Monday, 26 January 2009
COASTING IT IN CARLSBAD
PHIL GIVES MIKE THE BIRD
By coasting I don't mean the Carlsbad Marathon was easy. It was not. For those who've never run 26+miles before, it's a freaking long way. By coasting it I do mean, this was a beautiful course, mostly paralleling the beaches of northern San Diego County. It does not take long to figure out why so many call this home, and why significant multiples of those numbers dream of doing so.
The morning started with a 4:30 alarm, a quick shower to wake myself up, and then the search for that all-important cup of pre-race coffee. I didn't think the local Starbucks would be open, so settled for Denny's. Either their coffee has gotten better (drinkable!) of late, or I was still asleep when I managed to finish it off.
The race starts at a local mall, in the 6am darkness. After one sweeping left turn we were already climbing, short and steep. We shortly found ourselves running through downtown Carlsbad, along a roadway that opened up onto ocean views...for miles ahead...as the sun came up.
It usually takes me about 3-5 miles to warm up to any marathon, to the point where I'll actually consider enjoying myself. That happened for me after we passed the Encina Power Station, turned left onto Palomar Airport Road, and into the major hilly section.
The biggest hill lives from mile 8 to 9. I was happy it was in the first half of the race, when I wasn't scrambling to find the strength to crest it. It was about this time that the rain-threatening clouds cleared, without ever having opened up. From here we turned around and headed beachward. I hit the 13.1 mile mark (the In-N-Out burger place) at near PR pace, despite having just cleared the hilly section. Visions of a 2nd successive new PR were creeping their way into my silly little head.
Once I hit oceanside again, I was pleased to join up with the half marathoners who had started their Sunday challenge at 7:30. I was happy for the company, as it can sometimes get lonely on the road. Was hoping we'd all be running together the rest of the way, but it was not to be. About a mile later they turned back toward home, and us full marathoners kept on going south...until our mile 18 turnaround. It was here that I rewarded myself with my traditional English Mars bar, and walked a little extra to let it work its energy magic.
I was still on PR pace with about 4-5 miles left to go, when I began to hear those voices that plague many of us who participate in this goofy endevour, telling me I was tired and that I should probably just be nice to my body and walk, as I have so many times before. This time, though, just like at CIM last month, I didn't listen. Tested myself by speeding up a bit to see if there was anymore steam in the old boiler, and there was. So I stuck to my 5:1 run/walk Galloway intervals.
Trouble was there were at least two hefty inclines to clear before mile 23 where I would alert my brother that I was nearing the finish. My 56 year old legs just couldn't take those hills on with the vengeance required, so I told myself it was okay to just settle for the finish this time.
My 5:10 finish was good enough for my second fastest marathon in 22. As I was treating this race as a final long training run for Austin in 20 days, I was fine with all of that.
My brother and I had a good time together. We just chilled a lot. A couple of really good meals, a movie, a few beers, a few glasses of the wine, and some lovely sleep. The near-biggest challenge of the weekend was finding the Red Lobster that we went to post-marathon. BTW....if you've never been to one then you've never had their biscuits. Worth the marathon effort right there.