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This year's goal in Boston is to finish

April 18, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

What could be worse than putting in tons of winter training miles and then getting temperatures in the 80s, as they're expected to be, for Monday's Boston Marathon?

The answer might be putting in very few winter training miles and then getting temperatures in the 80s for Monday's Boston Marathon.

"Nobody will stop me from retaining the title," defending Boston champ Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, of Kenya, recently told the East African Standard newspaper. "I know I have trained well and ... my rivals should forget the title and concentrate on other positions."

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Cheruiyot probably is right. The olive wreath seems a bit out of reach for me this year.

Like a lot of runners this side of the East African high plains, I usually don't perform well in the heat, especially coming off the winter months. I also have trouble covering long distances at a decent clip with only a handful of solid workouts under my belt.

Unlike my last three trips to Boston for the fabled 26.2-mile footrace, my No. 1 goal this time is not about time. Considering I was couch-bound for nearly two months over the winter with Achilles tendinitis, I'll settle for just finishing.

Of course, there's never anything settling about having to run 26.2 miles, regardless of pace.

The forecast for unseasonably hot weather has me seriously concerned. If I had trained harder, I'd be more prepared for whatever obstacles are thrown at me.

However, because I didn't train extremely hard for this marathon, the forecast doesn't have me raising my hands to the sky and asking, "Why?"

Most of my recent focus has been toward getting healthy and back into shape rather than trying to reach peak form. If I were in peak shape right now, I'd be ready to sock the weatherman, and anyone else who tried to stand in my way, in the nose.

Instead, I'll just take it as it comes. If that involves slowing to a walk on the infamous Heartbreak Hill so that I am better able to drown my sorrows in Gatorade, so be it.

Marathons always are unpredictable events. Pain is about the only thing you can ever fully rely on being there for you.

Those who can endure it until the distance is completed are rewarded with the precious finishers' medals, which are made from an ore no sunshine can melt.

Other Tri-State runners entered in Monday's Boston Marathon include: Rhonda Keilholtz, 36, of Hancock; Thomas Keller, 54, of Frederick, Md.; Sharon Lapkoff, 51, of Jefferson, Md.; Craig Leisher, 43, of Chambersburg, Pa.; Kathleen Luzier, 35, of Boonsboro; Marcy Martin, 34, of Greencastle, Pa.; Dani Mason, 31, of Hagerstown; Heather Rhoderick, 21, of Middletown, Md.; and Margaret Spivey, 50, of Shippensburg, Pa.

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