The U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic marathon trials were held this past Saturday in Houston, TX. Being able to watch the races unfold online and again on NBC later in the day, I was stuck with inspiration and admiration. The men’s race went out hot from the gun with Ryan Hall pushing the pace. By the third mile, there were only seven men in the lead pack. This quickly dwindled down to five as they passed halfway in 1:03:23. The rest of the race was a contest of who could hang on the longest as one by one athletes began fading back. By mile twenty, only three remained (the eventual Olympic qualifiers: Abdi Abdirahman, Ryan Hall, and Meb Keflezghi). By mile twenty-four, Abdi fell off, and by mile twenty-five, it strung out to just one, Meb, who would go on to win in 2:09:08 for a new personal best. What is amazing is not that Meb was able to win the race, defeating Ryan Hall and a host of other greats. Nor was it the fact that Meb ran a new personal best. The impressive feat was that he did this at the age of 36 and after running the New York marathon two months prior. And to top things off, he missed considerable training after New York due to a foot injury he suffered from leaving a breathe-rite strip in his shoe for the entire race. The former Olympic silver medalist and NYC marathon winner bounced back from years of poor results to be able to amass two great performances in less than seventy days and to qualify for his third Olympic games. The women’s race was just as exciting. Again, by halfway, there was only a small group of four women vying for the three Olympic spots. These four women (Amy Hastings, Kara Goucher, Desiree Davila, and Shalane Flanagan) would continue to battle it out and it wouldn’t be until mile twenty-five that their order will be decided with Hastings coming up short and finishing fourth, and Shalane winning. But my hats must go off to Kara, who finished third and who only a year ago gave birth to her son, Colt, and recently left her longtime coach. It was inspirational to watch this athletes compete. To see the hardships that they had to overcome to reach their goals. To think that only a little while ago, their dreams of becoming an Olympian were merely faint glimmers of hope, only to be able to dig deep within themselves to rise up amidst adversity and to be able to deliver when it counts. Going into 2012 with my own Olympic aspirations, I am inspired by the might and determination of my fellow runners and hope to be able to find that strength within me as I go forth on my own quest to be able to fulfill my athletic dreams.
Until next time,