Hella hills: Carlsbad Half Marathon race report

Pre-race in the mall parking lot of doom

Okay. That’s how I’d describe my performance at the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon.

Yeah, just okay.

I should be happy that I met my goal for the race, to negative split. I didn’t set out to run a PR, but definitely wanted to run <1:55. It was a tough course, not sure how much better I could have done based on my recent training.

1:54:20 [8:43 pace]

In the weeks leading up to the race, I looked at the course elevation detail several times trying to figure out how tough it would be. I saw a lot of climbs and drops. The highest overall elevation was 75 feet. It couldn’t be that bad, right?

I was wrong. The hills kicked my ass yesterday. I felt like we were climbing the whole time and never got a break. Even when we got to a short plateau or a downhill, I was too spent to push it against the headwind. Mentally, I also knew that I’d have to face each hill again since the course would be an out-and-back. One would think that views of waves crashing on the beach and surfers might make up for a tough course, but it wasn’t enjoyable yesterday. Plus, the fishy odor cancelled out the nice views. The course passed by a lagoon called Agua Hedionda (translation: stinky water).

Unlike the Holiday Half, running 13.1 miles at sub-9 pace didn’t feel easy and fun. There was no happy running yesterday. While I enjoyed the hills in Pomona/San Dimas, here I was cursing and dreading them. The climbs were much longer and steeper, especially the one around mile 6. I wanted to stop and walk on the uphills rather than power through them. I didn’t fly on the downhills or speed up during the plateaus because for some odd reason I didn’t feel like we were going downhill. I never felt like we got a break.

In the final 3-4 miles I thought I might manage a PR. After studying the elevation chart I thought the final 2 miles were all downhill, but I was wrong. I didn’t have anything left in me to kick in the end, especially not on a few short climbs.

I finished in 1:54:20, an 8:43 pace. My time/pace wasn’t that much slower than what I ran a month ago (1:53:10). However, I felt like I worked much harder yesterday. I managed to eke out a tiny negative split only because the course was an out-and-back and after the halfway point we had the wind at our back.

Overall, I’m okay with Carlsbad. I was always hurting out there and pushed through it and still managed to keep a sub-9 pace on a tough course. I know why I struggled. I haven’t been running much, and when I do run I avoid hills. I think the cross-training (elliptical) and strength training twice a week helped me out yesterday.

Almost all of the runners

While the race was only so-so, I’m happy I got to share the experience with some great friends. David and Adriana ran the marathon. He finished his first and she ran a PR on her third attempt. The rest of the crew ran the half. Sean and Elena both managed PRs. Sean had been having some foot issues but felt much better out there today and Elena greatly exceeded her expectation to finish ~3 hrs. Lori ran one of her better times out there. Mario and Nathan both had hurt themselves recently, but still managed to have a good run. Only regret, we missed Gustavo cheering for us.


Catching the gorgeous sunrise before the race

More notes/thoughts on the race:

  • Pre-race logistics were all simple. We had not trouble getting to the race, parking and getting pre-race business done. We chilled in the car for a little bit and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. I didn’t have time for a proper warm-up. Oops.
  • Lori joined me in Wave 3 even though she was in 2. We started together, but split after trying to weave at the crowded start. This always annoys me and stresses me out. I need to learn to chill rather than waste energy weaving around other runners.
  • Although Carlsbad is slightly smaller than most of the other half/full marathons I’ve run, it definitely had the best crowd support. The nice weather definitely helped. I’m glad there were people out cheering as this was one of those times that I needed it.
  • Favorite sign: Run like a zombie is chasing you! Zombies don’t like fast food.
  • Second favorite sign: Motivational Sign
  • I tried out arm sleeves I picked up at the expo, they were fine for the start but I got warm later on.
  • I wore my traffic cone orange LA Marathon tech t-shirt and got a few comments/questions. I don’t understand runners who asked if I ran it. Why would I wear a shirt for a race I didn’t run?
  • I recognized Julie from A Case of the Runs around mile 6. I was running near her, but wasn’t sure it was her until we got to the water stop at the top of the hill. I hope she wasn’t startled when I called out, “Go Julie!”
  • I had a second blogger sighting near the finish line when I saw Angry Runner walking in the opposite direction. No surprise that she was done and taking a cool down walk while I was still running. She’s fast.
  • Getting out of the mall parking lot was a nightmare. We left around 10:45 after finding everyone in our group. We spent 1 hour in the mall parking lot simply trying to exit. It took us another hour to get home. Ugh. I heard there were other logistical issues with bag check, but no one in the group checked anything so we didn’t deal with that.

2 thoughts on “Hella hills: Carlsbad Half Marathon race report

  1. AR says:

    I keep hearing about the zombie sign but I definitely didn’t see it 😦 I did see “Motivational Sign” – that had to be one of my favorites. I also liked the “nerd” water stop.

    The thing that got me about the course was that I noticed there was a lot more of an uphill grade than I initially realized on the way out. My hamstrings were shot by 9 or 10, though coming from the East coast the concrete stretches might have just taken me by surprise.

  2. Glad to know someone else thought it was tough! I had forgetten how un-flat this course actually was, though believe it or not, the first time I signed up, they advertised themselves to be one of the fastest courses in So Cal.

    Great job out there! I wanted to keep up, but that was a critical water stop. =)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s