Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Carlsbad 5000 Race Weekend Recap

In the weeks leading up to my trip to Carlsbad, California, several people I know told me they couldn't believe I was traveling across the country to run a 5k.

Let's set the record straight. Carlsbad 5000 isn't your ordinary 5k race. It's the world's fastest 5k (16 world records have been set on the course!) and a must-run event if you're into shorter distances and/or just love running and racing. 

Racing Carlsbad 5000 has been on my bucket list for awhile because it's an event that's all about the 5k distance. Most races these days focus on the marathon or half marathon as the main event and the 5k is often considered a distance for newbies or walkers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say "I'm just running the 5k" and I'll admit - I'm even guilty myself of saying it at times. But when you truly race a 5k, it's never "just a 5k" - in fact, it's likely one of the most painful and challenging distances you'll race!

The Midwest does not offer any large-scale 5k events (at least that I know about) so even though Carlsbad 5000 meant flying across the country, I didn't mind one bit. I couldn't wait to experience the race!

Because it's a large race, Carlsbad 5000 is divided up into heats: Masters Men, Masters Women, 29 & Under, 30-39, Elite Women, and Elite Men. I really like this format because I got to watch the other heats and it really made it seem like a festival of sorts. The only thing I didn't like was having to wait til later in the morning to race. But more on that later ...

Waiting for my race to start!

So race morning Mom ran first and it was great being able to cheer her on at the start and finish of the race. She lucked out because her race was earlier in the schedule so it was just starting to warm up - I believe temps were in the upper 50s at the start. Every race we do, Mom is always so worried she won't be able to finish. But as always she looked great at the end of the race and finished strong.

After Mom finished up, we headed over to the VIP area to sit down for a bit before my race. All Rock 'n' Roll events offer VIP access for purchase and it's well worth it. At Carlsbad 5000, we had access to an indoor space, private gear check, indoor restrooms, and pre- and post-race food and drink. It's a totally good deal and I highly recommend it.

Before my race started, I got to meet up with a group of people I know through the Rock 'n' Blog program. It was fun meeting a few people I've previously only known on social media. I also got to catch up with Nicole, my Bird Camp roommate. It was so great seeing her again and I can't thank her enough for all the great Carlsbad recommendations she made in the week's leading up to my trip!

 Thanks for the pic, Carlee!

Nicole and I lined up together at the start of the race. I was thinking we would be able to run the first mile together or maybe even the whole race but it was crowded and I lost sight of her soon after crossing the start line. My plan was to run conservatively during the first mile and I think I did a decent job of this considering how excited I was when I started running. Usually this leads to me taking off for the first half mile or so but today I kept it nice and easy. Or so I thought. 

After hitting the halfway point, the sun and heat really started to get to my Wisconsin girl self that is used to running in a cloudy 30-40 degrees. I could tell the wheels were coming off and I was slowing big time but I desperately tried to hang on. I remember looking over to my left and seeing the beautiful coastline and all I wanted to do was run across the beach and dive in the ocean! Nicole passed me with about a mile to go and I was toast soon after. It was a very slow slog to the finish line and I ended up with a pretty bad time for me.

At first I felt bad about flying across the country to run such a bad time but then I started feeling better when I realized how hot it was at race start - 70 degrees and sunny. If I do this race again I will definitely incorporate some heat training into my routine so I'm better prepared. I also hope I'm in better shape since I know lack of running fitness also played a role. 

After my race finished up, it was time to spectate the elite races. Mom and I stood near the finish line and it was amazing to see all the tiny elite men and women fly across the finish line. They were all so gracious after and some even ran back to high five spectators and pose for pics. Afterwards, Mom and I headed back to the VIP area to get our gear check bags and many of the elites were there as well. I noticed none of them were indulging in dessert! ;)

 Shannon Rowbury (1500 & 5000 American Record Holder)

Paul Chelimo - 2016 5000 Silver Medalist

I didn't hit the Beer Garden area after but it's worth noting there was one with a large concert, beer and pizza. It looked like a super fun time - more like a street festival than your typical post-race party. 

This race is definitely worth a trip. Rock 'n' Roll races are among my favorite and I love the series even more for offering an event like Carlsbad 5000. The organization was top notch and the atmosphere was unlike anything you'll find at other 5k races. I liked it so much, I'm already signed up for next year's race!

The race was the main reason for the trip but Mom and I also did plenty of walking along the beach, shopping and, of course, eating! We stayed at the cutest resort - Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort - and it was the most perfect location - right in the heart of the village and across from the beach. It had the cutest cafe on site and Mom and I ate breakfast there every day. We also visited the ice cream shop on site every evening. We were on vacation! 

When you're deciding where to race in 2018 I hope Carlsbad 5000 makes your list. If it does, I'll see you there!

My questions for you:
  • What's the furthest you've traveled for a race? Why did you decide to race there?
  • How do you prepare for warm weather races during the winter months?
  • Do you race 5ks? What do you love/hate about them?

Missed Carlsbad 5000 but still want to run a Rock 'n' Roll race this year? Use code RnB15 to save $15 off marathon and half marathon races at many U.S. and Canada tour stop locations!

- ST