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Posts Tagged ‘boston marathon’

This is the fourth or fifth year I’ve come to Boston on Marathon Weekend to cheer on friends and elites. Here’s a lovely ratio: the fewer minutes that stand between my marathon PR and a Boston Qualifying Time, the more friends I have competing on race day. Here’s another sweet ratio: as proud as I am of my talented running friends is as proud I am to be a fan of the professional side of the sport.

Random thought: is the degree of incline on Heartbreak Hill subject to the same debate as the height of the pitcher’s mound in baseball? For example, let’s say a major repaving of the road resulted in Heartbreak Hill being flattened by a few feet. Would that give runners the same advantage over the course that a few extra inches off the mound give batters over a thrown ball?

At the Expo, in the John Hancock booth they were showing a short movie that had past champions of the Boston Marathon course describing each mile, and what runners needed to know about what the physical and mental challenges were at any given mile. I stood there for 15 minutes watching with a lump in my throat, as I imagined the day I would get my chance to experience the long run from Hopkinton.

My friend JG’s dad is a superstar hero to this nerdy fan of pro marathoning: he worked his connections and got us VIP passes to the bleachers on the right side of the finish line. Wow I am so grateful, we had a fabulous view and there was none of the frustrated, territorial shoving that goes on when you spectate from the curb. Also, we didn’t have to get there at daybreak to secure a good viewing spot, so we had time to go for our own run this morning. Another reason to be grateful: 5 glorious miles along the Charles with my friend. It was absolutely gorgeous—apart from yesterday’s 5k race, I had never run in Boston before, so I really enjoyed this tour of a popular, local running route. Trees were starting to flower, the Charles had a flirty sparkle to its surface, and the wind was enthusiastic. Oh those lucky marathoners, what a blessing of a tailwind they would have!

On our ten-minute walk to the bleachers from JG’s house in Back Bay, Ryan Hall had dropped from the lead and was now shuffling with the pack, and Kim Smith had fallen off completely, leaving Desiree Davila and two Kenyans to battle it out the last six miles. Desi, Desi, Desi! No one in the bleachers around us knew who she was, they didn’t even know she was an American. I remember watching her race for the first time here, in Boston, when she tried to gain a spot on the Olympic Marathon team in 2008. Even though I was disappointed that Kara was not in podium position, I was supremely pleased for Desi, a real talent who would finally have her moment in the spotlight. Also, she races in shorts. NO bumhuggers for her.

The noise coming from the bleachers was deafening—when they turned the corner from Hereford Street, and Desi lost then gained then lost the lead to Caroline Kilel, we cheered as if our shouts of “USA! USA! USA!” would propel her once again past Kilel. It was a thrilling moment, to be one voice among many all screaming for the same thing, all taking on Desiree’s greatest wish as ours (if only for a minute), too.

We barely had a chance to catch our breath before we realized the men were caught in a world record paced race to the finish! As Mutai streamed past, my spirits were lifted again—I had just witnessed history being made! A world record—he beat Emperor Haile’s PR!! On the Boston course!!—it was all too much and I grabbed JG’s shoulders. Oh my God do you know what we just saw?! Okay so maybe I haven’t yet run the Boston Marathon but I’ll forever be able to say I was there when Mutai broke the world record. Now I understand there are IAAF rules that prevents him from actually taking the world record on the Boston course? Even if the BAA cannot get the iAAF to change its rules, Mutai’s feat cannot be diminished. What an achievement, averaging a 4:42 pace for 26.2 miles on the most difficult World Marathon Majors course. Oh and here comes Ryan Hall, in fourth place again. Why must he insist on being a front runner? When will he learn to use the pack?

We stayed and cheered until 2 PM. I searched the crowds for my friends but only managed to spot three of them. First I saw @runnermatt, host of the Dump Runners Club podcast and my Green Mountain Relay Teammate. Then came @SpeedySasquatch, much later than I’d expected him, helping a cramping and limping runner to get to the finish line. And then I caught @tartar_runner, Matt’s twin and another GMR teammate. I missed @tobadwater (who came in at sub-3), @NYCe (who BQed), @luau, and @willrunforbeer, (who set a big PR and also BQed). Wow, my friends are such talented runners, I am so proud and excited for them. They are all stars in my book and inspire me to live up to their example in dedication and speed.

