When someone asks me which celebrities are running marathons, I usually respond with the list of elites who I know are running…not Katie Holmes, not Ryan Reynolds (although that would be nice…), not Al Roker. When referring to marathons, my celebrities are the elites, and I will track them down at race expos to find them. One of my favorite runners of all time is Dathan Ritzenhein, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the 2010 NYC Marathon Expo.
Dathan (we’re on a first name basis, obviously) is an extremely talented runner, but he has had his fair share of setbacks. Injuries plagued him while running for the University of Colorado, but he came back to win the NCAA Cross Country Championship. For the 2004 Athens Olympics, he ran the 10k, but had to drop out of the race due to injury. In 2008, he was the first American across the line in the marathon in Beijing. In the past few years, he’s battled injuries that have resulted in surgery.
In January, we (okay, just the runnerds of the US) watched the US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. I had high hopes for Dathan to make the team again, but he finished in fourth by a mere eight seconds. Eight seconds! This picture sums it up:
Favorite quote from the video: (at 3:26) “You sound a little disappointed…” “Yeah I’m disappointed!!”
Last night, I glued myself (and my friends and family…sorry!) to the TV to watch the 10k race for the US Olympic Trials. Of course my eyes were on Dathan as he ran to make the team with the added pressure of trying to run an Olympic standard to even qualify for the team. The rain was coming down with puddles forming on the track, but with help from his teammate and friend Galen Rupp, Dathan had this look at the end:
Well, that was after the finish line. This is what the finish line looked like:
VICTORY. (Or third…close enough.)
So Ritz, one of my favorite runners, is headed to the 2012 London Olympics in the 10,000m. He’s been through a lot these past few years, and not that I know him personally, but I am SO excited for him. I know what I’ll be watching in August…
Not to draw comparisons between myself and elite runners (because obviously running is still just a hobby for me), but when rewatching Ritz’s post-marathon trials video, part of it reminded me of myself. Example: “…what I went through this past year, I thought I could maybe never run again.”
I know I’m not an elite runner, and I know that I’m not the only person in the world to ever be injured, but the endless back pain that I was experiencing led me to believe at times that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to run again…and certainly not like I used to. Some people suggested that I find something else to do, although I’m not totally sure they all realized that running isn’t something I do for exercise (it never has been and never will be), but it’s something I love to do. I like running. I like marathons. Running is a huge part of my life, and having it taken away from me indefinitely was extremely hard. However, seeing other people come back from injury gives me hope that I do will recover from this back injury (three weeks of pain free runs, hooray!) and that I will be able to accomplish and surpass goals that I have set for myself prior to this injury. Sub-3:10, you will be mine…eventually.
In the meantime, I’ll be running slow and cheering my little coming-back-from injury heart out for Dathan in London (well, from afar) because I think he’s an awesome athlete and has shown that patience, hard work, and dedication will pay off in the end.
High fives for Dathan, please! Also, if I could run one mile at your 10k pace, that would be nice.