Back on Track 

After failing to make the team in 2004, Magdalena Lewy Boulet had to start from scratch for this year's Olympic qualifier.

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"I just wanted to be on the team," said a teary Lewy Boulet after the race, where together with Kastor they hugged their third teammate after she crossed the finish line.

Shortly afterward, she told an interviewer, "I can't even find words to describe how special the day was. It was just incredible. I felt joy and pride and just finally felt so glad that I stayed with it, because there were times in my career when I said, 'I don't know if I could do this. I don't know if I can juggle all of this every day.' But at the end of the trials, I just had a huge smile on my face. And I still do every day when I wake up."

USA Today recognized the feat when they ignored the marathon's winner and awarded Lewy Boulet the honor of Athlete of the Week immediately after the race.

Since qualifying, she has taken a few runs to get ready for China. She ran the 10,000 meters at the Olympic Track trials in Eugene, Oregon, dashed through a winning 10K in Marin (and then ran another 10K right after finishing the first order from coach Jack Daniels). She's training in Tahoe and then plans to spend a quick week back home before heading overseas. Her old Cal coach, Tony Sandoval, says he can't predict where she'll finish but there is one thing of which he is certain: "For most of the top runners it's not a question of their physical state of being, it's what happens mentally. Under pressure they tend to fall apart. That's not going to happen to Magda."

And what is she doing to get ready for China? "I've been watching a DVD of the course," she said. That's fairly mild preparation for someone who once would have wanted to walk every step of the course twice. "My focus before was very narrow," she said. "Now there is more going on in my life, and it's all positive."

Lewy Boulet wants to deliver the same message now to young athletes. Her Boston qualifier finally scored her a big-time sponsorship. The athletic-wear company Saucony hardly waited for the post-race press conference to get to the runner-up. Company vice president of public relations Sharon Barbano literally grabbed Lewy Boulet right after the race to sign her up. "She is an incredible runner and an even more incredible person," Barbano enthused.

She should know of what she speaks, having been one of the participants in the very first Olympic women's marathon qualifier in 1984. Barbano says there was something beyond Lewy Boulet's split times that excited her. "We saw this young woman run a bold race with all kinds of confidence in her running. She embodies what we're looking for — a pure love of competition." Saucony will use Lewy Boulet as a rep for their young athletes program Run for Good. "Magda has a great sprit," Barbano said. "She inspired us and she will inspire others." Her responsibilities will include distance coaching in every sense of the word; working with teen athletes who plan on taking on long runs, while making herself available to them from her home via the Internet.

Regardless of the results of the August 17 Beijing marathon, Lewy Boulet already has accomplished what she set out to do. She speaks of the friends she's made, the people she has met, the places running has taken her, and the way that she has brought her life into a new balance. Long-term goals are to stay in top physical condition, help others to achieve their athletic dreams, and raise her family in the city she has come to love. She does have one medium-term goal. Having run up and back Mt. Whitney one year, she now would like to climb Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas at 22,841 feet.

But before any of that, Lewy Boulet has a more immediate goal. She's going to try climbing Olympus.

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