Thursday, March 20, 2014

PDX Shamrock Run 15k - Race Recap

Can it be? Sunshine, warm temps and no rain in the forecast for the 2014 Portland Shamrock Run?

LMAO - not a chance!

The inevitable race day consisted of a cold morning, drizzly rain and a 3 mile hill as the cherry on top! I planned to race this event with a few of my friends, but the nasty flu bug that's been going around Portland knocked two of them out. It ended up just being Christa, Mark and I -  the 3 Amigos!....sadly I have no pics ;( This is the second largest race in all of the west coast and packs in over 35,000 green folk each year. Can you say cluster much? It consists of three different distances; the 5k, 8k and 15k.  I've done both the 5k and 8k and thought it would be a great opportunity to tackle the 15k and this "monster hill" that everyone keeps talking about.

Start time for the 15k was 7:40am so I set my alarm for 5:30am and did my usual race morning routine. Except this morning I Had my cup of coffee and was only able to cram half my peanut butter toast and banana down. Stomach was a mess - though I wasn't very nervous so who the heck knows what the deal was. It didn't prove to be an issue on the run so I'll just chalk it up to nerves.
6:15 and I was out the door to pick up my buddy, Christa and we were on our way. Thankfully I work downtown which allowed for free parking and a quick 10 blocks to warm up as we made our way down to the starting line. The temp was a little chilly but not nearly as bad as the last two years.

10,000 strong in the 15k

We stopped off at the potties and within 10 mins or so were already packed in for the start (see above). In order to keep everyone from stumbling all over each other, they let us out in waves - large group of runners pass the starting line and then a 1 minute hold for the rest of us. I get it, helped to keep things form getting out of control, but man, it took us at least another 15/20 minutes to actual being our trek.

Finally we were off!!

Given that the run is 9.36 miles and had a lovely hill mixed in, I wanted to keep things steady and started off at a moderate 9:50 pace. I don't normally race with music (as you can't during a Tri) but chose to zone out and listen to a few of my podcasts this time around. So glad I did - Jeff and Eric of The Age Grouper do a great job of keeping me entertained while discussing all things Tri related. Pretty soon we were at the 3 mile mark and the base of the dreaded 3 mile climb up Terwilliger hills.....oh yeah, and let's not forget having to wait at least 4 minutes for a train to pass at mile 1. (Arrggghh, you messed with my time you stinkin' train!!

Ah yes, there's that "little" guy

All I can say is thank God I had taken a look at the elevation map ahead of time - knowing what to expect on a course such as this makes planning and the actual race a whole heck of a lot easier.
Up until this point, Mark, Christa and I were staying steady and pacing together - but hit the hill and Mark took off. Christa got ahead of me a bit but I just kept at it and ran my own race. Not at all worried about what everyone else was doing. Inside just hoping that I'd be able to find them at the finish line (that did not happen BTW)

Mile 5 and a little over 50 minutes in I stopped at the aid station and took in two cups of water and a GU gel that I had brought. Still had plenty of energy and spent the next mile of climb just in awe of how much I have improved since last year. I remember doing the 8k (4.97 miles) and having it be a challenge - here I was tearing up 9 miles of hill like it was my job! ;)

Me in the fusia taking down that f'ng hill!

My pace at this point was significantly slower, maybe around 12 (phone gps app was wacky and lost me so many times  - hooray for my new Garmin 910XT, will solve that right up!), but that's okay. I was trudging uphill and was just glad that I never felt the need to walk. Not.once.

Mile 6 and a huge sigh of relief. Having checked out the course beforehand and getting some great feedback from my running buddy, Laura, I knew that it was all downhill from there - blessed downhill!! Momentum increasing and knees feeling just fine I tried to pick up the pace. At one point the beautiful angelic voice of my gps said I was averaging 8:30. Haha....she's a funny one! Who knows, maybe I was - certainly felt like I was flying!

Down the hill and to the finish line...

Booyah baby!! 15k conquered!!

Quite possibly the BEST finishers medal EVER - my fingers are covering it but that sucker is a bonefide bottle opener!

OFFICIAL TIME:  1:38:59  
 (but I'd like to knock off at least 4 mins for that dumb train!)
PACE: 10:38

Whew - race done and now time to find my Anyone around? Anyone finish? Anyone enjoying their beer? Anyone even still here? The place was a mad house, as demonstrated by the pic below of the line just to get into the beer area. But what can you expect - 35k strong and unless you had previously decided on a designated meeting spot or at least had your phone on you, there was no way you were going to find your pals.

So after about an hour of waiting/looking, I ended up grabbing my free beer, downed at least two bottles of water, got my finishers medal and headed back up to the car. (stopped at Starbucks on the way for some chocolate milk and a coffee - nothing better than some hot coffee after a chilly wet race) Christa's family ran the 8k and drove down later that morning so I knew she had a ride home - I didn't just bail on her. :)

All in all it was a great race and one that really reflected how much I have improved this last year in both running form and stamina!!

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