Friday, April 1, 2011

Flashback Friday: Shamrock Run

Happy Friday! I'm feeling behind on my posting and workouts, so it's time for a flashback to a great race - the 2011 Shamrock Run, which was held Sunday, March 13th. This was the first year since I've lived in Portland that I was in running shape to do the race and/or didn't have a weekend class at PSU. (Not that I would give up having met George Rede in 2009.) 

This year the annual race drew more than 35,000 runners and walkers of all abilities down to the Portland waterfront on a very rainy day with the promise of Irish music, beer, and Standford salmon chowder. (I listened to the music, but we'll get to the beer and chowder later) 

When I was formulating what I wanted to report after the race one thing kept coming back to me: the awesomeness of volunteers. While my family was doing this... 
Waiting for MAX at Sunset Transit station - 6:20 am
Volunteers had been working in the dark to set up booths, arrange the start/finish lines, supply water stations, organize clothe check, and entertain the early arrivers (a ka, us). 
Waterfront at 7 am, before the rain came down
After the obligatory Honey Bucket stops, Dad, Jason and I ran a couple warm up laps up and down the esplanade. I felt appropriately dressed with my capris, green plaid RunningSkirt, and don't-hit-me-yllow NIKE half-zip. I never fear getting too hot, but I have a deep-seeded fear of being too cold. I don't like being cold. More on that later. 

At the clothes check a cheery bunch of volunteers bagged our backpack, tagged it, and tagged Jason for later pick up. I was still grumpy and impressed with their helpfulness. Afterwards, I took a vanilla bean GU and hopped into the 8K start line. I had learned my lesson from the Jingle Bell 5K Run, so joined Jason 9:30 pace group so as not to be run over by dogs and strollers again. (Of which, ironically, there were none.) 

While waiting for the horn to sound, I made friends with the people around me. After about 15 minutes of standing, Jason took his jacket over to my parents - during which time it started raining pretty heavily - after deciding he didn't need it after all. Saved some 15Kers from starting in the wrong race. They appreciated that.

After a short eternity, we started moving. Then stopped. Then started. Then stopped. After three cycles of this I said to the people next to us, "One day we'll stop getting so excited at the first sign of movement." From that point I walked until I could see the start banner. 

The 8K course was tight for the first quarter mile as everyone found their stride and it didn't take long for me to lose sight of Jason altogether. So, I channeled the Army Airborne cadences, focused on my breathing, and took in the awesome view of the river. 

As I powered up the Burnside Bridge, I was once again struck by how hardcore volunteers are. (And noted someone else was as awesome as me and represented with the RunningSkirts green plaid.) There was a volunteer at every mile reading off the clock time as you ran past. Most were without umbrellas, there were some girls without jackets at all that cheered, and during some of the most challenging parts of the course there was always someone to give me a high five when I really needed it. I wanted to hug all of them. 

I called my Dad at the mile 8 (my mile 4-something) and said, "Just passed the 8 mile sign, which means I'm almost done sucker!" (He was doing the challenging 15K, cause he's a rockstar, so started later than us.) 

PS: It's difficult to call people and run. I don't know how people do it and this is the one and only time I have and don't think there will be a repeat

At mile 4-something people were handing out Voodoo Doughnuts and Little Debbies. This is where I made a rookie mistake. I indulged in the Little Debbie.  I even told the people how awesome they were. After 100 feet I immediately regretted my decision and started gagging and cursing the tempters. I should also note I had brought my Amphipod handheld water bottle, but once at the race discovered there was mold in it (yeah, totally gross - my loving husband had washed and prepared it for me, but didn't get it all out) so left it with bag check. So, I finished the race with a gnarly, gnarly taste in my mouth.
Basking in finishing glory. My first 8K and best race EVER
BUT, I finished! With a pretty dang decent time that I don't currently remember. Jason was ecstatic to see me as he wasn't expecting me for another 15-20 minutes. (See, I AM getting faster.) We took some photos and ran into one of our favorite Gym trainers, Don.
Have you ever seen a happier running couple?
Jason and Don. We <3 this guy.
While waiting for Dad we saw the first five 15Kers come in. The first won his weight in Widmer beer. It was funny to see people gather around and gawk at the first place champ - he had an entourage. 
My new Brooks getting drenched, but they made me fast.

Dad came in after 1:18 and some-odd seconds and we were SO PROUD. The 15K course is nothing to scoff at and all his high-altitude and hill training definitely paid off. 
Dad and me at clothes check post-race
After we got Dad, I said, "It's a long walk to clothes check, so we need to get you over there before you get cold and cramp up." Jason and I had already made the walk once so knew it was not messing around. Plus the 15Kers and 5K runners were all coming in at the same time so there was significantly more crowding.

My happy meter took a dive after we got Dad in dry clothes. All I wanted was a beer and the salmon chowder I'd been dreaming about. As I got colder and wetter, all I wanted was the chowder. When Debbie (she did the 5K Stride) came in all I wanted was to at least get in the line. Once we were in the line I began thinking we were in a fake line and all I wanted was to not be around people any more. Which, in the end, resulted in my family's new favorite picture of me... You're welcome.
I was trying to smile, honest.
All in all, it was a good race, despite the downward spiral at the end as I got colder, wetter, and crankier. I'm not sure I'll do it again, but if I do I think I'll deem everyone on their own while I get some chowder. ;-) 

Most of all, a HUGE THANK YOU to the volunteers. I don't think I've adequately conveyed how much they contributed to the atmosphere of the race. I think my memory of the race would be very different had they not been the rock stars they were. A couple days later I was still talking about how great they were and told Jason, "I think, as runners, we have a responsibility to volunteer for at least one race a year..."