These days, I race a lot less frequently than I did in the past. Why did I run the Cardiff Kook 10K? Because it’s as close as you can get to my “hometown race” (the Encinitas Turkey Trot being a close competitor). When Mike and I lived in downtown Encinitas we ran countless miles along highway 101 in Encinitas. Some people might not understand why we’d pay money to run our go-to route, but it gives Mike and I a chance to support our local community AND see how fast we can run the route that we know every inch of.
I was looking forward to the Kook race for a few reasons. First, I love running these local races since they are easy to get to and I always see a lot of friends out on the course. Second, I was looking to redeem my somewhat disappointing race at the Encinitas Turkey Trot (I raced 3 weeks after the NY marathon and the course was 0.2 too long, as confirmed with a source I know who works with the race). Third, this was the first of two “official team races” for my new running club, the Seaside Striders. We had a meet up before the race for a shake-out run and our coach, Jim, is the announcer for the race so we get a special shout out when we cross the finish line!
Mike volunteered to push Siena in the stroller while he ran the 10K so I was able to run it on my own. My training buddy Kelly was also running the race and I found her right before the gun went off. I wasn’t exactly sure how long we’d stay together, but I knew that racing with someone was always a good way to push the pace. Kelly is competitive like I am and despite not being super consistent with her training, she’s got some good speed in her legs.
This was only my third 10K race (outside of Olympic triathlon) and I was semi-hoping to pull out a PR. My previous PR was also set during marathon training and my coach Maria had me run 10 miles prior to the race (with about 1.5 hour gap between the 10 miler and the race). My time for that race was 47:05, which is a 7:34 average pace (although I do remember the course being a little short). Based on how my speed workouts have been going lately, I thought I had a good chance of beating PR. However, I had two things working against me: I was still recovering from my 2nd cold in 3 weeks (just a mild cough at this point) and I had done a 12 mile long run the day before (coach’s orders).
I made the decision just a few minutes before the gun went off to not carry my Garmin. I say carry becuase both of my Garmin straps ripped (I’ve had it for almost 5 years) and I would have to carry the watch if I wanted to have it with me. Knowing myself and my mental state during races, I decided I was better off putting it away. I knew that if my watch told me I was off of the PR, I would have negative thoughts or even slow down and not give it my all. I wanted this race to be a true test of my fitness that day.
A half mile into the race, I really wished I had brought my watch. I didn’t wear headphones (as usual for me in shorter races) and Kelly and I were not talking much since we were already working hard. I wanted something to focus on and think about and Kelly and I were both curious as to how fast we were running. I just focused on keeping my effort hard but not too hard. I tried to remain as relaxed as possible. It was perfect racing weather – nice and cool and overcast.
One really cool thing about this race is that it’s a competitive event for professionals and the course is a simple out and back. They go off just a couple minutes before the rest of us so we are guaranteed to see them zoom past us on the other side of the street. I didn’t recognize any of the men but I did recognize the first place female, Christine Babcock, a Oiselle runner who I met at Bird Camp in 2014 and cheered for her. The rest of the race was much more entertaining as we saw friends on the other side of the road before and after we made the turn around. It was really fun to see Mike and Siena – they weren’t even too far behind us! Mike later told me that Siena was saying “meep meep!” for people to move out of her way!
The course has some mild rolling hills, with the longest and steepest hill being the section that goes past the Kook and the San Elijo campground. I let myself relax a bit on the decline and then picked it up again on the flat section in Cardiff and then again after the halfway turnaround. Kelly was still right there by my side and we were taking turns with the lead. Every time I saw a person on the other side of the road I would get a little boost. The hardest part of the race was the section back up the hill by the Kook. Kelly is stronger than me on hills and for the first time I was having a hard time keeping up with her, but I kept telling myself that I could NOT let her go and I didn’t.
The last two miles went quickly and slowly at the same time. Kelly was breathing SO hard – I didn’t think there was a chance she would catch up with me. With around 1.5 miles to go, I got a boost and started to pick up the pace. I heard Kelly say “good job” and start to fade back at one point – I can’t remember if this was before or after she said she was going to throw up. Shortly after though, I started to feel lactate building in my legs and nausea welling up in my stomach. I knew I had too far to go to let this feeling continue, so I backed off a bit but kept pushing. I reminded myself that I could be going for a PR!
Surprisingly, Kelly caught back up with me (again, breathing so hard I thought she was going to pass out!). We gave each other some brief words of motivation between heavy breaths as we pushed it for the final mile (luckily its a slight decline which helps!) and sprinted over the finish line. I couldn’t see my time and veered off to the side because I really did feel like I was going to puke (you know you put it all out there when that happens)!
Kelly and I gave each other high fives and thanked each other for pushing it. I went back to the finish line to see Mike and Siena cross the finish line and saw several friends. I later found out that I did not PR – my time was 48:05 (7:44 min/mile average), just one minute off of a PR, but I was really happy with my effort. I was also 9th in my age group out of 106 which is pretty good! I was happy with my pacing and that I gave it my all. And I was happy I didn’t wear my watch – I did a great job running by feel.
I know I have work to do in order to achieve my marathon goal in May, but I don’t think that it’s out of reach. I know with the training Jim has mapped out for me that I’m going to make significant improvements – I’m by no means in peak fitness right now, but I’m on my way.
Do you have a hometown race you love? How to you decide if a race was a success or not? Anyone else love Philz!?