I’ve wanted to do the Carlsbad 5000 for years. In fact, when living in New Jersey, I almost flew out to Carlsbad to run. Fly out for a 5k? It would have more or less been a vacation that involved a 5k. Anyway, the long story short is I was excited to do the Carlsbad 5000.
Then I got the flu, and since then, running has felt hard. I never expected to take a week off but did not feel great for two weeks after. It is what it is, and I was just excited to start. I actually didn’t realize there were a bunch of heats of the Carlsbad 5000, and the women’s open race started at 10:08 am.
Before the Carlsbad 5000:
We arrived the day before, picked up our bibs at 2:50 (when they closed at 3 pm), and went to Miltons Diner. I’ve been to Milton’s a few times now and haven’t had a bad experience, so it’s my default for the Del Mar area. I apparently was much more tired than I thought and fell asleep at 7 pm. The morning of the race was fairly uneventful; I don’t love 10:00 am starts. I had my normal breakfast of a waffle around 5 am and then a couple of pieces of pita bread with butter around 7:30 am. I knew there was no way I would make it until noon without fueling more. It all proved fine, and my stomach felt fine.
Although parking is a nightmare, getting to the Carlsbad 5000 was easy, especially for later races. I was the 4th of 7 races, so parking was limited. The races went masters men, masters women, open men, open women, “people’s heat,” elite men, then elite women. It’s all parallel parking, and we somehow lucked out about half a mile away from the start. I warmed up, watched the men’s race, and headed to my start. During the warmup, I didn’t feel good. My legs felt flat. To be honest, they’ve felt that way the entire week prior. I sound like a broken record, but taking a week off from the flu and now trying to run again has been more challenging than I ever anticipated. Running feels hard, and occasionally breathing feels hard. I thought maybe I would feel off during the warmup and feel better during the race.
Carlsbad 5000 Race:
At the start of the Carlsbad 5000, I chatted with some friends. The race announcer said it was likely three trains would cross during our race, and they would happen around 35 minutes. Too bad they can’t control the train schedule. Anyway, by the time we knew it, we were off. As we started the Carlsbad 5000, I thought: “wow, I don’t feel so bad.” I was running in a sea of women, and it felt like cross country. We rounded the small hill and headed down the 101. I hit the first mile of the Carlsbad 5000 in 6:30 and thought, okay, maybe I can do this.
It was already feeling difficult, but 5ks never feel “easy.” As mentioned, the flu has been the defining moment of my running lately. While I am completely symptom-free, I do have a lingering cough. The doctor said I would probably have that for a few weeks. Around 1.5 miles of the Carlsbad 5000, I started coughing a lot. And not just a “normal cough,” but it was extra. Ultimately then, I started choking briefly on my spit. I almost stopped, and honestly I think I was so caught off guard I just didn’t. This made for about 15 seconds of panic, confusing, and not focusing on running hard. I’m fairly certain I ran around an 8-9 minute pace for those few seconds. It was weird. Luckily it subsided, but it didn’t make my legs feel any better.
After that, the wind was kind of out of sails. After the turn, we were heading in the opposite direction, and it was clear we had a small headwind. I was not feeling it and just wanted to make it to the end. I hit mile 2 at 7:01, but truthfully, I had already stopped paying attention to my watch. My only goal was to finish. We went about a mile down the 101 and then turned around again to head back towards the finish. At least we are out of the wind, I thought.
The third mile of the Carlsbad 5000 was uneventful. Many people passed me, and honestly, I was just trying to finish. I saw the clock well over 21 and thought, I knew it would be bad, but not this bad. I crossed the Carlsbad 5000 in 21:42.
Carlsbad 5000 Thoughts:
I was disappointed, but I also ran 30 seconds faster per mile than the Bay Bridge Run the week before. I’m glad nothing serious happened with my coughing episode. I have never really experienced anything like that, and just thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever coughed that extensively while running. Even if I didn’t cough at all, my legs never felt great, and I felt stale the entire race. Obviously, not every race can be “your best,” and I’m happy to be able to run at all. I still had an enjoyable experience at the Carlsbad 5000, and I’ll probably do it every year.
You can see more race recaps here.
Questions for you:
Have you done the Carlsbad 5000?
What is your favorite 5k race?