As JG and I walked away from the bleachers, we heard race officials in the finishers’ area saying “Welcome back to Boston!” through their bullhorns. We were both moved by these runners’ accomplishments. JG seemed to swim in her vicarious joy for them, while I was struck with a fierce longing. I wanted to be on the other side of the fence with them, sweaty and spent, elated and exhausted. This is why I make the trip to Boston every year: it has all the ingredients–the Expo, the meet-ups with friends, the elite race and then finally the masses—for a potent brew of reminder and motivation. I leave Boston holding truths in my heart. I know why I train. I know why I run. I know who they are, on the other side of the fence—because I am one of them, too. I’m just in the middle of climbing over the fence.

BOSTON MARATHON RACE REPORTS.

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Ryan Hall tweeted early this morning that he was at the airport heading home. I wonder what Kara would have told us over Twitter, if she had such a way to connect with her fans.  Flotrack tweeted earlier in the day, “Sports Illustrated reporting Kara Goucher and coach Alberto Salazar are attempting to add her to this weekend’s London Marathon.”

Screeech. What?! Quick, Google. Truly she’s not considering…Okayokayokay. She is NOT running London. Salazar talked her out of it. Well thank goodness he did!

So, my predictions were kinda crappy. Let’s see how I did.

Men’s Open Race (Prediction/Actual)

  1. Robert Cheruiyot  / Deriba Merga
  2. Ryan Hall / Daniel Rono
  3. Deriba Merga / Ryan Hall

Could have been worse, actually. Two of my top three picks actually finished in the top three, though four-time champ Cheruiyot was a DNF due to back pain. Rono wasn’t even on my radar, but he is now.

Women’s Open Race (Prediction/Actual)

  1. Kara Goucher / Salina Kosgei
  2. Dire Tune / Dire Tune
  3. Bezunesh Bekele / Kara Goucher

I suppose I’m a little psyched I was on the nose with Tune, but no need to go into how I’d have rather been right about Kara. Bekele came in fourth, so while she didn’t make the podium she was a better call than Cheruiyot! Salina Kosgei had her day on April 20th, for her first World Marathon Majors Win (like Merga).

Flotrack was the first site with video up, as I trolled the web before I had to jump on the Amtrak regional back to New York yesterday evening.  JG came to watch what few clips were up then, and we both felt kind of yucky, gaping at Kara as she struggled to keep the tears at bay for the press, standing there in her racing bikini, with Adam hovering protectively at her side.  In this video, the sports reporter, Steve Burton, actually calls her “Sara Goucher.” It only goes to show what a class act Kara is that all she did was give one little chuckle and a private smile, rather than ream the dumbass out. And the video of her all alone on the dais answering questions from an insensitive press corps, as she choked back tears, was heartbreaking. (You can see Adam’s profile to the left of the stage, ready to go to her if she needs him.) In this video, Kara’s answering a Q&A with the same guy who interviewed her and Bernard at New York Running Co. earlier this year. This time, the single piece of advice she gave the crowd was to “have patience,” and to not worry about a timeline when working towards your goals. “You have forever,” she said. Was she speaking directly to me? Most certainly not, but once again Kara provides me with the inspiration I need.

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Had family obligations landed differently on the calendar, I’d have come to Boston earlier, to watch Shalane Flanagan, Anna Willard and Ian Dobson run the Invitational Mile yesterday, and to attend the Expo. The Expo is nearly as inspiring as the marathon itself. Wandering around in a mass of the best marathoners in the country, at the peak of their fitness, I get jumpy with the thought that I want to belong to this fast tribe! But, for this year, at least, I would just swoop in and out to watch the race. 

