Monday, March 18, 2013


My unfavorable starting position. This is mere seconds before the horn.

Ahem. Now that the lead is out of the way, onto the report!

This race got off on a really bad foot the night before. I finally was able to settle down and play the new SimCity that came out a couple weeks ago. I was a huge fan as a kid so I was excited about the new one but didn't have the time to play. Finally found the time and before I knew it midnight rolled around. Crap! So I went to bed, but I wasn't very tired and I was excited and nervous for the race. I ended up FINALLY falling asleep at 2am.

Libbie and I waiting for MAX before race.
My alarm went off at 6am, so I got four whole hours of sleep. Not a good base to try and run a hard 15k race, but oh well. Once I had showered and ate some cereal I was feeling better though. Libbie met me at my house and then we drove over to the Lloyd Center and took the MAX across the river. Unlike last year, we were doing the 15k, which starts at 7:40am instead of 9:20am for the 5k. So it was still pretty dark and cold. 38 degrees when the horn went off - luckily it was dry unlike last year.

I was unable to get into the 7-8 minute corral, which really helped me avoid the crowds last year with the 5k. Libbie and I rolled up just a few minutes before the start (good timing with the weather really) but the chute was already packed and you could only get in from the back with the 10+ minute people. Needless to say, 7,600 people were packed in there and it wasn't easy to move around. A frantic struggle forward got me near the front of the 8-9 minute pack before the gun went off. Good enough.

Once the horn went off they let everybody to about the 8-9 minute sign go and then held us up for another 90 seconds. It was a "hold and release" to help alleviate the crowds. D'oh! Chip timed though, so who cares. It actually helped me not get stopped by an Amtrak train as I rolled up right as the gates were going up, and as you'll see, I needed every second. So really, looking back, it was good I got stuck back there.

The start was way more crowded than last year. I am not sure if that was just my corral or if the 15k was just more densely populated, especially with the more serious contingent of runners. My first mile was below expectations because I was bobbing and weaving like a champion boxer. I was not running the optimal line. I don't understand why people line up way up there and then run a ten minute mile! Oh well. Anyways, I would say the first two miles were not ideal because I either had to slow down or weave like a drunk around people. I did the best I could though.

The first 2.8 miles were the same as the 5k but this year for the 15k we just headed up Broadway even further and hooked into Terwilliger. Now I got to experience the famous hilly Cascade Run Off/Shamrock Run 15k course. Honestly, it wasn't too bad. As you will see with my times, it was definitely uphill but it was pretty manageable. It wasn't too steep (yet) and my hilly training really paid off. I was passing people left and right.

Mile five is where this race really tested you. This mile was HARD and the steepest uphill. I really started to struggle and I wondered if I had it in me. At one point I almost slowed to start walking. My lungs were burning up. My legs were fine, but I was having a hard time breathing. I just couldn't let myself do that though, I had to soldier on or I couldn't live with myself.

Finally, around mile six, the course flattened out and we eventually started downhill. The famous bagpipers at the top of the hill marked this transition. Sweet relief! I will give Terwilliger credit, that hill was a tough climb at race pace. Definitely harder than the Zena Road Run. It was four miles of sustained uphill running. Not too many flat breaks. Definitely a huge challenge!

Me after finishing. Sexy, I know.
From that vantage point we were high on the hill and could look back at downtown Portland. Looked so far away, but I knew in 3.3 miles we'd be right back there. Down the hill we went, it was as constantly downhill as the first part was uphill. My legs were taking a pounding but I kept it at a controlled enough pace where I wasn't going to totally trash them. Nothing too much to note there, I was gliding downhill, loving life really. Such a break after that uphill!

By mile eight I was ready to be done. The downhill was starting to hurt my legs and I had expended a ton of energy on that climb uphill. The most ridiculous part of the race was about to happen. With a quarter mile to go they STOPPED US to let traffic pass. They said it was "backed up all the way to I-5" (it was the Naito Parkway exit ramp). Umm, could you close that damn ramp? You closed every other freaking street in the city. Absolutely stupid. That ate up about forty seconds, no joke. I might have yelled "I'm trying to get a PR here!" to nobody in particular.

So I might have started the whole wave of runners to run across this stop before the cop was ready. There was a break in the cars coming off the on ramp (like someone had put their car in park and took five or ten seconds to realize the line was moving) so I darted across the road. As soon as I took a step, about a dozen other people did, and then pretty soon the whole wave. The cop held out both hands and yelled "nooooo!" but it was too late. Sorry!

Anyways, after that it was a dead on sprint the final quarter mile to the finish line. The little break at the traffic crossing gave me some energy to do this, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to. I figure I lost 40 seconds on the traffic and gained 20 back. I stopped my Endomondo when I crossed the line. Unofficially I timed myself at 1 second over my PR time. Dammit! I was pissed because the traffic issue right before the finish probably cost me my PR time.

After that I went to the beer garden, had my free beer, and also ate a cup of the free salmon chowder. Delicious! I rode the MAX train up and down to stay warm while Libbie finished. Once she was done we met up and then headed back to my car.

It wasn't until about 5pm they posted the results and I saw that my official time was 1 second under my PR. I beat it! Woohoo! I might have done a little happy dance right then and there. Running an extra quarter mile almost due to crowds and a 40 second traffic stop didn't stop me from getting a PR. Barely. Like, the closest you can get. But hell, I'll take it!

Wow, didn't expect that to be such a book. Just really excited to set the PR and do it by so little after such a challenging race. Validation for sure!

Official Results: 1:12:21, 7:46/mile. 977/7678 overall. 790/3688 all males, 146/576 males 25-29.

Course map. Click to enlarge.
Mile Times: Since I ran an extra quarter mile, due to crowding, I wanted to see what my splits on the actual course were. I used the official map of the course and then matched the time I arrived at those mile markers with my corresponding Endomondo run. As you can see, I did the first three miles way slower than what my phone said, mainly because I weaved so much in those first three... I ran way more than three miles!

Mile Number: Course Spilt (Endomondo Split)
Mile 1: 7:58 (7:35)
Mile 2: 8:12 (7:33)
Mile 3: 7:43 (7:14)
Mile 4: 7:58 (7:32)
Mile 5: 8:12 (8:19)
Mile 6: 7:58 (7:50)
Mile 7: 7:00 (7:33)
Mile 8: 7:29 (7:23)
Mile 9: 7:28 (7:18)
Avg mi: 7:46 (7:36)


  1. Wow, "challenging" seems like an understatement for that course--I would have taken one look at the elevation chart and found another race ;) GREAT JOB on the PR--goes to show that every second counts!

    I burst out laughing when I read about how you started the whole wave of runners to cross the road before the cop was ready. That's hilarious, but I think it's ridiculous that they gave the cars the right of way during a RACE. I've never seen that happen in all the races I've done. Usually, the drivers are pissed off and yelling obscenities at the runners while we run by with smiles on our faces ;)

    Congrats on the great race!

  2. Well done T! The night Dan proposed he got stopped at a MAX crossing, and he said it felt like forever. He was worried I'd catch up to him and he wouldn't have time to prepare! If you hadn't been a rebel, you wouldn't have PR'd! ;D