Everything seemed fine over the first 10 kilometers. But Malgorzata Sobanska of Poland discovered that her speed in the 2002 Boston Marathon was dissipating. No matter how much she tried, the 2001 Boston runner-up could not maintain a fast pace and slowed to a point where she subsequently dropped out.
Upon returning home, she discovered she was running for two.
"I was three months pregnant, close to four months," said Sobanska, 34, who tells the story with a hint of embarrassment. "I didn't feel good. The course was running good, but when I dropped off, I felt, I don't know -- stupid. I felt my speed was dropping and I had no power."
She continued to run, mostly jogging, up to the eighth month of her pregnancy before giving birth to her second daughter, Cornelia, now 17 months old.
This year, she hopes to rebound from the 2002 experience. In 2001, she led the pack for 14 miles before conceding to eventual winner Catherine Ndereba.
Sobanska has won the London Marathon (1995) and twice won the Cologne Marathon (1998, 2000). She began running in 1984 and has turned in 14 top-five finishes since 1993.
But few experiences match the marathon she didn't finish.
"I didn't know what happened. Nothing went wrong during my training and everything," said Sobanska.
Having recently won the Polish Half-Marathon in course-record time, Sobanska, who trains in Poland and Portugal, said she feels confident entering Monday's race. "I'll go out with the top runners and see what happens," she said.
For Dmitri Kapitonov, success in distance racing runs in the family. One of Russia's top marathoners the past decade, the 2000 Olympian is known for the company he keeps in events, namely his twin brother, Aleksander, who is also an elite marathon runner. The two have been known to race side by side during portions of races. At the Colonial Half-Marathon in Williamsburg, Va., Feb. 24, the twins ran side by side the entire race and tied for first in 1 hour 8 minutes 7 seconds. "We run together in road races, mostly in Europe, in cross-country," said Dmitri, 36, who will be running his first Boston Marathon. "We train at the same speed. Sometimes I will run faster in a race but Aleksander will try to run harder for me." Aleksander will sit this one out after finishing 14th in the Los Angeles Marathon in March. Dmitri ran in four marathons last season, including a second-place finish in his hometown St. Petersburg Marathon in Russia with a time of 2:12:31. He is anticipating a challenge in his first Boston. "People who have run here have told me it's not an easy course in Boston," he said . . . Australian Andrew Letherby hopes to use Boston to fulfill his goal of earning a spot on his country's Olympic team. He needs to run an Australian standard 2:12 -- something the 2002 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist has never done . . . Boston Marathon organizers are in interested in hosting the 2008 Olympic trials, but it would require major changes to the course. "We haven't really ruled anything out," race director Dave McGillivray told the Associated Press yesterday. "We're thinking of what might work for us that would be something that USA Track and Field would be interested in."