Monday, January 16, 2017

Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday morning I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon.

This is actually the first time I've run it, even though it's about 3 miles from our house (I've volunteered a couple times). #RealTalk: There are two reasons I hadn't put this one on my race calendar. First, it happens about 3 miles from the house. That means during the majority of my long runs I end up running along the course, so it's hard to justify spending money on a race that I literally run at least once a week. Which leads me to reason number two - the cost. This race is a pretty penny. Seeing as I run the area on a weekly basis FOR FREE, I've never put this one on the calendar.

That is, until THIS year. I saw that one of my friend's, Jenny, had a giveaway for a registration for the race and decided to enter. I looked at my training calendar and saw I had 20 miles on the docket for the weekend so figured if I won I could put the 13.1 miles towards my necessary mileage and cross another race off the list. Low and behold I WON!


As I mentioned, this race was part of a larger run, my 20-miler. If you've done long distance running, you know how amazing having spectators, a race environment, aid stations, etc can be for your morale on a run. I decided I would get in 7 miles before the race (so I took the "long way" from my house to the starting line), that way when I crossed the finish line I would be DONE for the day (#RealTalk: There is nothing harder for me than crossing a finish line where everyone is stoked to be done and having to head out for more miles... If you're ever using a race as part of daily miles, I would ALWAYS suggest ending your run at the finish line).

The full marathon started at 6:15am and the half started at 7:45am,
so when I ran up around 7:15am the starting area was pretty empty

How funny is this?! The official photographer saw me snapping my selfie and wanted to take a picture of me doing it...
But look at my GO GO GADGET ARM! Doesn't my arm look forever long?!

In case you were wondering, my alarms were set starting at 4:35am (although I woke up before the first one went off), left the house by 6:05am, and got to the starting area around 7:15am. Before I left I ate a Clif Bar (Sierra Trail Mix is my jam) for some fuel and then took 5 PROBAR BOLT chews at the starting line of the race and then again around mile 7.

I always set multiple alarms because I'm worried I will oversleep
and normally wake up before the first one even goes off...

I was stoked to get a text from Kelly as I was finishing up my pre-race miles asking me if she could run with me for a few miles. If you follow any of her social media accounts then you know she is AMAZEBALLS (and I can confirm from first hand experience), so I sent her a picture of my highlighter colored outfit and told her to be on the look out (she told me she'd be at the Mile 1 marker so I had a better idea of where to find her).

This #FlatCarlee was all about reflectiveness and bright for my pre-race miles!
Neon Yellow PROs, black Handful bra, reflective Sparkle Athletic skirt,
neon yellow Skechers Performance tank, Sparkle Athletic black visor,
black QALO silicone wedding band, gray and black
Momentum Jewelry wraps, black RoadID, my Garmin Forerunner 735XT,
some cheap sleeves because it was a bit chilly, Clif Bar for pre-run fuel,
PROBAR BOLT chews for during run fuel, NATHAN handheld water bottle,
Brooks Ghost 9 with lighting bolt Shwings and some extra reflective strips.

The game plan for the morning was simple. Do what I could with whatever body showed up. I told the hubby, since he was picking me up from the finish line, that I'd probably roll across the finish line between 2:00 and 2:15 (I normally tell him a quicker time so he for sure doesn't miss me crossing ;)). I figured I'd shoot for 9:15-9:30/miles, but expected that the race adrenaline might help me get there a little sooner (or at least help to keep a smile on my face the entire way). When I got to the starting line, my watch showed that my 7 miles took 1:07 to complete (and once you see the elevation chart from my run you'll see why those first few miles were a little slower than I was aiming for).

The starting of the race was much like any other - there were crazy port-o-potty lines, tons of runners milling around (I think I heard there were 8,500 runners in the  half), a few different corrals (I believe there were 5, but I didn't see anyone regulating them), and an exciting buzz. I was slightly worried that I would get chilly in between my pre-race miles and the start of the half, so I put a Mylar blanket in my hand held's pouch (but I ended up not needing it).

Dare I say, just about perfect running weather!

I was also a little freaked out about how much time to leave between my run and the race. I didn't want to get there too early and freeze (or have my muscles get tight), but also didn't want to cut it close and have to rush (especially if I needed to use the potty or anything). I timed it so I got there about 30 minutes beforehand and it worked out perfectly.

After the National Anthem, Linzie and I made our way into Wave 2. He had just ran Dopey the previous weekend at Walt Disney World, so told me he wasn't sure how his legs would do. We said our good-bye's in case we lost each other on the run (which we did, but we have another half marathon together on Sunday so we'll see each other again then!).

The first mile of the course is a bit uphill (but, like I told the runners around me, I would rather have it at the beginning than at the end... and since it was an out-and-back course, we would be running down it on the way to the finish line), but I was still feeling good after running the previous 7 miles.

As you can see, my first 7 miles had a bit of elevation change (we live on a few hills),
and the half marathon had some decent climbs as well

And, just as she said, Kelly was at the Mile 1 marker. I waved her down and we found our groove. We chatted about life since our last run together, gave out a ton of high-fives and encouraging yells, met some amazing fellow runners who introduced themselves and said hi, and had a grand old time.

Don't get me wrong, neither of us are where we used to be (or where we want to be), but we did our best to dig deep and get the mileage done no matter what! At one point Kelly was having a difficult moment and I told her that cheering on other runners helps me because it takes the focus off me and helps to celebrate someone else's accomplishments.

