Today I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon, and had an amazing race...in fact, I set a personal record (PR)! I was looking forward to this race especially because I was supposed to run it last year. At the last minute, I had to sell my bib, as I had broke a toe a few months previously, and had no running time under my belt. So just to participate today was a triumph for me. But my weekend actually started yesterday, as my kids did the adjunctive race, the Legoland Kids Marathon Mile. This was D's third race ever, and A's first race since she did the Junior Carlsbad 50-yard toddler trot last year. It was almost a year to the day that she began to walk unassisted. What a way to celebrate!
We got up very early yesterday, as we wanted to be at Legoland by 7 or so. We got our bibs (both J and I registered as companion runners as well, so that we could run with the kids) and the kids' t-shirts. Soon enough it was time to go to corrals by age group. I went with D to the 6-year-old area, and J went with A to the 4-and-families area. When it was our turn to run, D took off! He is a much faster runner than me (not hard, considering how slow I am!) and I was always several feet behind him. I was actually in pain the whole time; for some reason my left heel was hurting and each step I took hurt. Soon enough, we got to the finish line where he got his medal, and we waited for J and A to finish. After a LONG time (not only were they a few groups behind us, but A is a very slow walker and had to be carried much of the way) we saw them head toward the finish. I was so proud of her---she'd only been walking a year and already has two race medals!
After their race, we went to breakfast, then onto my expo. I got my bib, timing chip and t-shirt (my first-ever long-sleeved technical shirt!) and walked around the expo. Unfortunately, my kids were very bored and were misbehaving, so I did not get a chance to really explore the expo as I'd wanted to. However, I did buy myself a triathlon sticker for my car, and a tank top I'd been wanting that says "I'm only doing this so I can post a picture on Facebook". I've been coveting that shirt since I saw it at the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo--and now it's mine!
This morning again started early. I didn't sleep well last night, as I was anxious not only about the race itself but about that heel injury I'd had yesterday, so I was exhausted. I was picked up by my friend and running partner, W, and we headed to Carlsbad. We parked and immediately hit the port-a-potties. A yucky place, but necessary. We were freezing....it was still dark and boy were we cold! I knew it was going to get warm later, so I was wearing warm-weather gear. Luckily, I also wore an old sweatsuit jacket and cheap gloves that helped keep me somewhat warmer. While we were milling around (and waiting in line AGAIN for the port-a-potties) I saw a few friends of mine who were also running. This was great, because there were SO many people there. In fact, I knew of tons more friends who were also running the race, and am glad I saw the four that I did!
W and I were assigned to wave 6, so we had quite some time to wait after the 7:30 start. I think we finally crossed the start line at about 7:50. The horn blew, and we were off! I was happy that my heel didn't bother me at all; after the pain I had yesterday, I'd been anticipating 13.1 miles of pain! After a few miles, I was getting hot, so I discarded my jacket and gloves. They'd served their purpose!
One thing I LOVE about doing races is being around all the other runners. The energy is always high, and it's great to be around like-minded, fit people. But more than that, I love the sense of camaraderie. Being surrounded by, and running with, THOUSANDS of people who have also been training for the same event evokes feelings I can't put into words. I'm usually a solo runner (save for the few long runs I've been doing with W) and running as part of the community is awesome.
The course was gorgeous. It was an out-and-back course, mostly along the Pacific Ocean. The sound of the waves, the smell of the water, seeing the surfers out there---it was a fabulous place to run. Although it got pretty hot, it was never unbearable; the ocean breeze made it nice. We followed the water until almost mile 7, then made a U-turn and made the turn-around.
The course was described as having "rolling hills". Much of it was flat, but there were definitely some rollers! W and I joked whenever we saw an uphill ahead that we had an "RH alert" (rolling hill alert). A few hills looked HUGE to us and we referred to those as "BFH alert" (big f**ing hill alert). It was nice to laugh..and great to run with W! We pretty much ran together the whole way. Sometimes I took a little walking break and she went on ahead, and sometimes it was the other way around, but we were always within a few feet of each other and she finished right ahead of me.
I used my new Garmin 305 for the first time in a race, and loved it! I was able to tell how fast I was going...and knew I was going to PR. My previous best time in a half marathon was around 2 hours and 47 minutes. Today I did it in about 2 hours and 35 minutes--shaving a whopping 12 minutes off my time (and about 28 minutes faster than my first-ever half marathon back in 1999). I couldn't believe I was going to PR by that much...but I had been running a faster pace than usual, and only took a few quick walk breaks to recover. And having no bathroom breaks on the race really helped; I usually have to stop once, which of course adds minutes to my time.
Coming toward the finish line was emotional for me, as always. I love the finish line. Not just because it means I'm done, but because I love the crowds, the screams, the excitement. And I since I knew I was going to PR, I was in tears as I rounded the last bend. I felt good, just a little soreness around my glutes and calfs, and knew I would finish strong and smiling---which is always my biggest goal.
All in all, I am VERY happy with this race. I am proud of myself, but not just for setting another personal record. I am proud that I have been training so hard for these races. I am really doing my best. In fact, even if I hadn't done so well, I'd still be proud: I put the time in, ran the miles in training, and raced my best today, which is really all one can hope for.
Next on my race docket is the Safari Half Marathon on March 13. This is the inaugural year for the race (at what is previously known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park). It's soon, which means I need to keep up my training and long runs. I look forward to it!