Sunday, April 11, 2010

Carlsbad 5000 Anniversary Race Report

Five years ago, Betty, Elsie and I ran in our first 5K race together, the Carlsbad 5000*.

Yes...I am using this photo AGAIN. Whatever... It's our anniversary!
For me, it wasn't a stellar run. In fact, I walked at several points. I hadn't trained a lick. I remember thinking that 3 miles was a pretty long way to run. I also remember thinking my finish time of 36:36 wasn't too shabby.

Me walking...and no matter what Betty may say, I swear I am adjusting my iPod and not checking myself out. This is how little I knew about running.  I'd cleverly stuck my iPod inside my bra, which made it difficult to operate, and it got pretty sticky and uncomfortable. (shakes head and rolls eyes at self)
I was hooked...not so much on running, but on racing, two entirely different things BTW.
  • I LOVED the race expo, especially the vendors giving away free swag.
  • I LOVED all the people.
  • I LOVED the camaraderie.
  • I LOVED that there were spectators cheering on a (then) 42 year old woman they didn't know.
  • I LOVED the feeling I had at the end of the race, as if I'd accomplished something.
  • I LOVED having mimosas and breakfast with the herd afterward.
I loved all these thing so much that in 2006 I entered seven (7) more local 5K races. At one point Walter suggested (kindly) that I limit my races to one a month. In all of those races in 2006, I'd walk some, then run some, then walk, then run.

The following year, I ran the Carlsbad 5000 a second time. This time I ran the whole race and finished in 33:12, knocking an entire 3:24 off my previous time and setting a PR for myself.

Something else changed that year. I started running, not just doing races. I actually started training. I ran a 1/2 Marathon with Betty that year and the rest is history (and mostly documented in this blog BTW).

I hadn't been back to the Carlsbad 5000 since that second year. But as this was our (Betty's, Elsie's & my) Fifth Running Anniversary, we decided to do celebrate by returning.

I had a goal in mind this morning as well, to set a PR and to come in under 30 minutes.

The Carlsbad 5000 is an extraordinarily well run event with races spread out throughout the day. The Master's Men ran at 7:05. Our division, Master's Women started at 8am. We got to Carlsbad around 7am, in plenty of time to park, pick up our bibs and chips, see Irene,** visit the porta potties (no lines, lots of TP), warm up, stretch, meet parents of ex-students, return to the car to get rid of excess clothing, warm up some more, visit the porta-potties a second time (longer lines, less TP, not a good sign for the later races), and stretch some more before the start of the race.

We ran into Irene right after the start of the Masters Mens (or is it Mens Masters?) Division. Her husband Michael was running in it today and set a PR as well! Here is Irene taking a picture of us with her "big-ass camera."  

Pretty multi-colored shoe tags lines at the porta potties. This was at the end of the race, but it was like this all day. Like I said, a VERY well run event!
Before the race
We originally lined up at the 10 minute mile sign, then as everyone moved forward, we ended up between the 7 and 8 minute mile groups... There were still walkers in front of us. Everyone at once now...GAHHHHHHH!!!!.
Moving up and ready to run1
And we were off...about a minute after the gun time. For the first mile or so, there was a lot of jockeying for position and it was super crowded. I tried to maneuver my way through the crowd using the Edith theory of racing...pick a person in front of you and try to get by them. Still at about 3/10 of a mile in, there were people in front of me walking (GAH!) About 4/10 of a mile into the race, we turn onto Carlsbad Blvd and head south along the ocean.

Now one of the best things about running in Carlsbad is the view. It is spectacular and I've seen it on many occasions as the track club regularly runs in this area. In fact, the club had run down Carlsbad Blvd. the previous day for the train run (which I skipped). But to be honest, this morning, I barely even looked at the ocean, I was more focused on not running into the people ahead of me. At one point, a woman who was ahead of me on but to the left darted right in front of me to high five a little girl who was on the right side of the road.

I sure hope it was her kid. I'd be pretty pissed if I knew she was darting across a crowded field like that to high five just any little kid...GAH!

At the Mile 1 mark, I looked at my Garmin and I think it read 9:15**, which was madness that I was running that fast while trying to dodge people. I think starting with (mostly) faster runners paid off, but I felt pretty good.

Mile 1.3 (ish) was a  U-turn and then we headed back north on Carlsbad Blvd. There was a slight incline (to make up for the slight decline) and I slowed a little, but whenever I looked at my Garmin I was under a 10mm pace or a little over. About then, I saw Betty and she gave me a smile and a thumbs up. She looked great! I didn't see Elsie, but figured she was somewhere nearby.

I didn't stop at the water station at 1.5 miles because I didn't really needs water, plus I knew that slowing and drinking would cost me a PR (and it probably would have).

As I passed the Mile 2 mark and looked at G and it read 18:30!

