Sunday, April 15, 2018

Boston 2018: I'm in! As in... invited, at least!

Boston is such the holy grail of marathon running, it's often an epic journey to get there. I still recall when I cried at the finish of the San Jose Marathon where I first met the qualification standard required for my age back then, breaking 3:10. What a story since then, running Boston in 2001, 2003, getting on the podium (top 10 Masters) in 2005 then 2007. After that, my focus turned to ultra marathon but the urge was too big to come back again on the mythical course and that was definitely worth many chills, not only to rejoin the field after the terrorist attack but also get on the podium again with a second M50-54 place. Which was so unexpected after I had missed my 100K Nationals race a week earlier.

Being the oldest in the M50-54 age group, I wasn't going to register this year. But, late August, I received this email from the organization:

Dear Jean Pommier,We hope this note finds you doing well this Summer.The 122nd B.A.A. Boston Marathon is scheduled for Monday, April 16, 2018, with 30,000 athletes anticipated to compete.Based on your outstanding age-group performance at the 2017 race, we are pleased to reserve you a non-transferable complimentary entry for the 2018 race.If you plan on competing in 2018, please respond to this email by September 9 and the appropriate entry application will be e-mailed to you in late November. [...] 

Oh, my, I thought only a few handful of olympian-worthy runners were invited! Now, still being picky, I checked if the invitation could be postponed by a year, when I would be young(est) again, to no availability. So, Boston 2018, here I come, for #6!

Now, what a difference a year makes! I'm so unprepared for this, it's embarrassing... In addition to the major change of diet which still raises many questions in my mind, I had a few physical setbacks the past 6 weeks which have seriously impacted my training. In case you haven't checked my last 5 posts, here is a graphical summary/timeline:

It looked like such an unfortunate series of events that, this past week, my key goal was to be extra careful when just moving around, while keeping the lights on, in particular going through four airports this week for a business trip then get to Boston. Extra caution when carrying something, walking up or down stairs, getting out of a car, like an old man...

To add to the uncertainty, I was waiting for the confirmation of a business trip to optimize my travel and that came at the last minute, for Cincinnati, OH, this time.

What is the state of the body leading to the race?

  1. Back muscle pull: 99% gone, just feeling it when I pull my carry-on over my head in the overhead compartment;
  2. Top foot tendinitis: 95% contained, still can feel it in certain shoes;
  3. 6 bruises from tripping down: wounds still painful (hands) but now closed;
  4. 2 3rd-degree burns on the right calf: still oozing but skin reformed at about 80%; will tape for the race this time (didn't for the mud fest last week...);
  5. Elbow and side bruises from new fall at American River 50 last week: okay...

Anyway, it's now Sunday, less than 24 hours before the start and I'm really wondering what will happen tomorrow. Starting with the weather which, typical of New England, keeps changing every minute. It was sunny on Friday and Saturday morning, it's now chilling down and overcast, so much that they announce snow flakes for today, then a lot of rain and headwind for... race day, yikes!

I'm actually just back from a 5K run during which I even clocked a 6:20-min mile, like in the good ol' days. Just need to do this 26 times in a row tomorrow, how hard can that be! When I resumed training after my back injury, I said it was going to be a steep hill back up 6 min/mile, thankfully I still have a good base. Will getting the race adrenaline to soak in be enough?

Snow in April? That's really not surprising the locals who have had such a tough and long winter. And there is still piles of snow here and there, around (here is St Augustine Church where I went to mass on Saturday morning in Andover):
Oh, one more excuse to sand bag for tomorrow's run: I just realized I even forgot to take my Vespa pouches with me. Without my magic potion, better show that I'm fat-adapted after 4.5 weeks on the OFM/keto diet!

Given all these circumstances, the goal of just finishing may have to predominate tomorrow, we shall see in a few hours.

That caveat being on records, if you still want to follow my progress, you can text 819 (my bib number) to 234567 and you should receive updates along the way (last year, it only sent notifications from 30K on, every 5K, versus the additional 10K and half-marathon checkpoints advertised this year). I believe that number/procedure only works in the US.

There is also a "Boston Marathon" app (Apple and Android) from the Boston Athletic Association, offering live tracking. That app is advertised as providing many more alerts (Start, every 5K point, half-marathon, 20, 21 and 25.2-mile marks and finish), quite a fine grain tracking!

By the way, at $30 for one hour and one minute of parking near the expo, I literally zipped through the expo for picking my bib, race shirt, but still managed to walk through all the aisles of the expo floor which looked to me smaller than last year. Last year I had volunteered for a few hours on the GU booth but I haven't been selected in their advocate program this year.

Same thing for Brooks, they ditched me from their sponsoring program, so they didn't reach out to give a hand (or a foot?) on the booth.

That being said, after having run in Brooks for 19 years and 64 pairs, I'm still so attached to the brand, I couldn't resist wearing my "I love running" Brooks t-shirt as well as a new pair of Boston-themed Launch 4.

I haven't ever felt the challenge of getting to the start line as this time, this has become like a small obsession. 16 hours to start time of wave 1, never been that close! ;-) My mental image has been to be careful enough not to trip over that line this time, materialized by the cordage I tripped over in Honduras 2 weeks ago...
In addition to being my 6th Boston marathon, this will also be my 300th race in my running log, quite a milestone!

With that, alea iacta est, see many of you tomorrow between Hopkinton and Boston, on the legendary course, along it, or online! Boston Strong! Rain or shine...

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