Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Lining up, taken through Ziploc bag. This wasn't actually our start line, we had to walk forward and do a 180... ours is the
one you see in the distance to the left of us, so we started by running toward the camera here.
There is nothing like the home bed/timezone/climate advantage. What a stark difference from the Miami Half Marathon this race ended up being! This was one of those rare races where everything fell into place, felt easier than it should have been, and blew my expectations out of the water. With Daylight Saving Time now in full effect and better weather hopefully on the way, I'm feeling much better about this whole running thing now.

Thankfully the 15k didn't start until 8:55am this year, so I didn't have to wake up too early. I got a decent amount of sleep, probably seven hours, and then headed downtown at 8:00am. I was thinking about taking the MAX like usual, however, now that they've rearranged the courses to only use Naito downtown, it really opened up a ton of parking garages. No more getting stuck for hours like what happened to Katie and I back in 2016! So downtown it was, parking at a garage about eight blocks away from the start line and getting there with plenty of time to spare. Easy peasy!

Sporting my now traditional Shamrock outfit.
I felt really calm before this race. Time wise I know I am slower than I used to be, so I don't feel a huge pressure there, and distance wise I knew I could handle the 9.32 miles. Hell, I wasn't even too worried about the hills. I've done them before and I could do them again. The only thing I was slightly worried about what the amount of coffee I had before the run... probably a good pint or so. Was I in for pee city? The last time I drank so much coffee before a race was the Half Boring Half, and I smashed my expectations there but I had to pee a lot. So I was just hoping my bladder would hold out (it did).

Getting in the chute was much easier than previous years. I had no problem finding a gap in the fencing and everyone in there seemed to be more spread out so it was easy to move to the appropriate pacing. I worked my way forward until I was behind the 9-10 minute sign, which might have been a little slow, but I didn't want to get roped into running faster than I should have. The weather this year was great... sun breaks, little wind, and mid-40s. Perfect racing weather really. I decided to ditch my gloves and beanie in the car and was glad I did, as I was perfectly comfortable without them.

UPHILL ADVENTURES (8:20, 8:43, 8:39, 9:30)

Just moments after starting!
As I detailed in the preview, the Shamrock 15k course is now run backwards in regards to its historical direction. So instead of flying to the finish on the gentle, constant downhill of Barbur, you start by running up it. I tried not to look at my watch and just went by feel. I'm a grizzled vet by now, so I know what a 15k pace should feel like. I was surprised as all get out when my first mile came in at 8:20. I ended up having to weave around some people too based on my starting position, so overall I was feeling good and doing well.

However, I knew it was a long race so I just kept going by feel and only occasionally looked at my watch. The beginning part of that first mile was flat and the race adrenaline was pumping so I had to make sure I didn't go crazy. What I didn't anticipate was how good those uphills were going to feel. I was worried about doing them under 10:00/mile, and it turns out that was no issue. They are gentle uphills for the first three miles, so if you have any sort of hill shape and adjust your pace accordingly, you can zip up them pretty easily. Honestly, they didn't feel that hard. I've done Bald Peak and Zena enough times to know these hills are in the minor leagues.

So when 8:43 and 8:39 miles beeped on my watch, I was pretty excited. If I was able to do the uphills at a pace faster than my overall goal pace it meant I had a chance to really smash my expectations. However, I knew there would be a sharp uphill at some point because I remember running down it in previous years. And sure enough, there it was, looming before us. I knew it would be short though and it was the finale of the uphill, so get up it and you're pretty much done.

That 9:30 mile included a good amount of time at 10:45 huffing and puffing up a steep incline. My body was screaming to walk but I was still easily passing all the people walking. I'll walk if a brisk walk isn't much faster than a jog, which definitely happens on some uphills and can actually be smart in terms of saving yourself for later in the race. However, I just kept my even energy output, chugged up, and got it over with. My hill training really came in handy, because not only was I able to scale it without too much issue, I was also able to recover pretty quickly and move on with the race.

DOWNHILL(ISH) TO THE FINISH (7:53, 7:56, 8:02, 8:08, 7:43)

Chugga chugga choo choo!
Finally, my reward... downhill miles! The bagpipers were at the top at the Chart House again, so that was a welcome auditory signal that the elevation had been conquered. The downhill direction on Terwillager isn't quite as good with this course arrangement, as it's a little steeper and has breaks of flat and even slightly uphill. My main concern was that my legs would be trashed from the uphill, but I was pleasantly surprised at how they reacted to the downhill. I felt strong! I was hoping to hit these under 8:00/mile and that's exactly what I did. My breathing was comfortable and all told I really felt good.

There were two miles of pretty much nothing but downhill and those clocked in at 7:53 and 7:56. The 8:02 mile include about a half mile of downhill, a flat portion, and a quarter mile of uphill. At the Duniway track they now route you back onto Barbur for a long out and back to get the mileage in. About halfway into this out and back you hook into Barbur where you came from downtown, so you're retracing your steps a little. At one point there were three lanes of traffic, halfers heading up, 15kers headed up again, and 15kers going down to the finish. It was pretty creative of them! When the 15k finally turned downtown toward the finish you were in the middle of the three lanes smugly looking at all the idiots running uphill on either side of you.

Not quite as excited as the other guy.
Luckily, on this smaller uphill portion, I still felt spunky and was able to resume my same uphill pace as before. The 8:08 mile ended up being about half up and half down. Once the out and back was over, it was all downhill on Barbur to Naito for that classic Shamrock finish. I started to fly (at least for me now). 7:43 mile nine (included beer "aid station" stop) and 7:21 pace for that final third of a mile. By this time I had assumed I'd get a sub 1:20 but I never paged over on my watch to see my overall pace or time. I wanted it to be a surprise. Rolling into the finish, I finally switched over and was blown away with what I saw. 1:16 and sub 8:20? No way!


I felt great at the finish line. Exhausted, yes, but my body and legs felt good. Worn, but good. My energy level between this and Miami was like night and day. The first thing I wanted to get, after my medal, was a water. The only fluids I had on the run was that 3oz cup of beer a mile from the finish line (a YOLO last second decision which I don't regret). There were plenty of aid stations, but honestly, when it is the mid-40s out, you don't need fluids for a 15k. Hell, even a half you're probably fine. However, once I found the water I sucked a bottle down because I was definitely thirsty.

Another Shamrock 15k complete!
I then wandered toward the beer garden, at least, wandered toward where I thought the beer garden should be. I was a little confused at the lack of people and it wasn't until I hit the Saturday Market that I realized I went the wrong way. So another eight blocks or so to retrace my steps and I finally found it. Bastards put it on the other side of the festival this year. Anyways, no Brandon this year, so I was able to partake in the post-game festivities. I couldn't enjoy it too much though, as I did promise Brandon I'd go to his soccer game and I had to leave pretty quickly in order to make the kickoff. So I drank my beer, ate my soup from Bob's Red Mill (delicious!) and then headed off.

Getting out of the parking garage was a breeze. Definitely an upgrade over the MAX. Same price, $5, and way quicker and more convenient. As long as they keep these same routes, I think that will be the plan in the future. Overall, I felt great. I absolutely shattered my expectations and ran faster than I thought possible. While it was technically a PW, it wasn't too far off from not being a PW. Certainly gave me a bump of confidence after struggling through the winter feeling like I hadn't made much progress!

Official Results: 1:16:44, 8:13/mile. 582/3516 overall, 450/1626 male, 93/257 M30-34.

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