JG and I watched the women’s 9:32 AM start on TV then gathered up our stuff and headed to the finish line to wait for a couple of hours. The announcer was pretty good about calling the race for us, letting us know who was leading and falling off the pack; I also had my trusty UK correspondent TS emailing me updates to my Blackberry. JG is easy, lighthearted company, and we stood there swapping stories and complaints, catching up the way only two women can (ceaseless chatter punctuated with laughter and exclamations of astonishment). I’ve somehow taken on Matt’s bias towards runners who train in Colorado so I was thrilled to know that Colleen de Reuck and Elva Dryer were hanging on tight with the lead pack for so long. But really, it was just encouraging to see these three American women leading the Africans. Around Mile 19, two things seemed to happen at once: Kara began to push the pace to break up the pack, and Deriba Merga completely pulled away from the rest of the elite men. Both exciting, gusty moves and I wished I could have seen them. (I will later.) By the time Kara was at Mile 23, I was fidgeting anxiously, pulling my course map in and out of my pocket, futzing with my tin of lip balm, and scrolling crazily through my Blackberry’s inbox. Fandom is a strange affliction, and having Kara so close to victory, so close at hand, was more than I could bear calmly. JG laughed fondly at me. When it became apparent that Dire Tune and Salina Kosgei were not only at Kara’s shoulder but also inching ahead of her, I began to pray. I was afraid of Dire’s bitter kick. Finally, finally the women turned onto Boyleston Street and sprinted towards us, where I stood in a mass of people, screaming my head off. It was clear from where I stood that Kosgei had it; I watched the two yellow singlets streak by and tears welled up behind my sunglasses. Kara would be third. She came by next looking like a giant after the two diminutive African women (Kara is the tiniest woman I’ve ever met). Her legs seemed heavy even though she was moving at an incredible clip, and her face was dismantled, whether it was from physical struggle or emotional distress I was unable to tell. All I could think was how the disappointment must be crushing all the air out of her; my heart ached for her. She has to face a cold reality when she considers her third place finish: even though it’s amazing to have two Americans on the podium at Boston, it’s all conciliatory small talk, really. 

Then a few more Africans trundled through, and Lidiya Grigoryeva, and I had to pick my spirits up and cheer like a madwoman for Colleen de Reuck, who finished 8th as the top women’s finisher. Wow, what a comeback, what an amazing finish! 45 years old! And she looked super-fit, lanky as all get-out. I was so happy for her, and that we had two American women in the top ten. I also recognized Veena Reddy when she pranced by with her black hair streaming loose behind her; I saw her race here at the trials last year. 

Soon, Merga was there in his orange singlet (because the women’s race was so slow, he caught them), bounding towards the finish line. I couldn’t help but be happy for him; he was grinning from ear to ear and he had so much to vindicate, most notably how he hit the wall at the Olympics, his whole race falling apart on the track with less than 400 meters to go to a bronze medal. I was glad he won. Some African dude I’d never heard of came in second. And Ryan Hall our Great Golden Hope, pulled out a third place finish, which frankly I am jazzed about. We all cheered our lungs out for Ryan–he is such a beautiful runner–and I had flashbacks of his inspiring finish at the trials in Central Park, where we were chanting his name. I am impressed with the way he reeled in half a dozen runners to get back into podium position in the final miles of the race.

Elva Dryer dropped off the pack to finish 12th, and Brian Sell, who looked like he was hurting at the end (his form was all crumpled forward, poor kid), finished 14th, in 2:16:31. Awe, Brian. JG and I lingered for hours more, watching the crowds pour through. I saw my physical therapist run by, and an old TNT coach. We cheered and cheered. My thoughts kept wandering to Kara, what was she doing, how was she feeling? I was glad she had Adam there. Back on the course, I saw more than a few women sporting pigtails. At a certain point I had a pang of sadness as I realized my moment at the finish line has been indefinitely deferred. I smiled when I saw couples running across the finish line, hands clasped together and raised like champions. I was excited for all the runners, understanding everything they’d done–training for their qualifying race, grabbing the brass ring, training through one of our worst winters ever, and finally beating those hills and that headwind– to get to the blue and yellow finish line in Copley Square. I admire them, every single one. 

Last year, when I watched this race, I wasn’t yet sure if I could run a Boston-qualifying time, or if I even dared to believe I could. But now, with NYC in my pocket, I do dare. This knowledge made for a different spectating experience, definitely more vicarious. One day I will be you, I thought as my gaze pinpointed a woman striding towards the finish with a grin spread across her face. I am injured now, but that’s just for right now.

