Dagnechew is a gentle and soft-spoken 16 year old, tenth grader at Wilson High School. He came to this country 4 years ago with his sister. Prior to leaving Ethiopia, he lived with his mother and aunt in a house his family owns there. His mom is still in Ethiopia because she has had a hard time getting a visa. In DC, he lives with his father in a two-bedroom apartment in Southwest. He and his dad share a bedroom.
While he has not seen his mother these past four years, he and his sister each have “ten minutes of alone time” with her on the phone each week. He values this time, but he doesn’t share too many of his concerns as he doesn’t want to worry her when she’s so far away.
When Dagnechew thinks about his own future, he says he wants to do something he likes. He dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, but recognizes he needs a back up plan. He’s thought about community college, but not too much. He also has thought about the military and participates in Jr. ROTC.
Dagnechew first joined Teens Run DC because he thought it would make him faster. When he understood that it was more about long distance training than training for speed, he liked the challenge of running 13 or maybe 26 miles. This kept him motivated. Now he says he runs because it’s fun. He says that when he starts his run or in the middle of a run, it can get really hard. When he’s finished though, he just feels good. He has accomplished something. And he likes the people. Some of his closet friends now in school and out are members of Teens Run DC.
Dagnechew has run in two races with Teens Run DC: the Veteran’s Day 10K (November) and the Annapolis Striders Anniversary 15K (December). In the first race, he ran easily with one of his teammates at a 13:44 pace. It seems the company was more important than the competition. In this last race, he ran with a faster teammate and maintained an 8:36 pace. In our most recent practice, Dagnechew ran 12.5 miles well under the pace required to qualify for the marathon. It is less an issue of capacity and more an issue of confidence. Each step of the way, as he runs further each week, he sees more of what he is capable and hopefully will run his way to the full marathon. Whichever race he chooses, he wins every day that he shows up for practice – quiet, ready to go, and able to see what he can accomplish.