Taking Back Patriots’ Day

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As I reflect on my race and entire experience at the 118th Boston Marathon, I not only take satisfaction in my personal result, but what we as American distance runners and as a running community at large were able to achieve on Marathon Monday. In every sense, we played our roles in taking back Patriots’ Day with resilience and panache.

My Journey

My road to Boston began at the end of 2013 in the same manner as the iconic race course: a rapid, pummeling descent along a byzantine roadway with only a vague idea of a finish line. In November my morale had taken a plummet from August’s high point– the Moscow World Championship— after a debacle of a performance at the ING New York City Marathon. Hoping for a breakthrough in my home state, I soldiered on through headwinds to a momentum-changing defeat. Still, I knew well enough from past experiences how to handle my profession’s undulations and keep myself level on course.

When the opportunity to run Boston was presented, it enabled me to refocus with a new carrot to chase. I was thankful to have an offer to run and felt that it was the right race selection at this juncture in my career: I need to play in the Majors. Whereas another athlete in my position might look for a venue to race the clock, I felt going mano-a-mano in another championship-style marathon was the better choice and would give me a chance to make more of an impact in the race. Given how athletes are forced to make decisions “on the fly” without pacemakers, I also think there’s a steeper learning curve in such competitions. I should also mention briefly that I felt running Boston a year after the 2013 tragedies would be a great way to be a part of the Boston Strong movement in a display of solidarity for the community and our sport. Without hesitation, I committed myself to April’s penultimate Monday race.

Eggleston pacing at Houston Marathon
Pacing 2:06 in Houston

And so I set off. My five-month buildup to Boston featured some competitive checkpoints along the way– akin to the towns that are strung together on the Marathon’s race course necklace. My first destination was Houston, where I had hoped to compete in the U.S. Half-Marathon Championship. Unfortunately, I became very sick from the flu in the first week of January. After 8 days of bed rest I withdrew from competing in Houston, but decided I would try to pace a portion of the marathon as practice. Along with 2 other Ethiopian pacemakers, I assisted Bazu Worku with a course record attempt and successful title repeat, leading the group through halfway in 1:03:15. I was happy with how controlled and low-key my run was. Even though it was a volunteer assignment, I was grateful for the opportunity to get some experience running at the front of a marathon and at a quality pace.

2014 NYC Half Marathon
At the NYC Half

My next stop came a few weeks later in Japan, at the Kagawa Marugame International Half-Marathon. In a deep field of corporate runners, I spent the entire 21.1km jockeying for position and came away with a 1:03:00 PB. I was pleased with how quickly I had regained my health and fitness and took this momentum back stateside to continue my Boston preparations.

My other two outings served as escapes from the Colorado winter’s tumult. I ran a 1:04 half-marathon in Tampa and another 1:03 at the NYC Half. Both performances were solid enough for me, but marathon training remained my top priority and proved to be my biggest opponent while out there competing. After racing in New York, I traveled up to Boston to do a course reconnaissance. Over three days, I ran the entire course with the assistance of the John Hancock Athlete Recruiter. “It’s Boston, so expect anything!” I was told. I brought those words and my newfound knowledge of the course back with me to Boulder to strategize during my final month of training.

When it was finally time to depart for the race weekend, I was relieved. I had trained very well, remained healthy and felt poised for a good performance. As the 24th seed, I had nowhere to go but up!

#WeRanTogether

Hopkinton was a far different atmosphere than when I had embarked from town on St. Patrick’s Day for my first course preview run. The overwhelmingly large crowds of onlookers were only a preface to the boost I would receive from an estimated 1 million spectators along the route. The start was exactly how I had envisioned it: we were sent off with a huge release of energy as gravity pulled us from the starting line and sent us hurtling recklessly down Route 135. Tuck and roll. 

Eggleston Boston Marathon Start
Taking off from Hopkinton

There weren’t any surprises in the largely downhill first 4 miles. I stuck to my pre-race plan and tucked in with the lead group through some very tame low 4:50 miles (just over 3:00/km). My orange adidas Adios Boost flats helped cushion the landing shock. Our pack was close to 30 athletes strong as we passed the 5km en masse around 15:10 and rolled by the Ashland Clock Tower. I bided my time towards the back and remained a face in the crowd, notably among race favorites Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Chebet of Kenya. Meanwhile, our entire U.S. London Olympic Team– Ryan HallMeb Keflezighi (also a teammate for the New York Athletic Club) and Abdi Abdirahman— helped sustain an honest pace at the front. As known frontrunners, this seemed status quo to me.

