One week ago, I ran the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon! I was really excited to run this half marathon since it takes place in beautiful Carlsbad, CA…plus it was my first official race running as a Bibrave Pro!
So, let’s break it down!
Expo: The Expo was held in the same location as the actual race, which was new to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this done before, but it was nice to get a feel as to where the event would be taking place. The Expo was in the parking lot of a shopping mall- about 2,000 sq ft. all underneath huge tents. Parking was a bit crammed since everyone was at the mall shopping on a Saturday, but there were plenty of parking attendants directing everyone. The Expo was busy, but easy to maneuver…and I was able to pick up my bib number, bag, shirt, and jacket pretty quickly. There was also a DJ playing some pretty energetic music. My two-year-old loved the music and kept saying, “Dance, dance”. 😉
Race Day Parking: This race had the easiest parking ever! We were able to park at the shopping mall for free – so tons of spaces!. The mall is also right off the freeway so it was pretty simple to get in and out. Also, the parking attendants were on point. They were organized and communicated well so we were able to park super close to the start/finish line! This race definitely gets bonus points for parking alone!
Pre-race: Gear check was in the same place where I had picked up my bib the day before so that was a cinch. Of course me and the other million runners had to use the restroom all at once and their bathroom system was a little off. They put all the Porta Potties (or Porta Johns for some of you) 😉 in a big square and then everyone stood in the middle and just picked one. So the lines really had no order and it got super congested and even more confusing.
(After it finally cleared…)
The runners were released in waves and I was in Wave 6. I was pleased to discover at how quickly the waves went! I only waited about 20 minutes or so before I crossed the start line!
I had plenty of time to get adjusted (physically and mentally) and of course take selfies with @thehungryrunner_!
Race Course: The marathon began at 6:15 a.m. and the half started at 7:45 a.m. This meant that we all shared the same race course for about 8 of those miles. Another thing that I love about this race is that it’s walker and stroller friendly! I saw a few families out there pushing little people and they were total rock stars! The weather was cool with an overcast so I switched between being hot and sweaty to getting chills throughout the race. The course was an out-and-back and went through the quaint town of Carlsbad and along Hwy 101. It was all pretty flat, with a few small, rolling hills. There were also some slanted areas of the road so you kind of had to watch your footing in those sections.
The views were really unbeatable and running along the water was so peaceful! And just like a true California morning, you could see all the surfers out catching waves in the cold ocean.
Race/Crowd Support: So after analyzing the race course before race day, I decided not to bring any water along with me. (Although I did bring my trusty SpiBelt!) That’s because there were hydration stations at either every other mile or in some areas, every mile! I’ve really never seen a course with so many water/electrolyte stops! Also, the crowd was amazing! There were volunteers and spectators cheering us on for the entire 13.1 miles! I’ve never felt love like that in any other race! The people of Carlsbad really displayed kindness and generosity this day! So many people holding signs, giving high-fives, shouting out words of encouragement, and giving out their own food/water for us!
I have to give a special shout-out to my Stroller Warrior sole-sisters who came out on the course just to cheer and encourage us! Really so much love at this race! I also have to give a shout-out to the lovely gentleman passing out tequila shots around mile 2. It was just what I needed to warm up and get going!
And then there was a special little guy around the 10th mile…he was just who I needed to see to push to the end! 😉
And since I didn’t bring any of my own hydration, I appreciated all of the Ultima stops along the way! It really revived me a few times and I couldn’t have completed the run without it! It tasted amazing without a weird aftertaste and didn’t cause any stomach issues. They also had Vaseline at most of the stations which I found very thoughtful! And the bathroom situation was pretty fantastic…Porta Potties (Johns) all along the way! No awkward moments here!
