Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring spree

Spree: a period of unrestrained self-indulgence...

After welcoming Spring with a poem last week, I'm enjoying this extended period without a race: 3 weeks between Way Too Cool and American River, what a treat! Two weeks after AR will be RA (Ruth Anderson), then Miwok two weeks later, then only one week before QuickSilver, which I will run for the first time this year. This is the fun of racing in the Grand Prix, it never stops! Incidentally, no race also means no race report, and shorter blog posts... ;-)

In addition, I don't have any business trip scheduled anymore, courtesy of IBM's travel policy. That gives me more time to work (sic!), train and, more importantly, more time spent with the family. Running is only my second job and work therefore takes precedence on running. As a matter of fact, since the IBM acquisition, very early conference calls prevent me from training as much as I want in the morning, and additional workload extends the working hours at night, shortening my sleep time. I really need to keep all that under control this week, before next Saturday 50-mile race.

This morning I ran at Rancho San Antonio. It has been a while since I drove to this park, where I probably ran more than 2,000 miles, and I had forgotten that parking was such an issue on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I had to park almost 1 mile from the entrance. There was an amazing number of hikers on the trail in this sunny and hot morning and many of them were surprised to see me running a second lap after I passed them on my first PG&E-Upper High Meadow-Rogue loop. 2:26 for 20 miles and 2,800 feet elevation, that was a good work out. When I think that one lap felt like a huge achievement just 10 years ago, in 1999, and that two laps now became a simple training run now, I definitely run "Farther, Faster!"
When you hear spree, you think "shopping spree," right? And indeed, shopping we did this afternoon at Fleet Feet in Aptos. If you recall, I won the 2nd place in Montrail Ultra Cup in 2007 and the prize was a $1,000 gift card from Fleet Feet. The store owner, Tom, is an ultra runner himself and he was surely happy to see the whole family enter his store to shop for this significant amount! Tom and his staff are very knowledgeable and I highly recommend their advice for shoe selection (they carry the best Brooks models, but other brands as well, to fit every one's "fleet feet"). And next time you visit, look at the wall, you may see my picture hanging up there! (Store picture from Tom's blog)
We had to drive back for Max and Alex' musical at CHS, but we could manage to fit in one hour at the Seacliff State Beach to enjoy the wonderful weather. The wind made the air chilly, not to mention the water was cold of course, contrasting with the 75+ degrees we experienced in the Bay Area today. Heat training is around the corner, I like that!
What a contrasting weather: one week ago, runners where racing on muddy and windy trails around Mt Diablo, whose top was covered with snow. Today, they were suffering from heat at Lake Sonoma 50-mile. Indeed, Spring is here, enjoy some Spring spree!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring musing

After 109 posts on this blog, here is a new genre, a poem. No rhymes, but an acrostic and 24 alexandrines! To recount my day. Here you are...

March 21, 2009

Spring reached the Bay, blooming flowers gave the signal!
Pounding on the road came the poem idea,
Rajeev ultra poet inspired my musing.
In school was the last time I wrote some poetry,
New experiences keep thrill into our lives,
Greg's recent poems, another inspiration.

Sprinting I reached lonely Black Mountain this morning,
P.R. by 10 seconds I celebrated Spring,
Records I like for my Farther Faster mantra.
In 2 weeks, A.R. 50-mile will test my shape,
No asthma this time should make Agnes and Greg wait.
To you my blog readers, I wish a happy Spring!

Brooks are obviously the shoes I strode in today;
Reviewing the Trance 8 model I will blog next,
In 9 pairs of Trance I ran 9,000 fun miles;
New Cascadias 4 I also received this week,
Ground and dirt they will meet on many miles this year,
Speed and placing they will help me achieve again.

Smiles were countless in the musical last evening.
Max excelled and delighted the crowd in Ted's role,
In a flashy white tux he flew over the stage.
Lights, sounds and set, Alex was involved in, backstage.
Exhausted Max was after leading stress-less week.
Show, excitement and smiles go on for four more nights!

