Carlsbad Half Marathon 2015 | Race Report

By Sam

The Deets

Race: Carlsbad Half-Marathon
Where: Carlsbad, California
When: January 18, 2015
Time: 1:22:07
Course: 332 feet elevation gain
Data: Garmin Data

Play by play

I checked in on Saturday and it couldn’t have been easier. The expo was decent. Danielle and I both bought a new pair of compression socks. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, mine are PRETTY COOL.

After check-in we did the usual touristy stuff – ate, went to a coffee shop, read, walked around town, watched the sunset, ate again. You know, the tough stuff.

There are worse ways to spend an evening

There are worse ways to spend an evening

This race atmosphere reminded me of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. The community support is great and it seemed like everybody in town was either there for the run or excited about it. You could tell the community was very supportive of the race. Because of this fact, I would definitely recommend staying somewhere in Carlsbad if you are traveling in from out of town.

Race day

Cliff note version:
Mile 1 – 6:19. Good start, now time to pick it up.
Miles 3-9 – Ok, I can do this! But are my legs supposed to be this heavy so soon?
Miles 10-13Me: Let’s pick it up now. My legs: How about a big glass of NOPE!
Mile 13.1 (or so) – All right! New PR!

Long-and-not-always-on-topic version:
This could have been an issue since the half-marathon starts 1.5 hours after the marathon. We were lucky and snagged a spot after someone left. Not sure why they were leaving, but we weren’t complaining. I got there 30 minutes prior to the start of the race, but if we did not get a fortuitous parking spot I would have wanted a little more time.

Tip: Allow 45 minutes to park and get to the starting line if you are a half marathoner.

Wave Start
I was in wave 1 and it was a smooth start. None of the corrals seemed too crowded.

The Actual Race
Heading into the day my goal was to run a 1:20. In order to get there, my plan was to run the first two miles around 6:10, then knock it down to 6:00s for miles 3-10 and then see what I had left over the last 5K.

So, I started the race and immediately started putting on the brakes. It is entirely too easy to go rushing out of the gates for the first mile, especially when you are starting near the front. There is a decent hill around mile 1 that I made sure to slow down for. Once I saw my first mile split, 6:19, I decided it was time to pick it up. I didn’t want to give away too much time in the beginning.

Right before mile 2, however, I ended up giving away some time via an unfortunate cone incident. For those of you not interested in long-winded descriptions, see my extremely artistic depiction below. For you literary folk, buckle up. But not really.

Course Snafu

Somehow the lead group of runners missed a turnaround immediately before mile 2. My guess is that they saw the cones further down the street and thought they were supposed to turnaround there. I didn’t notice anything was wrong until I got to the road-blocking cones and the guy in front of me groaned, “ahhh man, we were supposed to turnaround back there,” at which point it was too late.

Turnaround snafu = additional .15 or so miles.

I’ve never led been the lead runner in a race, so I can only imagine how difficult it is to make sure you are turning in all of the correct places.

(What’s that you say? I have been a lead runner? Well, I guess you are referring to my legendary performance in the Fayette v. Slater middle school dual track meet in 2002? In that case, YES. I have led a race. I just wish I had a photo to prove it. Oh wait, here it is)

If you squint you can kind of see the piece of string that served as the finish line.

If you squint you can kind of see the piece of string that served as the finish line.

Annnnnnnnndddd….back to the race report. So at Mile 2 I knew I was going to be running a little longer than a half-marathon which was a bit frustrating when you are trying to PR. However, there wasn’t much I could about it so I just focused on executing my plan. Miles 3 through 6 were pretty good. I was clocking miles in the high 5:50s to low 6:00s. Pretty much where I wanted to be. The hills started to get to me a little bit for miles 7 and 8. And then I knocked out a 6:02 mile for #9 and thought to myself, “If I can do the same for mile 10 I have a good shot at getting a 1:20.”


My legs officially threw in the towel at mile 10. I haven’t lost my legs during a run like that since the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon. Such a strange feeling.

Course Description Interlude. It is not a pancake flat course. When I signed up for the race my thought process was: running along the coast = flat. There are probably 6 decent sized hills on the course (3 out, 3 back). Nothing crazy, but definitely enough of a hill to knock your pace back a good 20-30 seconds/mile. Overall, I thought it was a very fair course. Beautiful, too. End Interlude.

Miles 10 to the end were all about surviving. It didn’t help that I was running by myself. And when I say by myself I mean nobody within half a mile in front of me and nobody within a quarter mile behind me. My lungs felt good, but my legs were dead. I was able to pick it up a bit with about half a mile left and ended up finishing in 1:22:07. An 8 minute PR! My Garmin had my total distance at 13.29, .19 over, which I would attribute mostly to the aforementioned cone snafu.

I went back and forth in my mind about if I would have gone sub 1:21 (and qualified for the NYC Marathon in the process) had the course not been a little long. In the end, I figure it would have been close but nothing to get worked up about. I can always try again!

Final Thoughts

The Race
Overall, I was extremely happy with the race. I thought the course was fair. The race was well organized. And the weather was absolutely perfect. I definitely recommend the Carlsbad Half-Marathon.

My Results
As far as my results, I feel like my time was fitting for the training I put in. I think I did a good job of getting enough speed work in, but I could have done better with long pace and/or long tempo runs. My legs weren’t used to running that fast for more than 4 miles at a time, as evidenced by their dereliction of duty at mile 10. I think if I had done some 6 or 7 mile pacers and a few 1:00 to 1:15 tempos run I would have been better prepared.


  • We stayed at the Pelican Cove Inn, an amazing B&B close to Carlsbad Town Center, and absolutely loved it. Nancy, the owner, is incredibly helpful. Plus, there were several other couples staying there that were also running in the half or full marathon. It was fun to talk to them over breakfast.
  • If you are a fan of sushi and find yourself in Carlsbad, go to Yoshino Japanese Deli. Cash only. Open for 2.5 hours/day. And in Danielle’s words…Holy yum!


  1. Everything is relative obviously, but from my perspective this is an amazing race. Congrats, even if you didn’t hit your goal. We mid-pack runners are impressed.


    1. Thank you! That’s one of the great things about running…it is all relative.


  2. I must say, I loved the inclusion of Samuel Johnmeyer, speedy middle schooler! Sounds like an awesome race…not that we expected anything less. 🙂


    1. Once I thought about including it there was no going back 🙂


  3. […] Run – Not much to say here. Definitely some improvement year-over-year, but that was to be expected after my half-mary in January. […]


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