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Tonight, I’m heading up to Boston on the Acela for the Boston Marathon. I’ll stay with my friend JG and her husband in their gorgeous duplex condominium (yes, I totally covet their residence, with its open floorplan and modern design) which is just a few blocks away from the finish line in Copley Square. Tomorrow, JG and I will watch the beginning of the race on TV, then head over to the finish line to stand and wait for the elites to come on through.

It’s a big deal, having Kara and Ryan in the mix, and Robert Cheruiyot and Dire Tune back to defend their titles. Plus, each year I know more and more runners from within my own circle who are in the field, and it’s fun to scream them on as they take the final steps to the finish line, too. The finish line is a pretty inspiring place to watch a race, and I need all the inspiration I can get these days. (I’ll have to convert the “runspiration” into “recumbent bikespiration” and “ellipticalspiration.”) I’m destined to be a spectator for at least a couple of more years, but I don’t mind.

Without further ado, my predictions for 1 through 3 in both the men’s and the women’s race. These are of course meaningless since as we all know, anything can happen in the marathon.

Men’s

  1. Robert Cheruiyot
  2. Ryan Hall
  3. Deriba Merga

Women’s

  1. Kara Goucher
  2. Dire Tune
  3. Bezunesh Bekele

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[It is a sad, sorry statement on how hard I’ve been working that my Boston Marathon spectator report is getting posted in May.]

If I were to tell people I traveled & took a day off work to go to the SuperBowl, no one would question me.  In fact they’d be jealous. But when I tell people I took Amtrak up to Boston and used a vacation day to spectate at the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials and at the Boston Marathon, I get one response: you’re such a geek. Even when I counter with, I’ll be visiting a friend, I know folks who are running on Monday, they remain nonplussed. All this means to me is that I’m not spending enough time with runners.

As an avid spectator at the New York City Marathon, standing year after year on the same corner in Queens, next to the tissue people and across from the high school band that plays seven different versions of “Ironman”, I will swear up and down that my city’s marathon is the best in the world, no matter if you’re running or rooting. 

I have to admit: as I headed up to Boston, I harbored a germ of skepticism that the oldest marathon in the country could compare to mine.  Was the enthusiasm reported back to me about the race simply due to local pride, and pride in the cachet of having qualified for the exclusive event? I wondered perhaps if it wasn’t the self-congratulation of those involved that puffed it up. Certainly, and rightfully so, pride does have something to do with it. But was there anything beyond that? That’s what I was hoping to find out.

No need to leave you in suspense.  There’s way more beyond that.  The crux of the issue, really, is that the character and talent of the field blows away any other race.  It’s obvious to me now, but I hadn’t considered this before April 19th as I headed towards the Expo (which, by the way, kicks ass over New York’s Expo.). Everywhere I looked there were lithe, fit, beautiful runners. Runners who had hit the wall and powered through, who had recovered from injuries, who had run scores of races, who raced with clubs, teams, or spouses. Runners who could name more than two elites, who had the fancy gear and used it, regularly (I could tell by the salt residue on their Garmins). The focus on the sport, the level of conversation about it, was higher than at any race I’d ever previously attended (as spectator or athlete). And, these runners wore their dedication to the sport with ease, like an afterthought.

This set a welcoming, celebratory tone that made for exellent spectating. Event he other spectators were a step above. I stood next to parents who were clutching for their daughter in her third running; to track stars who had cheered for friends in the trials the day before, and now were cheering for other teammates. We were elated when Cheruiyot won his fourth set of laurels for the course; ecstatic when young Dire Tune passed Biktimirova in the final stretch. I did feel very much alone in my indignation of Lance Armstrong being given a tape to break when he crossed the finish (wtf?! He hasn’t won anything, why is he breaking a tape? Give us all a tape to break!).  I spotted two of my coaches as they ran towards the finish, and I was so proud to know, personally, people on the course.  I looked for Steve Runner and Matt Runner, my favorite podcasterdudes, but missed them.  I reluctantly dragged myself away from the fence to catch my 3:20 train home to New York.  Boston really does get the special ones: in my car alone there were two runners, in sweats, with their medals around their necks, sucking back water and chowing down on turkey sandwiches, looking for all the world as if they’d just popped into town for a jog with some friends, and were hoping to make it home in time for dinner. 

