Thursday, March 17, 2016


Me crossing the finish line. Not my greatest time, but an hard effort. I'd be freezing my ass off shortly after.
Well, another Shamrock is in the books. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this one. Not only did it have an unholy alliance with Daylight Saving Time this year, the weather was bad... even for Shamrock. While sprinkles are to be expected, this year's rendition had 44 degree temperatures, pouring rain, and howling wind. I am a committed Oregonian runner though, so I went ahead and did it like a good boy. The race itself went okay, I didn't do fantastic, which I'll get into, but overall I can't complain.

Katie and I made plans to get to the MAX at 6:40am (aka 5:40am to my body) so we'd arrive at the start line around 7:15am, 15 minutes before the start. Unfortunately, Katie forgot her watch, so we went back for that and decided to just drive instead. It didn't really affect the time we got there though as we were able to find parking downtown and walk to the start line. For only getting about 4.5 hours of sleep I was feeling pretty good, so regretfully I can't blame any race deficiencies on that.

Early along Broadway.
My biggest mistake of the day was about to happen as I approached the starting chute. Every year it is a giant pain in the ass to get into the correct corral. For whatever reason they put up the metal fencing and I can never find a hole to actually enter the corral. I always get really frustrated and it ends up being a major stressor. The year I PRed I was able to get there early enough to hop the fence and get with the 7-8 minute corral. Other years I've entered toward the back of the back and "excuse me"ed my way to the 8-9 minute area.

Looking at the swarm of humanity already stuffing the chute ten minutes before the gun, I just entered from the back and decided to work my way forward. After feeling like an ass bumping into people and excusing myself I finally gave up once I was in the 10-11 minute area. Not good. I was just hoping to be able to run on the sidewalk or something. In the interest of not being stressed about stuff, and not really caring all that much to begin with, I just accepted my fate. If I ever really want to run this race seriously again, I'm going to have to get there earlier and figure out just what the fuck they are doing with that chute. Some signs pointing towards entrances or something would help.

Anyways, soon enough the horn went off and the race started. I was so far back it took a good five minutes before I even crossed the starting line. I was in a "meh" mood and just went with the flow. As soon as we crossed and started running though I knew we had a problem. The 10-11 minute pace was no joke. Unfortunately, Shamrock also had fencing for a LONG ways lining the streets, so there was no place to really pop up on a curb and move past people. The prospect of a 10:00 opening mile was very real.

At this point I started to panic a little. This could fuck up my entire race. I was able to desperately bob and weave some, but a lot of time was spent shuffling at an 11:00/mile pace. I don't blame anybody but myself, but damn it was annoying. I started doing math in my head about what this meant for the rest of the race... and it was not good. When my margin of error was likely going to be 60 seconds or so... this was not going to work. It wasn't until 2/3rds of a mile in that I was finally able to pop up onto a sidewalk and have some clear space.

Sometimes, smiles are lies. Up the hills!
Mistake number two. To this point my cadence had been: shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, SPRINT, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, SPRINT. No rhythm was being established between the 11:00/mile shuffle and 6:00/mile sprints. Well, once I got some clear space, I was going like a bat out of hell at 6:30/mile. Probably not smart. I was frustrated. Anyways, I was able to get my first mile in at 8:00 on the nose... considering at the halfway point I was probably on pace for a 9:30, that was a minor miracle.

Unfortunately, that extremely uneven first mile left me winded and in no rhythm whatsoever. While the race thinned out some, I was still weaving around slower runners for another mile or two, at some points having to slow down completely and wait for an opening. Getting in a rhythm is very important, especially at faster speeds. I followed up with a 7:37 mile (would have been under 7:30 for sure with a clearer path) and a 7:45 mile. Not bad times, but not the greatest either. They were harder than they should have been and my cardio was laboring more than it should have, likely due to the uneven start. If I had a strong climb up the hill though I could still maybe get my goal.

Once the hills started, it was all over. Broadway kicked my ass. I swear that gets steeper every year. The hills were definitely more challenging in years past. I blame 20% of this on my start... I wasn't in a rhythm and the early sprinting was not helpful. The other 80% was just totally being out of hill shape. Every winter proceeding this one I ran at PRC regularly, often on the rollercoaster. Hills weren't no thang. I almost looked forward to hills because I was so much better than most runners on them. Well, this year, with my grand total of two rollercoaster runs all winter, I was not in proper shape.

Focused? Near the top.
Now, I could still run up the hills and not feel like dying, it was just that my pace wasn't near where I was hoping it would be. I thought 8:45s would be reasonable but the three hilliest miles came in as such: 9:05, 9:14, 8:36. That final mile was the easiest of the three uphills miles and surprisingly it was were I first felt like I "settled" into the race and established a rhythm. Too little too late but it was still nice to find a groove. By the time I hit the top of the hill and heard the bagpipers, I was feeling pretty good and ready to attack the downhill miles.

Usually I am pretty good at math, but not during running apparently. Based on what I had in my head, I thought anything below 8:00/mile on the final three miles would lead me to below 8:00/mile for the entire race. I forgot those hilly miles were 9:15, not 8:15. I realized that when I glanced at my watch and saw my overall pace was 8:21/mile. To work it under 8:00/mile I was going to have to finish with sub 7:20 miles. I went ahead and gave it my best and came up with 7:25, 7:34, 7:33. Just a bit short. Despite realizing I was probably going to end up north of 1:15 I never gave up.

I sped up somewhat in the final .32, 7:15/mile pace, but nothing crazy. Unfortunately, even my best sprint would have still put me across the line over 1:15. Once I was through the finisher's chute I went straight to the beer garden to chug my beer and eat my chowder as I waited for Katie. It was windy and rainy... I was afraid once my body cooled from the running I was going to freeze my ass off. I drank and ate in record time and then stood under a bridge for about ten minutes to be out of the rain. The wind was whipping though and I was soaked. My body started to get pretty cold and at some points I was violently shuddering.

About to finish. Thank the maker!
Thankfully, I knew Katie would finish only about twenty minutes after myself, so I knew I didn't have to wait too long. After a bit I started to wander toward the starting line... little did I know Katie started in front of me in the chute, so as I approached the finish to watch for her she was already done and walking toward me. Thankfully she found me because neither of us had our cell phones. I more or less told her we had to leave right then and there otherwise I was going to die. So off to the car we went. That's a whole other story... basically our parking garage was in a terrible spot with the race and we ended up being stuck for over and hour and half before we could finally get out of downtown. At least we were in the warm car!

Overall, I am happy with the race. If I had been in the proper starting spot in the chute there is no doubt I would have gotten 1:14 and under 8:00/mile overall. The first couple of miles are really important to set the tone and tempo of the race. So that's my fault for not trying harder to improve my starting position. However, I gave it a solid effort and run a race that normally would have hit my goal, so I'm not worried about it. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was the way my legs reacted. They feel like they normally would after a race, nothing funky. So definitely a positive there!

Official Chip Time: 1:15:27, 8:06/mile, 621/4598 overall. 467/2070 male, 79/248 M25-29.

1 comment:

  1. Great race!! I'm SO glad I wasn't spectating this year :P It sounds like that miserable cold that goes right to your bones.