And some notes and explanations as a bonus:
  1. I ran to the top of Black Mountain this morning. Because of the pain in the hip I did not plan to go out fast but I got caught into the excitement of passing bikes on the steep Montebello road. By the school I was still under 8 minutes/mile pace and did not slow down. I passed 11 cyclists total and reached the top in a personal record of 1:30. A great run to celebrate Spring.
  2. Rajeev acts as the Managing Director of our ultraholics Yahoo! group and has titled his blog The Poetic Runner. In addition to his inspiration, I discovered Greg's talent for writing peoms at school last week. They are funny and clever!
  3. I received the latest Trance and Cascadia models from Brooks this week, and I will blog soon about these great shoes (I am part of Brook's Inspire Daily group) and a big fan of this brand which focuses only on running, and in which I ran more than 13,000 miles.
  4. AR stands for American River and is a very competitive 50-mile race which I ran for the first time in 2008. I ran only the first 15 miles actually before being hit by one of these exercise-induced asthma crisis. I then walked for the remaining 35 miles, finishing in 8:53, 3 hours and 10 minutes after the winner, Tony Krupicka. Hope to shave at least two hours off this time this year.
  5. Then, last night was the premiere of the musical Smile, at Cupertino High School (in addition to performing and singing, Max helped making costumes, and created the grapical design of the tickets and website). The musical has been written by the same author as Chorus Line but didn't get nearly the same success: it only stayed on Broadway for 40 days, a very brief tenure. Yet, it was well played by the CHS cast and we spent a very nice evening. And Alex was on the tech team, from the creation of the set to the sound and light operations during the show.
Happy Spring to all!
PS: in Brooks, from top to bottom. Note that the grass already needs water, and rain came this afternoon, just in time! (Mt Hamilton is all covered with snow, for the fourth or fifth time this year!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Way Too Cool '09: longer, slower

Preamble: this is a long report, for a relatively short ultra. If you are in a hurry, you may want to jump to my Picasa photo album with Agnès and Greg's picture of the start and the top 28 finishers.

A bit of history and context

Way Too Cool (WTC) and I start having an history. Not as long as the 17 editions Tim Twietmeyer participated in though. For me, it started 4 years ago, on March 11 2006, when WTC was my first official ultra race, my initiation to ultra competition. It was one week after I had set my PR on the half marathon distance in Paris (1:15:04). I remember going into the race with confidence because of this recent PR and also because on of my ultra mentors from the Striders, Charles Stevens, had assured me that it was a cool race, and easy profile. I know he meant in comparison with other more challenging course but, at the time, he did not appear as easy at all to me. As a matter of fact and despite many layers, I was cold all the way, tired of slipping in the mud and getting my feet wet with the stream crossings and, of course, did not pace my self correctly, a common mistake of an ultra newbie. I ran 10" under 4:30 and did not found that "Too Cool."

A year later (2007), I was bullish and thought I could only do better. Indeed, everything went well in the first 14 miles until ALT1 (the second aid station, ALT standing for Auburn Lake Trail). In the hill off ALT1, I remember being passed by Tim as I was out of breath, hit again by this darn exercise-induced asthma. The last 15 miles were pathetic as I was alternating walking and slow jogging until I could not breath anymore, my lungs and throat struggling with coughing spasms. 4:45:42...

Last year, I was blogging and you can read the recount of my finally happy connection and experience with this major event on the North American ultra circuit. The title of my post says it all: "Way Too Cool: cool, at last!" 3:56:52 and, more importantly, good and happy memories, finally!

The 2009 edition

Like in 2007, I was not coming to the event rested. As you know, I ran a good 2:46:32 marathon at Napa 2 weeks ago, in the rain. In addition I experience quite some stress with the ongoing IBM-ILOG integration. Then Agnès took a full-time teaching job for a few months (French in high school), the boys are very busy for their coming musical, Smile, so even my crew was tired and stressed out. When I came back from work on Friday evening, I told Agnès that I had never felt that tired before a race. Fortunately, Agnès drove the last 2/3 of the way up to Auburn on Friday night and I could sleep for one hour in the car, plus another 6 hours at the hotel. We like the Best Western there (Golden Key) and the owners remember us now for our many stays, either in connection with ultra races or on our way to skiing at Tahoe. At breakfast I met Jeff, from the Runners' World forum, who came all the way from New York to run the event.

