We didn't want to impose on the new family so we found a great hotel on one of the little peninsula's - Shelter Island - and set up a home base while hitting all the touristy hotspots. We went to LEGOLAND (even though girlie loves her Legos, we could have done without this stop), we went to the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park (very well received) and spent some time in Old Town (which strangely enough was the girl's favorite stop next to the hotel pool). The boys spent a day on the ocean fishing and I felt compelled to get in some miles under the sun.
|Cousins meeting for the first time|
I did two short runs around the peninsula of three miles each at the beginning of our trip. It had been over a week since I logged miles due to my hip injury and I was thrilled to discover there was no residual pain or tenderness on the first run. The second run came the morning after miles and miles of walking so it wasn't as easy. My legs were heavy but my heart was light with all the warm sunshine and friendly people.
|Amazing runs at dawn|
I've never seen such an event before so I was eager to register. Additionally, all the 20K runners got special VIP treatment. There was a special 'lounge' for us with bathrooms, bag check, seating (and shade), water, snacks and race support. The race was in Carlsbad which is about a 30 minute drive from San Diego (without traffic). The hubs and kid came with me on Saturday so that I could pick up my bib, wander through the race expo and get familiar with the location. I am kind of a bit of a control freak so not knowing a course or where to park is a big deal for me. This trip on Saturday helped ease my mind a little bit.
|Kid's Race for Carlsbad 5000|
The kids races were going on when we arrived in Carlsbad so I was able to see a portion of the course already set up for the big show on Sunday. I also was able to make a parking plan and learn where the Honeybuckets were located as well as the finish line. We arrived a little early to pick up my bib so we made our way down the ocean where we met a new friend on the shore.
|Making friends on the beach|
Overall the town was adorable and charming and I easily understood why people would want to come to a destination race like this one. It was a perfectly quaint coastal community.
After a fairly early dinner on Saturday night, I was in bed with lights out by 10:00. I knew I had a long drive in the dark in the morning, but I wasn't worried about waking early. Unfortunately - I ended up waking almost every single hour that night. I loved our hotel room and access to the beach - but that night there was a raucous bonfire outside our room and I was often woken by loud fire goers. We also had a 2:00 a.m. alarm go off which bolted me straight out of bed. Instead of waking at 5:30 like I had planned, I was up and ready to go by 5:15 Sunday morning. I was tired and I had a screaming headache but I was ready to go.
I left the kid and hubs behind and heading straight for the closest Starbucks. As I drove North I did my best to not nod off on the dark highway. I was so tired and my headache was making me nauseous by the time I pulled off the highway in Carlsbad.
I was able to find a decent parking spot right away and as such I wandered around the streets looking for those Honeybuckets I found the day before. The first race of the day started at 7:00 a.m. sharp so I had about 40 minutes to kill. I easily found the VIP area for the All Day 20K folks and found some water and snacks to munch on. I'm not sure how many of us there were running the 20K option but it didn't look like all that many - maybe 100 folks in the VIP area - maybe another 100 on the course. I began talking to other 20K runners and found that almost all of them had run this before, which I found very interesting. Last year they actually had 5 5Ks to run - All Day 25K but the organizers cut one of the races off - something to do with timing the course around the train schedule.
|VIP All Day 20K Lounge|
|VIP lounge for All day 20K|
Soon enough it was time for me to check my bag, a black and hot pink mustache bag (my daughter's) and was thankful and grateful for the gear check. The organizers had done away with bag check for the 5K racers but we had instant access to our gear in the VIP lounge. A light rain had started falling and all the racers moved under the sun shelter. I laughed because it was just a few drops - but I figure they aren't used to this wet stuff down here in Southern California.
