By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
(05-Jan) -- From now until the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are contested in Houston one week from Saturday,Meb Keflezighi's main priority is to relax and stay healthy. The 36-year-old father of three is focused on finishing on the podium and booking a ticket to his third Olympic Games.
"Vacation starts January 15th," joked Keflezighi in a conference call from his home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where he has been training at altitude. Spending time with daughters Sara, Fiyori and Yohana, Keflizighi is in the taper phase of training, with the majority of work already having been completed in preparation for the January 14th race.
But when Keflezighi, who has run in two Olympic Trials Marathons before, takes to the streets of Houston, he will have completed an up and down journey since his last marathon -- a sixth place finish at the ING New York City Marathon on November 6th.
Soon after running his 2:09:13 personal best in New York, Keflezighi's left foot became infected. An irritation had developed after he mistakenly left his Breathe Right nasal strip (worn on the nose to decrease nasal congestion) in his shoe.
"I always wear a Breathe Right, and that's the last thing I take out of my shoe," he said, noting that he puts the strip in his racing shoes for safe keeping, making sure not to forget to put it on before taking the line.
"Unfortunately I left it there, and running on it for two hours plus," his voice trails off, half in embarrassment, half laughing. "I felt it at mile one and I was like 'Oops, it's not on my nose.'"
The constant rubbing ultimately caused an infection, which cost Keflezighi three weeks of training, a big price to pay when considering the Trials are held only 69 days after the ING New York City Marathon. Forced to rest, Keflezighi ultimately returned to running on December 5th.
"I am relying back on my fitness, I was in great shape going into New York," said Keflezighi, who feels healthy now and was able to cover 26.2 miles in both long and tempo runs. "You don't lose that [built up] fitness and you're not starting from scratch."
Adjusting his training accordingly with coach Bob Larsen, Keflezighi now is ready to compete in what he notes will likely be his final Olympic Trials Marathon.
"A lot of things happened," said Keflezighi, who owns 20 national titles. "But now is the good part, and I am very excited to take part in the Olympic Trials and hopefully will make my third Olympic team."