Sunday, July 17, 2011

WMA 2011 part 2: the light after my second night shift

Sorry for the occasional readers who missed my previous post, you will have to revert to it to get the full context of this report from my third and last day at the WMA 2011, the World Masters Athletics Championships.

Aymar joined me for some serious carbo-loading in a private pasta party in the apartment we stayed at on the campus. Later, we got to know our roommate, Robert (Rob) Campbell, from Canada, who was also running the marathon, in the M50 age group. I went to bed around 8 PM after setting the alarm clock for 2 AM. After my breakfast, I went back to bed until 3:45 AM but didn't really sleep with the excitement or nervousness. Not sure if there was a pre-race obligation to report or not, Rob and I left shortly after 4 AM and I jogged to the start. After confirming there wasn't a check-in actually, I rushed back to the room to fill in my bottles then drove back to a parking closer to the start, with Aymar.
Rob had counted 313 registered runners in the event so it wasn't difficult to get to the start line. I met Annette Bednosky, an elite ultra runner and member of the Team USA competing in the world 100K championship in September. Annette asked me if I had seen Scott Dunlap, so we moved ahead closer to the starting line to find him. It was pitch dark when we took off but the first 2-mile loop around the campus was wide and well lighted. In contrast, the bike path along the American River appeared really dark and almost needing headlamps to run at the 6:15 min/mile pace we were at. At this point, I was running with Scott who was shooting for a time in the 2:30s while I was aiming at something in the 2:40s, assuming my legs were not failing me after the race of Friday night.
In the second 4.8-mile loop along the river, I slightly pushed the pace and caught up with two other runners from Team USA, William Ennicks (M51) and I believe Eric Laughlin (M41). I passed them and they stayed right behind me for the third loop. We had passed the 10K mark in around 39 minutes (not much slower than my 34:02 36 hours earlier in the 10,000 meters) and the half in 1:21:40. Finally, they passed me at the beginning of the 4th loop as I stopped to drink a pouch of Vespa Junior and pick another bottle of GU2O (Scott teased me for carrying my own bottles like in an ultra, but I think that was a wise choice for three reasons: first, I'm not accustomed to Gatorade, I only drink GU2O, second, it does save time going through aid station, it also allows me to know exactly what I'm drinking as opposed to guessing from what you can get out of a cup while running).
At this point, my GPS was indicating a 6:12 min/mile pace and I couldn't catch them. My pace was decreasing by one second at every mile, getting to 6:23 by the end. I could keep William in sight and see a M45 runner slightly ahead but, although I was not cramping, I was missing the stamina to reengage a higher gear. I passed the mile 25 mark in 2:41 and knew I'd to sprint to get to my 2:47 goal (I'm always trying to run 2 hours plus my age in minutes... and see how long I can keep up with this linear "law."
Just before the last passage on Guy Bridge, I caught up with another M45 competitor, from Germany, who had hit the wall. I had no idea about my ranking, neither overall or in my age group, but was happy to gain one place. I did sprint to the finish and clocked a very satisfying 2:47:56 given the circumstances and in particular the recent effort in the 10,000 meters. Aymar heard from the announcer that I had finished 20th overall and I figured out that there were many M45 among the leaders. The running conditions were perfect this morning but it got chilly as we stopped our effort and our sweaty tops. After taking a few pictures at the finish line, I drove back to the room to take a shower and get some rest. With such an early start it was only 8:30 AM which left ample time to hang around at the stadium before driving back to the Bay Area. I decided to wait for the results though before leaving, especially after meeting Philippe (Duperrain), from France and from my 10,000-meter heat.
Philippe is a 2:24 marathoner and after his counter-performance in the 10,000 meters (he ran under 34 minutes in a meet two weeks ago), and seeing the winning time of the marathon (2:32), he was disappointed to have picked the 10,000 between the two events. Anyway, Philippe thought I had placed... third in my age group!

He was right indeed: although there were 6 runners with a better finish time than mine in the M40-44 age group, 6 in the M50-54 one (!), 2 on the M55-60 (re-exclamation point!) and 3 in the M35-39, that left only two other competitors ahead of me in the M45-49 age group, yippee! We were actually pretty close to each other, I had no idea...

1 16 Daniel Fiorini     49 Canada         2:46:18
2 18 Luca Guise Foglia  49 Switzerland    2:47:15
3 20 Jean Pommier       47 United States  2:47:56
4 21 Markus Riefer      45 Germany        2:48:46
That was an opportunity to visit the award area on the other side of the stadium. To top it, Team USA placed first in my age group so I went back, albeit alone as no other teammates were present, on the podium and the top. In all fairness, it helps to have the championships organized in the US, next year will be in Brazil. That being said, I had a chill while looking at the huge US flag at the top of the stadium while the National anthem was played. A new and great experience for me, under the US colors per the oath I took a couple of years ago!

1. 8:40:11 United States (2:53:24)
1 2:47:56 Jean Pommier 4346
2 2:53:40 Don Young 4761
3 2:58:35 Javier Cruz 3628
2. 9:45:27

Russia (3:15:09)
1 2:58:54 Dmitry Mineev 2569
2 3:16:13 Valery Slastinin 2586
3 3:30:20 Mikhail Pinegin 2573
3. 10:27:04

1 3:10:32 Martin Ferguson 1443
2 3:14:02 Alan Appleby 1406
3 4:02:30 Alan Roberts 1490
Bill Dodson from our Stevens Creek Striders running club in Cupertino placed 2nd in the M75 age group and first as a team.
Although she was just running this race as a 100K training test, Annette easily won her age group (M40) with a 3:01. See the overall results or the detailed ones (scroll down on the left).
And see more pictures of the day in my 3rd Picasa album including photos (and movies!) from the M45 3,000-meter steeple chase won by Gilles Pelletier from France (check my previous post for a pointer to the two other photo albums).
Bronze and gold, that's quite an unexpected outcome of my first participation to such a championship. It was too close to home to miss the opportunity, we'll see how it plays in the coming years with my busy schedule. Time to pack again for a 6AM flight at SFO this Monday morning, no time to rest on the laurels... ;-)


Zachi Baharav said...

You never stop amazing us.

Keep it up,

Rajeev said...

Fantastic achievement!!

Sree said...

Congratulations Jean! Amazing and Inspiring! -Sree

Anonymous said...

...levée tôt, j'ai enfin pu lire tes deux derniers blogs.
Ici, tous sont très fiers de tes succès, bien mérités!
et nous t'embrassons fort