I drove to Burlington, Vermont, from Salisbury, Maryland, for the Vermont City Marathon by myself, which meant I had a long drive ahead of me when I left on a Friday morning.
Within the past year, I’ve gotten really into audiobooks, which I often will listen to on longer solo car rides, which usually aren’t quite as long as this one.
Since I knew Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic silver medalist and a winner of the New York City and Boston marathons, would be a special guest at the Vermont City Marathon weekend, I decided to listen to his book, “Run to Overcome: The Inspiring Story of An American Champion’s Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream,” on the drive up.
The book was a six-hour-and-six-minute recording, so I was able to listen to the entire book before I arrived at my destination. With the other driving I did, I listened to another book and a half or so on Audible before returning to Salisbury.
It was fun to listen to the book, particularly knowing that I’d have a chance to meet Keflezighi at the race, which I ran for BibRave. Although it wasn’t an absolute guarantee, I did make a point to check the schedule of where he would be and I did get to meet him.
Keflezighi is an American, but he was born in Eritrea and also spent time in Italy. The book follows the journey of how Keflezighi got to where he is — not quite to today as his 2014 win in Boston wasn’t included in this version of the audiobook — but to his pro career and major successes. Keflezighi also wrote about how he met and started dating his wife, their relationship and their three daughters. The book is narrated by Jon Gauger.
The following realization probably makes me seem like a first-world country spoiled girl, but I’m going to say it anyway. It doesn’t have that much to do with running, but it was mentioned in the book that in Eritrea, there is no 911. It wasn’t a huge topic, more of a passing one, but it made me think.
Some things immediately come to mind as far as the struggles of third-world countries, like hunger, safe drinking water, education and infrastructure. But however dumb this may make me sound, I didn’t really think about 911. I’ve definitely taken that for granted, growing up in a middle-class family in the United States. Keflezighi also described literally eating dirt to try to get nutrients.
It was clear how dedicated his parents were to creating a great life for their many children in the United States, and not only Keflezighi, but his siblings as well, have realized success. One of his brothers is his agent.
Keflezighi wrote about getting into running because of his seventh grade gym class. Knowing how much he has accomplished today, it was interesting to find out where he started.
He attended and ran for the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in communications. I found this interesting, as well, because that was also my major — communication arts (at Salisbury University in Maryland).
I also learned more about his past as a 10,000-meter runner, along with more about how sponsors work for an elite runner.
It was nice how he also talked about his struggles — not only his successes. However, as a much-more-average-pace/mid-pack runner, I did find it a little bit funny that his slowest marathon was 2:22 (I knew this was extremely fast, but for a numerical comparison, that’s a 5:25/mile pace for 26.2 miles, according to this chart). Still, he did not come across as conceited.
It was a worthwhile listen, and after finishing the book, I did get to meet Keflezighi briefly — twice — during the Vermont City Marathon weekend. (Read about my experience at the race here.) I did mention I’d just listened to his book, and he thanked me.
Interested in reading or listening to this book? It is available in various formats on Amazon, or check your local library — for example, I saw the e-reader version was available on Hoopla (these are not affiliate links).