Modesto Marathon facts and ish- Lots of details so I hope I can organize the information and get everything out clearly. Flew into Stockton, Ca from Vegas on Friday. Drove the 28 miles from Stockton to Modesto Friday in a rental car and stayed there in a hotel for the weekend. It rained, had been rain and was going to rain on every forecast. 10-15 mph winds on and off with the rain. This race was on Sunday. I've never raced on Sunday before and don't want to make it a common practice but didn't feel horrible about setting this one up. I just kept thinking that Steve Young played in many great football games on Sunday so I might be able to run a good race too. But again I'd prefer to race on Saturday. Saturday in Modesto was chill. Drove the course, went to the expo and shopped at the mall. Then relaxed at the room and watched NCAA basketball the rest of the afternoon and evening. It rained cats and dogs all day and all night. Slept horrible. Woke up completely dripping in sweat over and over throughout the night (common for me). Woke up at 4:30 a.m Sunday morning to a clear, cool and perfect race day. I could run marathons the rest of my life and never have better conditions. 42 F no wind and beautiful. The sun came out from miles 7 to 17ish but never felt hot then it clouded back up through the finish and eventually started raining again later in the day. My wife brought her friend Brynn for the weekend with us so they had fun shopping and went back out on the town that evening... to Denny's.
The course- super flat and runs around 40 to 75 ft above sea level. Starts in downtown Modesto and runs in some very pretty neighborhoods for 3 miles then takes off out into the orchards and vineyards. Has one overpass that you run in both directions (mile 4 on the way out and 24 on the way back. Super green everywhere, with trees in full bloom. The course is GREAT! From a spectator stance my wife was able to drive to like 8 locations and see me and give me drinks and Gu. The course is out and back but you go out a little over 14 miles and then on the way back you don't do the little parade through the neighborhoods- it's just a direct shot down 9th street to the finish. I love the course and would go back for sure.
The plan- I had two goals. One to win. Winner gets $500 and that would pay for the trip and then some. Second was to break 2:30 but this was on under idea conditions and running effort. I didn't know what to do until about 10 min's before the race started. Run a smart race and put yourself in position to win or just go for time and try to hang on to a win. Unless someone fast showed and really burned the course up. Then I'd just try and run out of my mind and stay with that person.
What happened? I decided to go for it and let the chips fall where they may. I wanted to get out strong on the first 3 miles through town and then settle into a groove as we headed out into the meat and potato's of the course. The race started with the half marathon too so I thought maybe I'd get some half marathoners to pull me out for a while until they turned around. That didn't happen as I took the overall lead after 2 blocks and never looked back. So here's how the race went down.
1. 5:33- Out smooth and no one steps up so right off the bat I just take the lead.
2. 5:28- Fun part of the course winding and turning in the neighborhood. Very pretty.
3. 5:32- I feel like I'm Mario Kart buzzing through the streets. Nobody's even close now.
4. 5:32- Out of town and up over the overpass heading to the fields.
5. 5:35- Had a motorcycle escort to here then they wished me luck and turned back to town.
6. 5:43- Mik'L met me at the first of this mile with a bottle of mixed Cytomax
7. 5:40- Saw the girls again at around 7.3 and got my sun glasses from Mik'L.
8. 5:36- At just over 8 miles the girls where there with my first water and GU. (2nd because I took one 15 min's before the race started)
9. 5:42- Long straight sections of road surrounded by fruit orchards. Kind of like a tunnel. It was heavenly.
10. 5:41- Just clicking these solid miles off one after another and felt super smooth.
11. 5:38- At the later part of this mile I got more cytomax from the girls and headed into the final straightaway of the half. So the girls stayed there while I went down and back.
12. 5:43- Sun was out now and I was happy I'd gotten my glasses.
13. 5:38- Felt so in the groove. But forgot to look at the watch and see my half split.
14. 5:39- Down to the turn around and now I get to have a good look at where everyone else is.
