When you think of the Shamrock Run, you probably think of two things: beer and hills. Okay, so maybe those are the two things I think of. Well this year, I got to experience and enjoy both of those things by running the 15k. In years prior, I had only ever run the 5k because I was avoiding those “treacherous” Terwilliger hills that I would always hear about. As expected, they were tough.
The day started out a little overcast with the sun making small appearances through the clouds. I, like everyone else, had already checked the weather forecast over and over before race day, and knew that it was actually supposed to end up being a nice day weather wise; something that is quite unusual for the Shamrock Run. As I made my way to the Waterfront Park, where the pre and post race festivities were taking place, the 5k runners ran past. Despite the nice weather I was anticipating, the morning was really quite chilly. Watching the 5k’ers, some in only shorts and tanks, made me shiver.
Shirt pickup and bag check in was an incredibly quick process; took maybe 5 minutes total. I actually checked my bag in way too early and was stuck trying to stay warm before the 15k was even scheduled to begin. I literally ran back and forth along the Waterfront over and over just to keep my blood flowing for about 15-20 minutes. Eventually I heard the race announcer instructing the 15k pacers to head over to the start line, and then instruct racers to head over as well. I wanted to get a decent starting place myself, so I started to make my way to the start line. For how many people had already lined up, I had no problem getting to the front of the pack. I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest runner, but I wanted to avoid starting the race walking, which has happened to me in previous races.
The race began with the race announcer releasing a huge group of us as part of their ‘release and hold’ start. I felt like I was running at a pretty good pace and felt great other than not being able to actually feel my hands or arms because it was so cold. I should mention I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The first portion of the race ran south bound on Naito Parkway and then Barbur Boulevard. I was still feeling pretty good at this point and was beginning to think that the hills everyone would complain about weren’t actually going to be that bad. Well, at mile 4 I found out just how bad those Terwilliger Hills really are. They definitely made me regret not doing more hill training prior to race day. My pace slowed down considerably and my legs felt like lead. It was bad.
Luckily for me and my lead legs, the hills were much shorter than I was expecting and the rest of the race after that point was basically all downhill. Also, it was after mile 4 when I could start feeling my hands again as they were finally starting to warm up, so that was a plus. The race course found its way back onto Barbur Boulevard and included a hairpin turn, which then eventually got us back onto Naito Parkway. The end was near, and as we ran on Naito back towards the finish line, we could cheer on the half marathon runners who had just started their race and were passing by us in the opposite direction. I managed to make a strong kick to the finish line and ended with a time of 1:05:04.
Overall, I had a blast running the 15k this year and really enjoyed the course (yes, even those pesky hills). Since I hadn’t run the 15k in the years prior, I don’t have much to compare it to, but it was nice knowing that I probably wasn’t going to/didn’t have to deal with traffic or the Max lines. The post race party was fun, although I really didn’t stay too long. The only bummer was probably that the rain covers over the beer garden were causing unwanted shade. Everyone was avoiding standing under the covers and, instead, were out under the sun. Taking into consideration last year’s Shamrock Run weather in combination with Oregon’s unpredictable weather though, I do appreciate that the race organizers were trying to play it safe with the rain covers.
After enjoying my hot soup and cold beer, I headed home with my sweet 15k finishers medal. As I drove home, I found myself thinking ‘I may have to give those hills a try next year too.’