I had read on various forums that the weather will be great on race day and potentially over 70F. On race morning the temperature was only 38F though. Every one was chilly for the bib pick-up and runner check-in but there was excitement and many smiley faces with the nice weather ahead and the dry course this year. More and more familiar faces as this marked the beginning of my 4th year in ultra, yet many unknown face too as this even attracts people from all over California and the American West.
The start was given right on time at 8 o'clock by Race Director Julie Fingar, under the supervision of ex RD Greg Soderlund. It was a furious charge of more than 500 runners. Seems like a large number but you should know that many more candidates could not get in actually, the online registration filling in less than 10 minutes again this year. The first 2 miles are on the only road section of the course and, despite making efforts to pace myself, I passed the 1st mile mark in 6:26 slightly above my marathon pace. And, to tell you how fast we went off, there were probably 40 runners ahead of me! Like last year, I enjoyed getting some energy out of the joyful and vocal Andy Jones-Wilkins while passing him and Tim. In previous years, the course was obviously much shorter than the official 31 miles corresponding to 50K. This year marked a new era for WTC, with an extension of the first section before the Highway 49 crossing aid station. Last year, I was following Scott Jurek in the miles before and after this aid station and this unique experience revived some vivid and uplifting memories of seeing him flying over the rocks and roots in this technical section. With Scott at the finish last year:
Right after Hwy 49, I found Mark Lantz holding his knee on the side of the trail and stopped to see what was going on. Mark seemed in big pain and like he was not going to make it. He told me and Bev, right on my heels, to go on. As you may have read in my Napa marathon report, Mark passed me in the final stretch finishing right under 2:46. He is not only fast, but so strong as you will see later, I have a lot of respect for this mental toughness. We then continued with Bev leading the women race and Thomas Reiss. I mentioned Thomas in my Jed Smith post as one of the North California ultra elite. Before the Ball Bearing hill, or should I say wall, Lewis Taylor passed me and I was never to see him again. Ball Bearing is where I lost sight of Scott Jurek last year as I had to walk in this steep and rocky section. This year, I felt good enough to follow Thomas as he was trotting up the hill. With the extra 1.5 miles before Hwy 49, we passed the 10-mile mark in this hill, in 1:12, which I felt was more reasonable and sustainable than the 1:10 of last year. I followed Thomas' steps for a couple of miles but passed him at one creek crossing. Our average pace was down to 7:20 at this point.

I reached ALT1 without seeing anyone in front or beyond me. I stopped for way too long however to fill my bottle, take in more Vespa, some banana, Coke and a salt tablet. I thought I had plenty of time, reaching almost the half way point in 1:52, on par for a sub 4-hr finish. I was still enjoying the open bar and buffet when I saw Thomas, Bev and Caitlin Smith coming through, not even stopping! Then came the valorous Mark Lantz which made me realize I had rather keep going. When I left ALT1, my average pace had dropped down to 7:29 min/mile. I did the math (15 miles x 9 seconds to realize that I had stopped for more than 2 minutes, how bad...!).

I did not take me too long to catch up with Thomas and passed him actually as he was evidently having a bad day (he finished in 129th and 5:06, not sure what happened). Then it was time to reconnect with the lead of the women race which I will see unfolding from start to finish. Caitlin was still on Bev's heels, literally. I passed them in the tricky section going down to one of the major creek crossings, with freezing water. The water which we desperately want during Western Sates when the temperatures are above 100 or 110F, but not really in winter... I pushed the pace again to get the average pace up to 7:28. I even ran some of the crazy steep Goat Hill, but got out of breath quickly and ended up being passed by 3 runners just before ALT2, including Michael Fink (2nd at Jed Smith 50K).
I left ALT2 just before hearing people saying that the lead women were getting in. Time to move! I have a strange love/hate feeling about the section right after ALT2. Love because it is a very runnable trail, in the shade, soft ground, single track. Love too because we see the tail of the pack and we receive so many encouragements. The part which I don't like is that, usually short of breath in this last third of the course, I cannot even thank or return the encouragements of all these runners who stop to let the front runners pass, while they have themselves many more hours to spend on the course, and even the challenge of making the cut-off times for some. If you read these lines and are one of the runners who made extra effort to free up the single track by stepping on the side, and potentially get in the poison oak, THANK YOU! And leave a comment so I can follow-up with a personal note!

