Monday, January 23, 2012

The Best Friends in the World--A Carlsbad Half Race Report

Several months ago, I wanted to register for the Carlsbad Half Marathon. I sent an email out to the herd and was met by deafening silence from Betty, Elsie, and Mik. Apparently, after Nike, they'd decided to not run another half for awhile, and instead dedicate themselves to cycling.

But I felt like I was just on the precipice of running really, really when Alberta said she'd run, I went ahead and registered for it, knowing that Alberta and I have very different schedules and I'd end up doing much of the training on my own.

But have I mentioned that I have really good friends? So good that they: trained with me anyway, went to an expo which was an hour a way, and even cooked up a plan to go for a ride up the coast from Carlsbad as I ran down the coast, causing themselves to have to get up at the Butt-crack of dawn on race morning

So, either my friends are saints,  or I've completely inherited the Italian-Catholic guilt thing from my mother, and I've mastered it really, really well.

I'm pretty sure it's the former! I have great friends.

Saturday - Expo Day
Betty, Millie, DramaGirl, and I drove up to the expo to pick up my gear. Carlsbad is about 45 minutes north of San Diego, so it was more than nice to have some company for the drive. And even better, DramaGirl and Millie decided to join us. I think they must have been bored. 

The expo was held in a tent outside in a mall parking lot. It'd been raining all morning, so when we finally got there (around 1pm), the tent was pretty stuffy. So much so that when I was in the back part of the tent, I started to feel dizzy and thought I was going to faint. So we didn't stay long. But I did stay long enough to take a few shots of some of my fave T-Shirt saying.
What I've been telling people all along...
For Elsie and Walter...who say they are done with the half
I hate to admit this...but I do think this.
And we all know what this stands for.... 
What were you thinking?
After the expo, Betty and I took the girls to lunch at The Beach House in Cardiff.
I think its very cool that DramaGirl and Millie call each other sisters...
One of the things I wanted to do at the expo (or before or after) was meet up with some of my blog-friends, but on that front, I was an epic failure. I arrived at the expo just as Meg and Jill were leaving. Judging by Penny's tweets, I was leaving as she arrived, and Irene sent me a text later on telling me that she was on her way... FAIL. I missed all of them. Later I read on FB that Yaz and some other bloggers who I've known and met over the years were running at Carlsbad. I didn't even know! What a lame blogger I've been...

Sunday - Race Day
I slept really well the night before the race. Usually, I wake up every hour because I'm nervous about sleeping in. But this time, I only woke up once! The plan was to meet the riding-herd at Betty's house and take two cars to Carlsbad. Two cars, five girls, four bikes, and a runner.
Me, Mik, Betty, and Anitra...Wilma was the smart one and took the photo. It's still very dark at 5:30am. Betty was thrilled to be awake.
Lousy picture of Wilma figuring out the bike rack.
The road to the race was uneventful...despite me taking the wrong exit and Wilma being super happy about following me through the back roads of Carlsbad in BBJ's pretty car. I mean, I had the GPS, so I knew where I was going, and I still say that three right turns does NOT equal a U-Turn!

What I will say is that at 6:30, when we got into the parking lot, it was COLD. I checked the weather Ap on my phone and it said that it was 39F. YIKES! I decided to start the race with a few old Underarmor compression shirt, some new dayglo-neon-lime-green arm warmers (awesome!) and the dayglo-neon-lime-green race shirt! Can you say HAWT.

We'd parked at the far end of the lot, which was probably 1/2 mile from the start, but really close to the exit. In what will probably turn out to be one of the smartest moves of the day, I decided to not check gear and just leave my a change of clothes in the car.

I waited in the car with Mik as long as I could, but I needed to use the potty and wanted to get to the start, so I said goodbye to my riding friends, and jogged up to the starting area where I pretty quickly found Alberta...also HAWT and glowing in her lime-green race shirt and green arm warmers, then I literally almost ran into Irene and Michael.

