Thank God for social media and Facebook’s retargeting, because without it Meb’s post may have never made it on my newsfeed and I never would have known about this great 92nd Street Y event. The panel included Meb Keflezighi , Dr. Jordan Metzl and Malcolm Gladwell and was moderated by Jacob Weisberg. Dr. Metzl is the a sports medicine physician based in NYC and a 33 time marathoner (he hit 33 during Monday’s Boston Marathon) and 12 time ironman finisher. Malcolm Gladwell is a bestselling author with is books including David and Goliath, The Tipping Point, Blink and is an avid runner. At the an early age (I think he said 12, but I can’t be certain) he ran a 3:55 1500m WHICH IS INSANE. Jacob Weisberg is the Chairman of the Slate Group and, as he mentioned during the panel, had a love for running as well.
If you don’t know who Meb is, you’re seriously missing out. He was the first elite runner I became aware of, won the 2009 NYC Marathon, won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics and won the 2014 Boston Marathon becoming the first American to win the race in 31 years. For a full list of his accomplishments, see his website here. Meb is a super star and the panel solidified my level of admiration for him for years to come.I attended the panel with Sirrah and our friend Whitney. They had seats to the side when I arrived and I quickly moved us. I wanted to be as close to front and center as possible so he could see me weep from inspiration. These words actually came out of my mouth. Earlier in the day I had rewatched the video of Meb’s 2014 Boston Marathon win and started crying at work. I expected those emotions to carry over into the nights festivities.
The panel focused a lot on Meb and his experiences at the Boston Marathon, both last year’s and the 2015 race that was held on Monday. I think the moderator did a great job of keeping Dr Metzl and Malcolm included. Also, audience members were allowed to submit questions on index cards for consideration. The highlights of the discussion are listed below:1. If Meb hadn’t grown up to be an elite runner he would have attended UCLA to become a doctor or engineer (he thinks. He was obviously made to be a runner so no plan B was needed). Also – this was MY question he answered. The first one of the Q&A session! I told him I had asked that question later when Sirrah and I met him and he HIGH FIVED ME! Coolest man ever.
2. Everyone has their own motivation to start running: Dr. Metzl wanted to beat his brothers (and continues to. He beat his brother at the Marathon on Monday too – but in all fairness, his brother was injured). Malcolm’s family were all runners and “it was just what you did.” Meb had immigrated to the U.S. from Eritrea when he was 12 and his parents told him and his siblings that they were in the land of opportunity and to never take that for granted. That meant nothing but straight A’s so when it was time for Meb’s middle school gym class to run the mile he knew he had to run a mile in 6:30 to get an A (he would also receive a t-shirt and a . He ran it in 5:20.
3. Everyone has their struggles and rituals – Sometimes it’s really hard to get out and get moving. Dr. Metzl found it was more difficult to get and stay motivated to strength train, so he started the Iron Strong group so he would have people to train with (and to motivate others). Even Meb has issues getting out the door, especially during the winter. One of his friends would come meet him and run with him for about one minute, it’s whatever it takes to get you out the door. Also, both Dr. Metzl and Meb prefer spaghetti and meatballs as their pre-race food and Malcolm just needs to keep his head clear. He gets so nervous before a race he was never really scared of anything else growing up. He said it was like, “well, this is nothing compared to running.” He was doing a 5K this weekend and was wondering “should I even be here right now?!”
4. You’re never too old to run, as long as you stay healthy – “Aren’t you worried you’ll wear out your knees?” “You’re going to need a knee replacement one day.” “Don’t you think you should slow down?” These are things runners hear ALL. THE. TIME. And it was nice to hear that even elite athletes have to deal with the nay sayers. Dr. Metzl said “No matter how old you are, the stronger your kinetic chain the more you can do.” Keep your muscles strong and intact and you really can do anything. Meb also made an amazing point (one of my favorites from the night), people always say that they’ll slow down or stop racing when they reach X age, but if no one ever told you when you were born how would you know?” Mind. Blown.
5. Meb’s schedule is more hectic than yours and he still fits in his stretching and therapy: This one rang home to me because I have a long term relationship with injury. I “forget” or “run out of time” to do my therapy and stretch properly. Meb wakes up at 6:30am for a nice 10 mile run (that takes him about an hour) and continues to work out, run, strength train, eat, have his therapy, massages and stretch until 11pm that night. He does this every day. He also said that he stretches three times a day. Granted, Meb is paid to be an athelete, but if Meb can stretch three times a day, I can at least roll out my calves once a day with a lacrosse ball. I’m happy to say I’ve done this every day since the panel. (See Finish Line Physical Therapy? I’m listening!)
After the panel, everyone was available for a meet and greet. Meb signed our boos and took a photo with us. The line was out the door and snaked through to the front of the auditorium and he was still gracious, humble and polite. I hope he didn’t notice that I was shaking from excitement. If he did, he wasn’t thrown off by it. It must happen all the time.