I had passed Michael Cook in Goat Hill, but he was much faster as soon as there was a flat section and passed me again. He was wearing the Auburn Running Company t-shirt which reminded me I need to check on Dan Moores' status on his fight against cancer.
Here is what Gary has posted on his RealEndurance website:
Dan has found a donor match in his brother Michael and will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant at Stanford Hospital beginning in early March, with a goal of returning home in time for Western States. In the meantime, please send Dan good thoughts and continue your support at Auburn Running Company.
Wishing you the best with this procedure, Dan, to see you back on the trails soon! Speaking of fight, there were nice signs posted along the course this Saturday, motivational quotes which I really like. And, between the aid stations, we were left with our own motivation and mental strength, mine eroding a bit as I got passed by Bev and Caitlin, then Erik Skaden, and hard time keeping up with them. Last year I had passed Erik 3 miles before the finish. This year I passed him by mile 17 when I was trying to make up for my long stop at ALT1. Erik is so impressive, large stature, all muscle and power. With a lot of respect, I call him the Raymond Poulidor of ultra running in reference to his numerous 2nd places (e.g. Western States '06 and '07, American River '08, Jed Smith 50K '06, Helen Klein 50K '06, Diablo 50M '08). Something else I need to mention about Erik is that he got the 2008 Ultra Runner of the Year award from the Pacific Association USA Track & Field Association, not me. I actually got the same award in 2007 and I wanted to make the correction as there was some confusion about that in a recent article who ran in all the local newspapers of the South Bay (Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Campbell, San Jose, etc.). Since my 2007 award got unnoticed at the time, I hope the readers will forgive the mistake with the date...
Anyway, back to the head of the women race, I could witness the turning point when Caitlin took the lead at the marathon point, in the last difficulty which represents Goat Hill. I climbed it with Bev which was hoping she had shown up at this race in better shape. We stopped very shortly at the Goat Hill aid station, captained by birthday boy (or was it a girl ;-), Norm Klein. Helen was there of course, telling Bev that Caitlin was just 30" ahead of us, so we should go.
Michael Cook passed me again (after the finish we joked that we should combine his speed on flat section with my uphill strength...). I did not stop at the Hwy 49 aid station (sorry Steve Holeman!) and passed Jeff Kozak less than half a mile from the finish line. 4:14:43, 27th overall, 6th in Masters, but 1st in my brand new 5-year deep age group of M45-49! 8:12 average pace against 8:02 last year. The course was definitely longer, but I was slightly slower too, despite the ideal conditions. I will be back...
After seeing Agnès and Greg, Peter Defty (the Vespa effect worked well again!), Sean Lang (just 2 minutes behind me), I rushed to the massage area. From the amazing Monsters of Massage, VeLoyce took care of my calves and quads, so well that I had not a single sign of soreness in my legs this Sunday morning (went for a run!), except for the chronic inflammatory pain in my right ankle (ongoing since January) and left hip (3 weeks). I wish VeLoyce lives closer to my home and envy the ones living in the Newcastle/Auburn area for that (and for the opportunity to train on the Western States trail too!).
Thanks to the professional time management of Road Race Management, the results have been posted almost in real time on their website. Leor Pantillat had a stellar debut on this course with an overall win in 3:39. I did beat him at Quad Dipsea last November has he was having a bad while chasing Erik Skaggs, I bet that will be the last time! Caitlin won in the women with a time of 4:12.
I was very impressed by Eric Grossman's performance, who took the Master title in a blazing 3:51, faster than his time last year (I finished just behind him last year). With that, Eric was a great embassador of the East Coast ultra community among this majority of West Coast runners.
Overall, that was my second best day on this course. I want to thank you the volunteers for perfectly run aid stations and start/finish area. And a special mention to RD Julie who keeps perfecting the organization of this major event, gathering such a competitive and friendly field. The course marking was very good, and agremented with these encouraging and motivating quotes. And look at these 2 cute cup cakes among 540 other frogs, all man decorated!
Thank you also to the generous sponsors which make such races possible: my favorite gel and electrolyte brand, Gu, Shanon's Moeben for the nice sleeves in the runner packet, Patagonia for the two great Capilene tops, Norm's Sierra Nevada Ultras, Montrail UltraCup and Bank Card USA.
Again, take a look at my Picasa photo album including Agnès and Greg's pictures, mostly from the finish of the top 28 runners. With comments for a continuation of this recount...

