By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(02-Oct) -- Nick Arciniaga enters Sunday's USA Marathon Championships at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota with extra motivation. The 30-year-old native of California is ready to put his past two marathons behind him, turning the page with what he hopes will be a win and his first national title.
"Training's been going pretty well," Arciniaga told Race Results Weekly in an exclusive phone interview. "The last few months [I] have been hitting some pretty good high mileage and having solid workouts. I'm feeling like my normal self again. Marathon training is what my body seems to like to do so it's been working out pretty good."
Preparing for Sunday's race at altitude in Flagstaff, Ariz., and peaking at 140 miles per week, Arciniaga is primed for a solid run, he said. Serving as motivation for him are his previous two marathons.
Last November, Arciniaga was all set to run the 2012 ING New York City Marathon before it was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy. With the cancellation came a streak of bad luck.
In December, Arciniaga chose to run the California International Marathon, where he finished fifth in 2:18:37 in heavy rain. Three and a half months later, he'd have another sub-par run at the Asics L.A. Marathon, winding up seventh in 2:17:05. Both races were a far cry from his personal best of 2:11:30, set in 2011.
"I've had a couple bad ones in a row now ever since New York was cancelled last year. C.I.M., I was disappointed with, and L.A., so I definitely want to come back with a fury, come out and show myself what I'm capable of," he said.
On Sunday, Arciniaga's primary goal is to earn his first national road racing title. The chance to add "National Champion" to his resume is what drove Arciniaga to run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon instead of New York, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, or Chevron Houston Marathon.
"I'd like to go after it and just compete for the win," he said with a firm tone. "Looking at the field, everybody in the field has been running pretty well over the last couple years at most distances. But as far as the marathon goes, I have the fastest time going in, so I'm expecting myself to be up there competing regardless of how the other guys are feeling that day. Just going out there and racing the best I can."
Though he has been racing professionally since graduating from Cal State Fullerton in 2006, a national title at any distance has eluded Arciniaga. While he has racked up honors like being the top American at the 2008 Boston Marathon, Arciniaga has no USA crowns to his name.
"I basically want to go out there and show I can go out there and win a championship," he said, emphasizing what it would mean to be crowned with a national title. "Even though most of the top Americans are going to be in Chicago [like Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp], New York [Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi], or Houston, I just want a title under my belt."
In order to win, Arciniaga will have to better a field that includes frequent road racers Shadrack Biwott, Josphat Boit, Joseph Chirlee, and Patrick Rizzo, as well as Tim Ritchie and Christo Landry.
"It's hard for me to tell how this race is going to go, how it's going to play out," said Arciniaga. "My plan is to run with the leaders as much as possible, let things develop, and halfway through kind of evaluate and see if I could make a good move at some point."
To be happy with the race, Arciniaga said he'd have to finish with the title or at least be in the top three. Then his streak of sub-par marathons would be over.
"This race is all about Championship right now," he said.