But by the time he reached the starting line, it was clear that temperatures could reach record highs, and race directors had already started to issue heat warnings.
Hundreds of people opted to not even start the race, and Ciesco left the starting line expecting a slower-than-usual finish time.
Four hours later, he was glad to just get to the end of the 26.2-mile course and survive temperatures that reached the upper 80s.
“Most marathoners start getting uncomfortable in conditions over the 50s. This was an absolutely oppressive marathon,” he said.
The Boston Globe reported that about 2,100 people out of the 22,480 who started the race were treated on the course or at the finish line for heat-related ailments.
“Within the first five miles, I knew the object was just to finish,” Ciesco said, adding that even the elite runners took it slower than usual.
Ciesco, 43, finished the race in 4 hours, 2 minutes, which placed him 1,263rd out of 2,445 men in the 40-44 age group and 9,023rd overall. The Boston Athletic Association, host of the annual race, reported 21,554 runners finished the course.
Also running the Boston Marathon this year was Tracy’s Betty Topping, who had previously competed in the race. She finished 588th out of 1,567 women in the 40-44 age group. Her time was 4:08.31.
Ciesco, a Tracy resident for the past seven years, has been a distance runner since his days as a youth in Michigan.
Today, despite being vice president for finance with Levi Strauss in San Francisco and a member of the citizens committee overseeing Tracy’s Measure E sales tax, he trains constantly, either before or after work in the city or around Tracy, and covers 50 to 60 miles a week.
He intensifies his training schedule for the 12 weeks leading up to a big race, and set a target of 3:05 for Boston, which would have been a big improvement over the 3:15.39 he ran at the Los Angeles Marathon in March 2011, a race in which he set his personal best and qualified for Boston.
Part of Ciesco’s determination came from having his family with him on the trip to the East Coast, including his father, who ran the race 30 years earlier.
Instead of a memorable finishing time, he can think back on the extreme conditions.
Among the heat-related effects he experienced were leg cramps within the first nine miles, which nagged him for the rest of the race.
“The thing with marathon training — and anyone who has done it more than once knows — is that it all boils down to the weather on race day,” he said, adding that he ran the Los Angeles Marathon in cold, wet and windy conditions. “Honestly, I was surprised at how fast I ran it.”
He added that marathon runners tend to embrace such challenges.
“I’ll run in any conditions,” Ciesco said. “I travel all over the world and run wherever I travel.”