See many of you at American River in 3 weeks! I have some unfinished business there from last year, if my lungs cooperate. No time for resting...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Chris

Dear Chris,

Like someone said on the Evite, it is hard to think that you turned 30! ;-) After Chuck's 60th celebration on the trails, thank you for setting this one up. Happy Birthday to you, then, and to Brooke. Like you said, with mine 6 days ago, that made a 3-in-1 celebration run.
It was a wonderful run with a perfect weather. Even the trails were in quasi perfect conditions despite the rain of these past weeks. I love this are, it is really the paradise of trail and ultra running. From the Enid W. Pearson the Arastradero Preserve to the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, through Foothills Park and Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, what a trip across the best that the Peninsula has to offer to hikers and runners: creeks, hills, trees and luxurious vegetation, wildlife, grassy meadows, 360-degree views over the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco, San Jose, the West and East sides of the Bay Area, Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo. And bright blue skies today to top that! See the map that you conveniently prepared for us, online.
However, these wonders would not be worth as much if they were not shared with friends, and surely you had many friends around you this morning and this evening to celebrate your milestone! Charles, Dennis, Brooke, Lee (and Winnie who missed the group picture), Chuck, Linda, Noel, Matt, Bill, Joe, Steve, Lina, My, Anil, Ernesto, I and Joe.
As a gift, here is a photo album capturing some views of this gorgious day on the Peninsula trails (more than 200 pictures!) Make sure to click on Slideshow. Great memories which will last longer than Agnès' madeleines!
Please thank "Run Director" and Aid Station #1-2-4 Captain, Chuck, as well as Bill, Aid Station #3 Captain, for me. They were instrumental in making such a long run a success! And helped me getting these 30.3 miles (let's round that up to 50K, right?) in, a great recovery run after Napa, and great training run before Way Too Cool.
See you (and Chuck!) for many more years on the trail, Chris!



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Napa: so close...

Or should I say: close enough? To make a long story short, I was shooting for 2:45, first to commemorate my 45th birthday and, second, to show that I was still capable of running a marathon in 2 hours and my age in minute. And for that, the race organizers were nice enough to give me the bib #245!

It was my 20th marathon, over just 10 years. My first marathon was the San Francisco Chronicle '99, my second official race after starting running seriously when we settled in California in 1998. An average of 2 marathons a year, although I did not log an official one last year, but more than 10 ultras. Overall, 12 marathons under 3 hours.

Here are most of my marathons in one chart showing:
  1. My age on the horizontal axis,
  2. The "2 hours + age in minute" chart (red line)
  3. The 3-hour mark (green line)
  4. An order-2 polynomial approximation showing a clear trend and convergence toward the red line.
Let's see in a few years if I can hold this correlation, the "Jean's law..."

And, for the ones who think that it works all the time, here are all my trials at the distance, the outliers being when I barely made it because of exercise-induced asthma (e.g. 4 hours at Big Sur and more than 5 hours at Phoenix):
Enough on the math and analytics side, let us talk about the day and the race (more pictures available in my Picasa album).

We drove up to St Helena on Friday night and had a great long night of sleep in the secluded house of our friends. It is always important to put some sleep in the bank in case the tension and excitement prevents you from sleeping well the night just before the race.
On Saturday morning, we drove down to Napa with Agnès, on the race course, the Silverado Trail. Which, unlike the name indicates, is not a trail at all but a road where speed limit goes as high as 55 mph, without all the traffic lights you encounter on Highway 29. That was a great way to get familiar with the course, from mile 8 to 26, and an occasion to realize that it was not at all a flat course, but a rolling one like at CIM (Calfornia International Marathon).
The Silverado Trail is home of about thirty of the best wineries of Napa Valley, providing to the runners quite some distraction and great views along the 26 miles.
At the expo, whose size was of the scale of the field, meaning small (2,300 runners against 25,000 at Boston), we met ultra legends Helen and Norm Klein. Helen was giving several motivational speeches and clinics throughout the day, and Norm was promoting the 50-mile and 50K Helen Klein Classic he will direct again on October 31st.
Later in the afternoon, the whole family drove to Calistoga to meet my running and training buddy Bob and his family. This way, we had covered the entire course on Saturday. Twice actually with both round trips.
Based on this acquaintance with the profile of the course, I started doubting about my goal and figured out I will have to push early on in all the uphill sections to maintain my goal of a 6:18 min/mile average pace, corresponding to a time of 2:45:00. I went to bed before 9 pm but barely slept between 1 and 3 am. I make a rule of finishing my breakfast three hours before the start of a marathon, which meant 4 am with the 7 am start. Agnès and Greg dropped me at the start and saw us taking off.
Less than 30 seconds in the run, as we were trying to pass people who did not have much to do on the front of the race, I found Bob and we settled on a 6:13-6:14 pace. As planned in my mind, I pushed in the uphill sections to maintain this pace. Bob stayed behind me for the first 12 miles for which we kept a very consistent 6:14 min/mile pace, leading us to a half-marathon around 1:22. It was recomforting to have Bob with me. However, I lost him just before the half, seeing Mark (Lantz) remaining close behind us, in a sort of observation position.
I was still on track at an average of 6:16 before the long hill of mile 20. At the top of it, my Garmin indicated 6:17 and I was happy with it, knowing that the last 6 miles were mostly flat, actually slightly downhill, along the Napa River and getting into the town of Napa.

