Monday, January 23, 2012
2012 Carlsbad Half Marathon Race Report
I decided to do the Carlsbad Half Marathon at the last minute this weekend. I wasn't going to do it. I hadn't trained enough. Plus, I'm signed up for the Wildhorse Half Marathon next weekend. Two in two weekends? It felt like too much. Then, I agreed to let a couple couch surf the night before the race at my place. Afterall, the start was within walking distance of my front door. I knew I wouldn't be able to control the jealousy of watching others benefit from my awesome location without doing it myself. Without much thought, I went and found a bib.
I was a little wary. I hadn't been training. The longest run I logged recently was 8 miles. Furthermore, my week leading up to the race had been a zero week, due to a very hectic work week. I just hoped I could make it to the finish line! I don't remember ever being this undertrained for a half marathon before.
Race morning, I was relieved I had procured a bib. Below my balcony on the street, I watched masses of runners park and file down the sidewalk to the start. I dragged myself out of bed only an hour before the start, knowing I wouldn't have to battle traffic, fight for a parking spot, walk miles to the start, or stand in a long port-a-potty line. Star treatment! It's AWESOME living so close to a primo race!
The gun went off, and I started running for my life. I was seeded in the 2nd wave, and the crowd of speedsters swept me along breathlessly for the first 2 miles. Finally, I slowed and settled into a relaxed pace. It was so hard not to let the adrenaline push me to the max. I reminded myself to take it easy, and just aim on finishing the run. Trying to push it on undertrained legs was too high of a risk for injury. Nonetheless, I was clicking off 9:30s. Not bad for someone who hasn't been doing much!
I found my sweet spot, the pace where I float along above my legs and enjoy the ride. I watched surfers catching the waves, calm and peaceful, juxtaposed the the busy mass of runners toiling down PCH. Crowds of spectators and bands lined the street, cheering, singing, yelling, and urging us on. There were tons of motivational signs (including my favorite, the one that simply read: "Motivational Sign"). I had forgotten how infectious the energy of a large race is, spectators and participants combined. Running the course almost felt like cheating; I simply allowed everyone's energy to fuel my strides.
My hips started hurting at mile 9. Then, a hot spot developed on the ball of my right foot. Then, my calves began to cramp. At first, I scoffed at the aches and pains. I had felt pain much worse many times before. My body knew better than to whine. It started as a mild protest, knowing my legs wouldn't get much sympathy for me, much less mercy. It was only when my stomach started to churn that I begrudgingly slowed. The pain increased and subsided in mysterious waves. It was bearable at slower paces. It was hard to convince myself not to settle into a restrained run. Then, the pacer with the 2:00 sign started to pass me, and a jolt of determination burst through me like a shockwave. Grimacing, I flailed my arms and legs wildly, coaxing them into a faster pace. I knew I couldn't keep it up much longer.
All of a sudden, I was flying down the final hill to the chute. How had I reached the end so quickly? I didn't even remember battling last, dreaded uphill before the finish. How had it snuck by me unnoticed? I sprinted down the hill, blocking the screaming pain in my calves out of my head desperately. I had nothing left when I reached the finish but I felt victorious. An incredible training run, fully supported right out my front door. And lots of motivation and some speed work to boot. Not a bad start to the 2012 race season!