I have participated in the Shamrock Run off and on, mostly on, since my high school days. Seen as the unofficial beginning of the spring race season, it’s often a litmus test of the winters training. It also usually is held on what seems to be the most miserable day of the year, generally windy, chilly and raining. This year was a nice surprise, with the lightest of sprinkles, minimal wind, and relatively high temperatures (for March). In spite of the course change, I was still looking forward to the climb to OHSU, opting for the 15K as I have for several years previous.
After being injured the previous year, I was still trying to rediscover the joys and speed of racing. I wasn’t looking to pr, but to have a strong race and cross the finish line with confidence. So after picking up my bib and deciding on what race gear was appropriate, a short jaunt around waterfront park got me warmed up and loose. The plan was to start near the front but not challenge the leaders. Then I discovered that the switchback in the race chute made it quite hard to work all the way up the the line and contented myself with being able to see it, crossing the start 20 seconds after the gun.
This put me a lot farther back than I had planned, but made the initial miles fun, cruising around groups and hearing people laugh and chatter. It took some time, but as soon as we came back through downtown and started heading uphill I felt comfortable enough to really start moving. It was a little weird heading the opposite direction as previous years, but as usual the race directors and Portland Police Department did an excellent job of marking off the roads and ensuring that traffic was yielding for participants.
Both on the way out and back, there was a short stint through a tunnel that I found quite interesting. It definitely helped on on the return trip seeing as it was downhill that direction. The big climbs started after, with the first steep trip to the base of Terwillinger, followed by the winding ascent to the hospital. I was a little aggressive, catching a few people, and trying to get to a group of PRC jerseys in the distance. There had been a pack just barely in eyesight for the last third of the race, and I wanted to see who was in it. Unfortunately, it broke up before I caught it and I spent the last downhill section trying to catch the lead woman and two men (who I technically beat, due to my late start). By the time the finish line came into view, I was thoroughly beat up and not interested in initiating a true finishing kick.
All in all, it was a great run, showing me my endurance level and where I needed to focus on. I really liked the new course and how they set it up. The level of competition was steep, as it usually is for this race, and I enjoyed chasing people. Getting a duffel bag in the mail a couple weeks later for my age group place was a nice perk as well. This was a rare year that the weather played nice at the Shamrock and it was much appreciated. I will likely be back next year, it could be time to switch things up and toe the 5K line again, there have been some memorable races at that distance when I was younger.