I got up a little after 4am on race day. I drank some coffee and prepared a light breakfast to eat on the road – a PBJ sandwich and a slice of banana bread. Outside it was drizzling, but the forecast in Carlsbad was cloudy and no rain.
At the race site it was chilly and misting heavily, but I knew it would burn off. I went and took care of some business in the cleanest port-a-potty I’ve ever seen. I think I was the first to use it – yes, the simple joys that only runners understand. Then I hung out in the registration tent and stayed warm and dry with the others. Then I popped a couple Imodium to ensure no unplanned pit stops during the race. When time drew near a volunteer came around to pass out trash bags to use as ponchos. I didn’t want one. High 50’s with a little mist - come on folks, this was great running weather! It was time to head over to the start.
In the corral, they had still not passed out the pacers signs. They finally did just before the start and people scrambled to find their group. I was about halfway back and the pacers didn’t have a chance to spread out much before the race started. No matter, as long as I stay behind the 4:00 crowd, I could be sure not to start too fast.
Race Start – miles 0-9.4
The race starts. I start my GPS as I pass the gate and the mob of runners hits the street. Within the first mile or two, I catch up to the 4:00 Pacer. The mist stops pretty soon and we are left with perfect cloudy weather. I have always run alone, so it was a new and wonderful experience to be in this crowd of joyful people with all of the locals lining the streets shouting encouragement. It was infectious. I am not an overly emotional person, but I felt so much positive energy from the bands, the spectators, the other runners and the ocean view that I found myself smiling all the time. I never turned on my music.
I stuck with the 4:00 crowd until about mile 8, which was part way up the big hill. The pacer was allowing the group to take it easy on the uphill and I was comfortable going a little faster. Plus my family was going to be at the bottom of the hill, so I figured I would get ahead so I could pause for a visit and not fall behind.
On the way up the hill, we saw the pace car and the lead runners on their way down and everyone cheered them on. The top of the hill was a turnaround gate. By my GPS I was averaging 9:00/mile as I crossed the gate, which was a hair faster/longer distance than chip time with tangents and what not.
Downhill to Halfway
On the downhill I chatted a bit with a guy who had done Goofy two weeks earlier. He seemed like a well seasoned runner. Apparently he normally runs in an Elvis suit, but not this time. I thought he said his PR was 4:30, and spoke of banking some time early on. It sounded like a hard, slow finish was part of the strategy.
We reach the bottom of the hill and head back toward the coast. I start scanning the sidelines for familiar faces. I see my family just before the route turns down a side street. My wife expects me to wave and run by, but I stop for pictures and give kisses to her and the kids. No matter how the rest of the race would go, I wanted to enjoy that moment.
The route did an out-and-back down a boring business road with another gate at the turn around. My GPS says 9:00/mile for miles 9.5 to 13.9.
Back to the Beach
On the way back from the turn-around, I wave to my family and the route heads back towards Hwy 101 to follow the beach once again. At this point we merge with the Half-Marathoners between miles 15 and 16. There was a little bit of passing to deal with, but the road was wide enough were it wasn’t a real issue. A little after mile 16 we split again as the Halfers return home and we continue a couple more miles down the coast. I am slowing a bit, and around mile 18 I notice that the sound of feet behind be is getting louder. Rocky (the pacer) and the others had caught up. The grouped has thinned a bit. Shortly after the gate, I rejoin the group and keep moving. Average 9:09/mile for miles 13.9 to 18.2.
The Hard Miles
At first being caught by the group worried me, because it was a sign that I was fading. But it reality they were right on my heels the whole time. I was never trying to gain ground, I just never gave up the slight lead from the hill.
It was good to be following Rocky again. I could tell he was a good pacer and trusted him to get us there on target. With my mind freed from the burden of keeping pace, I started to assess my situation. Was I going to have GI issues from too many gels, or would I deplete all my calories by not taking enough? No. I am still feeling okay. I had one gel about every five miles chased with a little water, just like in training. Am I over-hydrated, under-hydrated? In this weather a few mouthfuls at most of the water stations was just about right. Could I get a cramp or fall apart at any moment? Sure, but that is mostly out of my control and no major pains yet. So just keep doing what I’m doing.
