In 2014, as a still grieving world watched in baited anticipation, Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years. This win came at a time when our nation, the city, and the worldwide running community needed it the most. #BostonStrong
When Meb tore that finish tape, we took back both the finish line and the starting line to the Boston Marathon. Meb brought hope back to the greatest race in the world that a year prior was literally bathed in blood. Race after race, year after year, millions of people toe the line to run the greatest distance in all of running. We run through joy, pain, happiness, and grief. Marathoners cannot be kept down. You just don’t mess with people who run 26.2 miles for fun.
Then, in 2018, five years after the bombing, Desiree Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. Not only do marathoners prevail over adversity, but we succeed.
Tomorrow is Marathon Monday, Patriots Day in Massachusetts. It marks the 6 year anniversary of the bombing that took lives and drastically altered thousands others. It is also the first anniversary in which the date is again, April 15. Among the many esteemed athletes in tomorrow’s race is running legend and one of my personal heroes, Joan Benoit-Samuelson.
Joanie’s original triumph in the Boston Marathon came 40 years ago, in 1979. This was the same year I was born. In 1979, Joan won the Boston Marathon setting both a women’s course record and an American women’s marathon record. Joan also became the first women’s Olympic marathon winner in 1984. Tomorrow she is toeing the line again in the greatest race in the world.
Joan, Desiree, and Meb, along with Kathrine Switzer, of course, are some of my running heroes. These are people I look up to in my sport. Although I know I will never achieve their levels of greatness, I hope to at least be able to match their longevity, tenacity, and never ending love for this great sport.
Meb recently came out with a new book titled “26 Marathons ..” I have yet to read it. I am on the waiting list to get it out of the library because all copies are already checked out. I’m looking forward to my turn.
Meb is one of those role models that is so inspiring, all I can think of is the 90s Gatorade commercial with Michael Jordan. Except instead of “I want to be like Mike,” “I want to be like Meb.”
Not only did Meb run with heart, but he ran with brains. It takes a lot for an athlete to realize, admit and process that they are retiring from the sport they so love. I can’t imagine it.
I am starting to realize that given some physical disabilities I have, that my race days are probably numbered. I don’t want to admit it yet, but a part of me knows that.
I’m always setting running goals. For the most part, they have been attainable. Until recently. My body betrays me.
So my latest running goal, is that I want to be like Meb. I want 26 medals. A marathon is 26.2 miles long. 26 makes sense. I currently have 15 medals, and am hoping for medal # 16 this year.
I need 11 more medals in addition to what I have now. Will my body hold out for 11 more races or will it let me down? Only time will tell, but I’m going to try.
If I reach 26 medals, then I’ll back off. Maybe I’ll just stick to 5ks or some 10 mile races. Although, one of my other goals is 3 more full marathons. I’m not sure which is more realistic given my body – 3 more full marathons or 11 more half and full medals. I guess I’m going to find out.
You’ll be pulling my Mizunos off my cold dead feet. I’m hoping that’s not how I go out. When I “retire” from racing, I hope that it is my choice and not because my body no longer cooperates.
Then there are days when I just want to be like Joanie. I want to run until I’m “old” (not that she’s old because she’s not) and every day I am putting one foot in front of the other is a good day.
Last week, I was running outdoors (slowly – like 8:40 miles), and passed a person from my church on the running trail. I saw her this week and she exclaimed at how fast I run. Even though, I was running slow for me, her comment made me feel good. I’m still out there. I’m still going.
This year I am signed up for a half marathon over Labor Day weekend. If I can pull it off, it will be my second race since my stroke a few years ago. This will be my first race that I am completely changing my training plan and using the Canadian method. It is supposed to be a gentler method. I typically only train 10 weeks for a half marathon. This Canadian training plan is going to take me 17 weeks to prepare for a half marathon. I’m hoping that if I build slower, I’ll be less likely to get injured and will be able to run longer in life.
We will see what happens. A 17 week training plan means I start training at the beginning of May. If I was using my “traditional” training plan I have been using the past decade, I would not start training until the end of June. I’m going to do a slow build up for this race. Not only do I want to make it to the starting line, but I want to cross the finish line too. I want to cross it with as much strength and love as all my heroes do when they finish their races.
Good luck to everyone running Boston tomorrow. May you be like Meb. My love and prayers are with you all as you run the oldest, most prestigious, and beloved race in the entire world. #BostonStrong