Our large group remained entirely in tact through Framingham as we approached the Train Depot at 10km in 30:30, only splicing momentarily to retrieve our personal bottles off of the special fluids tables. There were some minor traffic jams, although I had no problem grabbing my bottle of Lemon-Lime PowerBar Perform sports drink.

Before passing Lake Cochituate the group’s pace had gradually decelerated, which had a dangerous accordion effect. There were several near trips from all of the jostling as our pack tightened up. Simultaneously as this happened, Meb and Mammoth Lakes Track Club member Josphat Boit began to sneak away from our apprehensive and disorganized peloton. I was content to remain with the field and use the 5:00 miles as recovery. However, nobody seemed willing to respond to Meb and “JB” so their lead began to grow…

Eggleston_Jeffrey-Boston14
Staying relaxed

Our chase pack warily came through 15km in 45:57, about 10 seconds behind the leading American duo. Ryan remained dawdling at the front and was joined by our compatriot Nick Arciniaga. The disorganization of our group continued as we approached the fluid station and 2:05 man Tilahun Regassa seemingly tangled with last year’s runner-up, Micah Kogo, and went down hard in front of me. I jumped over the tumbled Ethiopian and zig-zagged to grab my bottle. What an occupational hazard! Our group reestablished with ease due to the relaxed pace, as we followed a slight rise into Natick Center. I observed how quickly and significantly the gap was growing ahead. Still, all the favorites were content to watch each other (and not Meb or JB). Personally, I did not feel threatened by the early break. If defending champion Lelisa Desisa didn’t care about the gap, then why should I? Having watched several years’ worth of Marathon race footage, I knew historically that 10 miles in was not a good time to be noticed in the race.

From my vantage point, the next 5km became more of a cat-and-mouse hunt. Unfortunately, I cannot confirm that there was any strategic American teamwork employed to enhance Meb’s growing margin. There certainly wasn’t any plan for this that I was made aware of. I do recall Ryan verbally communicating something to either Nick or fellow Boulderite Jason Hartmann, but I had assumed he was encouraging one of them to assist him with jumpstarting the group. At this time I noted alarmingly on my wristwatch that our 17th kilometer was covered in over 3:30! I’m not sure who was responsible for the slowdown. At the back of the group, there was some audible chatter among the Ethiopians. I couldn’t know if they were discussing the slow pace or Regassa’s fall. Gebre Gebremariam disappeared shortly after that.

Finally, a strong move was made before the 20km mark– neither from an American nor an African. Surprisingly, the charge came from Vitaliy Shafar, a 2:11 marathoner from Ukraine. He had caught up to our chase pack and his injection of pace did considerable damage. KimettoKogo, DesisaRegassa and Markos Geneti were among the first responders. I was caught off guard by the acceleration and forced to claw my way back, encouraging Ryan as I passed him to come with me. At that point, any attempt to communicate was useless as we had entered the tunnel of screaming coeds at Wellesley College. I crossed 20km in 1:01:45, with some ground to close on the strung out chase pack ahead. In my estimation, Meb and JB had at least a 200m cushion on their pursuers.

I entered Wellesley Center having lost more ground to the chase pack. Using his downhill prowess, Nick had caught up and led me by virtual tow rope on the downgrading slope. We passed through half-marathon in an unremarkable 1:05:05. I couldn’t help feeling some disappointment in myself for having let the pace slow down. About 10 seconds ahead, Geneti’s green and red Ethiopian national team uniform was visible at the front of the streamlined chase group. Still a lot of race left.

It was extremely helpful to key off of Nick. We worked together to pull back some time on the select group of 10 or so. It appeared that the unheralded Shafar had again attempted to pull away. The pack didn’t seem to bite his hook, so they remained in striking distance for us. By 25km (1:17:04), our return to the pack was imminent.

I did my best to stay with Nick as we made our descent into Lower Newton Falls. It reminded me of our time training together while a part of the Hansons Team in 2008. I remembered how exceptionally effortless he made downhill running seem during his training block for Boston that year (he would go on to finish 10th). Later on in 2012, fresh off my 2:12 in Chicago, I assisted him with some rolling 4 mile repeats on Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff and found myself trailing anytime the road dipped. We had trained and raced against each other enough through the years to know one another’s strengths. I respected his “go for it” attitude. On this day, our strengths complemented each other and so we worked as colleagues. At the 16 mile mark, we had caught back up to the group.