One day. One day.

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After the drama and style of the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials in November, I was anticipating the Women’s Trials with equal parts excitement and trepidation.  Excitement, because I would have the chance to watch women like Deena Kaston, Elva Dryer, Kate O’Neill and Joan Benoit Samuelson do their miraculous thing.  Trepidation, because could the women’s race live up to the amazing spectating experience of the men’s challenging criterion course in Central Park?

I don’t know why I was worried.  The marathon rarely lacks for surprises, because as we know anything can happen over 26.2 miles.  Add to that another criterion course through the heart of downtown Boston, a town that is packed full of the best marathoners in the country, and a beautiful 50-degree day, and there was magic in the air.

Up at 6:45 (it felt like Christmas morning), out the door at 7:25 (am staying with a friend who lives 4 blocks from the Boylston Street finishline), and in position by 7:40.  I was going to try and cross the Mass Ave Bridge into Cambridge to watch from there, but realized I could see the runners ten times if I stayed on Boylston Street and ran over to Comm Ave and back.  While we waited for the women to come by on their next laps, the crowd was chatty, swapping information on the competitors and personal race stories. Everyone I met was totally cool, the best examples of why runners are great people.  I met the families of a few of the competitors, too, including a woman who had competed on the same high school track team as Kate O’Neil.

And then, with a gunshot, they were off in a tight pack. They moved past us in a brightly-colored cluster, and it was nearly impossible to pick out the runners.  (My only complaint: the runners only had numbers, unlike the men’s trials where they wore their names on their front and their numbers on their backs.)  And immediately we were all dashing over to Comm Ave to catch them as they headed back for the first crossing of the Mass Ave Bridge, after the only hill of the entire course.  Still tightly bunched, but beginning to spread out now. I took a few photos of this but am having trouble getting them off my camera; I’ll post them as soon as I get home.

For the first four loops, the front pack was more or less consistent, with Deena in her white cap striding with Kate O’Neill and assorted others.  I say the front pack, because Deena was not the frontrunner until somewhere after mile 22 — Magdalena Lewy Boulet led by nearly two minutes for most of the race.  In fact, when the women came around for the final Boston leg of their race, when we saw Magda on Boylston, she had a 1:17 lead on Deena (who had broken away from the pack) and then when we saw her just minutes later on Comm Ave, her lead was down to 57 seconds.  Wow!  That’s when my merry band of fellow spectators and I all got totally jazzed for what was going to happen next.  We couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen when the runners came over the Mass Ave Bridge for the final time up Boylston to the finish line.

So, I waited for most of the field to pass on Comm Avenue before heading back to Boylston–a small mistake since I was now boxed out from a front row view.  I stood there in a cluster of three women who are running Boston tomorrow, and another who had run the hot Chicago Marathon just this past Fall, and we speculated on who we’d see first over that bridge, Deena or Magda.  And so, when the motorcade came, I stretched and craned and the second I spotted that white cap I shouted, “It’s Deena!” and a charge moved through the crowd.  We saw her coming up on us, taking one last long look behind her, in case Magda had been on her heels. But no. Deena passed us by and still no sign of Magda.  And then, there she was, with Blake Russell following far behind her, too. 

I am thrilled for each of these women, clearly Magda ran the race of her life, and it was a magnificent upset for the spectators, probably not-so-magnificent for favorites Elva and Kate.  (In fact, I don’t remember seeing Elva on the course; am waiting for the official results–I am wondering if she got a DNC.) Another thrill of the race was getting to cheer for Joanie.  I got some fabulous photos of her, and the other leaders, as the race went on. (Sorry, you’ll have to wait for me to post them; after the first loop my camera battery died and I had to buy a disposable.)

More posts to follow as final results are available online, etc. To summarize now: an exciting, historic day in women’s marathoning. Bring on Beijing!

