I’ve seen a lot of sights and traveled many miles
Shook a thousand hands and seen my share of smiles
Thousands upon thousands of smiling faces took to the streets for the official kickoff of the 2014 racing season at the 35th Annual Shamrock Run. After a years absence, I beat the sell-out date and secured myself a slot in this year’s event. Even though I was about 730 days removed from my previous running, it all started flashing back to bright and early in the morning.
I was unable to get my race bib at the Fitness Expo, so I left Salem around 520a to get to Waterfront Park. I easily found street parking, picked up my bib, utilized the clean port-a-potties, and dropped off my race shirt to my car with plenty of time to spare. Luckily, I remembered what a nightmare it was in 2012 to be stuck inside the “running circle” when trying to leave. I thought better of it this year and found a parking garage a few more blocks away. Crisis averted!
So what if I threw a party and all my friends were there?
Acquaintances, relatives, the girls who never cared
Like always, the Shamrock Run is a big party. From the music pumping as early as 6a, to the bands along the course, to the post-race concert – it’s just a good time all around. And boy is this party GIANT. I’m pretty sure I knew about 30 different people running, yet really had no chance in ever running into them given the sheer number of bodies in downtown PDX. Shoot, it took more than a few minutes and all my might (including climbing over a few barricades) to move from the 9:00 min/mile group to the 7:30 group, a span of little more than a few hundred feet.
But, I almost feel that is part of the experience – partying with thousands upon thousands of like-minded runners. Even if the goal is not a PR, and is solely a morning workout to feel better about drinking Guinness and eating corned beef and cabbage all night, it’s just awesome to be out there together.
You’ll have a host of rowdy hooligans in a big line out the door
Side by side with Sister Barbara, Chief Wells and Bobby Orr
I was likely not next to Sister Barbara, Chief Wells, or the greatest Hockey player of all time, but I was definitely shoulder-to-shoulder in line with some rowdy and colorful “friends”. There was a sea of every shade of green on clothes, in hair (both on the head and beards/mustaches), and painted on faces. While we waited for the countdown to the start, some of us were checking our Garmins and running apps, while others were chatting about what time to meet at Kells. But, despite this difference, we were all pumped to get out of that big line and take to the streets.
I’m guessing that a majority of people reading this have run in at least one Shamrock Run, so I won’t go into major detail about the race course. I just personally describe it as a fast start, a climbing middle section, and a downhill to the finish. It’s a little simplistic, but it works for me.
I like to consider myself in the top 15-20% of the population in running speed (I have no idea if that is factually accurate actually). It is in big events like this that I realize just how not-fast I am. The elite runners take off at break neck speed and never look back. It’s truly humbling.
This is why the Shamrock Run continues to be intriguing for me.
When I run smaller (80-200) races, which are generally my norm, I typically run by myself the entire time. I am not fast enough to keep up with the really fast runners, but I remain faster than most of the rest of the other runners, leaving me in a veritable no-man’s land. Frankly, it gets lonely at times. Over the 68 minutes of running on Sunday, I was continually around people – real live runners! This allowed me some pacing assistance, some commiseration on the long hill climbs, and some motivation to put on the gas over the past half mile to the finish. Thank you to everyone, whether you realized it or not, who helped me out on Sunday!
You may bury me with an enemy in Mount Calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a **** – I’m going out in style
I heard some grumblings that the race shirts this year were not well received. Apparently some were different shades of green (I noticed this while running, but I thought it was due to one dude being REALLY sweaty), as well as sizing issues for females. First and foremost, if you haven’t heard, you can contact the race and get a resized shirt. Secondly, while the shirt is not long-sleeved or tech-fabric, I really like it. It’s a unique blend with a soft feel. I’m a pretty casual dude outside of work and feel like the shirt is something I can bum around in comfortably. The medals are also great in my opinion, with a simplistic and classic design. I felt I truly went out in style!
Overall, this race reminded me why I love Portland and why I love running. I personally experienced no negative outcomes from the race, which is saying something for a race this size. Full results of each distance can be found here. And if you haven’t read Bonnie’s recap of the race, make sure you do it!
* lyrics from Going Out in Style by the Dropkick Murphys