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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Weekend in Carlsbad, California

I traveled to Carlsbad last month to run the Carlsbad 5K, billed as the world's fastest 5K. Arriving on Friday for a Sunday race, and then not departing until Monday afternoon, made for a relaxing weekend, not counting, of course, the time it took to actually run the race.

As road races go, Carlsbad has an unusual, but very pleasant schedule. The town closes off its main streets for most of the day, allowing each age group to race in separate heats, followed by the elite women and then the elite men. Even better for us, masters men and women run the first two heats so we got to run in the coolest part of the day, shower and change, and then park ourselves at a coffee shop to watch the younger runners.

The elite course is modified so that runners go around the loop twice, giving spectators multiple chances to watch each racer go by. The elites are well worth watching, for the drama of the race and for the sheer beauty of their running. They make it look effortless. On most days I call myself a runner, but when I see them run I realize that what they do is very different from what I do. Notice the faces of these two runners. They are totally focused, yet completely relaxed. Genzebe Dibaba finished in 14:48, just two seconds short of the women's world record. Isn't she gorgeous?

Genzebe Dibaba

Bernard Lagat did set a world record for men's masters, with a time of 13:41, 14 seconds off the previous record.

Bernard Lagat

To my surprise, it was definitely beach weather and I spent more than a few hours at the beach and poolside.

Making washcloths was an excellent beach activity.

Aside from relaxing on the beach and running, we explored the town. It's tiny so it doesn't take long to make your way from one end to the next. We found some colorful wall art.

Wall art painted by Michael Summers

We also learned how Carlsbad got its name. In 1882 Captain John Frazier drilled a well for his farm and found water that is chemically similar  to therapeutic waters from the spa in Carslbad in what is now the Czech Republic.  His statue stands outside the California version, where you can still purchase alkaline water for yourself. Judging from the size of the cup he holds, it doesn't take a large dose to be effective, though not having tried it myself, I can't say for sure. Maybe next year.

Capt. John Frazier, founder of Carlsbad, California, alkaline water

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