Modesto Marathon 2015 Recap and Review

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

I had some highlights and lowlights over the weekend… well, only one lowlight…

I caught some kind of bug and was sick!

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I started feeling sick on Friday, losing my voice, though not having an actual sore throat or coughing. It got slightly worse on Saturday morning, and then I had all of the telltale signs on Saturday as we were driving out… aching and swollen lymph nodes, dull headache, switching between feeling feverish and having chills…

What’s great is that the Modesto Marathon pace team coordinator (Charles) came prepared with all sorts of things for the pacers, including some medicine. I took one with acetaminophen and caffeine. I think the placebo effect was pretty strong because I started to feel the headache and mild body aches go away pretty soon after… and when I got into bed to sleep a bit, I completely knocked out. I was like a warm burrito having really wild and scary dreams. When I woke up, I felt like I had slept for several hours… but it had only been about 20 to 30 minutes! And I guess the caffeine kicked in because I was wide awake and feeling well-rested.

Whoa. I almost never take medicine/medication… but I can see why people rely on it when they are feeling ill.

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Okay, so I was definitely not feeling too great at the expo on Saturday, so I unfortunately could not do my proper pacing duty by volunteering at the pace booth. I was sitting a nearby table, bundled up and trying to keep warm (this was all before I took the magical pills).

I can still mention that this marathon comes with a LOT of swag! There were arm sleeves, a t-shirt, and a bottle of wine. The pacers were also spoiled with not only the pacer shirt, but a long-sleeve half-zip shirt and a thank you bag with goodies and produce from local vendors!

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I have never walked out of an expo with so many things! Too bad I was sick because it felt twice as heavy to carry everything around, haha.

Already, I was feeling hugely welcomed and spoiled by the city of Modesto.

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Let’s skip to race morning when I woke up feeling so much better!

The pacers met at the Doubletree hotel lobby, very close to the start/finish of the race.

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I was excited and ready for pacing, especially because I had another wonderful opportunity to run my favorite pace for the half. [BTW, I always like to do 2:00 because there is often a huge group of runners who are trying to break 2 hours for the half, so it is a lively group. In addition, it is over 15 minutes slower than my half marathon racing pace, so I know it is a pace I can pull off even if it is windy, rainy, hilly, or if I am feeling sick].

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Lining up at the start! I was able to feel the excitement and nervous energy from my fellow runners. Love that atmosphere… waiting in anticipation, ready to go out there and give it their best!

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For the start, we had the full marathoners, half marathoners, and half marathon relay runners.

The race started at 7:00am. My friend, Amy, was planning on running the first mile with me, and then slowly increasing the pace and staying ahead of me the whole time.

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Her strategy for her race worked… I saw when she started making her move to increase the pace, and I thought, “Bye, Amy! I’ll see you at the finish”. Spoiler alert: She totally PR’d!

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[I was certain she would PR because her training was absolutely on point!]

Okay, so the Modesto half marathon is flat except for this one overpass:

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We go over it twice (once on the way out, once on the way in). Otherwise? FLAT:

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^This was around mile 9 when I had a really solid group sticking with me. We all fell into the perfect rhythm and I could see that they were working hard and ready to break 2 hours!

I was talking here and there, but around mile 10, I really started pumping them up. That last 5K is when all of the mental battles begin… when the tired body starts talking back.

“Dig Deep!”

“You got this!”

“C’mon, you can do it!” 

“Stay with me. Pick up your knees. Let’s go!”

I had to speak louder than what their bodies were telling them. There were a few runners who were running REALLY strong, so I told them to start inching ahead. “Stay ahead of me and don’t let me catch you!” What’s great is… they stayed ahead of me and I never caught them!

There were a few others who were definitely fighting to hold the pace with me. I just kept telling them the same things. “Dig deep!” With only a half mile to go, even the ones who were struggling had to be sent off.

Okay, this is it, guys. Time to go! Empty the tank! Don’t hold anything back!” 

It was truly amazing to see them put their rocket boosters on and finish strong. I heard the announcer try to read off the 10 names of the people running across as a HUGE pack, even mentioning, “Wow! This is a huge group of runners!”

I had the biggest smile on my face, seeing the racers finish ahead of me like that. It’s really one of the best feelings in the world for a pacer!

… Good thing I don’t have abandonment issues, huh? Everybody ran away from me and left me behind. 😉

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Official finish time:

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Sweet. My goal is always to get anywhere around 15 seconds under the assigned pace (closer to it without going over is the best).

The finish line festival was one of the coolest ones I’ve seen, mainly because of the sponsor, Save Mart:

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We went through a table after being given a grocery bag and we were allowed to grab whatever was put out on the table!

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Got a whole bag of goodies, including chocolate milk and coconut water. Gotta love that!

They also had a lot to eat and drink:

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Check out the cool area for the kids (or anyone who is brave enough to run a marathon and then do a rock climbing wall o__O)

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And of course, one of the most inspirational things to see out on the course were the teenagers! They were running through a program called Teens Run Modesto (TRM).

