World-class runner Fernando Cabada of Fresno seeking top finish at Boston Marathon

With each step, Fernando Cabada could feel the pain intensify.

A blister had developed on Cabada’s foot midway through the Boston Marathon two years ago, and the world class long-distance runner from Fresno suddenly faced an agonizing decision.

Stop running and bow out. Or endure the pain and finish.

Cabada hopes he won’t have to deal with the quandary this time when he again competes in the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Cabada, 32, is considered among the top Americans in the world’s oldest contested marathon and its historic course.

“I’m feeling good,” Cabada told reporters on Friday. “I prepared well. I trained hard. No injuries.

“I’ve been thinking about this race the past four, five months.”

Flash back to 2013 during the last time Cabada ran the Boston Marathon, the former Buchanan High star entered the race slightly banged up and feeling a bit overwhelmed.

“It was my first time in a world-class marathon,” Cabada said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted.”

Like all Boston Marathon runners looking to complete the 26.2-mile course, Cabada navigated from the starting line in Hopkinton and toward the rigorous incline of Heartbreak Hill about 20 miles in before reaching the finish on Boylston Street.

But midway through, Cabada felt a blister forming on his foot.

Usually, he could simply ignore such discomfort. But with 13-plus miles still ahead, Cabada was not looking forward to his foot continuing to rub against his shoes. Still, he pushed through the pain and kept running.

When he crossed the finish line, Cabada placed 16th in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 23 seconds.

“I just remember being in a lot of pain physically,” Cabada said. “My feet were hurting so much.”

A couple of hours later, the Boston Marathon bombing occurred near that same finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.

Cabada didn’t share any memories of the bombing or where he was in relation to the explosion. Typical of many top runners in race mode, Cabada chooses not to look back.

But Cabada hopes the overall experience two years ago will help him reach his goal of finishing in the top 10 and his goal of 2 hours, 11 minutes. He would also like to use his Boston performance as springboard toward the 2016 Olympics.

In his last marathon, Cabada clocked at 2:11:36 and finished 11th at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.

Cabada stayed local to train for this Boston Marathon, running the trails at Woodward Park, on the track at Buchanan High and incorporating elevation runs by working out at Shaver Lake.

To keep his competitive running skills sharp, Cabada competed in the Transamerica Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Francisco and won with a course-record 1:06:25.

Cabada, who turns 33 on Wednesday, believes he is in the prime of marathon running years.

“I’m more mature, more experienced; it’s different,” Cabada said. “I’m working with a different set of cards and that’s good.”