This was my first time running or spectating the Carlsbad 5000, although I have wanted to join in on the fun for years. The Carlsbad 5000 isn’t just any 5k – it is touted as the “worlds fastest 5k” – which makes sense because the women and men’s road 5k world records were both set there. The course records of 12:59.5 minutes for men (set by Sammy Kipketer in 2000) and 14:46 minutes for women (set by Meseret Defar in 2006) are the fastest times ever recorded for the 5 km road distance (source).
What’s even cooler about the Carlsbad 5000 is that the professional races are held at the end of the day. The race has several start times throughout the morning for age groupers (and you can even sign up for the all day 20k and race 4 of them!) and then starting around 11:30 AM (start time depends on the train schedule since the course crosses the tracks), the professional women’s and then professional men’s races take place on a slightly more spectator friendly course (more loops).
I convinced Asia to sign up for this race with me back at the Carlsbad 5000 kickoff event put on by Competitor Group, Movin Shoes and Pizza Port back in January. However, she didn’t really train for it, had a jam packed travel schedule the weeks before the race and was coming off a bad case of bronchitis, so she volunteered to run with me, despite the fact that I warned her that at 14 weeks pregnant, my pace had been hovering between 10:30-11 min/miles as of late. I was happy to have my best friend enjoy the ride with me!
Our race started around 10:30 and was comprised of all participants between 30-39 years old (and anyone who signed up for the all day 20k). We didn’t go to the expo the day before so we just showed up about an hour early and check in was easy. We also didn’t have issues parking in the nearby neighborhoods. We still had plenty of time to kill before the race and walked around the expo and chatted with friends we ran into as we waited (including Smitha, a fellow Rock n’ Blogger and Jennifer, a Oiselle Flock teammate!).
We went for a super short shake-out run and did some dynamic stretches to get the legs warm, but it was an odd feeling knowing I wasn’t going to “race” a 5k. A half-marathon is one thing because generally I start out running a half marathon at a pace that is comfortably hard enough for me to be able to talk, but in a 5k, it’s pedal to the medal. I’ve never run a 5k in which a conversation was possible – no matter how little I trained for the race, I’ve always put my best effort out there for those 3.1 miles.
We didn’t really know where to seed ourselves but felt odd putting ourselves any farther back than the 9 min/mile sign so we started there. Going into the race I had a loose goal of sub 30 minutes (my PR is 21:41!) but I didn’t wear a watch on purpose because I really didn’t want to push myself to go any harder than I was comfortable and able to easily hold a full conversation (per my doctors orders). It’s important to make sure that there’s enough oxygen getting to the baby and if I’m huffing and puffing, that’s not the case.
As we started, I got excited. I love racing! There were tons of spectators and were high fiving kids and enjoying the ride right away. One of the first things I noticed that the course was not as flat as I had anticipated (there are no real “hills” but rather some slight inclines/declines) and I wondered how it was considered the “fastest course in the world,” but world records really don’t lie! Once we got onto the coast, my legs were feeling pretty good, better than they had in a while and I told Asia this. We were passing people left and right and continued to do so for the entire race. That was definitely fun!
It was a warm day – in the 70s so I felt hot immediately. I ran with a water bottle (I’m sure people must have thought we were doing the all day 20k for that reason) and drank quite a bit of it. I felt like we were running “fast” but I could still talk easily. I joked to Asia that I felt fast but I bet we were still running a 10 min/mile. That’s the way things have been for me lately!
The course starts on a street that runs perpendicular to the coast highway. Once you get on the coast highway you do an out and back, pass the finish line and do another out and back, and then head back to another perpendicular street to finish. On the second out and back we saw Jennifer from Oiselle and then when we were coming into the finish two of the Moving Shoes employed shouted loudly at us “Go Oiselle!” (they love Oiselle!). I couldn’t help but pick up the pace in the finisher chute and we ran faster as we watched the clock. I knew we’d beat 30 minutes and was happy that our ‘speed’ wasn’t in my imagination! Our official time was 28:55, a 9:18/mile average.
After the race we saw Oiselle Volee teammate Arleen and our friend Kerb who helps run the Movin Shoes Carlsbad 5000 and RnR San Diego training group at the PB location. We went into Pizza Port and joined him and some other Movin Shoes people for pizza and beer buddies (not these aren’t full of beer, they are just the most amazing mini bread sticks EVER).
We ate quickly and then headed out to watch the pros. Due to the way they had the course set up, we got to see the women pass by 4 times and then finish right in front of us! We were on the edge of our seats as we watched Genzebe Dibaba nearly break the world record, coming in at a blazing, yet disappointing 14:48. I’m sure if it hadn’t been 70 degrees that day she would have had it! The men’s race was exciting too, although the finish wasn’t nearly as close. It was just incredible to watch them run – I couldn’t even snap a photo as they passed by a few times when I tried.
It’s safe to say that the Carlsbad 5000 was the most exciting 5k I’ve ever participated in. I will definitely be back next year, pushing a stroller!
Have you ever watched pros race in person?