Republished from January 2016.
There is this story about Ryan Hall that I love to tell…
It was 2006 and he was making his half marathon debut in the Houston Half Marathon. At the time he was by far my favorite professional runner. I loved watching him push the pace at NCAAs in 2005 with teammate Ian Dobson and then come back at the US Championships a month later and give Tim Broe all he could handle to qualify for the World Championships. He was a passionate runner and had a fire that you could tell burned deep.
Most people know how that morning of Houston went. He ran hard. He ran with passion. He ran with a fire that has not been repeated since. And in that performance he broke a 21-year old American Record in the half marathon and became the first and only American under 60 minutes.
What most people don’t know is that on that same morning I went out and ran with my own fire and passion and won the 5k that accompanied the half marathon and full marathon in Houston. I was ecstatic. My goal, for as long as I could remember, was to qualify for the Olympic Trials and this was a good first step.
I remember calling my mother and telling her that I won the race and giving her all of the details. Then she told me that she knew I had won. Shocked, I asked how she knew I had won.
She said, “Your grandpa just called and said that he saw you on TV and that you broke the American Record in your race.”
My grandpa had been watching the news coverage on TV and saw Ryan Hall cross the finish line, but the skinny frame and long shaggy blonde hair must have thrown him off as he confused the two of us.
I love that story. I love that my grandpa thought his grandson had broken the American Record and that my mother didn’t argue it with him. My family has always believed in me…and that’s something that is special.
Anyhow, Ryan Hall will be severely missed. And just like the small way that we were connected in 2006 with my story it seems fitting that we are connected once again. For those that do not know, Ryan Hall announced his retirement from competitive running this past weekend. The weekend before I announced my retirement from competitive running. Now…OBVIOUSLY I AM NO WHERE NEAR THE LEVEL OF RYAN HALL. But regardless, I think our passions and our pursuits are all grand in their own ways, and so once again I find myself connected to Ryan Hall in a unique and meaningful way.