Boston Marathon Chase Pack
At Lower Newton Falls in the chase pack (yellow vest)

I knew the race would get interesting with the road rising through Newton over the next 8km. It forced me to settle into my own rhythm during the climbs. I had passed by Regassa and a laboring Desisa before crossing over the I-95, and could make out the faint orange adidas vests of Lusapho April and Chebet stretching the group in pursuit of Shafar— perhaps also in their own hasty personal bids for victory. My plan was to keep it steady on the first two Newton Hills, and start a push at the crest of Heartbreak Hill. I held my ground on the group from the Newton Fire Station to the top of the first hill. The road leveled out and I recouped for the next mile, passing 30km in 1:32:49. A PowerGel taped to my 30km bottle had a rejuvenating effect.

The second hill came as anticipated in 2 parts. I moved by the faltering Moroccan, Adil Annani and set my sights on the others who just disappeared around a bend on Commonwealth Avenue. I still felt in control and confident that I could run strong up Heartbreak. Crowds 3 or 4 deep formed yet another scream tunnel on the 600m, 4.5% rise. It was a spectacle that might resemble a haute catagorie climb in the Tour de France. People shouted for me while I solemnly concentrated on the road ahead. As a diversion, I read runners’ names and phrases of encouragement that were chalked all along on the tarmac.

I pushed hard down the backside of Heartbreak and through Boston College, hoping I could make up several places on the mostly downhill run into the city. I crossed 35km in 1:48:48. Unbeknownst to me, Chebet was now in full-flight entering Brookline and eating away at Meb’s lead. The downhill coming into Cleveland Circle was particularly debilitating to my overexerted quadriceps. As I passed by April, I remembered how well I had conditioned my legs for downhill running in Boulder with Ali’s help, as she would drive me from the finish of my 3km repeats back to the start above.

Despite a feeling of overexertion, I continued to pull back the runners floating ahead of me. From Coolidge Corner to Kenmore Square, I reeled in the Claudio Berardelli-trained darkhorse, Paul Lonyangata, and an athlete in a hot pink uniform that I did not immediately recognize as JB. All the while, Nick was doing what he does best: barreling over the small rises and drops to make up ground (at 40km, he was only 3 seconds behind). With 1km to go, we dipped under Mass Ave and I lost a few steps. I did everything I could to hang on.

The slight rise on the final turn from Hereford to Boylston might as well have been a canyon wall. With less than 600m to go I passed the Trader Joe’s that I had frequented in so many trips to the city, and more importantly where I had resolved to start my finishing kick. I was neither gaining nor losing ground on Nick, but made the effort to keep my legs turning over. I watched the clock counting up and kicked all the way through the finish line to ensure a sub 2:12 clocking. As we were escorted to the recovery area, my time and place were confirmed: 8th in 2:11:57Not bad for a Boston rookie.

Arciniaga and Eggleston at Boston Marathon Finish
Nick and I on Boylston St

We learned shortly after from Sara Hall that Meb had held on for the win in a personal best 2:08:37. I was both shocked and inspired. He ran his own race and it paid off.

As I walk (or maybe hobble) away from Boston, I’m pleased for my highest finish in a Major, and even the small PB. Maybe someday a big personal best time will happen for me. As Meb so aptly demonstrates, I could potentially have another 10 years of improvement in the sport with the right long-term approach. For now, I will continue to hone in on my racing skills and get consistent training in from year to year. Sky’s the limit.

Thank you

The only way I know how to conclude this post is to express my gratitude to everyone who has faithfully supported me during my Boston prep this year. I feel quite fortunate with the support network that I have now–it is stronger than ever. Thank you in particular to John Hancock and the B.A.A. for taking a chance on inviting me, the slowest elite athlete in the field, to the Marathon. A special thanks to Marcus and Heather for their incredible routine therapies that kept me healthy during the most demanding training of my career. Of course, I am grateful for the constant love and encouragement from Ali, my family and longtime friends. Last but not least, thanks to the supportive and resilient community of Boston, for welcoming me and 36,000 others back to your city for your race– it is you who makes this marathon so special. I cannot wait to return for another Patriots’ Day! –JDE

Return to Blogging // Return to Pittsburgh

Catching up

It’s been a very long time since I’ve sat down to write a blog update. I can partially attribute this to the fact that I was extremely disappointed with my final performances of 2011– both at the World Championships in Daegu and the Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara. Matters were made worse after sustaining a nagging knee injury in December, which removed me completely from the context of running in January’s Olympic Marathon Trials. It was simply a matter of convenience to not write about how poorly things were going, and to disappear from the clichéd running blog scene.

