I had a huge case of the pre-race jitters this morning and I have no idea why. I really wasn’t putting any pressure on myself to perform and I was pretty confident based on my recent 800m intervals that I could run the pace I was projecting. I think I just do the anxiety thing before races and today was especially bad.
I was running late as usual, but I built that into my drive time so I still got to the race 45 minutes early with enough time to pick up my bib and warm up thoroughly. I did a nice mile or so throughout the surrounding neighborhoods and then got my skipping and strides on. Ran into a few friends.. said hi before chucking my water bottle and getting to the start. In this race it’s somewhat important to be up front because there’s so much traffic and so many young kids running. As it was I did quite a bit of dodging and weaving.
The gun goes off! I take off at a speed that I can’t quite calculate. I really had no idea if I was fast or slow off the gun. By the time my GPS was reliable it was showing 4:58 pace.. WAY TOO FAST. So I slowed down to pace and let people do as they would. I still ended up dodging and weaving and being boxed in a little in the first mile. But since I go out at pace, next thing you know I’m passing everyone in sight. It helps to keep me motivated when I’m passing and hearing people breathing too hard. I go through the first mile in 5:22. Right on! I wanted close to 5:20 (I went out last year in 5:12, what a mistake!).
The second mile had some hills. I grabbed a cup of water to wet my mouth and to pour on myself and ended up in oxygen debt trying to drink. I backed off for a few seconds to recover and then got back on track. Or maybe I didn’t. I looked down at my watch a few times and was in the high 5:20s and low 5:30s but when I passed through mile 2, my watch beeped 5:35. Shit! That’s way too slow! So now that I’ve castigated myself mid-race, I take off. All the while I’ve been picking off runners one or two at a time. I see my friend Andy yell at me to catch the leading woman and I knew I had to.. it’s just one of those things. So I focus as it’s starting to get difficult. I pass the winning woman a hundred yards shy of the last turnaround. I know I have a little more than a half mile to go and the pain is coming. I pass by Andy again and he’s yelling “It’s all downhill! It’s all downhill!!” and I realize how right he is and pick up the pace. At that point I knew it was going to hurt, so bring it. I got myself pretty pumped up before the race knowing what I was going to put myself through.
Approaching the final turn there’s 3 guys I’m trailing. After the turn there’s a big sled finish so you can really go fast. I pick it up as someone behind me passes both myself and the 3 guys. At this point I’m running something like 4:15 pace and I refuse to be outkicked. So I grit my teeth and try to get into that next gear. I get on the guy’s shoulder and that’s as close as I can get. Apparently he has that gear too. We left the 3 guys in our wake and I cross the finish in 16:46. Mile 3 was 5:18 and my last 200m was 30 seconds. I compliment the guy who beats me with his nice kick and see this short kid ahead. Yeah.. Spiderman from last year, he ran a 16:37 today. At least he wasn’t wearing a costume this year!
I’m pretty satisfied with the race. I was shooting for 16:45 and I ran a 16:46. Looking at that second mile I really should’ve run this race faster. I definitely could have. But I can’t complain as my time ranks #4 on my list for 5k. I ran a 16:42 last year so that puts me in pretty good shape. It looks like my fitness is mostly back from my hip injury. I won’t say I’ve got the endurance back, but I’ve definitely got the 5k/10k speed and I’m going to use it until my half marathon season starts in the fall. Now lets try to chisel that 5k time down to the 15s and I’ll really be satisfied!
Carlsbad is a great race. I love getting to watch the elites run after I finish. It’s crowded but it’s better than having 5000 people in a single race. For another $25 I’d definitely do it a 4th time.