Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Run to Overcome"

"The inspiring story of an American champion's long-distance quest to achieve a big dream." by Meb Keflezighi with Dick Patrick

My dear friend Alexandra Williams of Fun and Fit sent me a surprise package in the mail in November, 2011 with a note, "I thought you might enjoy a signed copy." She met Meb at a Fitness Convention and shared with him my Boston Marathon journey.

I started reading Run to Overcome in 2011, but since at the time I believed I would not be able to return to running, could not bring myself to read it.

It would have been just the medicine I needed at the time, but everything in Divine Timing.

After Meb won the 2014 Boston Marathon - "The whole damn town's in tears!" "Talk about redemption!"

I knew that it was time to read his story!

The fabric of Meb's life is woven together with faith, family, strength, courage and determination.

"Life is bright, it just seems difficult at times," he writes after a series of challenges in his personal and professional life.

Meb's critics had written him off several times over in his running career. Before this year's Boston Marathon, he wasn't even mentioned as a possible contender. Too old. A history of too many injuries.

But as I was doing research for today's post I learned that Meb, who had to sit out the 2013 Boston Marathon because of a calf injury, had left the grandstands as a spectator on 4/15/13 just 5 minutes before the first bomb exploded. After the 2nd explosion, he was hurried into the Copley Plaza Hotel. He vowed to come back and run this year. For 365 days he said in an interview, that's all he thought about ... coming back to win Boston as the first American to win since Greg Meyer in 1983.

When Greg Meyer spoke at our L Street Running Club pre marathon meeting, he corrected the person who introduced him. "Don't say I was the last American to win Boston. Say I was the most recent."

Meb knew what it would mean to Boston for an American to win the 2014 Boston Marathon. And not just any American but one who is the embodiment of what it means to be resilient and prevail against incredible odds. An American who gives back to his native country, Eritrea and here in the U.S. with his foundation MEB which stands for Maintaining Excellent Balance. He testified before Congress to support the launch of the National Physical Activity Plan.

He donated $10,000 of his Boston Marathon purse to the Martin Richard Foundation.

As we stood on Beacon Street just shy of mile 23, Tom took this video as we waited with eager anticipation to see who the lead male runner was:

After reading Run to Overcome, this moment fills my heart with awe and wonder as he writes in his book published in 2010 after winning the New York City Marathon:

"So what's next? I would love to keep running competitively for another three years and make the teams for the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world track and field championships. I know I can run faster in the marathon, half marathon, and 10K. If these things don't happen, though, so be it. I'll still be content with my productive and consistent career.

I must admit that I feel a couple of voids. I'd love to win the Boston Marathon..."

Meb ends his book with
"As I often say, whoever has the better day will win the marathon. No runner is victorious every time. You will not always win in life either. Nothing is guaranteed, no matter how hard you've worked. Injuries are part of running; disappointments and setbacks are part of everyday life. But if you keep doing the right things, eventually the results will go your way.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. (1 Corinthians 9:verses 26-27)

Winning in life doesn't happen when you overcome just one thing - do or die. It's persevering knowing that difficulties are bumps in the road, not the end of the world. It's continuing to do the right things, knowing your time will come. After all, you have to conduct yourself like a champion before you can ever win a championship.

Whatever you do, then, give it your best. Persevere in overcoming obstacles. When you do, you'll be running to win."

Thank you Meb for the gift of your story. Thank you for blessing the city of Boston with your 2014 Boston Marathon win and for reminding all of us that we run with endurance the race that is set before us.

My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.

"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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