It took an equal amount of time for my knee to heal as my personal attitude towards running. My focus was never compromised, as I spent a few hours each day cross-training on the elliptical machine, but I also fought hard against becoming resentful for the mistakes I had made that led me to injury: I had to move on. In January, I returned early from my leave of absence from the Public Library– not dejected from my inability to run in the Olympic Trials, but eager to maintain a level of personal productivity while getting back into training. Of course in the time my knee healed, I was already mapping out my training program for a spring marathon.

Road to the City of Bridges

The idea of returning to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon first occurred to me after winning last year’s race, but the option more formally presented itself this past January. I remember making the enthusiastic commitment to return on my fifth consecutive day of running pain-free. I knew I would have some work to do for the 4 months leading up to the race, but having the opportunity to defend my title was extremely motivating.

I worked some low-key racing opportunities into my program for Pittsburgh. My first race back was less than 2 weeks into training, and it was a real “rust-buster.” With my residual fitness, I struggled through a 29:55 10km in Texas! Still, it was an encouraging starting point for me as I began my fundamental work. At the beginning of March, I entered The Woodlands Marathon (ironically only miles from where the January Trials were held) for the purpose of doing a progressive long run. Anticipating a controlled 2:17-2:18 effort, and setting off at 2:20 pace, I was surprised my progression led me to arrive at the finish in 2:15:42— with a last 10km weaving through runners on the 2-loop course in 30:48! It was great to share the podium in The Woodlands with MarathonGuide.com teammate and friend, Camille Herron, and know that my fitness was rapidly improving. Although my body was in a perpetual state of fatigue from conditioning, I was still able to run 45:29 for 3rd position the following week at the Mountain to Fountain 15K in Phoenix, and solo through whirlwinds to victory at the Canyonlands Half-Marathon the week after on St. Paddy’s Day.

I’ll admit that I had a few more races than originally planned in my marathon build-up, but I approached each race as if it were a quality workout, rather than a decisive competition. With this mentality, I never felt too exhausted mentally or physically.

#CooperRiverCurse

My prelude to running Pittsburgh would not be complete without including the ridiculous incident of malchance that was repeated in Charleston, South Carolina.

At the 2011 running of the Cooper River Bridge Run, I had dislocated my right shoulder just 5 minutes before the start of the race– simply by twisting my body to maneuver around another athlete. The result was an ambulance ride to the East Cooper River Medical Center, and an uncomfortable evening traveling back to Arizona. I also managed to get a traffic ticket that night while attempting to drive stick-shift (out of my sling) from Phoenix to Flagstaff.

Having planned to return to Cooper River this year, I joked about how I would prevent any mishaps before the race. I’m not superstitious by any means, but I found myself cautiously assessing risks throughout the race weekend. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom and I even postponed a pre-race arm-wrestling match just to be safe.

Perhaps I let my guard down too early. After finishing the race (I finished 9th in a tactically slow run) I left the crowded downtown square for a cool-down. Two minutes into the cool-down I collided with a small boy, who was running across the street. I fell hard on my hip and shoulder, which audibly dislocated when I landed on it. I couldn’t believe it: same race, same freak injury!! What sh*t luck! I again returned to the hospital, to have my shoulder reset. That evening, I made the pain medicine-induced drowsy drive from Phoenix back to Flagstaff (I took my arm out of the sling and drove carefully).

For the next 6 days, I was unable to run. My shoulder remained extremely sore, but quickly regained its normal range of motion. My hip, however, was very badly bruised from the fall. All week, I remained uncertain if it would even be possible to run in Pittsburgh…

I knew a few days off wouldn’t spoil my fitness, but hoped for a quick recovery. Luckily, treatments with Dr. Kym Wilkens, epsom salt baths and electro-stim therapies had me back 100% the following week.

Marathon Weekend

After completing 3 weeks of intensive specific marathon training, I left Flagstaff’s miniature Pulliam Airport feeling primed to defend my title in Pittsburgh. When Ali and I arrived in Pittsburgh, we were greeted with much warmer temperatures than the previous year. As the forecast started to take shape, I began to make some arrangements to prepare for the heat.