LINKS: Boston Globe coverage. WCSN.com coverage. WCSN photos.

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I had a 6pm appointment on 20th & 5th this evening. Since I have to dash home at 5pm tomorrow to walk the dog, I won’t be able to get in my 6+ miler this week.  I decided instead to run home from my appointment, which meant showing up in my RaceReady shorts and Nike tee, which was kind of weird but not inappropriate.

The route was just a teensy bit over 5 miles, and basicaly I was able to skirt around the major points where things jam up traffic wine (both car & foot): Madison Square Park, the Midtown Tunnel, and Grand Central Station.  I’d decided ahead of time to ease up my pace a little since I’ve been tuckered out all week long. It felt really good to run 10 minute miles, for my lungs to not be burning as I chug up the 43rd Avenue hill to my apartment building. It also was colder than I thought it would be, and even though I worked up a sweat, I could have definitely run in tights or a long-sleeved shirt and been fine.

I listened to Dump Runners Club most recent episode, the one about finishing kicks.  It was so timely to me, since I have been thinking all week about Martin Lel, and his deadly kick.  Seriously, the last two marathons I’ve watched him in (NY and London) he has bested his competitors, who were on his heels until the very end, finishing fractionally after Lel.  Plus, he has really earned all of his wisdom about the distance, and even about the courses he’s run multiple times.

As an aside, my TNT coach texted me earlier today, he ran a PR in London but missed qualifying for Boston by just two minutes.  If that’s not bittersweet, I don’t know what is.

I don’t know Matt that well, just what he reveals to us through his Dump Runners Club podcast, but it was so obvious that he is tapering for Boston now.  The goofy energy he was giving off was a total sign of the taper jitters if ever I heard one.  Man, I feel you.  I hate tapering.

I am so excited for this weekend coming up. I love taking the train to Boston, first of all.  Secondly, I’m getting to spend a weekend with my friend JG and her husband M in their amazingly designed modern apartment just blocks from the marathon finish line, so I’ll be catching up with old friends.  And of course, the icing and the cream filling of this cupcake: the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, the Expo, and the Boston Marathon. OhmygodIcan’twait. These are the moments Husband knows to just step back and get out of the way, because there’s nothing he could do (short of running the Boston Marathon) that could tear my attention away from my sport this weekend.

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During my long run today, I ran with Matt and Steve.  I look forward to listening to their podcasts almost as much as I anticipate my runs, and am very strict about only listening to running podcasts when I’m running.  It’s an organizational tic, I think.  Anyway, they were (as usual) excellent episodes.

Matt, on Dump Runners Club Episode 96, once again spoke eloquently about how inspiring it is to watch elite athletes do their thing, mentioning how memories of video he’d seen of the Cross Country Championships powered him through his last tempo run before the Boston Marathon.  I’m so far from Paula Radcliffe it’s laughable, but I do pull up images of her striding by me at Mile 13 of last year’s New York Marathon when I’m doing my own racing to snap me back into form or keep my arms pumping one hundred yards from the finish line. I don’t think I’d be nearly as dedicated and passionate a runner if I wasn’t also a fan.

Steve has been issuing episodes dedicated to the history & course of the Boston Marathon on Phedippidations.  I mentioned in an earlier post how much I was looking forward to his ‘cast on Kathrine Switzer, who is one of my running heroes.  The episode (# 136) did not let me down, and Steve must have gotten her on the phone for an interview because he had a ton of voice-over from her, talking about her experience in the 1967 Boston Marathon.  Steve gave great background on women in distance running.  I am such a romantic about this sport that I get chills every time I think about the strides (literally and figuratively) that my female predecessors had to take so that now, the only thing limiting me as a woman who runs is myself. Switzer said two things in the podcast which I remember resonated with me when I read her autobiography, Marathon Woman.  First, she spoke about how as a 12-year old girl, she’d run a mile every day before school, and how much it meant to carry around that small triumph with her the rest of the day. I still feel that way, even as a 30-something woman.  Each run I complete is permanently part of my collection of “Things I’m Proud Of,” and no matter what can never be taken away from me.  The other, more expected thing, Switzer talked about was how her negative experience with Doc Semple (when he tried to take back her bib numbers) galvanized her to finish the marathon for herself, and for all women, to prove it could and should be done.  This makes me think: thank God it was Kathy and not some other (less determined, less visionary) type  of woman who was challenged by the rules.

