Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carlsbad Marathon 2014

EVENT: Carlsbad Marathon
DATE: Sunday, January 19, 2014
LOCATION: Carlsbad, CA
RACE BEGAN: 6:15 am
FINISH TIME: 04:38:52

This is probably going to be a lot longer than it should, but as I mentioned not too long ago, I was intending this to be my last marathon for a while, so I really wanted to be as mentally present as I could.

In the days before the race, I gradually made most of my meals very carb-y, rather than eating a ton of food like I might have tried in the past.  I mean, I was eating plenty, but I was trying to be smart.  After running marathons for 7 years, I know better than to stress out my already-off GI tract by introducing a whole bunch of new stuff.

Friday -- rice balls (onigiri) and spicy miso ramen:

On Saturday, we arrived at the expo around noon, and getting in and out was easy.  I was actually able to sample everything without terrible disorderly crowds, which is one thing I have always appreciated about the Carlsbad races.

The race loot is below -- long sleeved tech tee, drawstring bag, and sandals (only for marathoners)!

We then waked around the mall, as this is the start/stop point of the race, as well as where the expo was located.  Then, we realized Carlsbad had outlets, so we went there, and we (I) made a killing.  Watch out frumpiness, I'm working on ya!

For dinner, we had Thai food.  It actually worked out well -- carb-y, low gluten/roughage, and tasty. Obviously, Thai food is tricky if you're not used to it, but we stuck with fried rice and pad thai.

Turned in at around 9:30 and woke up -- get this -- at 5.  This was glorious, as it's pretty much my normal weekday wake-up time.  We headed to the race, waited in our car until past six, went to use the porta-potty, and got into place before the 6:15 start-time.  Thank you, Carlsbad Marathon, for making the start of the race as stress-free as can be.

The temperature around the start was around 50 degrees, though it heated up gradually and hit the low 70s at the end.  If you've been reading here for a while, you will know that I consider anything over low 60s to be too hot to run for long, and with a marathon, that threshold is even lower..  Given that it's been 80+ fahrenheit for the past week or so in Los Angeles, we knew it was going to be a warm-ish day out there.  I think I signed up hoping for much cooler weather.

So here's the elevation map.  I have always erroneously assumed that Carlsbad is a flat race, and I believe this is because I used to see ads touting that they were the flattest course on whatever side of whatever.  But in the times I've run the half (here and here), I realize this is not true.  Similarly, the full marathon was pretty gnarly.  It's not the same course as the half -- it splits off and joins/re-joins at several points.

Here are my splits:

Mile 1 - 9:12
Mile 2 - 9:15
Mile 3 - 9:28
Mile 4 - 9:19
Mile 5 - 9:28

Started off comfortably.  With my low-mileage training, I knew I'd have to run this race intelligently, so I tried to turn my brain on rather than letting my body just go.  It was still dark when we started, so I did enjoy the quiet of that.  I was trying to hold back, as my training runs were way slow.  I wanted to hang around the 9:40-ish mark, which is what I most often saw looking down at my Garmin, though it doesn't look that way here. 

Consumed throughout race: Vega Sport, Ultima, water, 4 Clif Shots, and 2 Honey Stinger chews (one pre-race), 4 Salt Sticks

I was trying to take it easy, enjoy the light breezes and the spectators who had some great signs.  Although I called this blog what it is (I was young and naive??), I didn't really enjoy the "Run now, poop later.  Never trust a fart" signs.  My favorite ones were "I thought you said this was 2.62" and "Hurry up!  Football is on!"

Mile 6 - 10:06

Took my first breaks around this point, to loosen my legs, put on sunscreen chapstick, etc.

Mile 7 - 9:40
Mile 8 - 10:03

There was a really nasty, long climb here, though I was steady and saw "The Ukrainian" on the turn-around.

