The Carlsbad 5000 is one of my favorite races. However, the 5k distance is NOT my favorite for a few reasons 1) it hurts so bad 2) it’s such a short race that it’s hard for me to justify the time/expense for it. However, the Carlsbad 5000 eliminates my second objection for disliking 5ks because it’s an easy drive from my house (and I know the good parking spots!), you can pick up your bib literally 5 min before the gun goes off if you want, it seems like the entire North County San Diego running community shows up for the event, and after I’m done racing I get to watch professional runners compete. Basically, I get 3-4 hours of entertainment for the price of a 5K (and if you sign up at the race for the next year, the cost is only $20!).
I was on the fence as whether or not to race this year. Although it was an official “club race” for the SSRC, I didn’t realize that my coach really did want me to run a 5k at full effort the day after a 18 mile run. The Wednesday before the race, after contemplating running with the stroller, Jim told me that he would prefer if I were to run the race on my own and race it. The point being, to use it to practice running on tired legs (but run my long run at easy effort). This is why I have a coach – I would never do this on my own.
On my end, I messed up by not running my 18 miler on Saturday easy at all – I met up with a friend who I had trained with a bit during lead up to the New York Marathon and she has been working her butt of (a few rounds on 21 Day Fix with my challenge groups too!) and her running has improved dramatically. Her easy long run pace went from 9:30s to 8:30s and I went along for the ride, competing 18 miles at 8:34 pace. Although it was conversational nearly the entire time, it wasn’t an easy pace for me. I had a bit of a mental battle during it as to whether or not I was doing more harm than good (I’m all about the slow long run – if anything I’d run a large portion very easy and then a portion at race pace, not this in between pace), but in the end I’m happy I stuck with Crystal because the run was a good confidence booster, which can be even more valuable than the physical side of a workout. After the run, I did an ice bath (this time I got it right with 30 pounds of ice!) and rested as much as possible but nothing could reverse the heaviness in my legs on Sunday morning.
Mike had plans to surf on Sunday and a friend volunteered to watch Siena while I raced, so I brought her along for the ride. I got in about a 1.25 mile warm-up broken up into four sections of running between our car, the packet pick-up and where my friend was watching her husband do the race before mine (the Carlsbad 5000 has four 5k races divide by age group, one per hour and the 30-39 age group goes last, just before the pros compete). I met up with some fellow Rock n’ Blog ambassadors about 15 minutes before the race for a photo and then headed over to the start area. I saw a few Oiselle teammates in the corral and then lined up with Sun, a Oiselle teammate who was my roommate at the 2014 Oiselle Bird Camp in Bend, Oregon. Sun is also a Rock n’ Blog ambassador so I saw her at the meet up and we got to catch up a bit.
I wasn’t exactly sure how this race would go and really had no idea how fast I could run it. My PR is from a small 5k 3 weeks before my PR marathon and is 21:40 (6:59 pace), but I did not run 18 miles the day before (instead I did my long run the next day). I did not think I’d come close to the PR, but the thought did cross my mind before I started the race that I might as well try for it.
My race started at 10:30 AM and its as 70 degrees and sunny. A beautiful day, but warm! My legs were heavy when I started to run, but quickly the heaviness disappeared. Amber was holding Siena at the first corner but sadly Siena couldn’t pick me out in the crowd as I ran by. Sun had pulled ahead in the crowd and I felt like I should ease back, as the pace felt quick. The first mile seems to have more of an incline than a decline (the course is pretty flat with very small rolling inclines – I wouldn’t even call them hills) and I just focused on pushing it without redlining. The first mile was a 7:09 pace.
Once we turned around on the 101, I got a few shouts from friends and teammates from the other side of the course which is always fun. I remember thinking how SHORT the race seemed. I think becuase I’ve been doing so many long runs, longer tempo runs, and long speed work sessions, thinking about only having 14-15 minutes left in the pain cave seemed totally manageable. That said, I was in the zone and didn’t interact with people too much. My breathing was really hard and I felt like I was picking up the pace because I started passing people instead of being passed. However, mile 2 was slightly slower, a 7:12 pace. I saw Sun just ahead and made it a goal to pass her for some friendly competition (she out kicked me at the 5k at Bird Camp!).
The final mile is an out and back past the turn for the finish line with the final 0.1 being a slight downhill to the finish chute. I started to pick up momentum and pushed it harder, passing Sun and a lot of others along the way. It felt good to finish strong! That mile averaged 7:08 but by the time I passed Siena again, my pace was in the mid/high 6s and I was feeling great. I ran the final stretch at a 6:01 average which, becuase I did a terrible job running tangents, ended up being 0.2 miles instead of 0.1. I crossed the finish line and finished in what I thought was 22:40, but later the official results said 22:47. I honestly don’t care much about that, I was just THRILLED that I ran a 7:05 average (per Garmin) the day after running 18 miles. The speed work is paying off for sure!
Siena and I stuck around for a while, catching up with friends and watching the professionals finish. She was a great cheerleader and loved ringing the cowbell. It was a really fun day and I’m really glad that I decided to race it. This race definitely holds a special place in my heart!
How do you usually work shorter races into your longer race training plan?