Finish Line: The DJ announced our names as we crossed the finish line so we felt extra special. 🙂 and we were given our medals, some water, and chocolate milk. They didn’t like us hanging out around the finish line since it was chaotic in the area and directed us off to the post-race area. We were then given mylar blankets and “Nom-Nom” bags. The nom-nom bags (that’s what they were officially called) had a banana, chips, and a couple of energy/granola bars in a paper sack. Also, select nom-nom bags contained Golden Tickets which meant you won a bunch of extra prizes. I, nor anyone in my party, had the Golden Ticket. 😦 And, to be honest, I feel if something is going to be called a “nom-nom bag”, there should be a lot more “nom-noms” in there. I was grateful for the food and all…I just thought the fancy name gave me different expectations.
Post-Race: Compared to other races, there really wasn’t a whole lot going on at the post-race party. There were only a few vendors giving out samples and there wasn’t a DJ or any raffle events going on. I retrieved my gear pretty quickly and headed to the beer garden! The beer garden was even pretty quiet. No long lines and no crowds!
And I was able to score a pretty delicious shrimp taco for about $4. The beer and taco were just what I needed after this run! Thank you, Ballast Point and Taco Picasso for the amazing nourishment! 🙂
There was also a Go Cryo San Diego mobile truck offering cryo treatments, but I wasn’t in the mood to get undressed in the middle of a parking lot. I also wasn’t in the mood to drop $30 for 3 minutes of recovery. If you’re not familiar with cryo therapy, basically you dip yourself in a bowl of dry ice to minimize muscle soreness. Maybe I’ll get there one day…maybe…
There was also a spot for photo ops since this race is part of the Triple Crown Race Series! What is the Triple Crown? Well, if you run the Carlsbad Half in January, the La Jolla Half in April, and America’s Finest City in August…you get an extra dope medal! I think having races as part of a series is a great way to get people motivated because who doesn’t love extra bling?!
So..the moment you’ve all been waiting for…What was the SWAG?!
Here was the pre-race swag –
-The shirt and jacket are a good quality, although they run small so that was kind of disappointing. However, I didn’t think to ask for an exchange.
-The cinch bag is more of a lower quality compared to other races, like the San Diego Half Marathon…but it had a special area to write your bib number for gear check and that was pretty convenient.
-The Tri-City Medical Center swag included chapstick, bandages, and sunscreen packets. All perfect things to throw in your purse, bag, or car…especially if you have little ones! I really appreciate swag that I can actually use so thank you, Tri-City Medical Center! 😉
–Sambazon reps were walking around passing out samples like candy! But this was much better than candy, it was a delicious Acai Bowl!
-Virtual Swag bag – included discount codes and whatnot. I appreciate these in virtual form because I normally just throw away the paper versions.
Post-race swag –
The obligatory banana along with goodies from the “nom-nom” bag as well as full-bottle samples of C2O Coconut Water and Suja Juice.
Race Photos – Not free, but they started posting them that evening! I couldn’t believe how fast they were available!
Scenery swag! I always count beautiful scenery as swag!
And, what about the Bling?!
She’s a beaut! And I really appreciated the detail of the race date etched in so I can remember this day forever!
There’s me recovering in my Legend Compression Wear! 😉
Pricing: Pricing for the half/full ranges from about $80-$150 depending on how early you register. As of now, the 2018 half is only $79! That’s a great deal! You can sign up here!
Overall Opinion: Overall, I really enjoyed this race! I thought it was well-organized with AMAZING support from both the organization and the community. Parking was great and the views were fantastic! The only cons were that the post-race party was a little disappointing and some people aren’t fans of out-and-back courses as they can get a little boring. I would definitely do this one again! I enjoyed running this with friends especially since I knew that I wasn’t going to PR at this race. If I were to give anyone advice for prepping for this event, I would say to stick with your training even through the holidays! When you sign up for a January half marathon, that means you are training through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years..so factor in your travel, family visits, food, and alcohol!
After all, it’s not everyday you get to run ON the 101 with no traffic! 😉
I’m off to prep for the next event!
***Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon in exchange for an honest review as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro (ambassador), and check out Bibrave.com to review, find and write race reviews!