Meb Keflezighi Leads the American Hopes at the 2012 ING New York City Marathon

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*2012 ING New York City Marathon Men’s Preview
*2012 ING New York City Marathon Women’s Preview

November 1, 2012

We’ve already told you who the 5 men and 6 women are that we think that can win the 2012 ING New York City marathon (see links above). But what about the Americans?

America’s best marathoner and former New York champ, Meb Keflezighi, leads a very strong American field. With the race being on ESPN2, New York made a real big push to get as many of the top Americans as possible. Most of the top American marathoners not named Dathan Ritzenhein and Ryan Hall (and he was supposed to be here) are in New York which also will serve as the marathon debut for two sub-28 10,000 runners.

Overall, we preview the top 11 American men. In our men’s preview, we talked about Meb, but we said unfortunately that we don’t think he’s one of the “Five Men That Could Win The 2012 ING New York City Marathon.”

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Nonetheless, Meb’s marathon career is simply amazing and he deserves his own article. So we discuss Meb’s New York chances here and the chances of the next 10 Americans in another article here.

#1 Meb Keflezighi    Mammoth Lakes    CA    USA    37    Skechers/NYAC    2:09:08    Olympic Trials, 2012

Meb may have been only man #6 in our men’s preview, but he is darn, darn good, so his New York preparations get their own article. You can read more about Meb in our men’s preview, but we want to talk about what Meb said about his preparations for New York when he called in from California to Wednesday’s teleconference.

1. Meb definitely wanted the race to be held as he felt it would be good for New York . Meb said he’d been following the hurricane closely on tv (and oh yeah, Meb follows his news on CNBC and CNN) but he felt like the race should go on:

“Hopefully it can be something positive coming to the city,” said Meb.

“There’s a lot of definite concerns, and only the people that are there can make that judgment,” said Meb. “If it’s going to be something detrimental to health, I think they will make that decision.  But I really believe it should be run because I think it will be something positive.  The city has had lot of flooding, and to see people run through it (would be) the complete opposite – and then especially it’s going to be live on ESPN2. I think it just will be something really positive.  If they need to delay for a reason, then I guess they have to take that prerogative, but there are people that will make that decision, not us.”

2. Meb sounded upbeat about his training said he’s feeling way more confident than he was before the his two other marathons this year – the 2012 US Men’s Oylmpic Marathon Trials (which he won in a new PR of 2:09:08) and the Olympics (where he was 4th) – but admitted that he’s not in the best shape of his life.

“As far as my training, it’s good to be home.  I’ve been in Mammoth Lakes for about four weeks now, have not traveled.  Training is coming along really well, I feel I’m getting fit and strong and trying to give it another run for the title,” said Meb.

“Coach Larsen and I always felt that (I could run the old) the course record, which was 2:07:43 (set by Tesfaye Jifar in 2001) – which I believe I could have done in the past.  I believe probably 2005, 2004 was the best shape I’ve ever been.  As far as, ‘Can I do it again – run 2:08/2:07?’  Last year, I definitely felt I could have done it had I not had to stop twice.  I stopped twice and was about a minute off.  Unfortunately that’s part of racing, but I hope I am in good shape right now, and as long as it’s a consistent pace like it was last year versus having crazy moves on 1st Avenue, (then) I think (I can).”

“I think that’s why Mutai ran (so fast last year) because it was consistent 4:40s to 4:50s so he showed that (the New York) course can be fast if you run intelligently and conservatively (and consistently).

“I still believe I can run 2:07/2:08 (in) New York.”

3. It was absolutely inspirational to hear Meb talk about his Olympic run where he thought about dropping out, refused to give in to the temptation (thank God or the US would have gone 3 for 3 in terms of DNFs) and stormed to a 4th place finish.

“The Olympics was a great effort for me. I was healthy but not 100 percent fit because of the setback(s),” said Meb.  “I thought I’d go for a bronze because of my fitness.  I wasn’t too confident going in.”

“(Once the race started), I started having problems with my feet and then I had a side ache, like I wrote on my blog, cramps basically from about mile seven all the way to 21, and my foot was getting really beat up from the cobblestones and the pebble rocks.  I’m actually still dealing with it (now), believe it or not.  I took two and a half weeks off (after that race).”

Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman

The three 2012 US Olympic marathoners – Ryan Hall (l), Meb Keflezighi (c) and Abdi Abdirahman (r) – running in New York earlier this year

“I thought it was a blister but it was more like a wound, really all the layers of my skin, people refer to it as a third degree burn because of the impact that I had (in that area) for a long time.  I wasn’t able to walk Wednesday after the race.”

“(But) I put everything on the line.  I did think about dropping out about 13 or 15 miles into it, when I thought, ‘You know what, I know I’ve already got a silver medal, I already have New York lined up, just stop.'”

“(But) then I thought about something positive, two things.  ‘(You are) representing our country. ‘ When I made the Houston trials, I said to the guys and myself, ‘Hey, this is the best team we are sending, how can we represent the best we can?'”

“(So) although dropping out was an option, it was an option I wasn’t going to take.  My girls where (there). (They) are the daughters of an Olympian and a medalist, and (someday) they’re going to be asked, ‘How did he do?”  A DNF or did not finish did not sound very good, so I carried on to the finish,” said Meb before describing how he stormed from 19th to 4th in the second half of the race.

“I basically said, ‘Hey, (take it) mile by mile’ and just made new goals and kept pushing forward.”

Meb said he wanted to finish as high as possible and he pointed out that one never knows in this day and age of drug testing what might happen to top three finishers.

“Not that I’m accusing anybody, but if anything happens to those top three guys, maybe (I’ll be) be on the podium some day.”

4. Meb admitted the Olympic run took a lot out of him physically – so much so that he could’t walk after the race – and that he’s still suffering from the affects of his foot injury (which some refer to as a third degree burn) that dates to last year.

“I put it all on the line. (After the Olympics) I spent three days and in London and then another five days in Italy, but I wasn’t able to do any sightseeing because I couldn’t walk.”

“It was a great effort for me and pushed my body to the limit, but the consequences are still with me to this day and this week.  Late last week or this week is the only time I have run without supports on my foot, but I feel it’s healed.  (But) how much damage I’m going to do to it on Sunday is another thing that is still on my mind because I’m doing four marathons in one year, and with the incident last year, it’s the same foot that got re-irritated, and every time I re-injure it it’s pushing the envelope.  I took two and a half weeks off, not by choice but because I was forced to.”

“But my training has been good, and I have covered at least three times the distance, 26.2 miles, and the tempo has been good.”

“I feel confident going into New York whereas I wasn’t like that going to Houston and the Olympic Games.”

Meb’s Flying in on The Thursday Night/Friday Morning Red-eye on Purpose
One tidbit we thought many of you would find interesting – particularly those of you that are obsessed with sleep prior to a big race. When asked if his travel plans had been altered because of the hurricane, Meb revealed they had not as he really was trying to stay at altitude as long as possible and was flying in on the Thursday night red-eye.

*More on American Men: A Look at the Men’s American Invasion (The Next 10 Americans Not Named Meb)

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