Mile 9 - 9:56
Mile 10 - 9:46
Mile 11 - 9:38
Mile 12 - 9:35
Mile 13 - 10:23

Hit the half-way point around 2:08.  I knew that these next miles were critical to the rest of the race, so I slowed down.  I'd stretch once in a while to extend my "life" -- you know, basically extend the time in between being okay and then inevitably getting cramps.  You will also know if you have been reading here for a while that I have this problem no matter how much or little I train.  This is when I knew that I was making the right decision about not running marathons anymore for the time being.

Mile 14 - 10:09
Mile 15 - 10:10
Mile 16 - 10:31 -- steep climb here, and the sun could be felt now
Mile 17 - 9:44

There were a series of nasty climbs here, as well.  They seemed long, and twice as steep at that point.  Luckily, the half-marathoners were coned off so we wouldn't merge too soon, which I was thankful for because I didn't have to weave around them.

Mile 18 - 10:50
Mile 19 - 10:51
Mile 20 - 10:42
Mile 21 - 10:55

Around this point, I felt "the twitch," which as always, was sudden in spite of my best efforts to take breaks.  I think my legs were just tired of going what felt like up and up with little relief down.  I felt another twitch later, and then I felt my thighs twitching, too, even my inner thighs, which is something I've never had before.  I guess my body always finds new ways of surprising me.  So I walked, because there was no way I could run, as I didn't really feel like pulling a muscle today and taking over 5 hours to finish.  While I wanted to keep my pace and beat 4:30, I saw that pace group pass me, so then my new goal was sub-4:40 (which was the goal that I posted, and I regretted posting it during that time).

Mile 22 - 12:33
Mile 23 - 14:36
Mile 24 - 14:43

After all that walking, I felt a little more functional and ran/walked.  We were climbing more, so I knew there wasn't much I could do, but still.  Finally, we hit a downhill stretch, and I gunned it (carefully!) thanks to the song that came on -- Eminem's "Stronger Than I Was."  I am always happy to be able-bodied to finish a marathon running rather than hobbling on pulled muscles.

Mile 25 - 12:28
Mile 26 - 10:39
.2 - 9:54

And, 4:38 -- I believe this was my fifth best time (top 1/3 of my now 15!), so although it's really mediocre, I'm not disappointed at all.  The course was way tougher than I imagined... harder even than LA Marathon, which usually manages to humble me (which is why I'm not doing it this year).

You can see how much sun we were getting in this picture, and the drive out of the parking lot took 40 minutes.  We almost missed our hotel check-out time, which they already extended by an hour.  We made it there with no time to shower and barely avoiding a $50 charge.

Race photos!

The last mile or so.  Trying to keep it together!

They called my name on the loudspeaker!

Possibly my last marathon finish -- a little hat-tip to Boston.

And just like that, my marathoning career is over for now.  I'm hoping that someday, I'll find the will and slow-twitch muscle capacity to pick it up again.  I just think that some people adapt well to marathons, and others don't.  I, twitch-y and flat-footed, apparently, don't.  But I've had my run (pun intended), and I'm sure I'll enjoy the lesser distances just as much.  This (quitting) won't take away from everything I've done, and I'll still stay in shape and am still proud of myself for getting to 15.  At least, this is what I'm telling myself.

Post race noshing.  I need to take care of myself (and we have a ton of avocados), as I have another race in two weeks.  Stay tuned!

Oh! And P.S. -- In spite of his flu and the cold we both had earlier this month, "The Ukrainian" rocked this in 3:34!


  1. Congratulations! Interesting...I have the same problem as you: no matter what I do, I cramp towards the end of a marathon (37-40km). Cold temps seem to hold off cramps longer, and I've been experimenting with drinking more, salt tabs, clif shot blocks with extra salt, etc. But I'm not giving up on the marathon yet...hopefully by marathon 15 I'll have this game figured out and let you know what the magic potion is! :)

  2. You look very relax in the photos. I'm hoping this marathon hiatus is temporary, although I have to say that running halves are my favorite so there is always that. Nice work out there. You ran smart.