My one and only goal for this race was to break 3 hours for the first time. Training went well and at one point I was playing around with the idea of shooting for an even faster time, but I really wanted to "knock the bastard off" first, before attempting anything even faster only to hit the wall and miss both targets. Add to that a prediction of roughly 90-degree heat (the race started at 7, so the heat would only play a role in the last hour or so) and sub-3 would be challenging enough.
The marathon started promptly at 7 a.m. In the first 5 or 6 miles I moved from 12th place to 4th and then moved into 2nd place at the one and only climb of the course (a bridge over the American River). First place was out of sight at this point, but I could care less--I was just focusing on maintaining even 6:52 spits and any sort of placing would be a bonus.
I hit the half marathon at exactly 1:30 and had to weave my way through over 200 half marathoners. By mile 16 or 17 I caught up to the front runner, who had slowed down a bit. From here on I would be paced by the "lead-bike," operated by super-fast runner and volunteer Brad Lael, which was kind of exciting.
I continued to pick up some half marathoners and got into a great rhythm, always hovering right around 6:52. I chatted briefly with Brad, but then tried to focus on my breathing again. Vicky, Sean, and Rocky would meet me at the finish line and Sean had brought his bike and he met me with some Gatorade with about three miles to go, which was just what I needed. Two weeks earlier, Rocky had volunteered to crew for me on his bike for the entire marathon, but unfortunately he broke his arm snowboarding.
Next Up: The Spring Run 10K in Nevada City on the 25th of April.