San Diego's Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon Monday with the second fastest time for an American man in the history of the event.
Keflezighi set a personal record, crossing the finish line with one fist pumping in the air with a time of 2:08:37.
That's 30 seconds faster than his previous personal best of 2:09:08 in Houston two years ago at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“Coming as an American, to be able turn that left turn and to get that crowd going. I made sure to look up,” he said referring to the section of the course involved in last year's deadly bombing.
“This is beyond running. This is for the people. This is for Boston Strong,” he said at the finish line.
In November, he competed in the NYC Marathon and finished 23rd with a time of 2:23:47. He finished fourth in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi became a U.S. citizen in 1998 after his family fled war to establish a new home in San Diego in 1987.
The San Diego High School and UCLA alum has won four NCAA titles, the New York City marathon, and an Olympic silver medal in 2004.
After his NYC Marathon win in 2009, he talked with NBC 7 about growing up in San Diego and recalled the day his seventh grade teacher at Roosevelt Junior High gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“He just said ‘You run hard, you do the best that you can, you’re going to get an A or B. You goof around, you mess around, and you’re going to get D or F. I just took off like a bolt,” Meb said.
In 2007, he suffered a hip fracture that tested his resolve to compete. Former coach Eduardo Ramos said that many people had written Keflezighi off because of the injury.
At the same Olympic Trials, his close friend Ryan Shay collapsed and died.
He admits he almost hung up his hat that year and discussed it with his wife. "But we prayed hard and worked hard and I said, ‘God, show me the light,” he explained.
Long days of rehab followed, and he didn't feel 100 percent until nearly two years later.
Then, in 2009, he finished first in the New York City Marathon - the first American to do so in 27 years.
Marathon officials say an American has not won in Boston since Greg A. Meyer claimed the wreath in 2:09:00 in 1983.
Keflezighi, who will turn 39 in two weeks, now lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. because of the high altitude.
Last year, Keflezighi was in the area of the Boston Marathon finish line just minutes before the explosion and credited God with keeping him safe.
He was in the grand stand for four hours cheering racers on and left five minutes before the explosion happened.
“I visualize the race every day since that happened,” he said after Monday's race. “It’s just beyond words to be able to do that. I’m blessed.”
As for the possiblity of returning next year, Keflezighi laughed and said he was more than 100 percent fulfilled with this win.
"This solidified my career," he said.