Saturday, March 23, 2019


I did finish, yes!
I wasn't really looking forward to the Shamrock Run this year, mostly because I felt so out of shape. I was a little run down after my marathon last fall and I had a hard time motivating myself this winter. As a result, I would say I peaked about September of last year and it's been downhill ever since. I've ran enough to keep my baseline fitness up, but this winter was not very productive. And frankly, I think I'm okay with that. As long as I don't completely stop running, we'll call that a win.

Visions were going through my head of just jogging this race and treating it as a long run. But pappa don't pay $55 or whatever it was to enjoy the sights. So even though I was convinced I would be setting a 15k PW, I decided to race it my hardest. At worst it would be a good barometer of my current fitness and a new "bottom" to compare my progress this year to. So I woke up at 7:30, met up with Katie and her adorable dog Ollie at 8:00, and headed downtown. Last like year, we parked in a garage just blocks from the start/finish line.

MILES 1-4: GENERALLY UPHILL (8:41, 8:36, 8:25, 9:11)

I have never seen weather this good for the Shamrock Run. Seriously. The usual weather is cold and drizzly, sometimes pouring. This year... was awesome! Mid-40s and sunny. Looking back, the last three Shamrocks have actually been really good though, so maybe it has a bad reputation that isn't quite deserving. I just remember that one year when it was POURING and that is stuck in my head.

Toward the beginning of the race.
Anyways, I was able to get into the 8-9 minute corral this year without issue. Getting to the right pace sign always used to be a challenge, however, the numbers in this race have dwindled which appears to have opened things up (that bastard of a half took a lot of people). When the race started I still had to do a little bobbing and weaving but nothing too bad. Within a mile I was with people almost exclusively going my pace. I set my watch to the time of day and just ran what I felt like a 15k should feel like. Since I'm pretty good at judging things like that I figured that would be the best way to run this race... checking my watch and seeing how slow I was would just be depressing!

With the new course you basically start going uphill almost instantly. In fact, the first almost half of the race is going generally uphill. There are flat parts and maybe a couple of minor downhills, but you are going up, up, up to the Chart House. I figured I would be in the mid-9s during these miles and then I would try to hit low 8s on the downhills. Overall I figured anything under 9:00/mile would be a victory. So it was surprising when these miles started rolling in at mid-8s. What? It was almost too good to believe!

I have always been a good uphill runner, but I hadn't trained on hills all winter. I used to all the time at PRC running the rollercoaster, but definitely not this last year. Things felt good though, it was a tough effort, but it felt sustainable. I knew I only had to get to the top of the hill and then gravity would be giving me a break as we headed back down. Before I knew it, I heard the bagpipers marking the top of the climb. Awesome!

MILES 5-9: GENERALLY DOWNHILL (8:04, 7:51, 7:56, 8:02, 7:37)

Nearing the finish line.
So the uphill didn't actually stop until mile 4.25, otherwise that 8:04 mile would have been something like 7:45. Finally some downhill relief! I've ran up and down Terwillager so many times I don't really have much to say other than it was just as I remember it! I still think the "old" course leads to a better time, the 3 flat, 3 hilly, 3 downhill set you up well for a good time. However, the new course isn't bad either. As you can see, I was doing pretty well these last five miles despite some upward bumps at times.

My legs and lungs felt great. I was honestly really surprised at how good I felt. I started to do some math in my head, and while I would probably still PW, it wouldn't be too hateful. Maybe only a couple minutes slower than last year. That would be pretty good all told. I made it my goal to try and hit under 8 on all these miles coming back and almost did it except for that 8:02. Honestly, there is a decent amount of uphill there, maybe almost half of the mile, so that isn't too shabby. That last mile is basically all downhill though and I took advantage.

Maybe about a half mile before the finish was the famous unofficial "beer aid station" put on by some fun people. Now that I'm fat and out of shape, I stop at it because YOLO. Anyways, a delicious little shot of beer! Gave me the strength I needed to keep grinding through the finish. I sprinted a little bit through the end and stopped my watch. I was expecting 1:18, 1:19 something. When I saw a 1:16 I almost shat my pants? Wait, what? Didn't I get a 1:16 last year? And was it a low 1:16? Did I just somehow NOT PW?

Those questions were unanswered for the moment. I quickly gobbled down my soup and beer and met Katie, who was just spectating this year. Upon checking my blog via my phone I learned I, in fact, did not PW. It was amazing how happy I was for my second worst 15k time ever. It almost felt as good as a PR! With how much I hibernated this winter it was good to see I still had something in me. Maybe some attempts at tempo runs the last few months were totally useless. Either way, it was another Shamrock in the books!

Official Time: 1:16:09, 8:10/mile. 440/2488 overall, 329/1242 male, 44/177 M30-34.