Carlsbad Marathon · marathon · motivation · race recap

Carlsbad Marathon 2016 Race Recap

The Carlsbad Marathon holds some of the best and most challenging race memories for me.  It’s fitting that it’s such a breathtakingly beautiful, but tough course.  Before recapping 2016, let’s look back…

2010 – 4:14:30 (9:43/mile) – Jared and I ran the full marathon, three weeks before we got married on the beach in Carlsbad (and I vowed to always wait for him at the finish line!).

2011 – 2:09:53 (9:55/mile) – Jared and I ran the half marathon as I was coming off of injury.  I remember being so over-the-moon happy that I was finally “back.”

2012 – *DNF – 23 miles, 3:39:09 (9:31/mile) – Jared ran the half marathon, as I ran the full, and took a wrong turn with the half marathoners, accidentally cutting the course short.  I was devastated, but went on to run a sub-4 in May, before getting pregnant!

2013 – 38 weeks pregnant – Jared ran the half marathon, while I spectated (for the first time ever!?), just a couple weeks before giving birth to Liv!

2014 – 4:09:54 (9:32/mile) – I ran this marathon for my niece, Jessica, who lost her battle with cancer just weeks earlier.  She was only 19 years old.  I was emotional, unprepared, and battling hip pain, but it ended up being one of my most special, and miraculous races.

2015 – 1:49:32 (8:22/mile) – Jared and I both ran the half, while Jared’s parents watched Liv… and my picture ended up in an email promo for 2016’s race!

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Which brings us to 2016.

I went into this marathon full of doubt… that’s a nice way of saying I was pretty difficult to live with this past week.  I’d racked up a long, long list of reasons why it wasn’t going to be a “good” race.  I was nervous and insecure.  But I knew negativity would be my undoing, so the night before the race, I was desperately trying to “get my mind right.”

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:00 AM, drinking coffee, and quietly getting ready.  Jared and Liv were still asleep when I took off at 5:30 AM.

I parked, ate a Larabar, texted Jared one last “Love you,” then jogged over to the Start Line feeling unusually calm.  I lined up between the 3:40 and 3:50 pacers, still unsure of what kind of run it’d be, but I promised myself to cross the finish line feeling proud.

Running that first mile through the dark, winding streets always reminds me of our first Carlsbad, when I ran on the heels of my soon-to-be hubby and my dad rocked his first marathon with absolutely no marathon training.  It’s hard not to be inspired thinking about my dad.

The 3:40 pace group was out of sight immediately.  And soon, the 3:50 pace group was ahead of me.  Oh boy, I thought.  I’m going to have to fight for 4-hours.  But then I told myself: Don’t write your story before you’ve lived it.  The expectations, the pressure, the self-doubt, I let it go.

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  • Mile 1 – 8:47
  • Mile 2 – 8:25
  • Mile 3 – 8:31

Running along the ocean at sunrise, I zoned out.  I was just in the moment.  Peaceful and free.

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At Mile 6, the course heads east, away from the ocean, and through some rolling hills.  Spectators are sparse along this section, but at Mile 7, I spotted Jared and Liv!

  • Mile 4 – 8:17
  • Mile 5 – 8:34
  • Mile 6 – 8:35 + took Gu #1
  • Mile 7 – 8:41

I focused on maintaining a steady effort despite the winding course and hills.  And soon, I was at Mile 11, where I was so happy to see Jared and Liv again.

The night before the race, my sister, Ali, texted me: “Go get em tomorrow sis!!!   I’ll be thinking about you.  Can I get mile 11?”  So after I waved goodbye to Jared and Liv, I ran on thinking of Ali.  Ali’s one of the most strong-willed, bold, (and kind-hearted) people I know, which inspired me to run on with strength and guts.