After the jog up to the race start area, I was actually getting warm and I wanted to get rid of the Underarmor shirt, and I'd forgotten my chapstick (very essential in a long run because in a pinch, it can double as GLIDE). So Alberta and I jogged back to the car, picked up the chapstick and jogged up to the Wave 4 area just in time for the start.
Resplendent in Dayglo-neon-lime-green, no?
As we were moving up, I realized I still had my Underarmor shirt tied around my waist...bummer! The ensuing conversation went something like this...

Me: Ah shiz...I still have this shirt. Should I (finger quote) donate it? (finger quote)
Alberta: Is that supposed grey or white?
Me: Uh...white? Theoretically.
Alberta: (laughing) if it's supposed to be white, you should give it up. Time for a new one.

Alberta and I think we've started about 10 races together in the last 5 years. Mostly we run about the same pace (or at least we start at the same pace). She is certainly my starter girl.

So the race started... Here's the route...
Small map, but you get the drift
Here's the report.

Miles 1-4 - The Easy Miles
I love this race. Sure, it starts in a mall parking lot, but pretty soon, you are running above the Pacific, watching the surfers and the waves break. When I did this race in 2009, three years ago, I was hurt and all of it after the first mile was a struggle. However, even then it was fun. I had Betty with me and we talked and laughed most of the way... Along the way I could remember a thousand things from 2009 that made me smile (more COWBELL!).

I ran with Alberta the first mile...then had her in my sights for the 2nd and lost her somewhere around the second water station...from there I could see her dayglo lime-green ahead of me, but she was just rockin' and I already knew I was going faster than I thought I should have been.

Along the way, I saw Penny (yay!) and Irene and Michael again. At the turn around Michael yelled out "Go Heffers!" and I waved like a crazy girl at him. I always wonder what people are thinking when they hear that. I hope it makes them smile. It certainly works for me!

My splits show that I ran Miles 1-4 faster than I really should have, but not too much. It certainly could have been worse. I could have tried to stay up with Alberta!

Avg Pace


Miles 5-10 - Out-Back-Up-Down-and-Around
I always think ahead of time that Carlsbad is going to be a flat course...maybe it's because the Carlsbad 5000 is, but the half is anything but, there's lots of rolling hills.

No enormous climbs...but there are plenty of up and down.
I tried to keep a pretty even pace. At the 2nd Turnaround (around mile 7), I saw Alberta right ahead of me. She must have thought I was farther back because I could see her looking for me behind me.

I could also feel myself running out of energy. Unlike some of my long runs, I decided I needed a Gu around mile 6 or so and I thought I'd get more around Mile 9 (never saw it). I drank the energy drink at every station it was available. I'm bummed I didn't bring a 2nd Gu, I could have used it.

Around the 8th mile I caught up with Alberta and we chatted a bit. She had been tearing it up and I am so darn impressed with her. Her longest training run was something like 6 miles, but she's been boxing and training at the gym and is a complete beast! She said she felt really good. We must have looked fabulous, because right about then the Reno 911 guys ran buy and yelled something like "GO GREEN" and swatted our butts with their batons.
Yes, I fumbled with my camera and no doubt lost several seconds, but there was NO WAY I was going to miss this shot. Can you say chafe? need a closer shot? Let me offer this...
You're welcome!
Oh splits, still not bad, right?


BTW...While I was running...somewhere between miles 6 and 8, Betty, Mik, Wilma, and Anitra were somewhere in the middle of Camp Pendelton
Hey Girlz...
Miles 11-13.1 - I Hate the 11th Mile
The WORST things about Mile 11

  • I just hate the 11th mile. That's it. 
  • Throughout the race, my calf had been bugging me. I took one step around mile 11 my lower-leg almost gave out. I thought for a moment, I was going to fall.
  • I drank too fast at the mile 11 water station and almost threw it back up. 
  • At the end of Mile 10, I really thought I had 2:15 within reach...yeah, it would have taken three consecutive 10 minute miles to do it, and then I just felt it just slip away

The BEST things about the last three miles.

  • Thinking...its only three miles and hell...I can run three miles
  • Seeing Betty with less than a mile left 
  • The finish...yep, I still had a sprint at the end and I gotta be happy with that.

Betty's working on her photography skillz... I may look happy, but really, I was only happy to see the end in sight
It's sorta ugly at the end...I agree.

I really gave it my all. 2:18:17 (official) 10:33 pace. That's a PR, almost 5 minutes faster than last summer's Rock 'n' Roll Half and almost a whopping 22 minutes faster than the last time I ran Carlsbad.

I am completely happy and proud of myself for the race. My goal was to come in under 2:20. I did that. My super-secret-don't-tell-anyone-dream-race-goal was 2:15 and I know now that I will finish a half in under 2:15. I really didn't think it was going to happen yesterday, but I also didn't think I'd be as close as I was...
Post-Race - Get Me OUT of Here!
I have almost no idea what I did after I crossed the finish line. Someone handed me a medal. I almost hugged a woman who handed me a bottle of water. I snarked at an woman in a red shirt from Elite security who was YELLING at runners to keep moving as I was holding onto a fence in my attempt to stretch my screaming-aching calve muscles. ("uh...I just need a second here to stretch...or I could throw up on you"). I may not have said this loud enough so that the woman could hear me, but I guess I was loud enough because I made a young girl who was also trying to stretch next to me laugh.

Some angel handed me a carton of chocolate milk and a bag of food. Then there was a huge cluster-@!*& just to get out of the runners area, but I managed to get out. Then I found a curb to sit down on and I did.

Cell phone service was (of course) a nightmare due to the high density of texters, callers, FBers, Twitters, and the suckiness of ATT, but eventually I elegantly (hahaha) got up off the curb and started my long walk back to the car. By then my snot-rags arm-warmers were pretty soaked and I started to feel chilled (where were the post race mylar blankets? Probably with the GU). I wondered why we thought parking near an exit was such a good idea.

Once back at the car, I threw the keys to Betty and said, "please drive," and as we decided where to go to eat I said "not it" first, so I didn't have to decide. I crawled into the back seat and started seeing the slew of messages from all my friends who were stilli in the runners aread. Once again, I missed Meg and Jill (GAH!) probably within minutes, but I just wanted to sit in the back of my warm car and eat pretzels.

I'm really happy I decided to not check my gear as I'm reading some reports that the gear check was a cluster-@!*& (I already did that once at Long Beach about a year ago, thank. you. very. much. and don't ever again want to wait for gear after a race)

It was a great run. The weather was perfect. It's a beautiful route on the ocean. The hills are challenging, and of course, I have great friends who, even if they don't run with me, come along for the ride.
But of course we did


  1. nice job!

    i always hate mile 11 (and 12 and 13) too.

  2. Nice race report! I've been slacking with mine...

    I had no doubt that you'd PR since you've been tearing up the roads lately. :) I know I said it before, but CONGRATULATIONS!

  3. I'm so very proud of you! I re-read the last CB half report - and you really did this one.

    Way to go Alice!

  4. enjoy reading your war stories.

  5. Great race report! Way to go on the PR! Loved you made the person laugh while stretching!

  6. We had to be close, my friend Mary said that I wasn't too far behind the Reno 911 guys. Thankfully, I never saw them or I may have thrown up!

    Congrats on your PR, I am very very happy for you and totally understand you wanting to get the hell out of that place! I majorly cut in line to get my sweat bag and holy crap was that an ordeal. I received an email where they apologized for the mess. My other big complaint - other than mile 18 - 20 being one majorly loooong fu*&ing hill, and the fact I missed the sign and turned at mile 17 with the halfers and thus ran an extra mile - was the ridiculously sad food at the end. I never got chocolate milk, I got a bottle of water and the sack of 3 items: banana, pretzel and a protein bar. Lame.

  7. Good job and congrats...although 3 rights turns is the same as 1 left turn, right!

  8. Great job! It was a tough course, in spite of my memories of doing it previously. I am still sore today!!

  9. Dood - those guys ran 13.1 miles like that?!?!?! Holy chafeage! PS - I like the one on the left ;)

    Congrats on hitting your goals & nailing a PR!!!