On Sunday I ran my third half marathon of this month, the Carlsbad Half Marathon. When I registered for it, I knew it might be too much for me (having already registered for the New Year's Race Los Angeles and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, both also in Janaury) but I really wanted to Triple Crown this year. The Triple Crown is when you complete three San Diego half marathons---Carlsbad, La Jolla, and America's Finest City--all in the same calendar year. At the third race, AFC in August, you get an extra medal at the end, similar to the Beach Cities Challenge I completed last year (doing Long Beach, Surf City and OC all in a row). The last few years I wasn't able to make all three races, and I am determined that 2013 is the year.
I actually ran Carlsbad back in 2011; it was my 4th half marathon ever, and I loved it. I set a PR during that race, and loved running the gorgeous course that run mostly along the ocean. This time, however, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I was burnt out on running 13.1 miles, and I was still having nagging pains in my leg and foot. Plus, the forecast called for rain. While I don't mind running in the rain---I often train in it---I have never run THAT far in it, and was not looking forward to getting soaked just waiting for the race to start. However, once I hit the expo on Saturday, I started to get excited. My love for the run, and the running community, kicked into high gear.
The race started at the luxuriously late time of 7:45; after the 5:00 start of Tinker Bell last weekend, it seemed really late! I woke up at 5:30, and was out of the house by 6. I drove to the mall where it started in the rain, but soon after I got there the rain stopped, and never returned. One thing I did right was parking. The start/finish line is at a mall, and when I did this race in 2011 I parked close to the start line, thinking I was smart not to have to walk so far. The downside was that it took FOREVER after the race to get out of the parking lot. I think it took about 20 minutes alone just to pull out of the parking space! So this time I parked far away, near the exit, even backing in for an easy get-away. I had a long walk to and from the car, but it was well worth it.
I got there pretty early, so I sat in my car for a while, then got out and met my friend Andrea, who was volunteering that day handing out race medals. In talking to her, I expressed my fears about the pain I've had, and how tired I've been. I told her my main goal was just to finish---even if I walked it and came in over 3 hours, I just wanted to complete the race in order for it to count toward my Triple Crown. But my real goal was to come in under 2:40. Most of my half marathons I come in between 2:30-2:40 (my PR is 2:29). After the fiasco of the New Year's Race Los Angeles, where I hobbled over the finish line in 2:54, I needed to prove to myself that I could still run my pace.
I went to my wave, wave 5, right before the start. The waves were spaced out beautifully; there was tons of room in each one, unlike the ones at Rock 'n' Roll or the Disney races where you're crammed in together. My wave crossed the start line at 8:00, 15 minutes after the start. I settled into a nice pace, walked when I felt I needed to, and decided to just enjoy the run.
After a few miles we turned onto the road directly parallel to the ocean. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera or my phone because I was afraid it would rain, but trust me, the views are gorgeous. Most of the race run along the coastline. I did my run/walk combination, just enjoying the view, my music, and the weather, which turned out to be PERFECT racing weather---around 50 degrees, no rain, and cloudy. I never saw the sun. I shed my throw-away jacket at mile 2, and was very comfortable in my short-sleeved shirt. There was a great amount of crowd support, amazing and funny signs, savior volunteers with orange slices, and even a few bands along the way. Carlsbad really knows how to deliver.
Around mile 9 I realized that somehow, despite the fact that I had some pain, and despite the fact that this was my third half marathon of the month, I was on pace to PR. I couldn't believe it! Even with the walking I had to do (mostly on the uphill portions of this rolling course) I was going fast. So toward the end I decided to really push it. I mean, it's not everyday that a PR is within reach! However, toward the end, I just couldn't maintain it. My calfs were both seizing up, and I had to do a lot of walking. However, I crossed the finish line in 2:30 and change, a mere 70 seconds or so slower than my PR. It's my third fastest finishing time, ever. I was sad at first that I didn't PR--if only I had found it in my to go 70 seconds fastser--but then I was thrilled. I mean, I it wasn't even on my radar to PR...this wasn't an "A" race for me, and I had simply wanted to finish in under 2:40.
Once I crossed the finish line, the first person I saw was Andrea. She was surprised to see me so soon, and I showed her my Garmin. She gave me my medal, and I lurched off. I was wrecked. All that pushing at the end really did a number on my body. I literally limped the entire long way back to the car, and was in a foggy state of mind. Thank goodness for the space blanket I got, as suddenly I was cold. Once back at the car I ate the food from the snack pack they gave me, with some chocolate milk I was also given, and felt much better. My parking plan worked---I was out of the mall in under 5 minutes and on my way home.
I am so happy with this race, both with the actual time I ran it in and with my mental toughness for getting through. At around mile 11 it felt like Groundhog's Day---again, with the same mile markers I'd seen all month--but I did it. I highly recommend this race, and may do it again next year even if I don't Triple Crown again---it's a race not to miss.
2 hours ago