At mile 20 we re-merge with the Halfers, but they kept a coned-off lane for the Marathoners almost to the end. That was nice of them. Average 9:02/mile for miles 18.2 to 20.2.
Somewhere along this stretch I strike up a conversation with another runner about his shirt from a Pike’s Peak run. Running at that altitude is crazy. I am happy here at sea-level. I take it as a good sign that I am still able to chat.
As we pass mile 22, I try to enjoy the fact that I am breaking my distance record. Meh. The finish is a long way away. I am very tired, but I am not in pain. I am not gasping for breath. Sub-4 is now a real goal. I’m not sure I could push too much harder at this point, and certainly wouldn’t want to risk burning out.
At about mile 25 the Marathon Maniac Jester comes by and decides to run with us a while. He and Rocky talk, and he tells Jester that he had a big group at the start but thinks he only has one left – indicating the young guy running next to him. I call out from a few steps behind, “I’m still with you Rocky”, and then continue to quietly run on.
Near the finish, Rocky slows as to not come it ahead of his mark and I pass him. I do my best to make a strong finish. I see the clock is just shy of 4:00. I give a big smile and wave as I see my dad in the crowd, then my two boys. I don’t see my wife and my little girl, but know they are there. I am elated. Average 9:05/mile for miles 20.2 to 26.5.
Official time was 3:59:15 with 9:08/mi.
GPS reported 3:59:27 for 26.47 miles with 9:03/mi.
I stopped once at mile 13.3 to take a picture with the family and never walked a step.
Splits (using GPS data) were 1:59:12 and 2:00:15.
The weather was perfect. The course is beautiful. I was very impressed with how well the race was organized. The volunteers were wonderful. My pacer was great. The large mall parking lot made finding parking easy. The only difficulty was getting out of the parking lot after the race, so we stayed for lunch. I would definitely run this race again.
Great job on the marathon! Congratulations again!
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
Wow Dark Streets, donuts on the excellent pacing. Way to show discipline! Congrats again on the sub-4.
PRs: 21:35 (5K); 1:46:46 (HM); 4:30:46 (FM)
Sounds like you ran a very smart and well executed race. Congrats on that and on getting sub-4!
Awesome race report, Dark Streets! Congratulations again! Agree with you that the best part of racing (especially, your first) is the energy and sense of community being amongst your fellow runners.
Glad to hear you enjoyed the course/organization. I live just down the I-5 in Bay Park so I've got Carlsbad on my list of races to check off - maybe in '15. Are you planning on running any of the other local HMs this year?
Enjoyed reading your recap! Congratulations on a smart and strong marathon!!
Ball of Fury
Amazing job!! That is great pacing for your first marathon!
PRs: 5K 22:59, 10K 46:54,HM: 1:51:15
Congrats again!!!! whats up next!?
PRs...5K - 20:36, 4mile - 26:15, 13.1 - 1:32, 26.2 - 3:42
Great job, very smart race
Play the Game Hard!
Darkstreets - great race ! smart pacing as everyone has noted. It sounds like your pacing was pretty consistent - was you half time about 2:00 ? That's great that you had no fade after mile 21.
Looking back on your training, any training thoughts on what helped prepare you the most for consistent pacing on those last miles ? (i keep fading late into my races, although i am getting better)
nice job !
PB's 10K 47:15 (9/13) HM 1:45 (9/13) M 3:57 (10/13)
Running Blog http://davesdigitaldestinations.blogspot.com/
Not sure how I missed this originally! Great job! Congrats on the sub-4!
3/17 Shamrock Marathon
4/20 North Coast 24 Hour
7/27 Burning RIver 100M
8/24 Baker 50M
10/5 Oil Creek (distance to be determined)
Brands I Heart:
Altra Zero Drop
Great race! Very good work on the pacing.
PRs: 47:54 (10K); 1:46:36 (HM); 3:50:52 (FM)
Recovering from injured knee (PCL/Lateral Meniscus)