- You get to watch the pros make history. As I said, sometimes I find it not worth the effort and early morning wake up to run such a short race, especially since a 5k has never been a goal race for me. But the treat for showing up and putting the pedal to the medal for 3.1 miles is that you get to watch some of the fastest athletes in the world attempt to break the road 5k world record (which was set there in 2000 and 2006 for men and women, respectively). At the 2015 race, I watched as Genzebe Dibaba missed the record by 1 second!
- Race day feels like Disneyland for runners. Competitor shuts down three main streets in downtown Carlsbad and it’s a runner’s playground, complete with scenic oceanfront course, beer garden with craft beer and a live band, and an expo full of fun running companies ready to hand you a sample or coupon.
- There is plentiful beer and my favorite pizza. The Carlsbad 5000 finish line is conveniently located yards away from my favorite brewery and pizza restaurant – Pizza Port. And even better, after my race was over, I had enough time to grab a beer and some pizza before heading back out to watch the pros race.
- 4 separate races for the 5k. The Carlsbad 5000 is unique in that there are four 5k races in addition to the two pro races (the pro race is actually a modified course that includes two loops for extra special spectating). There is an option for you to run all 4 5ks in a special “All Day 20k” race or you can simply run with your group (which is designated based on age). There are several reasons why separate races is awesome – 1) it means that there is less traffic getting to the event and parking is easier, 2) there are fewer people racing in your wave which means less weaving and 3) there are more people spectating the race since runners from previous or later waves stick around to watch.
- It’s Intimate. Although it’s on the bigger side for a 5k, it feels small. If you’re a local runner, I guarantee you’ll run into at least five people you know. It seems like the entire San Diego running community comes out for this event and its easy to run into people since the streets are blocked off and people are encouraged to arrive early and stay later to watch the other heats.
I didn’t even mention that the Carlsbad 500o is touted as the “worlds fastest 5k,” although honestly, there are a few (small) rolling hills in it. So was it my fastest race? No, of course not. But next year I may seriously train for this race. It would be interesting to specifically train for a 5k and I think the Carlsbad 5000 is probably a good goal race for all the aforementioned reasons.
On to the race recap. Asia, Mike, Siena and I caravanned over to Carlsbad and arrived about 45 minutes before my heat. I got my packet quickly, used the restroom (no lines!) and did a few jumping jacks. I kissed Siena and Mike goodbye and did a 2 minute or so run down the block and back before seeding myself at about 1/3 of the way from the front of the crowd.
I had a goal to run a pace in the 7s and that was it. I spent the first few hundred yards battling some crowds and weaving, silently wishing I’d started a little closer to the front, but not stressing about it. By the time I got to the 1 mile marker I knew I had paced myself right. Usually I start 5ks too fast and end up burning out at the end, but I was starting to feel more strong. I saw a Oiselle teammate (hi Jen!) who gave me a hardy high five that hurt my hand and perked me up. At the first u-turn I realized that part of that was because we’d been cruising with a nice tailwind which had now become a headwind.
As I headed back toward the main drag (with still the second half of the circular shaped loop to go), I overheard the announcers saying we were at 15 minutes and the winners of our heat were coming in. I told myself that I had at least less than 10 minute to go and that I’d really pick it up when I got to 2.5 miles. At 2.5 miles I picked up the pace a little more and when I turned the corner (where Mike, Asia, Siena and Natalie were cheering) for the final, downhill stretch, I really turned it on and sprinted in. My final time was 24:33, which is a 7:55 average (Garmin pace was 7:45, for the record!). I achieved my goal! I also ran each mile faster than the last, which is a big deal for me in a 5k. Either way, this as motivation to work hard and get faster this year!
We spent the time between my race and the pros race hating with friends we ran into and drinking a beer and eating pizza at Pizza Port. Like I said, best 5k ever.