AKA Run until you can't.
This was my A race. My first race as a 30 year old. And it was AWESOME, although I felt like I was going to puke most of the time. More on that later.
I went down to Carlsbad on Friday afternoon to pick up my packet and cruise the expo, because paying the race entry fee isn't enough. After I visited the expo, both Friday and Sunday, I came away with 2 shirts, a tank and another running skirt.
It only took an hour to get to Carlsbad race day morning, well, it should have. The El Camino Real exit off the freeway was backed up something fierce. I couldn't merge over, so I sped to the next exit and came back around. Once I successfully exited the freeway, I got gas. I figured I'm an hour early, I have plenty of time! Got gas, and was exiting the parking lot when I noticed runner-like people getting out of cars. Um, this isn't the mall parking lot, where they told us to park, but I think it'll be easier to exit. Nope, didn't listen to my inner voice, I parked in the mall parking lot. Far away from any exits. This would come back to bite me.
I got ready at the car. Loaded myself up with GUs, my inhalor, my ICE ID (an old license with a not so current address but my husbands cell number on it in sharpe) and took my empty water bottle, my recoverite, and my body glide (all in a ziplock bag) to gear check. Made a bee line to the port a potties and boy were there potties. I should have brought my camera for this. There had to be 50+, probably closer to 100 port a potties. I guess with 8,000 people in the 1/2 alone (this is how many they said signed up, who knows how many showed up) they needed that many johns.
I made my way to the staging area, from here on out will be called the "pen" for my wave (wave 5) which was also AKA Alice's wave and the wave for people with 2:30 estimated finishing times, I think. I stood in my pen, searching for Alice in her bright green top, people watching, and generally trying to keep myself entertained for the 15 minutes before the race started.
The race started on time (seriously it did) at 7:30. They told us that they would call our wave when they were ready for us and that our pen would travel to the start line as a group. It was about 7:40 by the time my pen had made it up to the start line. Then we were off!
As always the first 2 miles are the hardest, only this time I had my eye on the 2:30 pace team. Around mile 2 I passed them, and never looked back. Well, I did look back a few times, just to make sure they weren't near me. My goals for every race is to A) finish, B) beat my time for the course last year and C) beat my time for the distance. For this race A and B were a given, I would finish 13.1 miles, the weather was wonderful and the race was well supported. But once I pasted the 2:30 pace team, I could taste C and I would do everything in my power to hold on to it.
Around mile 3, or a bit after, I saw the donate life peeps. Here was my biggest challenge of the race. I started to tear up and then almost gave myself an asthma attack while I was trying not to cry. See there is a little boy I know who got a donated heart. Anytime I think of organ donation, I think of him. It made me remember all the people who can't do what I was doing right then, not because they didn't want to, but because it might kill them. Kinda puts my blisters into perspective, huh?
I was having a short malfunction and my chub rub had kicked in with all it's might. I had coated myself with body glide, but it's magical powers had worn off. Around mile 5 there were volunteers with Vaseline on a stick! They were my saviors. It was around these miles 4-6 that I could feel the salt spray from the ocean on my face. It was a beautiful race.
Finally I got about mile 6, 6.2. This was the big climb for the race. After this was the turn around and we were heading back to the finish. As I'm huffing and puffing up this hill I hear a "don't I know you?" I turn around and it's fellow diva Nora! She's the first person that I know that I've seen all day. I give her a hug, yell back something about finishing before 2:30 and kept chugging up the hill.
And then it was done. I don't remember anything jumping out at me on the back 6.5. Only that I made myself run to the 10 mile mark and then I started a bit of run/walking. I shouldn't have stopped running, but for some reason the mental block was there. I also felt like puking pretty much the entire race. I'm hoping it was because I was pushing myself, not because of my nutrition.
The course was beautiful, but what was even better were the spectators and volunteers. The water stations were very well manned. The spectators were plentiful and cheered for everyone. There was even a chick with a sign that said something like "you rock, (insert name here)". A lot of "nice legs" or Keep Running signs. Pretty much the people all lining the street about a 1/4 mile out from the finish line were what kept me running that whole time. Couldn't let my fans down, you know.
And then it was done and I saw my watch time 2:25:11 (official time was 2:25:08). I was stumbling around excitedly. I picked up my medal, water, my food bag and proceeded into the pushing contest that was entrance to the expo. This is where gear check, and therefore my recoverite, was.
I was drinking my recoverite and wandering around hoping to just run into people. At this point I'm bummed because I'm pretty sure I missed Nora crossing the finish line, due to the cluster near the entrance. I know I'd missed Denise (the 52 year old that smoked me with a 2:09 time) and was hoping upon hope that Alice would pick me out of the crowd because I really wanted to meet here. (I think this was the second race we'd both attended. I'm pretty sure she was at Iron Girl 5/10K last year.)
So I made my way back to my car and let me tell you how awesome the parking lot back up was. I got to my car, stretched a little, got everything ready (food and water within reach) for the drive home and then I waited and waited and waited to turn left just to get in the line of cars waiting to leave the parking lot.
This turned out to be lucky because, after ~10 minutes of waiting to turn left who do I think I see? Alice! And me being me I yell out because, hell if she doesn't answer, I can always look around like I didn't yell, right? But it fit, well it looked like her picture and she was wearing a bright green top, so it had to be her. And it was! We chatted for about a minute, which was probably longer than the people behind me wanted us to chat, but we weren't going anywhere. So whateves.
And here is the lesson in my experience, park as close to the exit as possible. Really, after running or walking 13.1 miles, what's another one on the way to the car? It's called a cool down. I swear that some of my stiffness later on Sunday and today was due to sitting in the car for about 30-40 minutes trying to get out of that parking lot. Then there was the hour drive home.
I'm going to do this race again, only next time I'm going to park in the Chevron parking lot and hope I don't get towed.