I felt like my return to Pittsburgh was a homecoming; the race organization was incredibly hospitable, and all weekend I felt as if I were member of one of the home sports teams. I also had some of my good friends driving from Rochester to watch the race, which added to my excitement and motivation for running well. Although, I knew it would be a difficult task to win again, I wanted to defend my title for them!

I knew the competition would be much better than 2011. Given how well I had felt in training, I had also hoped for a stronger field. At Friday’s press conference, I was given an entry list that confirmed my presumptions. Although I was given the honorary bib #1, my personal best time (2:13:12) seeded me close to 10th in the elite field. The fastest seed was 28-year old Zembaba Yigeze of Ethiopia with a best of 2:08:27 (he had finished 14 seconds ahead of me at Cooper River). Returning from last year, was another very capable Ethiopian, Tariku Bokan (2:12:23 best from Dubai). Amidst a group of Kenyans and Ethiopians with bests between 2:11 and 2:13, I was also surprised to see a good friend, James Kirwa of Kenya, entered with his 2:12:54 course record from Des Moines. Kirwa might not be widely known, but has had some strong performances. When I met him at Grandma’s Marathon last year, I was impressed with his relaxed personality and good sense of humor; if Usain Bolt were to become a marathoner, he might resemble James.

In my pre-race interviews, I maintained it would be a difficult feat to repeat as champion, although I felt fit enough to be competitive with anyone I lined up against; I wanted to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. I also believed that even with the warmer conditions, the winning time would be significantly faster than my 2011 time (2:16:40).

Kids of Steel

On Cinco de Mayo– the day before the race– I watched my friend Ashley run her first 5K and then had the privilege of again volunteering with the Kids of Steel Program. This year, over 30 schools and 2,000 kids participated in the 18 week program to run 26.2 miles! Together, all these kids logged around 39,000 miles, which is astonishing! It was a lot of fun to cheer them on in their final mile at the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon. After an hour, my hand was numb from all the high-fives! I also had the honor of being joined by Olympic Silver Medalist and NYC Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi, who had been previously invited to take part in the race weekend events. Again, it was fun to see so many young people enjoying the sport!

 

Race of Steel

I went through my normal pre-race morning routine, waking up 3 hours before the 7:30AM start time to have breakfast quietly in my room. I had some cereal from Trader Joe’s, coffee and a chocolate PowerBar. Once the coffee kicks in, race mornings become electric! Around 5:45AM, I met my friend Eric in the hotel lobby. In a small cooler, he brought me the frozen Hyperwear Pre-Cooling Vest that I had overnight-shipped to the hotel the previous morning (I was not taking any chances with the warm weather forecasted). Before heading to the staging area, I greeted James Kirwa, who was all smiles.

After a brief 10 minute warm-up, I switched into dry clothes, my CEP Compression socks, laced up my Brooks Green Silence flats and put on the cooling vest to bring my core temperature down. Although the temperature would only reach around 70F during my run, I recognized the pre-cooling would reduce the demand on my body to cool itself down in the early stages of the race; and I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible!

The start was a blur. Between strides there were countless handshakes and high-fives with race officials, a good-luck hug from the race director Patrice Matamoros, and the singing of the National Anthem. At 7:29, I pulled down my PivLock V2 sunglasses anticipating the gun. Once we were sent off, I felt relieved.

Within the first miles, a long echelon of elite half-marathoners had outdistanced our large group of marathoners. Running along side the other favorites–James, Tariku, Tabor Nebsi, Feyisa Tusse and some Ethiopians wearing red WSX club uniforms– I surmised our pack was at the front of the marathon. MarathonGuide.com teammate Kipyegon Kirui took over the early pacing duties, which were not that difficult (it was clear no athletes were looking to chase the event record of 2:10:24) I was content to stay in the group and observe.

It was truly an uneventful first 10 miles, and I felt guilty for having sat back so much. My only concerns were staying hydrated and keeping myself as relaxed as possible. Kipyegon,Tariku and James had all made appearances at the front of the pack, but no one made any decisive moves. While running on East Carson Street, I saw a stray Ethiopian runner floating back to us. He joined our group, looking very labored, and Tariku spoke to him in Amharic. At this point I also noticed he was wearing a green marathon bib number. It didn’t take me long to realize that this Ethiopian was a casualty from another group of marathoners up the road! I panicked to realize we had wasted 10 miles running very slow while there were others working ahead of us. Before we crossed the Birmingham Bridge, I mentioned to James the problem. We moved to the front of our group, and began our teamwork.

