Friday, February 29, 2008

February 29: could it be...?

It all started with this announcement sent out by my parents. In 2004, we had a great 40-year party on D-day and my parents had even make the trip to California (they have come every year for the past 10 years actually). 4 years ago I really started questioning if I was actually born on March 1 or February 29, a leap year... My parents are categoric, there is no arguing. Yet I thought that represented a funny blog opportunity as some of my friends wished me a good 11th birthday today!

An opportunity to look back at my rather short history. Look at how I started, being parked between 4 heavy wrought ironed armchairs to make sure I would not escape and cross the backyard! Oh well, I'm still smiling...
No wonder I still needed a hand to walk as I was 15-month old... Chinese and Japanese say: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step", yet that was a slow and late start for a runner, wasn't it?This steps were for visiting my new born brother, Jerome, the last of 6 siblings: With that, if I was indeed born on the 29th, that would make today my 11th birthday. 11 like the age I was given on this picture, in 6th grade:
11 like Grégoire's age, funny coincidence, isn't it? The picture below is not my 11th birthday but one year later. Close enough to play the game of finding the differences --and the similarities-- with...
...Greg's picture of his 11th birthday last month!
On a more "running" note, and to stay in the spirit of this blog, I had an early birthday gift last night with the joy of listening to Flyin' Brian Robinson at REI in Saratoga. Brian was the first person to hike the three cross-American trails (Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail) in 12 months. In conditions which are hard to imagine, even for a one-day hike, between sub freezing blizzard to unbearable hot temperatures, from dry weather where finding water was a problem to pouring rain, lightening hazard, heavy snow.

It is hard to describe such a fate, which will remain in the history of endurance sport and hiking for many more years. A few numbers to try to give a perspective: Brian averaged 31 miles per day for 300 days. That's about 10 hours of power walking with a heavy backpack, each day. He covered 7,400 miles (close to 12,000 km). 7 pairs of shoes. Having to carry food for 6 days most of the time on remote and deserted trails. Eating 6,000 calories per day, with soup for dinner but dry/junk food the rest of the day (Brian used the word "junk").

Brian has a Wikipedia page, but there is more information on the website on which his Dad typed in meticulously Brian's day to day journal, back in 2001. When asked if he would publish a book to relate this fate, Brian said that the manuscript was ready, but not good enough to publish. But, more importantly, that he doesn't believe anyone can relate on paper the state of mind he reached during this journey. Something that Brian called as "getting so close to God" (specially at the time of this picture, taken at the finish of his record, by his brother):

But nothing replace the quality of the words Brian uses in his presentation. Not to be missed if he does it again next to where you live.

That was a great opportunity not only to catch up with Brian but also Sophia, his wife, Rob and Kate, Roger, Tom K. Brian and Sophia moved to Monterey and we are missing them for our Saturday morning runs in Woodside. I haven't seen them since Brian and I ran the first 30 miles at Western States together last year. He is now focusing on the Barkley 100-mile run, another amazing ultra running (or walking actually) goal. And we planned to meet again at Squaw in June.Thank you for such a birthday gift, Brian! You have such a contagious passion, commenting your great shots, I couldn't imagine you had already given this talk a hundred times! That's ultra-conferencing... ;-) Thank you Brian, and thank you, REI (yes, I'm a member)!

So long to close this unusually long month of February!


Anonymous said...

Bon anniversaire, cher trésor!
Maman, Papa, Miche.

Anonymous said...

Très classe, le faire-part en Futura.
Et les photos craquantes, quel que soit l'âge…
Très bon birthday.

kelly said...

Since I can't read or write, or speak French, I will just say Happy Birthday, Jean!! May this year be a great running year for you. See you out on the trails.

Anonymous said...

Quelle idée géniale, la ressemblance avec Grégoire est frappante.



Jean Pommier said...

Thanks to all for the wishes. I had great time this weekend, including a couple of long runs and a Cirque du Soleil show (Kooza) with Agnès and the boys. Although taping is forbidden, I can't resist to share a link to my favorite performance, three amazing contortionists. Yes, flexibility is important in running and ultra... And, no, the video is not from me, I promise.

On to February 29, 2012! ;-)


Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

Happy birthday, Jean!

Herzlichen Glueckwunsch zum Geburtstag, Jean!

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Maybe we're not in the same age group, afterall...
Bon anniversaire / Otanjohbi omedetoh!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jean,
Nice work at Cool yesterday. How was the AR50 hill? I was in the parking lot at the Overlook when you got there. I should have asked your name and introduced myself.

That's a hard cool-down after your race, to do the last hill. Hope you didn't get lost on the way down, it's not easy to navigate.


Jean Pommier said...

Lon, thanks for the message and the directions yesterday. I don't think I got it right though: I took the first paved road which got me to the power station, down to the river in 1.7 miles. Interestingly enough I went down slow (15', the quads...) and came back up to the parking lot in 19'. Before the parking lot, I saw another entrance into the park and more paved roads. So I probably didn't take the right one. Then, back home, uploading my Garmin data on Google, I saw a maze of roads/trail on the satellite image. Should be easier on race day!

Oh well, I pretty much know now what the last hill will look like. No shame if there is some walking in the last mile of this 50-miler...

See you in 4 weeks,