Monday, January 25, 2010

Carlsbad Half- In the Can


So the race is over and I have to say that it turned out to be a nice little surprise. Finished with zero pain or discomfort, had great running weather, and came in at a respectable time, given my irresponsible approach to training. Fredo, my brah who flew in from Chicago to run it with me, was equally unprepared, but we both ended up having a downright pleasurable race! A recap;

Registration at the Expo

I hate Expos. For those who have never attended one, most races, especially large ones like Carlsbad (10,000 runners), have an expo for a day or two before the race. It's in some hotel or tent near the start/finish line, and it's where you pick up your race number. You also get a goodie bag full of protein bars and pamphlets for every marathon within two time zones of your race. There will be rows and rows of booths selling everything from running shoes and clothing to free chiropractic exams. You pick up your t-shirt at the expo (but it's bad luck to wear it until you've completed the race), and maybe buy some other race gear.

But the reason I hate them is that they're full of runners. Now, I know- I'm a runner. Or I used to be an avid runner. Now I'm just a guy who runs every now and then. But you'll see people at the expo who actually put on running gear to register. That's right- you'll see dudes wearing running tights and ear muffs to drive into a mall to pick up their number. It seems to be more of a guy thing than a girl thing. It's almost like their egos are so tied to running, that even at an event held ONLY FOR RUNNERS, and where everyone is presumed to be a runner, they want to make sure you know that they run.

Lots of these dudes will insist on wearing t-shirts and jackets from races past. They will also make sure they try every free sample available at the expo- protein drinks, chips of protein bars, bananas, etc. Runners are also notoriously cheap. Don't believe me? Cut a protein bar into 8 equally-sized pieces and put them on a plate on a small table outside your house. Look out your window after 15 minutes and you'll see a group of skinny people wearing long sleeved t-shirts with race logos and running tights, chewing away at the samples while complaining how dry they are.

Anyway, we registered, got our shirts, and got the hell out of there.

The Pre-race Meal:

Most people insist on carbo loading the night before a race. Technically you're supposed to do it two nights before, but whatever. You typically eat pasta to lay a base for the race the next day. You want to avoid crappy or greasy foods, and anything with lots of caffeine or alcohol, as they both dehydrate you.

Fredo and I went to Leucadia Pizza for dinner. I had four Diet Cokes and a small cheese pizza. When we got home, I ate a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies and went to bed. Slept like a damned baby.

Race Day:

Runners are encouraged to lay out their running outfit the night before, pinning on their number then so they're not looking for safety pins at the start. They generally get to the race 60-90 minutes before to stretch and get a good place at the start line.

We left the house about an hour before the gun went off, and thanks to a shortcut, got there in 20 minutes. We waited in the car until the national anthem, then walked over to the start line without stretching or warming up. Loads of people running around the parking lot doing sprints, stretching out, and getting into the zone with their iPods. Fredo and I basically just checked our Facebook accounts on our phones until the last possible minute.

We both had Wave 1 bibs, which meant that we could be in the first 100 runners. But being lazy and unprepared, we slinked into Wave 3. Which meant it was 6 minutes from the start of the race until we reached the start line. Which was fine.

The weather was cool and having neither stretched nor warmed up, we were primed for pulling muscles. But being in a wave of probably a thousand runners, we were banging shoulders with the other runners for the first mile. It took us over ten minutes to get from the start line to the first mile marker.

The next few miles we settled in a bit, and from mile 4 on, I don't think anyone passed us. We got up to an 8:20 pace at the turnaround (mile 6.6), which felt great. We actually felt like we were going a little easy, so we picked it up a bit. No one could have been more surprised than us when we got to mile 7 and noticed we had gone from 8:20 to 7:50.

The rest of the race were were under the 8 minute mile pace. We started joking nervously that had we known we'd feel so good, we might have actually tried in those first 6 miles. So we picked it up again, and I think our last mile was about 7 minutes.

Super fun time. The crowds were great. The worst part of the whole race was the classic rock cover band at mile 2. Shockingly inept vocalist warbling a Doors cover on the way out. On the way back in, at mile 11, they were still playing. I think they were still doing the Doors an hour later.

We grabbed some acai smoothies at the post-race expo and got the hell out of there. By 11:20 we were having breakfast at the Beachside on Hwy 101, dug in for the AFC Championship game.

Soreness hit both of us at around 7 p.m., mainly when going up or down stairs. Otherwise, a consequence-free run.

So pleasantly surprised at our "success" that on the drive home from watching football, Fredo said, "Yanno, that race sort of makes me wonder what we could do if we actually trained for a race. Yanno? If we did speed work, and really followed a program for a couple months. We could probably run a 1:25."

Then we both laughed and ordered a pizza for the second game.


  1. i fully approve to this approach to running a race.

    love, paris.

  2. I fully approve of the pre-race meal. I actually laughed out loud! You're my hero, Joe Daly :) x