15. 5:40- The 2nd pace guy (he finished 3rd) was about 4 min's back and the 3 place guy (finished 2nd and only 15 seconds behind me was about 7 min's back).
16. 5:42- Now I know that this race is mine to loose and lets face it. $500 is $500. Don't choke Clyde... I saw the girls again at the same prior spot and got more Cytomax.
17. 5:52- Stomach starting to rumble but I'm doing breathing drills and trying to keep things in check.
18. 5:57- Slowed down big time as the stomach starts to have sharp pains. Like a side ache but across the full belly. Also get my last water and Gu from the girls. I didn't feel like taking it but forced it down... actually gagged it down.
19. 5:51- Doing breathing drills helps and I settle down and get going better.
20. 5:50- I look at the watch at 20 and it was 1:53 something. I feel pretty good and think all you've got to do is manage 6 min pace in and you'll be close to breaking 2:30.
21. 5:59- Now I'm really excited and feel like I can really "manage this race out".
22. 6:09- Hit my first mile over 6 min. Kind of a bummer emotionally because I had a mini goal of not having any miles over 6 min pace.....
23. 6:09- Stomach really starts up now. I hit my second 6+ min mile and still feel like I can find some magic but it's gonna have to come fast.
24. 6:20- Magic didn't come. But vomit is coming. From here on in I was fighting off a GU and Cytomax bomb. Stomach hurt so bad. Running dry heaving. Wincing. Moaning. Hit the little overpass hill and it really breaks my stride. I also get a pretty good look behind me and can't see anyone coming at all and feel that (worst case) I've got a 2 min buffer.
25. 6:26- Still feel super secure about winning but now time goals are down the tube so I just go into survival mode. I think to myself just don't lay down on the road and give up now. But I wanted to. Stomach was cramping so bad I almost had real tears.
26. 6:36- Legs felt almost fresh from this slowed pace and seemed to want to keep grinding. But the gut bomb was almost at it's climax. I see a spectator and just to pass the time I ask him how far back the next guy is. He says he can't see anyone. Just as I thought... I had a big lead and no one was close. But the spectator either lied to me or didn't see the hometown hero Jon Olsen closing in on me like a freight train.
.2 in 1:37 or a 7:01 avg- Me thinking I'm finally done and no threat of anyone even 3-7 min's back slowly makes the last turn (didn't even look back to see if anyone was close) down the finishing lane. I lift my victorious hand and work the crowd a little and finally break the tape.
Now for the DRAMA. I was hurting for sure when I finished and was fighting off a puke with every breath but I was ok. I crossed the line and bent down to catch my breath... looked up and saw Jon Olsen walking by me and he gave me a fist bump and said good job. What the *^&**%&*^*^ just happened. It seriously sent me into some kind of post race shock. I had no idea he was there. If the race would have been a block longer he'd have passed me. While I casually made my way to the finish he was dropping bombs and hunting me down like a predator. I was in complete disbelief of what just happened. Now 5 times as sick and shocked as I'd been only 30 seconds ago. My first thought was "it's not possible... he must have gotten a ride on a motorcycle or something and then sprinted up to the end. Oh boy. Lesson learned just finish every race like you were gunning for a PR.
Found out that this guy was the previous 2x defending hometown champ. Who also just 4 weeks ago ran the 13 fastest 100 mile race in American history at just over 13hrs. Dude didn't want to loose on his home course and made a pro grade comeback on the second half to run a 6 min marathon PR of his own. I just wish that at like mile 25 I would have know he was gonna be even close. *** just looked up our turn around splits (not the half but where the race turned around and at that point I was up on Jon by 8:20 and he closed the gap to 15 seconds.
Anyways we had a great trip. I'm pretty happy about the race. It's a great benchmark for the first marathon of the year and hopefully will spring board me into better races as the spring and summer play on. The organizers did a fantastic job. It's a smaller and new event but everything they did was like a big city marathon. Very professional. Paid me 5 one hundred dollar bills straight cash homey at the awards and there was no funny business. Like I said I'd go back for sure.