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!
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.
- 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.
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. Smart… steady… strong...
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.
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.
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.
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