I’ve been thinking a lot about how special it is to be the first American, male or female, in a few decades to wear Bib #1 at the Boston Marathon next Monday. You earn that number—they don’t just give you that because they like you. I feel blessed that I’m healthy and I’ll be able to defend my title on April 20. It’s an honor to be in this position.

Last year’s Boston Marathon was the most important marathon in history and it was the biggest win of my career. I had been carrying the weight of what happened on April 15, 2013 for more than 365 days. I wanted to do what I could for the victims, their families, the running community and the city of Boston that day and I was fortunate to come out on top. To win just shy of my 39th birthday with the names of the victims on my bib was something I’ll never forget. The Boston Marathon title was the only thing missing on my resume. No one gave me a shot to win but I did and it was wonderful. My career is truly fulfilled.

This year’s Boston Marathon is the frosting on the cake. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go there and jog it in. No. I’m going to be as competitive as I can because I have the same goals I did last year: to win, get on the podium or run a personal best. I always want to finish as high as possible when I race. I’m almost 40 years old but I still have that competitive spirit in me. I’ve always tried to lead by example and I hope I can inspire others to get the best out of themselves, whether it’s another American runner trying to win Boston or someone who is running a marathon for the first time.

Race day is getting close but I’m not letting myself get excited yet. I want to save that excitement for when I get to Boston on Friday morning. Right now I’m still focused on putting the finishing touches on my training. I’ve been training hard day in and day out to defend my title.

Everyone has been asking me, “How can you top last year’s win?” The answer is: It will never be topped. Last year was a once in a lifetime story and I’m so proud to have accomplished my dream to win the Boston Marathon, especially when so much was at stake. Someone needed to rise to the occasion and I’m proud that I was able to that day.

Hopefully this year can be a positive experience like last year, whether I win, or someone else wins, I think something positive can come out of it. My winning was the beginning of healing from the tragedy of 2013 and hopefully it can continue this year and in future years.

I couldn’t be happier to be in the position that I’m right now. I’m just glad there’s less than one week to go and not 10!