The course is AMAZING (but, then again, that's why the hubby and I pay the big bucks to live here... where everyone else comes to vacation ;)). I didn't stop to take any pictures, but that is mostly because I feel like I have 80 billion pictures of the coast from other training runs. Even though I run the route weekly, I am still taken back at the beauty around. We are beyond blessed to be able to run (and live) in this area! I do my darnedest to never take it for granted!

There were a few places on the course where it felt a little congested (since it is an out-and-back course, runners going "out" are on half of the road and runners coming "back" are on the other half, but they also had to half those sections to accommodate the half marathon runners and marathon runners), but overall it seemed perfect (and I was stoked I didn't have to stay super far over in the bike lane like I normally do when the roads are open).


The volunteers and spectators were AWESOMESAUCE! A lot of the volunteers had signs, which was so great! (I don't know about you, but reading something helps to take my mind off the run a bit... and some of the signs make me LOL) Also, when you registered you could personalize your bib, so they were able to cheer you on by name (rather than "Go Runner" which also works but isn't as personal ;)). There were even a few rockin' bands on the course!

I know some folks don't dig the out-and-back courses (Kelly mentioned it can be a little defeating when you see folks heading back and you aren't there yet), but I really enjoy them. I like being able to cheer on fellow runners, look for friends, and know what to expect for the second half of the course since I already ran it.

Around Mile 11.5 Kelly had to veer off and make her way to her car, but before she did, we made sure to grab a quick picture. As you can tell, the miles may have been a little more difficult than we would have liked, but at least we know how to have a good time! #BadAssLadyGang #FindYourTribeLoveThemHard

I texted Ryan to let him know where I was. Since I had the seven miles pre-race, I didn't really know what overall pace we were running for the race specifically. I knew the 2:00 pacers started at the beginning of Wave 3, and they hadn't caught us, but I wasn't sure if that was because of the delayed start or because we were running faster than that. I was SHOCKED when I turned the final corner and saw that the official time said 2:01 and change (I knew there was a delay between when the first wave started and when I crossed the timing mat so knew I had knocked out a sub-2 half).

I ended with 20.25 miles, averaging a 9:09 pace (really only stopping for
traffic lights on the first 7 and then the break between those miles and the
start of the race... everything else was cruising)

20 miles DONE AND DONE!

Officially, my half marathon time was 1:57:20, which ended up averaging 8:57 per mile. I am over the moon with this finish time (even if it is almost 20 minutes slower than my current PR). Not only was this part of a larger training run, but it was also one of my first long runs back since being injured (even if I wouldn't say I am currently 100% "healed").


I have had one other really good 20-miler, and coincidentally, it was last fall when I ran with Kelly for part of it. Normally my long runs are not focused on time (and don't get me wrong, this one definitely wasn't), but it is still nice to see a faster number for a longer distance. PS Feel free to watch Kelly's recap of the run if you haven't seen it already (and subscribe to her YouTube channel, cause her #BQorBust vlogs are a MUST!).

Although I didn't pay for this race myself, I definitely believe it is a worthwhile race (if you don't live in the area and run it on a weekly basis, that is). The course is stunning (running along the Pacific Beach for the majority of your race doesn't get much better), the volunteers and staff are top notch and the perks are amazing (not only did we receive a participant tee, but we also got a quarter zip long sleeve shirt, a goodie bag at the finish line and some purrrrrrrty bling).

Stoked because I can use the finisher tee in a future quilt and actually wear the long sleeve zip-up... AND IT HAS THUMB HOLES!
By the way, can you believe that this is the FIRST Picky Bars I will have ever tried?!

A BIG THANKS to Ultima for allowing Jenny to giveaway an entry, and for luck to be in my favor! [Now I just have to decide if I want to run the rest of the races in the series to get the TRIPLE CROWN :)] Also, PROPS to the Carlsbad Marathon & Half for collecting shoes for donation. Although it's always hard to part with old running shoes, it's a little easier when you know they are going to bless someone else.

The hubby and I donated TEN PAIRS! Can you tell I have a hard time letting them go?!

Do you run local races or prefer to travel to new destinations to run?


Reca @ Gator Girl Runs said...

I would love to run out of town more, given that Atlanta is so hilly, but I try to find courses I will like or fun races that keep things interesting. I've never had any course go through my normal running routes.

And I totally agree with you on getting the hills over with. I'd much rather have the hills out of the way early. Hills at the end are mean! If I'm not familiar with a course, I'm searching elevation maps to know how to pace myself for the hills because I know they are inevitable here in Atlanta.

Reca @ Gator Girl Runs said...

And I forgot to congratulate you on finishing in a better time than expected. The race adrenaline is real. And cheering people on helps me, get my mind off things, too.

Chelsea B. said...

Great job on your unexpected sub 2!
I prefer to travel some for races. I have run my local half marathon - Rock N Roll Nashville about 5 times already. But I am going to skip this year (which I skipped last year bc of my huge race I had 2 weeks later) and find another one to do for fun instead. I love my local race, but I run or bike some of the course almost every week. This year I am just going to spend my day cheering on friends.

Unknown said...

Carlsbad is actually one of my favorite races! I've ran it 10 times and fall in love with it more every year.