OMFG (I thought to myself) as I tried to do some elementary math and breathe at the same time. My calculations suggested that if could I run the 3rd mile in 10 minutes, I would have a PR!

Around then, I could see out of the corner of my eye, the neon-dayglo-lime-green shirt belonging to Elsie. I don't think we said anything to each other...or maybe we solved all the world's problems, but we paced each other until the second U-Turn, then Elsie took off ahead of me.

The second U-Turn was kinda evil because there's a slight incline again, but I tried to remember all the things I know to do, use my arms, relax my shoulders, adjust my posture, try to lean forward a bit. I switched a couple songs on my Shuffle and suddenly, we were back in downtown Carlsbad.

We crossed Grand, which was the street we started on, and I actually thought I had to run another two blocks to get to the finish, but everyone was turning on the next block which was Carlsbad Village Drive (clearly, I was beginning to suffer from some oxygen debt) and the beautiful downhill finish. I could see the finish line in the distance. To be honest, I didn't have much left, but I gave it one last push and crossed the finish line.

So...there you go...

It's a Sub-30 minute finish for Alice...WOOT WOOT!
Elsie at the finish line (more thanks to Irene)
Me...about 8 seconds later (more Irene thanks)
Sweaty-happy heffers
After the race (and after consuming some large quantities of water) we went through the expo to get our gear and swag and to check out the vendors. Irene had told me that Brett, my PT from Rehab United was there.

In addition to being an truly excellent PT, Brett's a great guy. He ran in the Masters Men race that morning as well. We chatted for awhile about running and cycling and maybe doing some tri-training this summer. He wanted pictures taken so that he could get back in the blog.

I'm not being nearly as dorky as this picture looks. I was asking the guy who was taking the photo if he'd taken the picture yet. Seriously, is it normal to miss going to physical therapy? I do.

Then we headed off to Del Mar to one of our favorite breakfast places, The Americana Restaurant where we had mimosas and a fabulous breakfast with Irene and Michael!

Two bottles of champagne later...we were thoroughly celebrated.
I had no idea five years ago when I did the first race at Carlsbad what it would lead to. I was decidedly NOT a runner then. In fact, I was barely mobile.  That first run led to a marathon, eight half-marathons, and lots of other races, long runs, adventures, road trips, new friends, cycling, lots of breakfasts, mimosas, the Hefferblog and all the friends and people I've met (in person and virtually) through this blog.

I didn't know about any of this five years ago, so it was an excellent thing to celebrate this morning, and with a PR to boot! The Herd, to all my running friends, to all of you who read my blog (including my family) and who've managed to get to the end of this ridiculously long race report, I'd like to quote Coach Paul who frequently makes us turn to the person next to us and say, "Thank you for making a difference in my life!"
* Yes, this is a ridiculously long race report for a 5K. You'd think we'd run a freakin' marathon or RBR would say, "My blog, my rules."

** Aka - Our personal race photographer today. Thanks so much for all the photos Irene!

*** I had turned off the auto-lap feature on Tuesday night at track practice because we were doing 800s and I wanted to mark my laps manually and I forgot to reset it, so I am having to somewhat guess and remember my splits, but I think I'm close.


  1. What a great post! I think the reasons you did that first race and got hooked are so true. The atmosphere, the expos, the free shit.....etc!
    A PR to boot-that rocks! Congrats to you and here's to more PR's in this young racing season!

  2. What a thrill to break your barrier goal. Such an inspiration. Tell Drama Girl that I liked her note.

  3. That's a huge deal to break the 30-min mark in a 5k, especially one that size where you're dodging people no matter what. You deserved every drop of that post-race celebration champagne.

  4. Woohoo! A sub-30 5k. Congratulations on a job well done.
    I have yet to do one of those. Maybe I should enter a 5k road race and see how I do. But man, I hate roads! LOL ;)

  5. Congrats on the PR, girl! Great photos too!

  6. Great job and awesome report!

  7. Oh Alice, thanks for this post. I loved it and I loved the quote by Coach Paul. GREAT job with the PR! I looked for you and didn't see anyone except for one blogging guy who was in the 29 and under group. Missed ya again!!

  8. A sub-30 5k! Con-GAHHH!!-julations, sister!

  9. Woot woot! Great race report Alice! I am sitting here with smiles on my face because your enthusiasm and excitement really come through here.

    While breaking 30 minutes is a huge deal, in my mind the best thing about this is all your hard work and patience has paid off. It seems like it was just a couple months ago things kept breaking. Yet here you are now with a new 5K PR! Congratulations! Woo hoo!

  10. Congrats on the PR and the anniversary!!!!!! Awesome stuff!!


    I just got back from Bum F--k Washington and I was not able to post, but I wanted to add a hearty


    to the copious kudos you already have here! Someday, chickie, some day we MUST race together!