I usually laugh out loud when people as me if I’m running Shamrock. The event is great, but the weather is most often predictably wet and miserable. For some strange reason I decided to risk it this year and registered for the half marathon. I was elated as race day approached and the forecast looked unseasonably sunny. There were clouds and rain the Saturday before and the Monday following, but clear skies for the Shamrock Run.
It poured on Saturday when I picked up my packet at the Convention Center, so I wasn’t actually expecting sunny skies, but remained hopeful. Considering the number of people who participate in this event, packet pick-up was fast and painless. It took me longer to park the car and hike in than it did to get my bib and race shirt. Expo is one of my favorite parts, but I had a soccer game to watch so I didn’t get to check out all the booths and fun stuff. I had to stare at the floor to avoid the temptation and was tempted with some headbands, but remained focused for once in my life. The shirt was a cotton blend, which isn’t my favorite, but I liked the cut, the print and they were true to size.
With a pretty late start (9:20am) it felt weird sleeping in on race morning, but we did wake up so sunny skies. It was brisk, but gorgeous outside and I was finally happy with my decision to run this Portland tradition. The events were staggered, so parking and traffic weren’t terrible and everyone was in a festive mood. The big yellow thing in the sky might have had something to do with it too. As I lined up in the starting chute, it was hard to ignore some protestors with megaphones on the sideline. For a brief moment, I was tempted to skip the start and just go chat with them, trying to understand why they felt like I was going to hell because I participated in a Sunday morning race, but I decided it wasn’t worth it and just let them have their moment.
In years past, I’ve been blown away with the costumes and festive St. Patty’s Day attire, but this year it seemed pretty mellow, or at least for the half marathon participants. That’s always one of my favorite parts of this run, seeing how creative people can be. There was a green tutu and some green shirts, but it was pretty tame. I did notice one woman in gold sequin pants and thought she was much more spirited than me since those can’t breathe much and definitely don’t wick moisture, but they were pure fun.
I only had on my watch, no Garmin or any type of GPS that would keep track of miles since I was just focused on having a good time. Running pretty much along the river, the course took advantage of the industrial section of the Portland Marathon before looping back and heading up Barbur and Terwilliger. Honestly, there was only one section of hill that was steep enough to make me sigh, but it was super short. The majority of the climbs with the half marathon course were steady, but not crazy steep. The downhill was a different story, I prefer to climb any day, but what goes up must come down and there was a pretty decent decline towards the end of the course. I know most people love downhill, but I get passed a lot during downhill sections, which might be part of the reason I’m not a fan. It gave us plenty of time, though, to catch our breathe and recover before the last couple of miles.
The course included a little bit of everything, some good hill work and plenty of flat sections as well, and though there weren’t a lot of costumes to look at along the way. Between the Willamette, trees blooming all over the place and flowers with their spring buds, the scenery was beautiful. Everything is prettier when the sun it shining.
The morning was on the cooler side, so water stations weren’t as frequent as some other runs, but I’d say they were pretty well dispersed along the course and they were self serve. Cups were filled along the tables for you to grab and go. They also offered Gu along the course, around mile 7, which was pretty much perfect. Miles were marked, which I appreciated since I had no idea what pace I was running or how much ground I had covered without my Garmin. The last couple of miles were totally flat along the river. With about three miles left, a couple donning their bathrobes offered donuts and beer. The guys in front of me pulled over to ‘fuel’ St. Patrick’s Day style.
Crossing the finish line, it was fun to look up and see ladies with green pom-poms cheering the runners as they came in. I grabbed my medal and some water and checked out the scene. Nothing seemed crazy crowded, which I think is quite impressive considered the thousands of people who run this event. I skipped the soup and beer since I really only wanted a shower and my kiddo had a soccer game. Overall, I was thrilled with the 2017 Shamrock Run. The weather was perfect, the course offered plenty of scenery and the crowd was eclectic, which is the best kind for a Portland event. From now on I might not laugh out loud when people ask me if I’m running Shamrock. Rain or shine this is a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and even better that it doesn’t leave you with a hangover or regrets.