Where Your Dreams Become Reality

Main Front Page

What's Let's Run.com?


Training Advice

World Famous:
Message Board

Turn Back The Clock!
Today's Top Runners Talk About Their High School Careers

Miler Scott Anderson's Journal

Wejo Speaks

Rojo Speaks

JK Speaks

Wejo Speaks
Rojo Speaks
JK Speaks


Wejo Speaks: "Where Your Dreams Don't Become Reality?"
by: Weldon Johnson

Editor's Note: Weldon Johnson, "Wejo", is a co-founder of LetsRun.com (with his identical twin brother Robert who coaches cross country at Cornell). Since founding this website in 2000, he has gone from 29:49 at 10k to 28:06.

For a bio on Weldon click here
To read some of Weldon's past articles click
-Written on June 17, 2004

For a guy who has his own website, I definitely do not do too well of a job of updating people on my own running. But despite my lack of communication, I'm amazed at how many people root for me to do well. Before every big race (even if I publicize it or not), the emails will start to come in, "Good luck, Wejo. I'm a big fan of yours."

And the emails have slowly started to come in once again over the last few weeks, "Good luck in Sacramento (at the Olympic trials). Hope to see you in Athens."

So, I guess it's time for me to fess up: I won't be running in the Olympics in Athens. I won't even be running in the Olympic Trials in Sacramento. No I didn't get caught up in the Balco drug scandal, rather I have a tear in my plantar fascia. If you want to know more about my injury you can click here, but basically I've been doing very little training since March (and actually was hurt for a good portion of last Fall and barely made it to the marathon trials). I've seen numerous medical professional about my problem, and then probably got the tear about 6 to 8 weeks ago. I made a last ditch effort to rehab the thing, but the pain returned when I tried running 15 minutes, and am told I might need up to 2 months of rehab.

As for not making it to Athens, sure there was some disappointment, but to be honest there's not much I can do about. In many ways, getting injured seems like the easy way out. I'm probably honestly more upset that I just can't even run.  If I went to Sacramento, really fit, and choked or something, I'd be beating myself up.  But now I'm not even getting the chance to do what I like to do most and that is compete. Finally getting an absolute diagnosis and coming to the conclusion that Athens is 100% out of the question is a relief in some ways, because there no longer is any ambiguity or frustration.

And although I love running, and run a running website, running isn't who I am. At the end of the day, I don't judge myself by how fast I can run around in a circle. It would be kind of stupid to get too upset just because I'm not going to the Olympics.

I honestly feel worse for all the people (many of you strangers) and family and friends who have supported me over the years. It seems like some of them are taking it worse than me.  I must get my optimism and competitiveness from my mom, as even a couple weeks ago, she was trying to convince me and telling others I could still make the Olympics, even after my coach and I had reached the conclusion it was 100% out of the question. But when I actually sit back and analyze it, I realize she is not let down by me not making the Olympics. An incredibly loving mom, she just wants me to attain my goal because I sacrificed a lot the last four years, but it seemed kind of strange to hear her saying I was going to make it when in my mind I no longer was even trying.  

So on a site whose motto is "Where Your Dreams Become Reality", I guess to some I'm now living proof that one's dreams don't always become reality. But I hope that is not what you take away from this, because although I may not have attained the ultimate goal, the Olympics, my dreams in many ways have become reality the last four years.

When I started out on this Olympic quest of sorts 4 years ago, it was going to be a 4 month ordeal where I quit my consulting job to pursue what really was just a pipe dream of reaching the Olympics.  I was probably only about 100th in the country at 10k (with a 29:50 p.r.). I always though I could be a better runner and had some confidence in my abilities and didn't want to always be wondering "what if". Four years later, I am an Olympic caliber runner, have very few regrets, and have been 4th in the country twice (and now sport a 28:06 p.r.).