|Starting line for first race|
|starting line Men's Masters|
|For the first race of the day - all (nervous) smiles|
When we hit the first mile, the race organizers had a big arch so you knew exactly when you were at mile one. We progressed past the arch for another 1/4 mile and rounded back on the return side of the street, closest to the ocean. I can't tell you how much I love running along the ocean (even if it is on the pavement). The only water station was in this portion and I moved far to the right to avoid any cluster of people going for water. I knew I wouldn't need to take in water on a 3.1 mile course so I kept clear and kept moving.
|Nearing the Mile 1 Marker|
The crowd was amazing - lining the sidelines at the finish and it was a fun completion to the race. Volunteers were handing out medals but I didn't take one as I thought I had read we weren't supposed to as 20K racers. I moved through the busy finish section and avoided the treats and water and electrolytes. I knew we had plenty back in the VIP lounge and I didn't want to get caught up in the chaos.
It was actually difficult to make my way through the finish line, the crowd and the beer garden (although at 7:30 it wasn't going just yet). I moved back to the starting line and into the VIP lounge. I went to bag check to get rid of my long sleeved shirt and find my sunglasses for the second race. The bag check volunteers said 'oh it's the mustache bag' - we repeated this scenario several more times this day.
|VIP lounge - plethora of food and beverages|
|Ready for race #2|
|Women's Masters Starting Line|
Additionally, the finish line madness was harder to navigate for the women's master's race. It just took longer to make my way through the medal handout and the freebies along the finish line. I made it back inside the VIP lounge, exchanged a quick "hey mustache bag" with the kids at bag check and realized, "Crap, there is nobody else here. I know I didn't run that very fast."
I looked at the race schedule and saw I had 7 minutes until the next race. I grabbed a new piece of gum from my bag, more water and headed back to the starting line. This time I was toeing the line with the Men's and Women's 29-39 age group. These were my people - if I was running only the 5K it would have been in this group. I was pretty sweaty by this point. I didn't look as fresh faced as the other runners and I think I was starting to stink as well. I wanted to proudly display my yellow bib to all as if to say - "hey people, I've already raced 6.2 miles" - but nobody cared. We listened to the same woman sing the American Anthem once again and we started on the now familiar course.
|Starting to feel rather punchy before the 3rd Race|
When I crossed the finish line this time, I did collect a 5K medal. I noticed that several other 20K runners were collecting a medal every time they crossed over the finish line. I didn't need four of the same medal, but I did want to collect a medal for my age division since it was different that the medal we would earn for the 20K race.
I had barely enough time to grab some more water and deposit my new race bling in my "mustache bag" before I ran back to the start line. I really needed to pee by this time, but I didn't have time to stop.
The final 5K of the day was the Men's & Women's 29 and under race. I wasn't looking forward to this race. First off - these were kids and that means they were fast. I was also starting to hurt by this point. My hip issue was presenting itself once again and instead of running all I wanted to do was some serious stretching. Also - it was hot. I mean I suppose Californians thought it was just a nice day but for an Oregon girl it was HOT. I could feel my shoulders burning from the sun. When I applied sunscreen another VIP laughed at me but oh well. As we waited for a train to pass so they could start the final race of the 20K I contemplated walking. I wasn't feeling it - I was hot and I was hurting. And then I looked at my watch and realized it was mile nine. Mile nine is and will always ben my proverbial brick wall. I just crash and burn at mile nine. Even now in this different format, I was struggling (while standing still I might add) with mile nine.
|Seriously? I have to do this one more time??|
I finished that final rotation almost two minutes slower than the first race. I didn't care either. I was happy just to be finished. I pushed my way through the finish line festivities and the beer garden (which was in full swing by now) and claimed my coveted "All Day 20K" medal. I was a sweaty mess but I was happy.
|Smile returns once I finally finish!|
|American Record Holder Bernard Legat in the 5K|
After a shower and some pain pills I was feeling great. We had lunch, packed our stuff and let my daughter take a final dip in the pool. I wasn't sure signing up for a race was such a good idea early on Sunday morning but in retrospect it was a great way to close out an amazing Spring Break.