for me since my 5th place finish at the Boston Marathon. Going into the race I didn’t have a perfect training buildup or a tune up race. As you may recall, I didn’t have any races between last year’s New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon this spring. I recovered quickly and well after the New York City Marathon victory. I was getting in shape very quickly for the Boston Marathon. I had a few setbacks during the Boston Marathon build up, and at a critical time. It was right in the middle part of my build-up. Some people thought I was too busy making appearances to train for Boston, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was committed to end the streak of non-American winners at the Boston Marathon, and was glad that Ryan Hall and I were both given the opportunity by John Hancock.read more
I would like to start by giving thanks to God for the many Blessings bestowed in my life. I reflect daily on my life as a young boy in Eritrea living with no electricity, and barely the necessities like food and water. These thoughts often come to my mind and I am reminded daily how blessed my family and I are to have the life we have today. There are so many people who have sowed seeds in my life and for those people I am so thankful!read more
“God does not give something you cannot handle.”
We have to handle life’s highs with integrity and joy. We must also
understand that in life, things won’t be perfect every day, 365 days a year.
We must recognize and enjoy the positive things in life that are all around
us with the people around us, because we can never predict what the next
days, weeks, months, or years will bring.
Coming in to this year’s race I was ready. I mean REALLY ready for a marathon race. The only question that Coach Larsen and I had was:
Can I hold the peak fitness that I experienced in early and mid October for the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1?
I knew I was ready to roll four weeks before the New York City Marathon. However, I tried to keep the momentum from the encouraging performance at the Rock ‘N Roll San Jose Half Marathon going for as long as possible. I just needed to keep healthy and do the minimum for the last three weeks because I knew I was fit.
Well, now that the race is over, we can say the training was right on.read more
Read this letter that Meb wrote to NIKE back in 1998. One of my favorite quotes from the letter:
In the near future I am confident I will make a positive contribution to U.S. distance running in the 5,000m, 10,000m, road race and marathon.
I’d say so…. you can’t say that he didn’t tell us exactly what he would do.read more
For today’s blog, I wanted to share with you an interesting interaction my good friend and training partner Mario Arce had with now-President Barack Obama. Mario Arce helped train me (by riding a bike alongside me) for the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2005 and 2006 ING NYC Marathon, and the 2006 Boston Marathon. Mario is just one member of Team Meb who supports me behind the scenes. I hope to introduce you to others in future blogs. For now, back to the Obama story, from Mario Arce:
In the summer of 2007, I was helping train Meb for the Olympic Trials Marathon, which occurred in November 2007 in New York City. The majority of this training occurred in Mammoth Lakes. One day my younger brother got injured in a bike accident and was hospitalized in Reno, Nevada, which is two hours away from Mammoth. I went to visit him in Reno and stayed at the hotel. I can tell something was going on at the hotel because there just seemed a lot of commotion and it seemed to be some type of political conference. But this was almost a year and a half before the 2008 Presidential Elections, so I didn’t think too much of it. My mind was on the real race coming up, the Olympic Trials.
Now, although I train Meb, I may not look like a runner. I am 5’11” and 250 pounds. I am a former cross country runner and national class mountain biker. I am able to train Meb because I can pace him on a bike while he runs the miles he needs to prepare for world class competition. There aren’t too many people who train in the USA that can provide Meb the pacing he needs to push himself, so I play that role. This is similar to Mike McKeeman pacing Deena Kastor in training because it is hard to find another woman that can push Deena.
Back to my story in Reno… One morning during my short stay there, I went on a run. As I was finishing up my run at about 8:30-9 minute per mile pace, three big men and one tall slender man caught up to me and passed me. As they passed me, the tall slender man turned back and said, “Moving pretty fast for a big guy.” Looking to plug my affiliation with Team Running USA, I responded, “that’s because I train with Olympians.” The tall, slender, light skinned African-American man asked “which ones?” Not expecting this gentleman to know the names of the Olympians I train with, since they are not Michael Phelps or Lebron James, I resorted to explain “Actually, one of them is on the cover of RunnersWorld magazine.” Before I said anything further, that gentleman, who is now the President of the United States, said “who, Meb?” I was so pleasantly surprised that a random person in the streets of Reno knew of Meb. But when we realize that this random man I “ran” into is President Barack Obama, I think it says a lot about Meb’s story. Meb is an illustration of the American Dream. Not only did Meb utilize the opportunities available to him to do well for himself and his family, he led the way in bringing American distance running to a respectable level. Meb, Coach Larsen, Deena Kastor and Coach Vigil led the resurgence of American distance running.
Anyhow, back to my Obama story… The moral of the story is: Meb is one of my best friends, and it is my pleasure to be friends with someone who the President knows on a first name basis.
The following are Meb’s own words…
Reflecting on the Houston Half Marathon and my 17th USATF Championship in my 10 year professional career.
Jan 25, 2009. A week has gone by since my first race of 2009. Let me tell you there is no better way to welcome 2009 than to have my first half marathon win and a personal record to go with it. Now a new goal, I would like to win my first marathon this year.
Even though I was only ranked 3rd going into the race, it reminded me of 2004 Olympic Games. No one expected me to do much to say the least. But I knew the kind of workouts I had, and so did the people close to me. To those who were curious about my workouts, I provided them my workouts results. They expected nothing less than 1st place in the Houston Half Marathon. As one of my friends who was aware of my workouts put it, “I would only have been surprised if you finished in second place.” I guess history does overlap sometimes. As some where surprised with the Silver Medal I won in the 2004 Olympic Games, people who knew me well were not. After all, it is what I do day in and day out. I work hard during my training and when the day of competition arrives, it is time to compete against myself. That is what I mean when I say and sign “Run To Win.” Hey, even 2nd place is a winner if you gave it 100%. As one of my role models, Coach John Wooden indicates, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
After a big struggle for the whole 2008 year, I committed to getting myself healthy. If I couldn’t get healthy, I was ready to retire if it was God’s will. I decided to go to Colorado Springs to get healthy. I spent two months there dedicating from 7am to 8 pm to rehabbing and getting stronger. As a professional runner, running is not the only part of the job. Getting healthy and maintaining your health is actually a full-time job that involves the right training, drills, nutrition, rest and education.
I would like to thank God for allowing me to see the bright moment after a dark 2008. I spent a lot time in physical therapy and doctors’ offices. These are a runner’s least favorite places, but I was able to make great progress and friends. Although there were many moments of frustration, I was okay with all of the rehabilitation because my faith and desire to be obedient on God’s will. We all need to realize God loves us 24/7, not only when we are in the best of circumstances. God has been there to support me through the bad times and the good times. God cared for me and did not give up on me, unlike other people…but we’ll leave it at that ☺
As far as the Houston Half Marathon race, there was a lot of anticipation from me, fans and loved ones. To be honest, I could not sleep the night before because it has been a long time since I last competed. My experiences as a student-athlete at UCLA taught me that one restless night is not going to effect me in competition. After all, I have been committed and dedicated for months to prepare for this race. I was ready to roll. Of all the athletes who I competed against in this race, I think only Brian Sell knew what I was here for… to really compete and “Run To Win.” And that is what I did, I ran hard, and luckily I won, both by finishing first and running a new personal record.