Ragnar/Carlsbad 5000 Weekend
Back in November after a Monday night run with Movin’ Shoes a group of us were discussing my imminent departure from San Diego. My friend Leslie put me on the spot about what race I planned on coming back for so she could arrange to be in town as well. I gave it a lot of thought and decided that outside of the trail Ragnar at Vail my favorite race was the Carlsbad 5000. Every year a group of my friends and I have done the All Day 20K and have an absolute blast every year.
So committed I started planning on the trip to San Diego. I had no idea that Ragnar SoCal was the same weekend until my friend Robert hit me up to be a pacer/escort for one of the teams our friends have. There are two teams we support: a women’s sub-master team and a women’s master team. I wasn’t sure what my flights would look like but I had him pencil me in. After I arranged flights I realized I wouldn’t arrive until the wee hours Saturday AM so I registered as a volunteer for the masters team.
Fast forward 2 months and the women decided they would rather have an escort so they found someone to cover my volunteer shift. After my flight arrived at 12:30AM I had a friend drive me out to a school in Oceanside (also known as Exchange 16) and waited for the team to arrive. Shortly afterward I got a text that they were on the way so I changed into my running ensemble. The team name was Worst Slumber Party Ever (#wspe) so I had purchased a rather awful looking nightgown to run in over some shorts and a compression shirt.
I got a few panicky text that the runner who was currently out was getting a little freaked out about the sketchy neighborhood she was running through, so the van was going to scoop me up and deliver me to her. After a few wrong turns trying to track her down via the “Find My Friends” app I got dropped off and we started our run. Not 3 blocks into the trip we were going up a hill and there we saw some homeless guy wandering down the middle of the road. He was holding his pants up around his knees, dragging a blanket behind him, and weaving back and forth across the road. The runner I was with stopped so 2 other women that were behind us could catch up and then all 4 of us ran past the guy together. The other 2 had flown out from West Virginia for this race and were not accustomed to random homeless people high on who knows what wandering the streets. Shortly after that we hit the 1 mile to go sign and I started on my first full leg of the evening.
Both of my next 2 legs were pretty short and the runners were in good shape, I mostly just had the same conversation about my children twice in a row. I finished up with a total of 8 miles for the night and then we went to gas up the van and get some sleep. One member of the team’s parents live in Carlsbad, so we stayed at their house and got a whopping 2 hours of sleep before getting back up. I joke but that is about an hour 15 longer than my team got last year so I’m not really complaining.
The girls plan was for me to drive all morning while they ran their legs but I had checked the route map. The next 3 legs went 4 miles due West until you hit the Pacific, then turned South and stayed on the bike path. That stretch of road from Carlsbad to Solana Beach is one of my favorite places to run and I wasn’t missing the chance so I ran the next 3 legs with the team. The first leg was pretty but boring; there were not many other teams around and it felt like we were just out for a run. After we hit the bike path things picked up although most of that was just people out for run; still it was better than nothing.
My 3rd leg of the morning was the one I was worried about. The night before one of the girls got lost and ended up adding about an hour to the team’s time. Rather than sleep she spent the whole night beating herself up about it and was highly motivated to make up some time. On an average day Monique is highly competitive; on a day she thought she had let her team down I knew I had my work cut out for me. She did not disappoint and made sure the last 4 miles of the 14 I did that morning were the fastest. About half way through Encinitas my legs started chafing because the nightgown was too restrictive so I ripped the seams out at a stop light. I was pretty happy to dump the thing in a dumpster after I finished that 3rd leg.
I took over driving from that point and successfully got us through the next couple Exchanges until we got to the major Exchange at the Gliderport. This was the first time we really encountered a significant number of teams and gave us a chance to cheer for runners. We also had a chance to socialize we the rest of our team from Van 2 while waiting for our last runner to come in. Van 2 had decided to juggle the runner assignments to put their strongest runners on the longest leg to make up time. It ended up working pretty well because #wspe ended up winning the Master Women category along with the sister team of Best Slumber Party Ever (#bspe) winning Submaster Women. After a quick detour to Ballast Point in Mira Mesa we adjourned to my friend Maureen’s house and everyone promptly fell to sleep by 8PM.
Freshly recovered from the day before we gathered our things for a full day of racing and headed out to Carlsbad at 5:30AM. After locating bib pickup we dropped our things off at the All Day Lounge and got ready for the first of 4 5K races. First up was the old man race right at 7AM. I knew I wasn’t in 5K race shape even before I ran 20+ miles the day before but I still wanted to put in a strong effort for my race. My goal for the day was to finish in under 20 minutes which I accomplished. It was a little disheartening seeing guys I was competitive with (or beating) back in November going past with a quarter mile lead but I swallowed my pride and allowed myself to enjoy meeting my goal.
Race 2 was the old woman race, which is Maureen’s race. She had decided that being the day after Ragnar and with two more races to go she would do something similar to what I did; put in a solid effort but not a “by mile 2.5 I can taste the lactic acid” effort. I had agreed to run with her for her race but I wasn’t pacing. This was her race and I was just there for moral support. She stuck to her guns about going hard but not too hard until I started pointing out other women she knew ahead of us. Going easy because you are on tired legs is one thing but letting people you know finish ahead of you is just out of the question 😛
Race 3 is the 30-39 men and women. My friend Bessy was also the day after Ragnar and 3 races into the day but she wanted to get at least 20 minutes for her race. I agreed to pace her for the race. Bessy is an extremely goal-orientated person so I was committed to helping her meet the time goal she had. We went through mile 1 in 6:28 which does not get you to 20 minutes. I told her we were a couple of seconds off but it could be made up but we had to pick it up now. At this point I may have gone from “talking” to “yelling” but I had not yet proceeded to “screaming”. If you have never run this race a little after the mile marker you do a U-turn and run up a slight incline until just shy of the 2 mile mark. I tried to hold a steady pace but Bessy was slowly falling away. I was yelling too her to get back up to me which she did right at the 2 mile mark. This is also when we went by our friend Chris taking pictures on the course. I thought to myself “Bessy is not going to smile for Chris, I should put out enough energy for both of us” and ran by Chris grinning like a loon. We then got to the business of the last mile. Bessy was once again falling off which was especially bad because we were going downhill. This is when I proceeded to the “screaming” portion of my motivational efforts. After the 2nd U-turn you have one last incline before a short recovery and a great downhill finish. Bessy wasn’t keeping up so I started encouraging other women around us in how great they were doing. She must have thought I was really ditching her because she dug deep and caught back up. She left everything she had on the last quarter mile to the finish line. We didn’t get under 20 but she gave it everything she had which is really all that matters.
The final race I ran fairly easy with Maureen. She wanted to finish around 22 minutes; not a hard effort but not lolly-gagging either. I was impressed with the little kids who were out there killing it. There were a couple that couldn’t have been into double digits yet who came darn close to breaking 20 minutes for the 5k. After the race we collected our cool All Day medals and went our separate ways. Most of my peeps headed out for food while I hung around with a few of my PB friends to watch the elite races. Overall I had a great time. I am not a big fan of the van Ragnar but it was nice getting to run escort with some friends, especially during the overnight periods when they were running through Oceanside. As always the Carlsbad 5000 was an absolute blast, I will definitely be coming back again next year to do it again.