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Goya makes it to Beantown!

The pain was getting bad, but I was determined to finish that race no matter what,” Goya says.

Goya struggled through the pain until Mile 22 when his leg gave out. A visit to the doctor revealed he had a stress fracture in his hip.

“The first two days (after the injury) I was depressed, especially when the doctor told me I had to take off for a while,” he says. “Even after that, I didn’t care. I still wanted to go to Boston.”

Goya, who hails from Ecuador, got introduced to running by his wife LeAnn Goya who is quite active in the local running scene and has also coached cross country at Rome Middle School.

“She introduced me to the culture of running. She told me the best race out there to run is Boston, and she told me it’s going to be super hard to qualify,” Goya says.

“Once she told me that, that was basically my goal.”

Goya reevaluated his training after the injury and found help from local running guru Jay Stephenson.

Stephenson, a multiple All-America distance runner while at Berry and a former coach at Shorter, trains several top-notch runners and applied his system to Goya.

“Jay told me what I needed to do. He told me to listen to my body, and I got stronger,” he says. “He gave me the right training and great advice. He told me what to do with warming up and stretching and how important those things are.”

But before Goya could truly refocus on working toward qualifying for Boston he also had to conquer the mental aspect of the injury.

“It was hard. Even though my body could do it, mentally I said no every step. My mind was telling me not to do it that, it was painful. I was mentally kind of destroyed,” he says. “I kept telling myself, I need to try.”

With a better mental state and a renewed vigor and training plan, Goya began making huge strides toward his goal. He used the same marathon where the injury occurred to make another run at Boston.

In 2013, Goya attacked Jacksonville again, and this time he was ready for anything the race had to throw at him.

“The most interesting moment was in Mile 22. I passed Mile 22 and I started screaming and saying I’m going to Boston even before I finished,” he says. “My dream of being able to qualify for Boston came true after Mile 22. I was pretty much crying and saying it was a dream come true.”

A couple of weeks ago, Goya crushed the Berry half marathon, averaging 6:21 per mile pace over the 13.1 mile course to finish fifth overall and win his age group.

Goya aims to break three hours at Boston today, and his half time from Berry shows he has a good shot.

But all races present new challenges, and Goya says he knows the Boston Marathon will throw some at him.

“Running a marathon is a mental game. We have to be smart, especially because its 17 miles downhill and from mile 17 to 22 is up and down,” he says. “When you hit the wall around 18, 19 or 20 it’s during the hills. I just hope that everything goes well and my mind set is right, so I can run a good race and run the pace I want to go under three hours.”

The race not only marks a huge personal milestone for Goya, but it’s also the year anniversary of the bombing during last year’s event. So Goya says he will probably be even more emotional than normal.

“They increased the runners, and it’s going to be such a special event,” Goya says. “I’m so blessed to be in this event. I’m probably going to cry at the beginning and probably at the end. There will be three hours full of pain and cheers. I’ve got my wife with me and I am super excited.”

And around Mile 22, he’ll probably even let out another yell.