Maureen Custy said she was not sure how fast she was going in the Holiday Bowl Channel 10 Marathon Saturday. But she was sure of one thing: Sylvia Mosqueda was going very fast.
But Custy did not let that shake her. Although she trailed by two minutes after four miles, experience told her that if she kept running as she was, she would do just fine.
Her instinct was correct.
Custy, 32, from Denver, ran the fastest marathon by an American woman this year and the fastest ever in San Diego, winning the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours 33 minutes 38 seconds. Custy won a convertible and $4,000.
Mary Jones of Costa Mesa was second in 2:34:08. Defending champion Janine Aiello of San Francisco never challenged for the lead and finished third in 2:42:43.
"I really didn't know what my time was until I looked up at the clock when I crossed the finish line," said Custy, who won this year's New Jersey Waterfront Marathon and was the third-ranked female marathoner in the United States last year.
"They read me my splits (times at the mile markers), but my math isn't quick enough. It's hard to know what kind of pace you're on."
All Custy could do was listen when her time was called out after the first mile. She knew she was running slowly when she heard it was 6 minutes, about 10 seconds slower than the pace she had hoped to set.
Custy said she pushed herself and got into a rhythm that she figured was good enough to catch Mosqueda.
Mosqueda, it turns out, did not plan to finish the race. Custy did not know that.
She respected Mosqueda, a Cal State Los Angeles runner who finished second in the 1986 Los Angeles Marathon. But . . .
"I knew she was going to die if she kept up the pace she was on," Custy said. "I didn't think she was capable of running at that pace. But I was really happy when I saw her standing on the side after about 15 miles."