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“Building Confidence One Mile At a Time”. How can you not love that!? Goodness… I could not even run 1.5 miles without complaining! It is really great that I saw so many of the TRM shirts out on the course, running both the half and full marathon! WOW!

Afterwards, we went back and got washed up before getting breakfast:

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Again, because this hotel is so close to the start/finish, it was nice to be able to go back out and see some of our friends who were doing the full marathon!

These two ladies BQ’d at Modesto and even got shirts for their accomplishments. So cool!

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As the finish line festivities continued, we headed back home toward San Jose.

Thank you, Modesto, for being such a welcoming and wonderful town. I wasn’t feeling 100% the whole weekend, but I still left with great experiences and memories!

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Here is the review of some of the major components of a race:

Course: I did the half marathon, and like I said, it is pretty much FLAT except for that one over pass (which you run over twice). It is somewhat of an out-and-back course, which is what I usually train with, so if I was racing, it might not be too bad (mentally). We ran alongside a lot of almond tree farms (I was told they were almond trees. I actually couldn’t tell what kind of tree, haha). The marathon, half marathon, and relay all start at the same time and go together until mile 7 when the full marathoners turn in a different direction and head out further. Even before that part, I did not feel that there was too much congestion (besides the initial first mile when some people go out a bit too fast and start to sizzle early).

This race also offers the full marathon, half marathon relay, and 5K (later start). It has something for everybody!

Aid station/volunteers: You can tell by the awesomeness of the race director and pace team coordinator that there were going to be a some amazing volunteers and vendors. They are not only kind, but they will definitely work hard to get the job done… and I think that attitude rubbed off on the volunteers. Most of them were locals (from what I noticed), being part of an organization/business and volunteering at the aid stations together. Each aid/water station was 1.5 to 2 miles apart for the half. There were no points when anyone complained of being thirsty or asking when the next station was coming up (that happens in some races when the next one is more than 2.5 miles away).

I don’t remember about the first water station, but the rest of them had tables and volunteers on both sides of the road. This eased any possible congestion GREATLY (especially when the full and half are together). We were able to spread out and get our choice of hydration (they had water and nuun offered on the course) without having to step on the brakes or come to a complete stop. There were at least two stations for the half that offered GU.

One thing I noticed is that the volunteers were trained well. They yelled out exactly what they were holding (“Electrolyte!” “Water!” “Strawberry Banana (GU)!” At a few of them, someone was telling us which table had water and which one had electrolytes. There were also plenty of garbage bins/boxes following the tables so that there would be less cups on the floor… and yes, there was considerably less than most of the other races I’ve been to. I missed when I tried to toss one of my cups and I still feel bad, haha (I always try to make it in when I’m pacing).

As always, be sure to thank the volunteers. It’s not easy to wake up early, be on your feet all morning, and be cheerful and encouraging to a parade of uber sweaty runners! And please… be sure to give back to the running community with YOUR volunteer efforts 🙂

Swag: I know I mentioned it already, but you get a LOT of swag from this race! It’s (sometimes) one of the many perks of racing in a smaller town. You know the usuals… race shirt, medal, and goody bag. #MoMarathon also came with arm sleeves, a recovery jacket, bottle of wine, and additional apparel if you BQ (Boston-qualifiers get a shirt) or place in you AG (age-groupers get a visor). So whether you are looking for a fast course to PR/BQ or for a lot of goodies along with a race, you can find it all here! This is not including all of the goodies you get after the race from the sponsors!

Expo/Post-race: The Expo was right next to the Doubletree, and it had a lot of vendors and volunteers!

These were just some of the pictures taken from the #MoMarathon FB page! Free KT taping, anyone?

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For after the race, as mentioned before, there’s a lot to do after the race. If I went for a PR and raced, I’d have grabbed some food and hung out at this tent:

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Such a fun atmosphere for the whole family!

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I want to thank Vickie, the Modesto Marathon RD, for giving me an opportunity to be one of the 2015 Modesto Marathon Ambassadors (SAMMbassador2015! Woo hoo!). I am also grateful for the opportunity given to pace the 2:00 half marathon group! I hope that the racers met/surpassed their goals and had a wonderful time 🙂

What is one thing you look for when going out of town for a race? Scenic? PR course? Friends/family to visit and stay with? Swag? [I am usually willing to travel for a race if it is a PR course or very scenic]

Did you like running when you were a teenager? [Really really not. I detested it with an all-consuming passion. Oh, how things have changed!]

If you had a choice between a bag of peanut m&m’s, a bag of chips, or a bag of Skittles, what would you pick? [Peanut m&m’s!]

4 responses to “Modesto Marathon 2015 Recap and Review

  1. Thank You Michelle for your support and believing in me! Let not get sick for our next out-of-town adventures. Two in the rows are enough… hehehe… 🙂

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