At 10.7 miles, the half-marathoners were re-routed back towards downtown Pittsburgh, while the marathoners continued on with a leading press truck. The split made it apparent we had miscalculated our race position, as a pack of about 10 more athletes had a 20-30 second advantage on us! They weren’t half-marathoners! Luckily James and I had increased the pace enough to reel this group back in by the 12 mile mark. He offered me a high-five: “No problem!” For the first time in the race, I had spotted Zembabahow could I have lost track of the 2:08 guy?! But then another thing concerned me after our groups merged: the was no lead vehicle in sight!

I immediately asked Benjamin Meto in the group what position we were. His answer was not clear, but Zembaba gestured that there was 1 more athlete ahead. One more? Where?! As if I wasn’t already enough disturbed by this revelation, a race official called out to us that we were 2 minutes behind as we crossed the half-marathon mat in 1:08:30! To give any of the other 15 elite athletes a 2 minute head-start is unthinkable! Again, I turned to James at the front of the group and simply said “we have to go!”

I have never pushed so hard in the middle of a marathon, but I wasn’t ready to settle for a 2nd or 3rd place finish. I knew I had made a grave error in sitting back early on, but now I had to commit to pulling back the leader, even if it meant my complete demise. James and I ran side by side, with Tariku shadowing us. No one else was able to follow. We went from running a loping 5:09 mile to a leg-churning 4:41— it was suicidal! It was a shock to my system, but I did my best to override my sensory data. Meanwhile James seemed unfazed with the increased tempo, even finding time to grab an extra water cup for me.

What was going on up the road? The Nixon Kiplagat show! Unbeknownst to us, the unheralded Kenyan  had run through the Oakland neighborhoods giving spectators a thumbs-up, and clearly exhibiting confidence in his growing margin. In the miles that followed, his grin became a grimace, and he still had 10 miles to go…

After 19 miles, and only a few periodic glimpses of what might have been a lead vehicle, it was still unclear whether or not we had made any ground on Nixon. I was barely able to stay with James and Tariku, being almost two strides off of them and feeling the summer-like temperature. During this mile, I took a bottle at the fluid station that with a PowerBar Energy Gel for some added carbs and electrolytes. It was rejuvenating, and I was back on the bus approaching the 21st mile.

We descended Liberty Avenue, now with the press vehicle and Nixon clearly in sight (and visibly slowing). James had gained a slight advantage, while Tariku was tucked behind me. I learned from last year that the downhill was long enough to have severe consequences on tired legs, so I had to use this stretch to make up as much ground as possible on the two ahead. My quads seemed alright with the additional landing shock and I could hear Tariku laboring. I tried to keep running with a high cadence while following the tangents on the road. It still wasn’t enough to bring James back much. As the road leveled out, my friend Steve (who had driven down from Rochester) was on the course encouraging me to keep gaining on them.

At 25 miles, James had passed Nixon. I estimated they were about 15-20 seconds away from me, meaning I would really have to work hard in the final mile to advance into any other position. I knew I had to push through– there wasn’t any other option. I thought of my workouts that brought me back to fitness, my friends that came to see me run, my family back home, and the city that had welcomed me back to their marathon. I had to keep running hard for them!

I moved into 2nd place and barreled down the entire finishing straight on the Boulevard of the Allies, even after James had broken the tape. I finished 17 seconds later, a narrow margin in marathon racing. I was exhausted in a way my unremarkable time of 2:14:26 wouldn’t indicate.  Still, James was the first to congratulate me with a hug. With some teamwork and a little luck on our side, we successfully caught the leader to go 1-2. Both Runners of Steel, taking in our accomplishment.

Post-race activities included a return to Abay Ethiopian Cuisine for a huge lunch, followed by some ice cream at Oh Yeah(!).  I was with great company and the food was fantastic (I think everyone liked Ethiopian food… Chelsea? Ashley?).

Well, it’s time to wrap this blog up… special thanks to Patrice, Kelsey and the entire Pittsburgh Marathon organization for welcoming me back to your incredible race this year– your marathon is second to none, and I hope I can return next year!  Thanks also to my family and friends who made this weekend special by coming to Pittsburgh, or encouraging me as I prepared these past months. Last but not least, thanks to my sponsors for keeping faith in me! –JDE

Race footage, courtesy of Eric Boyce: