I know this happened a month ago, so this post is very outdated, but I feel it’s necessary to write about still. My training cycle for this race was very interesting. I felt extremely confident every week up until Week 10. Training weeks 10 through 12 were miserable. Why? 5 days off. Eeek!
After taking a trip to Portland over New Year’s and not getting much running in, I was freaked out for a couple of weeks. I was stressed I would totally bomb the Carlsbad Half Marathon. All those workouts in the dark by myself gone to waste, all those double workout days with Pure Barre/strength training gone to waste…what did I do? But, they didn’t go to waste. I still did them. The fitness was still there. Every day is a blessing and each day is a chance to grow. Yes, I stalled fitness for 5 days, but hey that’s life. Would I take it back? No. Life happens and running is always a part of me. This reminded me of why I started running again. It’s because I love it, not for the pressure. I knew no matter what happened on Sunday, I was going to have fun. And I did.
The couple of days going into the race, I started to feel more confident. I’m not sure if it’s because I told myself every day I was going to have fun regardless of the outcome or if my runs just legitimately started feeling ten times better as it got closer after getting back from vacation. The excitement around races always gets me going and this race was just outside my front door, literally. Every time I left my apartment I saw a sign mentioning street closure for the race. It was on my mind constantly.
The Morning of the Carlsbad Half Marathon
I knew most of this course like the back of my hand. The majority of it was what I had been practicing on for the previous 12 weeks. I was as ready as I’d ever be. The morning was nice because I didn’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn to drive anywhere. My sister and her friend Erin came over to my apartment about an hour and half earlier than the start time. Melanie and I went for a 2 mile warm up, which was through part of the course. We got to see some of the Marathon runners go by. This got my mojo going! There were so many people out already with signs and even bands playing at a few corners! Once we got back, we changed into our “race uniforms” and Nic, my boyfriend, dropped us off down by the start, so we wouldn’t have to find parking and because it was right around the corner. He’s the best. We checked our bags and stretched while waiting for the start. I found my running friend Tiffany, we wanted to run around similar times so we stood on the start line together.
I knew I wanted to run under 1:30, so I found the 1:30 pacer and memorized him, so at least in the beginning I didn’t have to figure out pace for myself. This time I wore my GPS Garmin Forerunner 220. During the AFC Half, I didn’t wear any watch. I did a couple of strides, said good luck to my college friend Kara and then anxiously waited for the start.
Generally when I’m about start a race, I observe the people around me and try to find someone I know who I can chase or someone who I know will push me. I know you shouldn’t judge runners because you never really know, but I like to memorize the people surrounding me. I create my pack without them knowing and it usually works. Due to my 5 days off and lower self-esteem, I wanted to go out at 7:10 pace and notch it down from there. When the gun went off, I got sucked into going 6:50 pace from the get go. I had no choice, but to ride it out and I am so glad I did. I stayed focused and listened to how my body felt. I felt great. I felt better than I was anticipating.
I found a few guys that were going the paces I wanted to run so I stuck with them. Around mile 4, we dropped the pacer. I wasn’t worried. It’s hard to explain, but it all just felt natural. I knew I could break 1:30; all my fitness was still there. It was amazing. The weather was great. It was sunny, but not hot and the course was beautiful along the coast. Miles 4 through 8, I ran with this guy. I love runners. We were running side-by-side. We were running together. We didn’t even know each other. We exchanged comments here and there and it totally helped calm my nerves during those miles, granted this was only half way. Going into miles 8 and 9, I was by myself. I started to feel the paces. I just kept telling myself you have to catch the people in front of you or you’re going to get left behind. It’s easier to run with people, not after them. So I started chasing them, so I could get closer to a pack.
At this point, there wasn’t really any more packs. Just a few men here and there. By mile 10, I was chasing down this muscular guy in American flag shorts. Mile 11 through 13 we went back and forth. I was definitely crashing during Mile 11 and Mile 12 (these were my slowest miles). Any uphill and my legs were dead. I could tell I was slowing down a lot during these two miles. All I wanted at this point was to stay under 7 min pace. Mile 13 had a downhill, so I was really looking forward to utilizing gravity.
On this downhill, I sped up as much as I could, passing American flag shorts dude and just trying to hold on to what I had left. When I came around the corner and I could see 1:27 on the clock I just held my own. I had much more of a kick during this race than AFC, but I had a lot more speed fitness too. Just coming into the finish, I was so proud of myself. I had done what I wanted to do! That’s what matters. My overall time was 1:27:25. What I learned from this run was to have fun and believe in the work I did put in. Yeah, taking days off isn’t always the best, but it’s not going to kill you. Melanie and Erin got huge PR’s too, so we were all pretty elated. This race got me even more pumped for 2016. And trust me, I got a lot more of where that’s coming from 😉
Running friends! Yay!