Yolanda Caballero’s Still Inspired By Her Husband 21 Months After His Death; Words of Wisdom From Super Master Chema Martinez

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by LetsRun.com
October 30, 2013

On day one of three 2013 ING New York City pre-race media days, in addition to spending some time with the two leading women entrants from Ethiopia, we also today spent some time with Colombia’s Yolanda Caballero and Spain’s Jose Manual “Chema” Martinez.

We share the insight we gained from them below.

Yolanda Caballero

If you don’t know the Caballero’s story, we urge you to stop right now and read this profile of her that talks about how she went from a jogger to world class marathoner thanks to her husband who suddenly died at age 44 in January of 2011: Six Years Ago Colombian Yolanda Caballero Was Only A Jogger, Now She’s A 2:26 Marathoner Trying To Persevere After Losing The Man Who Romanced Her & Developed Her Into A South American Running Force: A storybook romance which saw Caballero marry the man who’d become her coach within 1 month of meeting him turned tragic last January when suddenly died at age 44.

On the comeback trail from losing the love of her life, Caballero has continued to train at a high level. This spring, she had the lead mid-way through the Boston marathon.

Caballero Thinks She’s In Good Shape And Says Her Deceased Husband Is Still Coaching Her

Yolanda Caballero had the lead in Boston this spring. *2013 Boston Marathon Photos

Coming into New York, we glanced at the race results from this fall and figured Caballero wasn’t in good shape as Caballero ran an abysmal 74:48 half-marathon in Philadelphia on September 15th.

Caballero, however, said we should ignore that result.

“You know that training for a marathon, that’s how it is. And the marathon training, is all training over four months. It’s very hard to (race well while training so hard),” said Caballero.

“I fell better now than (leading into) Boston.”

With her husband gone, we asked Caballero who was coaching her now. In a very touching moment that almost brough us to tears, the 31-year old Caballero revealed she still has the same coach.

“Today he’s still my coach. I still train with his assistance. Now I have help from my brother (who rides beside me). But my coach is still my husband. I follow all of his schedules.”

Jose Manual “Chema” Martinez

Martinez, who turned 42 last Tuesday, is a two-time Olympian from Spain (16th 2008 Olympic marathon, 9th 2004 Olympic 10,000). When we saw his name on the list of people for today’s press conference, we thought, “Why is this old guy on the list. Is he going for the New York masters record (Poland’s Ryszard Marczak 2:15:54)?”

We asked elite athlete coordinator David Monti and Monti said that wasn’t why he was in the field. Monti said he’s been trying to get Martinez, who did run New York a few years ago for charity unbeknownst to Monti, to race New York for years and that he very well might go out with the leaders.

Martinez, who has a 2:08:09 marathon personal best but hasn’t broken 2:10 since running that 2:08:09 in 2003, confirmed that to be the case.

“I don’t run for a record in the Masters (division), because when you run with the best in the world, for me it’s not (right for) my goal (to be) a record in masters. I run (to compete) with the best in the world, not for my age,” said Martinez.

Martinez said his training recently has been way better than it has been in years.

“Normally when you’re training (for a marathon) the last 12 weeks, 2,300 kilometers, you are tired because the training is very tough, hard, but this rear I feel good. The people see me and say, ‘You’re okay?’ Because it’s not normal because, when you train for a marathon, you’re always tired. (But) now I feel good.

When asked what his goals are for Sunday, Martinez said that now that he’s older, he has different goals as to when he was younger:

“The first goal, enjoy. Enjoy the race. Enjoy the city. Enjoy the event, every event, because I don’t know if this event is the last event (for me) at a high level.”

“My first race with the Spanish team was in ’96. I was always training every year (trying to) run for a medal, and now it’s different. Now I run for me, for my sensation, for running the best race in the world. I run for all the Spanish runners. I feel good because I don’t have the pressure.”

There could potentially be one advantage to Martinez being 42 on Sunday. He said in the past, he’s run a bit foolishly and “very quickly” at the beginning of his marathons as he’s tried to run every race with his heart, trying to win. The result was at the finish he often had “problems.” He’s going to be smarter on Sunday.

“For this race, I hope to run the first half of the marathon only with my head and second half of marathon with my heart. With my body, with my soul, with my skin, with everybody,” said Martinez.

“My mind and my body don’t have age.”

Martinez was certainly full of optimism. He said this morning, he went running with some other guys from Spain in Central Park and ran his last km at 2:48 pace (that’s 4:30 mile pace).

“(My) last km was 2:48 in Central Park. And you say to me, ‘That’s not possible.’ (But) my mind and my body don’t have age.”

After hearing this, LRC’s Robert Johnson told Martinez he was getting depressed as the he just turned 40 ourselves and can barely run at a decent clip.

Martinez then gave some sage advice to all Master runners.

“(When) You have the goal to train, it’s okay,” said Martinez. “When you have no goal for train, it’s a problem.”


Youtube videos of our chats with Caballero and Martinez appear below. We’ve got to admit Caballero still dresses young as he had a young looking woman on his adidas t-shirt.

Nice shit, Jose Manuel Martinez even dresses young at age 42.

Nice shirt, Jose Manuel Martinez even dresses young at age 42.

Yolanda Caballero
Jose Manual “Chema” Martinez


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