Last Sunday I ran my first true race after having Siena (we did a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving but walked it as a family). I ran the 4 mile distance at the Cardiff Kook Run, which is always held on Super Bowl Sunday in Encinitas. It’s named after the famous statue of a surfer called the “Magical Carpet Ride” that sits on the 101 but earned the nickname “The Kook” over the years. The race starts at the Encinitas sign, which happens to be just a few blocks from our old beach apartment. My normal easy run was “to the Kook and back” so when I saw that the race offered a 4 mile “kook distance” I signed up! I also figured 5Ks hurt and a 10k seemed too long for where I’m at right now so 4 miles seemed like a sweet spot (plus automatic PR!).
My training for this race was anything but regimented. The race took place when I was just over 4 months postpartum and I’ve been doing P90X for the last 2 months and trying to run 2-3 times a week on top of that. There’s been no speed work or long runs and I haven’t run a mile under a 9:30 pace in over a year. I figured this run would be a true test of my starting fitness level as I start to ramp up my training for all the exciting races I have lined up this year. I gave myself a goal of finishing with an average pace under a 9 minute mile. I figured it was a pretty achievable goal, but there’s no need to set anything lofty at your first race back!
Leading up to the race, I logged on to check out the course (which I pretty much already knew anyway) and figure out what time the race would start. I didn’t see anything at all about the 4 mile distance until I clicked through to the register button, which I found odd. I emailed the race directors asking when the 4 mile race started and never heard back. When I picked up my packet on Thursday at Road Runner Sports, they told me I was doing the 5k and I corrected them and said I was signed up for the 4 mile distance. They told me that it was the same start time and gave me my bib.
As far as parking and logistics for this race go, it’s as simple as it gets. The 5k started at 8 a.m. and we left our house at 7:15, parked and were standing near the start line just after 7:30, right as the 10k was about to start. I heard the announcer say that the 5k and 4 mile race would start at 8, so I took that as a good sign that my run would be supported.
I lined up about 4 rows back from the start and when the gun went off, I settled into a good rhythm. I recently lost my Garmin (I’ve come to terms that it’s actually gone now) so I used Mike’s, although I didn’t really know if it was showing me average pace or current pace on the screen. I saw something in the 7s so I knew I should slow down. I settled in and just enjoyed the fact that I was RACING again! I still didn’t feel like I was actually racing, given that I didn’t properly train or have a goal, but it was fun to be out there! A huge bonus of doing the 5k was that I got to see the lead 10k runners run by, including Oiselle Professional Runner and Olympic hopeful Steph Rothstein Bruce, who won the race (and I finally met her at the end of the race!).
After the 5k turned off, there was a route to continue. I saw some runners ahead and could only assume they were also doing the 4 mile race. However, I couldn’t see a turnaround sign at the Kook and I couldn’t see where the runners who had gone ahead of me turned around. When I arrived at the Kook, I saw the 2 mile marker sign and my watch beeped 2 miles but there was no sign to turnaround. So I just turned around and jumped into the very, very crowded section of runners who were coming back from the 10k.
I knew immediately I’d made a mistake signing up for this distance! I spent the final 2 miles of the race weaving through massive crowds of slower 10k and 5k runners. Given that this wasn’t any sort of goal race and I was enjoying the experience of running and checking out people’s costumes (the Kook statue is regularly dressed up in crazy costumes by local residents and therefore the race is also a costume race), I wasn’t upset about it.
I picked it up the best I could at the finish and sprinted in, giving a high five to Mike and Siena (who was rudely sleeping) as I ran by. I looked at my watch and was happy to see I’d finished 33:20, which was an 8:18 pace on my watch. Not bad for someone who hasn’t seen an 8 minute mile since the California International Marathon in 2014 (speaking of which, my average pace for that marathon was faster than this 4 miler…haha!).
I decided to look up my official finish time and as I had suspected, the time came up as a 5k, not a 4 mile distance! I talked to the rep from the timing company and she said the race directors did not purchase an extra bib for the 4 miler and that my time would always indicate I ran the 5k. I asked if it could be changed and she said no. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed that I had paid for a distance that was completely unsupported and my race results are inaccurate. I emailed the race directors to let them know about it, but I haven’t heard back.
Later that day we headed to Amber’s house for a baby friendly Super Bowl party. There were 9 babies there, 8 of which were under the age of 1 year! It was quite a scene and we had fun.
So will I run this race again? Probably – because it’s so convenient, fun and I like supporting local races. BUT I won’t be running the 4 miler, that’s for sure!!!
Update – the race director did issue me a refund and they canceled the 4 mile distance becuase there was no support for it. I ran this race again the following year and it was well organized and a great race!
Do you have a favorite local, small race? Have you ever had your official race time messed up?