Carlsbad Half Marathon (1:22.57)

Last weekend I ran the Carlsbad half marathon.  Since taking a vacation last February (if going to run a marathon counts), I had been eying taking another vacation this winter.  It’s no secret I don’t like the cold, and I’ll run on the treadmill before running in 20 degrees.

My husband and I booked tickets a while ago and later realized the Carlsbad half marathon was the same weekend. Originally, we had not planned to do any race.

Personally, I don’t care for traveling to races.  I have found them more of a hassle and would prefer to sleep in my bed.  That being said, I’ve also had unfortunate luck with my race traveling.  We decided to take the race seriously, but was it a goal race?  No.

Anyways, we got to the San Diego and picked up our race bibs the Friday before.  It was easy and a streamlined process.  Going into the race, I didn’t know a lot about the course or area.  To be honest, I thought because it was on the beach it would be flat and fast.  That is how both Virginia Beach and New Jersey coastal races are…Once starting the race, I realized that wasn’t quite the case.

By some miracle, I was able to sleep in until 5 am west coast time.  We arrived at the race at 6:45, parked and were off at 7:45.  The race started in a mall parking lot, so there was plenty of parking.

me carlsbad half marathon

I realized during the first mile; it wasn’t as flat as I thought.  carlsband half marathon elevation

We went over an overpass which took me by surprise.  I kept an even pace and hit the first mile in 6:22.  Despite going uphill (versus last week’s race), I ran the same first mile.

By the second mile, I began gauging who was around me.  There was a pack of women about 30 seconds in front of me, a few men around me.  The second mile was flat, and I ran it in 6:09.

By the third mile, I was around a pack of people.  We began running along the beach, and it was windy.  I’ve run several races along the beach in both NJ and VA, but this was different.  The waves were huge, and we were elevated significantly.  The third mile went by in 6:12 and I felt great.

During the fourth and fifth mile, we were joined on the course by the marathoners.  Honestly, this was hard for both sets of racers.  The marathoners started 90 minutes before us, and the last thing they wanted around mile 17 was half marathoners joining them on an undivided course.  The half marathoners were going a different pace, so it didn’t seamlessly match either.  Both miles had significant hills that I wasn’t unexpecting, but I ran them in 6:20 and 6:18.

During mile 6 I focused on getting to the halfway point.  The course is essentially out and back, so you knew the route you were running on the way back.  My Garmin had hit every mile about .1 before the mile markers (similar to those around me).

I hit the halfway point in 41:00.  I knew my Gamin was ahead of the official course and honestly I thought by Garmin I would PR but officially I would not.

I struggled on the sixth mile with the wind and the course elevation.  I passed one of the top female marathoners who had her own section of the course.  I was alone and ran the mile in 6:24. I thought “If I could hold a 6:24 pace, I can PR because of earlier miles.”

The 7-8th mile were similar to the 4th and 5th but in opposite directions.  This time, other racers were cheering, and it was motivating. I ran mile 7 in 6:11 and mile in 6:18.  I was slowly building confidence that I could finally PR or, at least, get close.

During mile 9, we climbed another hill.  I noticed a female that was close in front.  I thought I could try and reel her in so I focused on that.  The race had Ultima instead of Gatorade, and I grabbed some at a water stop.  I ran a 6:21 mile.

I hit the 10-mile point in 1:02.46.  To my knowledge that is my fastest 10-mile time as well and about 3 minutes faster than the Icicle 10 miler a week ago.

Miles 11 and 12 were the toughest.  I told myself at mile 10; anything can happen for the last 5k.  Anything happens in a 5k…I ran both miles in 6:32 and they were by far the hardest both mentally and physically.

I hit mile 12 around 1:16.  I had done improper math and thought I needed to run the last 1.1 in a total of 6:23 minute to PR.  For the next 10 seconds I was upset, but quickly realized I had a whole bonus minute.  I charged the last mile and worked as hard as I could.  I wanted to PR, and I gutted it out.

I crossed the finish in 1:22.57 and as 13th women overall.


To be honest, I’m both surprised and elated with a PR.  I had originally thought the course was flat and fast, but there is a lot of the wind as well as hills to deal with.  I loved how scenic the course was.  My legs also felt a little bit tight, and I’m wondering if that is from traveling.  I’m excited with a half marathon PR.  I do believe that I have an even faster time on a flat course…but don’t we all think we have a faster time?

T and I

Questions for you:
Have you tried Ultima before?
Do you like racecations or do you prefer racing around your local area?
Honestly, I would rather go on a vacation versus worry about racing too.  I’m glad this race was early because now we don’t have to worry as much about food, logistics and sleep.


  1. Good job on your pr, your looking great in all your races, I hope your having fun out there in San Diego.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Incredible work! I think Ultima is a west coast thing because the Seattle Marathon had it one year too. I prefer Gatorade because it’s so easy to buy for training runs. Enjoy your new PR speedy!

    1. If I remember correctly we had it at the Runners World half as well. Honestly, I like Gatorade for the same reason. It’s easy to find locally.

