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Shalane Flanagan sees this Boston Marathon as a finale

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BOSTON — Shalane Flanagan may run another marathon after Monday, but she does not plan to race the Boston Marathon as an elite again.

“I don’t know if this will be my last marathon, but I think this will probably, most likely, be my last Boston as an elite runner,” the Boston area native said Friday, three days before she starts the world’s oldest annual marathon for the fourth time. “I just feel like it’s the time. It’s an instinctual, intuitive moment for me. I just feel like putting that pressure on myself that it’s my last is kind of a good mentality, too.”

Flanagan, 37 and a four-time Olympian, said before the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 that she might retire if she pulled off the upset and won the five-borough event. Flanagan did win, the biggest victory of her career, and soon after decided to keep on going.

In part because she wanted to rewrite her last Boston Marathon memory, what she has called “a stinker” of a ninth-place finish in 2015.

What happens if Monday’s race (8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold) — which appears likely to be run in similar rainy, windy conditions as 2015 — doesn’t go as hoped, either?

Flanagan doubled down.

“I think I’m going to make my peace with Boston on Monday,” she said. “If I come back, it’s going to be to support other runners and other people and foundations like Meb [Keflezighi] is doing.”

Flanagan didn’t close the door on trying to make a fifth Olympic team in 2020.

“I don’t know about that,” she said. “I have no idea.”

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Flanagan is coming off training in Colorado Springs and Portland, Ore. She took no vacation or significant break after the New York win, but she is healthy.

“I knocked off a huge goal of mine [winning a major marathon],” she said. “I feel really at peace with my career. Coming here and racing is more like a personal event for me.

“I want this race so badly, I almost have to pretend like I don’t want to win it in order to do well. It’s a reverse psychology for sure because this is home. These are the people that I want to make the most proud.”

Flanagan likes the fact that she isn’t the only one with a chance to end the 33-year drought since the last American female runner won on Boylston Street. The younger Desi LindenMolly Huddle and Jordan Hasay have all finished in the top three of major marathons and are among the favorites.

“What happened in New York with myself I think has allowed the Americans to say, I’ve beaten Shalane, I’m just like Shalane,” she said. “If Shalane can do it, why can’t I do it?”

One of the first things Flanagan noted in Friday’s media session was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, when she stood on the corner of Hereford and Boylston at age 14 and watched her dad run this race.

“It’s a full-circle moment, coming back to where it all started,” she said. “I’m hoping to have my best Boston on Monday.”

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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