Tick tick tick. Bounce bounce bounce. My head was bobbing to the plastic beats of Just Impolite by Plushgun as I waited to turn. The track was a great addition to my music library based on the suggestion of my good friend Kevin, who always keeps me updated on music and all things technology related. (Catch his blog here: http://iphoneliving.blogspot.com/). “I walk the line like Johnny Cash” I wailed along to the lyrics as I shook it out behind the wheel. I knew I was being watched by the car next to me, but as always, I didn’t care. I did, however, feel relieved that they couldn’t hear my atrocious singing. Then, the light clicked over, I threw a smile at my audience next to me, mashed the pedal, and zipped onto the freeway. The iPod clicked and whirred and skipped to Something Good Can Work by Two Door Cinema Club, and I set to work butchering the lyrics to that at seventy-five miles an hour across the Southern California northbound freeways.
Despite it being cloudy, I was feeling good and ready for the Carlsbad 5000. I had my eighties headband on, and, as seen above, my Pink Floyd t-shirt in honor of the 25th anniversary of the race. In case you’re from a part of the world that hasn’t heard about it, the race is a standard five kilometer along the Pacific ocean on paved roads, and over the last two decades has developed a well deserved reputation for being the “fastest” such race in the world. (http://www.carlsbad5000.com/Home.html). Each year the race attracts a large field of serious, bona fide competitors, and a larger crowd of aspiring athletes and happy locals. This year, the weather was sadly, a little overcast, cool, and windy, but overall, not too bad.
After arriving in Carlsbad, I set about looking for parking. Due to the size of the race, start times were staggered for the different age groups and genders. As my friends jokingly told me, I was in the “old man group” of men aged 30-39. My first pro tip for racing in general is that no matter the size of the race, always arrive early, to have plenty of time to park, get warmed up, and possibly inspect the course. At a large event like Carlsbad, extra time is a necessity, as I think I spent thirty minutes trying to find a spot. Once I had my spot, I walked to the start area, and found the area packed with runners and friends. Surprisingly, I found my friends, Steph and Nina who were running the woman’s race after mine, and after talking with them for a couple minutes, headed off to get ready. After stretching it out and jogging around, I went to position myself for the starting gun.
This brings me to my second tip: in large races, signs will be present regarding positioning for the race, based on mile times, such as “Nine minute mile”, “Eight Minute Mile”, or whatever a person’s pace is per mile. My tip is as follows: always position yourself accordingly! If you place yourself in too fast of a group, you’re going to negatively impact faster runners behind you; or, if you’re me, you’re going to hurt your time by placing yourself in too slow of a group, and have to pass people earlier and inopportune spots than you would otherwise choose to do so. In this respect, I mis-judged my conditioning. I knew that a road race was not my type of race, as I do a lot of cross-country, hill training as opposed to straight, flat, speed training. With this in mind, I placed myself mid-way between the six and seven minute mile pace, only to find that the group around me was way too slow overall for how fast I was running.
Despite this mistake, the race was fantastic; it’s an amazing experience to come down the straightaways in Carlsbad with all of the people cheering; and the views of the ocean at the midpoint are always nice, even on a cloudy day. While I was nowhere close to winning, I did manage to finish within the top finishers of my class, and even had enough energy to run the race again with Steph and Nina later on. I’ll definitely be back at it next year, hoping to improve upon my time and possibly pass a few more of my challengers then!