  3. I’m with you in racecations; I’ve only done a few races not in my hometown, and there’s a lot of variables to take into account. Plus, plenty of races near home to run 🙂 congrats on a new PR!

  4. I love runcations and am excited to head to Miami today (from Boston) to run a half this weekend. Congrats on your amazing finish time!!! Could never imagine hitting mile 12 at 1:16. What training plan did you follow? You’re an inspiration!

  5. Wow you did so well! Congrats on a great race. I feel like I get way more excited for a race when I travel for it. Out of all the half I’ve done, the 1 that was in my hometown was my least favorite. I like doing shorter distances at home though.

  6. YAY!! I love seeing that all of your hard work and smart training is paying off. Congratulations on your PR! I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2016 has in store for you if you have already set a few PRs and it is still January!

  7. Great job! I don’t mind going on run vacations if I don’t really have a serious time goal in mind. Like you, I like sleeping in my own bed. I never sleep well in hotels.


  9. Congrats on a great race, especially on a surprisingly hilly course! Ultima is really popular out here on the West Coast – I had it at the Portland Marathon and a lot of other races around here offer either that or Nuun. I prefer racing near home as well, but some of the California races are really tempting during winter.

    1. I think part of the reason is because I’ve never actually traveled too far to a half. I traveled for both full marathons and didn’t have the best experience!

  10. Congrats on running a great race and the PR! Its tough when the course ends up being different than you expect but still running so well is impressive! I am also impressed by your mental math during the race, ha! I my brain doesn’t think like that when I’m running. I prefer to vacation separate from racing too!

  11. You are speedy my friend!!! Congrats on your PR! I like Ultima. I feel like it isn’t as strong as Gatorade…which makes me want to hurl!

  12. I’m not a fan of traveling to races either. Shamrock should be interesting :)’

    I’ve never even heard of Ultima. Ha.

    Great job on the PR and on the recap! Thanks for putting it together.

    1. I really think you’ll enjoy Shamrock Amanda. It’s a small town race feel and easy to get too.

  13. Congrats, wonderfully written. I like racing locally and away, although I am trying to schedule in more vacations without a race. Multiple friends were shocked I visited NYC this past weekend without a race 😉

  14. Congratulations on your PR and running a great race on a tough course, and tough travel conditions. I agree that hometown races are easier, logistically, and you don’t have to deal with things like lost sleep or jet lag! But you still pulled it off :).

    I’ve only done one travel race (meaning: we had to stay in a hotel and I wasn’t just visiting family and conveniently found a race nearby that I decided to do). We have a lot of good races here, so I try not to travel. I liked the race I travelled to, but since it was a trip I didn’t put any pressure on myself for it, I just had fun. It was in Charlotte. I try to run all my goal races locally.

  15. Congrats on the PR! You’re running is really coming together. I’ve traveled for quite a few races and have come to realize I shouldn’t try and PR those. I do much better being home in my own space before a goal race.

    1. OCD and seeing a typo in there is killing me (enough I had to call myself out!) so ashamed 😉

  16. Congrats on the PR. It looks like you ran a fabulous race. I am on the fence about race vacations,. Alot of my races have been at Disney and I have gotten PR’s at some of them, despite many runners stopping for character photos (I don’t). I’m running the London marathon this April and that will be for the experience and not for a time. Congrats again on a great start to racing in 2016

    1. Thank you so much Pam. I know a lot of people Disney races but they are so early!

      Good luck at London. That is definitely on my bucket list!

  17. I love racing in places I don’t know. It gives me new things to look at as I try to block out the pain and tiredness lol..

    It’s strange when you have different races going on at the same time. My brother ran a half last year, where he had the last two miles weaving through slower 10K runners. He missed his 1.25 target by seconds…

    1. I agree James because the races were on the same course with different paces merging. It was hard for both sets of racers and if I was running the full, the last thing I would want would be half marathoners wizzing by.

  18. Congrats on the PR, Hollie! Snap… travelling AND a hilly course?? You’re really making huge strides with your running! I don’t think I’d enjoy travelling for a race, mostly because travelling wears me out and I like the comforts of home.

  19. OHMYGOODNESS!!! What a speedy field of women! Congrats on the PR, Hollie. You’ve been working really hard, so this was definitely well-earned! How did Tim’s race go?

    1. He’s actually been having a minor foot injury so the race didn’t go as he would have liked!

  20. I’ve never even heard of Ultima before, weird! I wonder if I’ll be seeing it at more races now. Congrats on the PR! I like racecations, but I think there are definitely advantages to sleeping in your own bed and eating your own food before a big race.

  21. Sounds like you had a really great race and killed those hills! I almost only travel for races so I don’t really know what it’s like to sleep in my own bed before a race but your right that has draw backs…like the mattress, oh to have a good hotel mattress 😉

  22. Hollie, those splits are amazing! I’m so happy for you. I am glad you had a great vacation, but I will also be glad when you come home! I can’t wait to run together again soon.

  23. I can’t believe how FAST you are getting! WOW. Congrats on that PR! That’s so awesome. And yes, we have lots of Ultima out this way. I think it’s a PNW thing.

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