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It was an inspirational sight to behold. As Meb Keflezighi neared the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon, he pumped his fists, made the sign of the cross to honor God, and finally raised his arms in triumph as he crossed the finish line. His winning time, 2:08:37, a full 11 seconds ahead of the 2nd place finisher, was impressive, but it did not tell the entire story of how amazing his performance truly was. If you were lucky enough to watch live coverage, you were treated to an exciting race as around the half way mark he pulled away from the competition and never looked back. He ran in a way that made it seem effortless, as though this were his race to win and all he had to do was cruise along to the finish. It was, if I may, Mebmerizing (credit: Alex Park). What adds to this story even more is the fact that the American elite men banded together to help give Meb the extra edge. You can read that story on LetsRun.com.
By ending a decades long drought of American male wins at Boston (last win was 1983), Meb has given the American running community something it has not had in the marathon in a long time: hope. At 38 years old, Meb has shown runners and non-runners alike across the country that America is still a force to be reckoned with in this storied distance, and that age should, and is not, be a barrier to achieving greatness. Much like Dana Torres’ five-time Olympic showing, Meb’s win here shows that if you want something bad enough, and work hard enough, than you can achieve anything (if you have not read Meb’s story, it is worth a read). The impact that his win will have on younger runners (and potential runners) will be huge, and I am excited to see what the future of American running holds.
On the night of his win, I headed out for an easy 5K around my town. The weather was warm and I just felt good. As my legs glided across the pavement, I felt like a small child again pretending to be a professional athlete on the world stage. I felt like I could conquer the world. I let my mind drift to the progress I have made over the past year, losing 20+ lbs, setting a mile PR (for my 30’s), bouncing back from a collapsed lung, and setting myself on a course to not only hit a new mile PR (fingers crossed) but possibly a new half and full marathon PR along the way. Meb’s win has reminded me of the runner I once was and the runner I still believe I can be. It may not be as easy as when I had no real time-consuming responsibilities in high school, but I finally feel like the hard work and time needed to realize my goals is worth it.
In his book Run to Overcome: The Inspiring Story of an American Champion’s Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream, Meb shares this quote:
But I also realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself. One of my greatest joys is inspiring other people to perform at their best.
Meb’s 2014 Boston Marathon win has cemented his position as an American running icon and will be inspiring runners for years to come. Congratulations Meb, and may you find long-lasting joy in achieving such greatness.