The Modesto Marathon starts my top 5. That may be a surprise because I didn't even finish first, but it may have been my most complete race of the year. Moreover, it is my hometown race and the race in which my Teens Run Modesto runners have been training six months for to complete. All these factors supply a lot of motivation for me to run well. I feel a little pressure to run well because this is the only race I run in town, so this provides people one chance to see me run instead of just hearing about my running. I want to have a good result not just for myself, but for the kids at my school and the people in the community that follow me. Lastly, I just found out that I was going to Italy to run in the 100km World Championships for Team USA.
We had ideal race conditions. Morning temps were in the 40's and would warm to the 50's by early afternoon and the cloud cover and the absence of any wind just added to perfect conditions for fast times. As I settled into a six minute flat pace in the early miles, I kept the leaders insight......well I thought I kept them in sight but I would soon find out this to be untrue. I was nearing the half way mark of the race and just passed what I thought was first place, but after a couple of minutes, I could see a runner running back in my direction on this out and back course. My draw dropped not just because I thought I was in first place, but because if this was the leader, I was still a mile to 1.5 miles behind him.
After taking a minute or two to gain my composure, I decided to try to chase down the leader. I knew it was probably too late but I was going to go for it. I wanted to see how much I could push the pace the last twelve miles and if I hit the wall, I hit the wall. No regrets.
With the large number of half marathoners in the race, it was hard to see ahead of me. I had no idea where the leader was except my wife reporting to me he was eight minutes ahead with nine miles to go. I kept it at a good sub six minute pace and ran relaxed. I used the energy from the TRM runners and the Shadowchase Running Club members in the race. I wanted to be ready just in case the leader started to bonk. I kept trying to convince myself that there was no way he could keep up the pace. I was right. As I approached the 9th Street bridge(2 miles to go), I could see the leader running down the backside of the bridge. I was shocked! I looked at my watch to see how far I was behind and as I got the backside of the bridge, I saw that I was 2:30 behind the leader. That was a lot to make up in the last two miles, but I put the pedal down and tried to run him down. I could see myself getting closer, but I just didn't feel like I was making up enough distance. I was going to run out of road and I was right. I made the turn onto M Street and I could see him crossing the finish line. I made up 2:14 in the last two miles and with reports that he was dry heaving the last four miles, it was an impressive finish and race for the winner.
It was a 6+ minute personnel best for me in the marathon(2:33:01) I finished with a little tank and some confidence that would fuel me for the weeks to come.