  • Mile 8 – 8:34
  • Mile 9 – 8:53
  • Mile 10 – 8:33
  • Mile 11 – 8:12

At Mile 14, I saw Jared and Liv AGAIN!  This time, they jumped in and ran with me for a few tenths of a mile – long enough for me to share how Ali had pumped me up, that I’d realized it was my 100th race (!!!!), and that it would be my sixth sub-4-hour marathon.  I felt strong and confident.  Unstoppable.

  • Mile 12 – 8:16
  • Mile 13 – 8:17 + took Gu #2
  • Mile 14 – 8:22
  • Mile 15 – 8:15

At Mile 15, the full marathon merged with the half and I spotted the 1:40 half-marathon pacers, clipping along at 7:30/mile.  Because I was feeling so good, I was tempted to pick up my pace, but reminded myself to hold back, thinking: Run smart, stay steady, finish strong

  • Mile 16 – 8:19
  • Mile 17 – 8:23
  • Mile 18 – 8:26
  • Mile 19 – 8:46 + took Gu #3
  • Mile 20 – 8:51

By Mile 19, we’d hit the last turnaround and I knew I was on the final stretch to the Finish Line.  I took my third Gu and tried not to worry about the pain in my feet and toes, but pain is a hard thing to ignore, so instead, I accepted it, embraced it.  Smartsteadystrong...

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At Mile 21, I saw Jared and Liv for the fourth time along the course (best spectators ever)!  Again, they ran alongside me for a stretch, and I told them, “I got this.”

The full marathon merged with the half again, and this time, I spotted the 2:15-pacers, averaging 10:15/mile.  The half-marathon field is huge compared to the full, so I spent these final miles weaving through the crowd of half-marathoners.  My feet were throbbing, I was fighting to hold my pace, but I kept smiling.

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Because there were so few marathoners among the half-ers, the spectators were picking us out, shouting extra encouragement: “Way to go, Marathoner!  You look great!”  I sure didn’t feel great, but hearing that I looked great was so uplifting.

  • Mile 21 – 8:42
  • Mile 22 – 8:36 + took Gu #4
  • Mile 23 – 8:40
  • Mile 24 – 8:54
  • Mile 25 – 8:36
  • Mile 26 – 8:30

Despite the pain of Miles 25 and 26, I kept telling myself: Savor it, savor it, you’re doing this!  And then I was crossing the Finish Line, V-for-victory fingers in the air, tears in my eyes.

Garmin Finish:  26.43 miles, 3:45:13 @ 8:31/mile

Official Finish:  26.2 miles, 3:45:10 @ 8:36/mile

I heard the race announcer say my name through the speakers, which was almost as loud as my friend, Eve, screaming herself hoarse for me just inside the Finisher’s chute!

I was hurting, shocked, elated, and truly, so overcome with all the feelings that I was numb.

I collected my medal, drank bottle after bottle of water, and went in search of my people.  I can’t explain how much I love those Finish Line reunions (even when your crazy friend makes you take a jump picture after running all those miles…)!

We enjoyed Sunday brunch with the Landaus, followed by life as usual: hubby napped, Liv didn’t, and I drank lots and lots of coffee.

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It wasn’t my fastest marathon, but it was my strongest.  My splits were more even than they’ve ever been; my effort was consistent the whole way, and most exciting, I was mentally strong through the final 10K.

I came across this blog that really resonated with me: Making goals is easy.  Truly believing in them and yourself is the challenge” (-Stephanie Bruce).  It’s not just about being brave enough to pursue your dreams, but being brave enough to believe in them.

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Carlsbad Marathon 2016 – Rundown:

  • Finish Time:  3:45:10
  • Days since my last Marathon:  71
  • Spectators:  2, Jared and Liv, whom I saw 4x!
  • Sub-4 hour Marathon:  #6
  • Carlsbad Race:  #7
  • Lifetime Marathon:  #21
  • Lifetime Race:  #100 !!!!!!!!
  • Favorite Mantra(s)“Smart, steady, strong,” and “Savor it.”
  • Favorite Song:  “Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)” by Andy Grammer
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