Both Matt and Steve are running the Boston Marathon a week from Monday.  I am excited for both of them, and wish them the best possible race.  I’ll be there cheering on Boylston Street this year, since I am making the pilgrimage to spectate at the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, too.

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Part of my reunion weekend with the Sacto 7 this weekend (more on that later) was a Secret-Santa-esque gift exchange, which we did to celebrate everyone’s birthday in one fell swoop on Saturday evening.  My gift was a very cute black V-neck technical tee with the word “Run” plain & simple (& small) on the chest.  I was gratified that these friends (who knew me before I started running) now consider me worthy and desiring of such a gift, and couldn’t wait to wear it on a run. Even though it’s only been three days since I unwrapped it, I have been single-mindedly watching the weather reports for temperatures warm enough.

Today was the day (60 degrees).  Normally, I put together my running outfits with one thought in mind: appropriate to the weather.  But this morning when I packed my gear, I wanted to coordinate, so as to show off my new tee to its best advantage.  So: black shorts.  Black watch.  Black gloves (unnecessary) and black ipod.  As I headed out into the 6:30 PM hubbub of my city’s streets, I felt like The Shadow, slipping in between pedestrians, bikers and automobiles.

The run wasn’t extraordinary (3.5 m; 33:37), but my new tee is unimpeachable.  Probably in the summer the black will make it too hot, but for now, it’s light as a feather, wicks brilliantly and doesn’t tug or pull anywhere. Thank you, TD!

I listened to two podcasts on my way home.  The first was the tail end of a great Running Times Radio interview with Nate Jenkins, who finished 7th in the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials last year, is self-coached, and up until early 2007 shoehorned his training in around a job in a running shoe store and as a coach at U Mass-Lowell.  I find the RT Radio podcasts a bit pretentious at times, and Scott Douglas’ questions somewhat overweening, but Nate handily fielded Douglas’ questions with frank and interesting answers.  I was riveted.  He analyzed his own training, admitted he turned down the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, spoke about Italian coaching methods, and explained why he thought his acceptable half-marathon times makes the marathon his best event.  Download the podcast or read his training blog.  I’ll be cheering for him at Boston; this boy’s all right.

Then, I turned on Phedippidations Intervals #135B, in which Steve Runner answers the question that’s been kicking around the back of my head: how the heck did he get into Boston with his middle-of-the-pack times? (No offense, Steve.)  Turns out he received an invitational entry passed to him through the Massachussets Civil Air Patrol, one of the many municipal organizations along the race course that assists with security and logistics.  That’s cool–I think it’s important for marathons to have a contingent of runners of all levels from the local community. 

But the kicker, the part that had me laughing out loud (I don’t belive Steve was trying to be funny, though) was when he revealed his strategy on how he will one day race Boston with a qualifying entry.  He plans to hold his 4-hour marathon pace for the next 14 years, so that when he turns 60, his race pace and the qualifying time requirements for entry will intersect.  It’s true, then: I have been blogging about a hot idea (see Pigtails post “A Pint and a Fag” for starters).  This takes the mantra “train today for the runner you want to be tomorrow” about a thousand steps further.  Train yourself to the fitness you want to have when you’re 60, 65 or 70, and then simply mantain it so you can a) qualify for Boston and b) start winning your age group.

Personally, I think it’s got to be easier to win your age group by signing up for races in Bumblefuck, Idaho (no offense, Idaho) than to maintain the same level of fitness for over two decades (or for over four decades, if you’re my buddy EN). 

Steve Runner also casually mentioned that he will dedicate an entire episode to Kathrine Switzer!  This is awesome.  Ever since I read her book Marathon Woman last year, I have been telling others about her running career (she won NY!) and her contributions to the sport (instrumental in getting the women’s marathon as an Olympic event). I admire her, am thankful to her, and can’t wait to hear more about her.  I hope he scores an interview!

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