By mile 21 I caught up with Nicholas Baldo, who seemed surprisingly young and, as I will found out later, is indeed only 18 years old. I had him in sight for the whole uphill and closing on him so, when passing him, I was surprised he not only pushed the pace but made several accelerations, hindering my running (i.e. changing from his trajectory to come right in front of me!). He played this silly game for three miles and that really upset me to the point that I asked him to find another target instead of bothering me! He is certainly an amazing and promising athlete, but, sorry, that's not a way to behave in a race...During this time, Mark passed us and I could not keep up. By mile 25 I realized I will have to run a sub-6-minute mile to meet my goal but I could not go faster than 6:26 at this point. I crossed the finish line in 2:46:32, a 6:21 average pace. Soaked, happy to be done and just a bit frustrated to have missed my goal of running 2:45 by so little. I would have considered the goal met with 2:45:59 so I ended up 33-second short, which represents a 0.3%miss or 1.25 seconds too slow for each mile. Sometimes people do not realize how much every second counts even in such long races...

After encouraging me at the start, then mile 8 (Deer Park Road), mile 12 (Zinfandel Lane), mile 16 (Oaksville Cross Road), the family did its own marathon to be at the finish line, not only to cover the event with photographs, but with a birthday cake! The boys even managed to light the candles up despite the persistent rain.
Bob came in a couple of minutes later, meeting his sub 2:50 goal. I chatted with Ted Nunes (another Brooks ID'er) and Ron Duncan (a member of our ultraholics Yahoo! group) who finished just behind Bob. As a matter of fact, as I type this post on Sunday night, the results are a bit fuzzy because of some obvious mistakes in the reported results (times and rankings).

We all gathered inside, re comforted by the High School volunteers dispensing some hot soup, bread, fruits and yogurt. I spent some time getting advice and light treatment from a physiotherapist for some stiffness in my left hip, and we lighted up the candles again so we could share the cake with Bob's family.
California needed and still needs a lot of rain to overcome the drought (and I'm not talking about the budget deficit here, but the real lack of rain and water which compromises the leading agricultural role of California in the US). Well, today has been good from this standpoint: the region really collected a few inches of water and it is still rainy and unusually windy in the Bay Area tonight. As much as I don't like rain when running, especially road racing, and despite the fact that it might have cost me these extra 33 seconds, I am enough supportive of sustainable development to see this rain as a blessing.

I will be back on the course, hopefully for a sunny day! And maybe some wine tasting too... During the race like for the Marathon du Médoc, or not? That is the question!

No time for resting: need to keep training for the rest of the season! Next milestone: Way Too Cool, my next trail 50K in 2 weeks...

PS: By the way, I got my Boston Qualifier, needing a 3:30 for my new 45-49 age group. Speaking of Boston qualifiers, here is a chart illustrating that my "2 hours + age in minute law" must have a statistical bug. Indeed, under increasing pressure from people who had difficulty keeping qualifying for Boston over the years, the standards have been relaxed and clearly show a non-linear evolution with age (blue chart --the red being the "Jean's law" one, again...). If I recall, the Boston standards were actually mostly linear before, adding 5 minutes every 5 years, similarly to what I identified and I am aiming at. We shall see how I feel about all that in 5, 10, 15, 20 years...
And, again, more pictures of this rainy weekend in my Picasa album.