Additionally, I've learned a great deal about myself the last four years, and have grown as a person by trying to reach my goal. I'm not trying to say that everyone should attempt to become an Olympic runner (actually I'm saying most of you shouldn't try and do this), but we all have talents, dreams, and goals, but for some reason are often reluctant to pursue them. This whole experience has shown me we can accomplish a lot more than we once thought possible. For example, somehow (I still can't figure this one out) I tried in vain (for about seven years) to break 30 minutes for 10k, but now when I'm fit it seems pretty easy to run close to 28 minutes.  

I'm a bit surprised when people write me and say I was so brave to pursue my goals and am some sort of inspiration, because I didn't seem too brave at all.  In other areas of my life, I think I fear rejection a bit too much, but if this is what rejection feels like then I'm living proof not to be afraid to pursue your goals because most likely no matter what the outcome is, you'll be better off from it.

I've never been one who was able to go through the motions with my running. On more than a couple runs this spring, I'd start walking out of pain and frustration, and I began to realize the Olympics might be out of the question. But it gave me time to reflect back on these last 4 years, and my first impression was how much fun it was (So living on the side of a mountain, barefoot, in a cabin isn't that bad)

I'll write more on my future plans and the last few years later, but I'd like to thank everyone who was so supportive the last 4 years. My family, coach, and friends are the greatest and I hope they know it. But I'd also like to especially thank everyone who cheered for me at races, sent me an encouraging email along the way, or said I was inspiring to them, because these people were the ones who were doing the inspiring.  A few kind words to a stranger can go a long way, and I hope everyone remembers this. Thanks for the support.

And finally, I'd like to end with an inspirational poem that has been on our website from basically the beginning. It's one of my favorites. It's doesn't feel totally appropriate because I don't feel "beaten" at all, but it's a good poem.  We used to say it was from an Unknown author, but site fan Bryan Leighliter, a teacher in Georgia, informed us, it is by Dee Groberg.

"QUIT! GIVE UP! YOU'RE BEATEN!" They shout and plead,
There's just too much against you now, this time you can't succeed.
And as I start to hang my head in front of failure's face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene.
For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children's race, young boys, young men; now I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope. Each thought to win that race.
Or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son.
And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hopes of fire.
To win, to be the hero there, was each young boy's desire.
And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought, "My dad will be so proud."

But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope. He couldn't win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said, "Get up and win that race!"

He quickly rose, no damage done - behind a bit, that's all,
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quite before with only one disgrace.
I'm hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn't try to race.
But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father's face
That steady look that said again, "Get up and win the race."

So, he jumped up to try again. Ten yards behind the last.
If I'm to gain those yards, he thought, I've got to run real fast.
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
There's no sense running anymore - three strikes and I'm out - why try?
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had flew away.
So far behind, so error prone, closer all the way.

I've lost, so what's the use, he thought, I'll live with my disgrace.
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he'd have to face.
"Get up," an echo sounded low. "Get up and take your place.
You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race."

With borrowed will, "Get up," it said, "You haven't lost at all,
For winning is not more than this, to rise each time you fall."
So up he rose to win once more. And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn't quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he'd ever been.
Still he gave it all he had and ran as though to win.
Three times he'd fallen stumbling, three times he'd rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed first place.
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud;
You would have thought he'd won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his Dad he sadly said, "I didn't do so well."
"To me you won," his father said, "You rose each time you fell."

And when things seemed dark and hard and difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy - helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and down and all,
And all you have to do to win - is rise each time you fall.
"Quit!" "GIVE UP, YOU'RE BEATEN." They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says, "GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!"

Weldon Johnson can be reached at:

Tell a friend about this article
(Dont worry we won't email your friend(s) again. We send them a 1 time email)
Enter their email address(es), separated by a comma.
Enter your name:

Don't Worry: We
Back to Main Front Page
Questions, comments or suggestions?Please email the LetsRun.com staff at suggestions@LetsRun.com.

Save on Running Shoes

Cross Country Spikes 10% off

Train Smarter!!!

Lower Body Pain Relief 120x240

Running & Track and Field Posters

Unbelievable interest
ING Orange Savings Account

Sponsor of the NYC Marathon
ING Orange
5 Minute Process to Open an Account
No Minimum Deposit

Search the Web
or LetsRun.com